Thirty years ago “sewing cards” were everywhere. Not only do they teach elementary sewing, but sewing also develops finger strength and coordination. There is no need to buy sewing cards. They are incredibly easy to make. Here’s how.
- Using a greeting card, cut off the front (with the picture on it) and throw away the rest . For a stronger card, you can glue together the front and the back and do the following steps when it dries.
- Punch holes around all the edges of the card. Punch the holes as far from the edge as the hole punch will let you, usually about half an inch from the edge. If you punch the holes too near the edge, they will rip as the child sews.
- Now prepare the string. You can use a shoe lace or colored yarn. Estimate about how long a piece of yarn will be needed to go in and out of or around and around the holes in the card. Too long a “thread” will tangle and frustrate your child.
- If you use a shoe lace, wrap masking tape around the end to make about a 1 ½ – 2 inch stiff area as the “needle.” The normal ½ inch stiff end of shoe laces is too small for little fingers to control.
- If you use bright colored yarn, make a stiff end by dipping about a 1 ½ – 2 inches of one end of the yarn in white glue. Hang the yarn to dry. When the glue dries, the yarn will have a “needle” that is stiff enough for small hands to thread it through the holes, but not stiff enough to hurt them. (I make several at a time.)
- Tie the soft end of the yarn or shoe lace to the card through one of its holes.
- Demonstrate for children how to either go in and out of the holes or around and around from one hole to the next. After they sew as much as they like, put the card away and do a new activity, or offer another card. If they only do 2 holes and are ready to stop, stretch their attention span by saying, “Can you do just one more hole?” “Great! Let’s put this away until another time.”
- If they don’t seem to like it, put it away for a few weeks, months, a year, and try again. They may not be ready for it yet, but they may love it when they are older.
- Older children (pre-teens and teens) can be taught: the whip stitch by going round and round with the thread (used for buttons, hems, or mending holes), the running stitch by going up and down through the holes (can be used to make clothes for dolls), and the back stitch by going up through one hole and back through the previous hole (used to make a sturdy seam).