Friends, I have no children of my own, nor do I have anyone else's. I do wonder, however, what it might be like to teach a small child to sew, how young is too young and, related to this, what kind of sewing machine to start a child on.
Many people opt to purchase a toy sewing machine, while others choose an adult machine, perhaps one with a hand crank, or a regular electric machine, to be used only under supervision.
Toy sewing machines have been around nearly as long as sewing machines. They were usually powered by hand, and could produce a respectable chainstitch.
The evolution of the toy sewing machine mirrors that of adult machines, particularly in the way sewing machines became increasingly gendered (female), and marketed to specific demographic groups (college co-ed on the go, young homemaker, etc.).
Early toy sewing machines looked gender neutral and often were designed to look like miniature versions of adult machines.
Over time, hand cranks gave way to battery-operated, and occasionally even electric, foot pedals. Of course, even when the look was strictly utilitarian, these were primarily intended as toys for girls. But they were sturdy metal machines and they worked.
Just like adult sewing machines, with the introduction of plastic in the Sixties, toy sewing machines got flimsy and increasingly shoddy. Reading some of the feedback for the toy machines for sale today on Amazon, one wonders why anyone bothers buying one. They sound more like a punishment than a creative plaything.
To make matters worse, today's toy sewing machines all seem to come from the same cartoon kingdom of unicorns, fairy princesses, and Japanese anime. Notice a trend here?
|"Shake Lights and Music"???|
What child over the age of two would want to sew on something like that -- or is this an accurate reflection of little girls' tastes? Don't any girls prefer yellow...or, heaven forbid, blue? And how about the little boys?
In your opinion, if a child -- and I'm not talking about an infant or toddler -- shows an interest in sewing, would she, or he, do better with a real sewing machine on which they could actually make something? If electricity is an issue, why not a vintage hand-crank machine? A decent vintage machine won't cost much more than a shoddy plastic toy, and is less likely to be tossed in the trash when it falls apart or when the child hurls it against the wall out of frustration.
In closing, readers, both with children and without, can a cheap toy sewing machine have value, in your opinion, or is it better that the child, under supervision, use a real sewing machine?
Did you have a toy sewing machine growing up?
Toy sewing machines for children -- yea or nay?
|Photo courtesy of Craftastica.|