I've been letting my son (almost 6) push the "gas" on the sewing machine for awhile now and recently I've been letting him practice stitching with scrap fabric. Today I let him make his first project, a pin cushion. If you have young children in the house who like to push all the buttons on your sewing machine, let them! It's fun! Here's some tips:
1. Put your machine on half speed. That way when he "puts the pedal to the metal" your machine will still go at a decent speed.
2. Let them clip all the chain stitched pieces apart with scissors. Age appropriate scissors please, and make sure they can clip the thread and not the block!
3. Let little fingers pull all the paper off the back of your paper piecing blocks. You'll love me for that one! :)
4. When they are ready (or when you aren't terrified) give them some scrap fabric to practice straight stitches.
5. Start with simple fast projects to help them feel a sense of accomplishment. Don't worry if seams aren't straight or if points don't match. Just let them enjoy the process and give lots of praise!
The project above was made with scraps of the quilt blocks. I made sure the blocks were the same size and helped him position them. My son is extremely intense when he sews, so I wasn't afraid to use pins to mark where he should start and stop. If your child is more free you might not want to put pins in the fabric! We sewed the fabric right sides together on three sides, then clipped the corners. Then we turned, stuffed, and did topstitching on the open side to close it up. We didn't bother with hand sewing because ... well... because we wanted it done! :)
Feel free to comment on what you do to include your small children in your craftiness!