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Our First Sewing Tray - Materials + Gift Ideas

First sewing tray at How we Montessori  Otto 25 months  embroidery freestyle

Over the weekend I presented Otto with his first sewing tray. He does a lot of threading so this feels like the next step. I needed to demonstrate but it didn't take him long to get it. It felt a little like two steps forward and one step back as he like to poke the needle through and then reposition it and poke it again, without threading it. But toddlers (and perhaps all children) like to test, they like to experiment and in their own time they will find their way. I don't feel like there is a need to correct here, even when the thread got a little tangled, he worked it out. While Otto may have spent a lot of time on this sewing activity and not produced a lot, I don't mind at all!

First sewing tray at How we Montessori  Otto 25 months  embroidery freestyle

Lots of "push" "pull" "needle" "tight". 

First sewing tray at How we Montessori  Otto 25 months  embroidery freestyle

We use a large embroidery needle which has a blunt/round tip. It's a good option when introducing a needle for the first time. This is another fantastic activity for developing fine motor skills. Otto is a physical, rambunctious toddler, but there are activities like this that will capture and hold his attention. Activities that promote the use of the pincer can also help develop the hand for writing.

First sewing tray at How we Montessori  Otto 25 months  embroidery freestyle

Take your time little one!

First sewing tray at How we Montessori  Otto 25 months  embroidery freestyle

Options for sewing/embroidery fabric include:

  • Linen - I love the more rustic linen with the larger weave.
  • Aida Cloth - specifically for embroidery or cross-stitch, available at places like Amazon or sewing shops.
  • Hessian, Burlap 
  • Muslin
  • Shelf Liner
  • Mesh Fabrics - like curtain fabric

I always suggest using what you have or buy something you will use again. I love using linen or burlap because of the texture. Old linen tea towels, fabric scraps even those muslin drawstring bags that we seem to have a million of, could be deconstructed and used.

We've used embroidery thread here but wool or cotton yarn can work just as well. Embroidery thread is often very affordable and is available in small packs that contain lots of colours. 

Embroidery needle for toddler first sewing kit at How we Montessori

For this tray we've used the largest embroidery needle that we have which is pictured above as the size 16. But most of the embroidery needles that I've seen have a relatively blunt/rounded end and would be suitable. I prefer these over the plastic types that are often used in kits sewing kits as they are 'real', sturdy and don't break. 

Embroirdery hoops at How we Montessori

On this tray we have used the 5 inch embroidery hoop, however I feel the 7 and 8 inch hoops would work as equally well. I would use the 9 and 10 inch hoops if that was all I had but they may be harder for the child to use initially and flip over and back and forth. An older child may enjoy the larger size as they can do more embroidery or 'sewing' on it. We present this activity on an A4 size tray.

If you want to make things more interesting or have older children you could try cross-stitch crafts which make wonderful gifts. This is a much finer needle and while Otto could use it, his concentration didn't last as long as with the free-style sewing on the hoop. We've used this kids cross-stitch kit (UK link) with similar here and here (US links). The frames are wooden and can be reused. 

Handmade toddler gifts cross-stitch book mark at how we Montessori

While my children haven't actually used cross stitch here, these will be loved as bookmarks. Otto's (25 months) is finished on the left, and Otis' (8yrs) is a work in progress on the right.

Handmade gifts cross-stitch bookmarks at How we Montessori toddler at 25 months  eight year old

I'm sure Grandma will love them!

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