Which Is The Best Sewing Machine For Children?
Are you thinking of buying your son or daughter a child friendly sewing machine for Christmas or an upcoming birthday?
It can be a start of a wonderful new hobby for them and give them skills, friends and a sense of community for life. Not to mention the enjoyment and pride they’ll get from the projects they’ll make.
The thing is, it can somewhat worrying as a parent or grandparent in knowing how to choose the right kind of sewing machine for your child. There are a few machines out there that are made specifically for children and are sold by some of the big retailers both on the high street and online.
What I would like to do is give you my very honest opinion as to which of these you should buy and why. At the time of recording this I am not a sewing machine dealer so this is my unbiased advice based on my experience over the years of teaching children to sew.
Before we move on, if you'd like to watch the video version of this blog, you can watch it here. If not, scroll on down to continue reading.
Child-Friendly Sewing Machines (Allegedly)
So the makers of these kid-friendly sewing machines are NOT going to like me very much because my advice would be to avoid them. I have seen a few over the years and I think a lot of them could potentially be quite dangerous. I’ve seen one overheat, one that was frustrating and impossible to thread because of the finger guard and one that just didn’t sew properly.
They all seem to have uncontrollable foot pedals too: children won’t have the motor skills that we do as an adult, and haven’t learned to control the speed of something with their foot until they are in their teens (think go-karting!).
Best Age For Children To Learn A Sewing Machine
Additionally, children generally don’t develop their fine motor skills or indeed the required concentration levels that help them use sewing machines until they are about 8 or 9. OK, so I know there are always going to be exceptions to the rule and I am NOT a paediatrician or scientist. What I can tell you from years of teaching children to sew is that when they get to that age of 8 or 9, then they have the mental capacity (generally patience and concentration levels!) AND the required motor skills to use a sewing machine properly.
However, please don’t let me stop you helping a younger child to sew – I’m all for it if they are willing and able.
Children love sewing machines and love to sew, but as adults we want the experience for them to be safe, fun and exciting, not frustrating and dangerous.
Unfortunately, most of the purported child friendly machines that have been brought to me by concerned parents are simply not child friendly, and just end up frustrating both child and parent, and that’s without the more worrying safety aspect. And as a parent myself, safety is my number one concern.
I am very happy to be proved wrong, but that has been my honest experience of them.
Which Sewing Machine Would I Recommend For Child?
So what sewing machine would I recommend for a child wanting to learn to sew?
I would look at one of the main brands: Brother, Janome, Pfaff or Singer. Bernina are amazing but probably a bit too pricey for a child at the beginning of their sewing life, but if you have the bidget then go for it.
Whichever brand, you want to be looking at the entry level machines. These tend to be mechanical and will more than likely have dials to change between stiches, or big buttons if a Pfaff machine. These are easy for children to use and understand and the foot pedals will be much more sensitive and therefore easier to control.
Any entry level sewing machine will be easy and simple to use and they are great for a child to learn on. Other than Bernina, you would be looking at around £100 for an entry level mechanical machine. That may sound a lot but many of the machines designed for kids can be around the £60 mark so it’s not that much more.
If your child has been sewing for a while, perhaps on mum’s or grandma’s machine and would love to have their own machine, then you can definitely look at the top end of the mechanical machines from the main brands or the start of the computerised machines. So for the tope end of the mechanicals, you’re looking around the £300 mark, and expect to pay around £400 - £600 for a good computerised machines.
I have taught children as young as 8 on my mid-range computerised Brother machine: the more features it has, the easier it is to use (and it has different speed controls too)...and kids love all the technology! However, you obviously really don’t want to be spending £800 or so on a first sewing machine for a child!
These are my amazing students from my Kids Quilt Club
Shop sadly closed for now...
Safety First With Sewing...
With any sewing machine – it’s safety first all the way. Don’t leave young children alone with a sewing machine: there are lots of fast moving parts that hurt when they get you. Needles can go through little fingers (and big fingers come to that). We obviously also use scissors, pins and other sharp implements in sewing.
However, I have found that starting with a safety lesson and then teaching the children how to use the machine, explaining all the parts and what they do, and how to place their hands so that they don’t get in the way of moving parts can go along way to keeping them safe.
If you do get your son or daughter a new sewing machine for Christmas and have no-one in the family who can teach them to sew, do consider looking locally to see who offers children’s sewing lessons. Kids love them, and you get a couple of hours to yourself too which is a bonus!
I hope that’s helped you to make a choice; please do let me know if you have any questions – I know it’s a big decision - and I’ll more than happy to help.