I've always been very sure (since the time my baby girl was born) that I wanted to teach her to sew when she was old enough.
I introduced the concept of sewing when she was around four by giving her an embroidery hoop with some loose-weave fabric and a blunt plastic needle. I threaded the needle and let her go to town "sewing." And of course, the thread was wound all around the embroidery hoop, upside down and inside out. But I wasn't seeking to teach her anything but to have fun and get used to the feel of a needle, thread, and fabric.
Then last year, we did a patchwork quilt pillow together. She did some hand stitching and then I let her help me reinforce the seams with my Singer. She LOVED being able to "sew" with the machine.
Lily, who is now a month short of six, can follow a pattern on a simple embroidery project, can hand stitch in a much straighter line (although her stitches are still pretty big; we're working on that), and is showing much, much interest in sewing with the machine.
She started a plain two-piece pillow before Christmas. She hand stitched all the sides but one. Last night she asked if we could finish the pillow with the machine.
So, I went over some sewing machine basics - how to turn it on, how to raise/lower the presser foot, how to use the lines on the bobbin cover as a guide to make straight seams, etc. And then with her on my lap and me in control of the foot pedal, I let her guide her pillow through the machine.
And, of course, her pillow isn't perfect and her lines were a little wonky at times, but she was SO stinkin' proud of that pillow when she was finished. And she went to bed with it under her head last night. And the best thing? When I was tucking her in last night she thanked me for letting her sew her pillow and told me that she loved doing crafts with me. Sigh. And I love doing crafts with you, darling little girl of mine. These are memories I know will be written on the pages of my heart forever...
And here's something that may be helpful if your young one is beginning to machine sew ~ let her (or him) practice on a piece of plain paper. Unthread your machine, and let her go to town using just the needle. She can experiment with the different stitches and make designs on the paper. She can also practice making straight lines.
Last night, I wrote Lily's name in marker on a piece of paper and had her "stitch" over her name. Draw only straight lines vertically down the paper for an easier approach.
So, I have a feeling that maybe some of you think your little ones are still a tad bit too little to join you in the world of crafting. But I want to encourage you to think outside the box. Pick up some blunt needles, burlap and an embroidery hoop next time you're out. Or give your little one fabric just to play with, fold, or wrap around her dollies. I even used to just let Lily help stuff the pillows I would sew.