My baby girl turned 8 years old this month. She loves creative play and crafting. She is learning to crochet and has been practicing her hand sewing skills for a while now. Ever so often, I help her to sew something on the machine and she loves it. Recently we made a big move that required most of our things to be stored away for a good amount of time. So, really just spur of the moment, I thought I’d get her a child’s sewing machine that she could use on her own until we were set up again for actual sewing.
This is the one I got her. I knew most of these were just really cheap plastic and not at all feature-rich, but by name recognition alone I thought this one might be at least one bar raised over the competition. Unfortunately this was not the case. It worked a few times. But once the machine needed to be re-threaded, its life was over.
The instructions that came with it left a lot to be desired. So I went online and found some instructional videos that explained how to re-thread (since the finger guard doesn’t actually come off). Let me tell you, the process is not easy. You must have eagle sight and the nerves of a surgeon to thread the needle in this thing.
Eventually, between three adults, we finally had it threaded only to realize there’s no bobbin. What makes the sewn thread stay in place? No one seems to know. It’s a mystery. So, we tried sewing a piece of material with it and, just as suspected, it pulls right out because there’s no bobbin thread to refresh. There’s a cutout spot for where it should go, but no way to remove it to look underneath. And, there’s no information about this available anywhere I could find online.
This is why I normally rely so heavily on product reviews – you just never know what you’re getting anymore. I bought this on a whim at Wal-Mart, but later when it began giving us problems I went to Amazon to read the reviews, hoping someone had figured the issue out. What I found were a large percentage of reviews talking about the product being trash. I should’ve gone there first before I bought this “machine” (i.e., toy that doesn’t perform its most basic function more than a couple of times). It may as well be something you pick up from a dollar store – that’s all it’s worth.
Actually, I’m not really sure it’s worth the cost of manufacturing. Maybe this could be used as a doll accessory? Yes, it would make a super cute pretend sewing machine for a young child’s American Girl doll or something like that. Don’t expect anything more from it. And $30 is kind of steep for something that just sits to look pretty for a doll.
As for buying your kid a starter sewing machine, what I suggest is spending $30 – $50 more than the cost of this type of toy and splurging on a real yet basic sewing machine.
So what that it won’t have a finger guard built around the needle? It will most likely have a stitch speed control, which is way more useful and practical for new learners. Also, you can change the parts when needed, like the needle, the bobbin, the thread spools… which you know, means that it will keep working. It will also be built of more durable materials, which means it will be sturdier.
The foot pedal can most likely be unplugged and replaced if necessary, whereas the toy’s foot pedal is permanently attached with a wire that’s not much better than that of a cheap pair of earbuds (more dollar store comparisons). This wire is super short as well and cannot even reach to the ground under most tables. We had to stack books on the floor to place it onto because the pedal would not reach and just hangs in mid air.
I’m a 70’s / 80’s child. I didn’t learn to sew on a plastic toy with a finger guard and neither did anyone before me in my family… Is that how you learned? I suspect the majority of us learned either in Home Economics class in school or at home from our Mothers or Grandmothers, etc. Neither of whom taught on this cheap crap. No, we were taught to sew on real sewing machines with removable and moving parts.
The only reason a toy like this would be useful in a child’s sewing practice is to give them a way to sew without supervision. Unfortunately, it fails in that regard as well since it is difficult to use and runs in to constant issues that need to be fixed by an adult. So, then, what exactly was the point? It eludes me.
If you really want to teach a child to sew, the best way is to be available. .. to sit with them and talk them through the points of sewing with simple projects. Eventually, they will be able to tackle a project on their own. Until then, there is no quick workaround to this necessary component of learning to sew. Besides, it makes for some very real and awesome bonding time. Moreover, the child will learn about all the various parts and functions of a sewing machine – not just one or two.
So, for my daughter’s birthday, I got her some of these sewing kits that are made to be used with kid’s toy sewing machines (there are several kinds). I got two kits made by Cool Maker and one by Sew Cool. I cannot comment on the children’s sewing machines offered by these makers, our only experience was with the Singer Elegant Chainstitch Machine. But since it was not a good experience, I won’t be purchasing any more of its kind. Instead, I will be getting my daughter one like this.
Because her toy machine could not be made to work properly again, we decided to use the kits she received for her birthday for practice hand sewing. Since the pieces are a type of thick felt, a plastic sewing needle is not sufficient unless you want to go through and poke holes in the locations you would like to sew into. Therefore, I let her use one of my darning needles with embroidery thread. Not the really blunted kind, but more like for upholstery – like the sharper ones in this needle kit.
I actually prefer that it requires a sharper and stronger needle for hand sewing because it speaks to the quality of the printed material pieces that come in these kits. If you could easily poke a flimsy plastic needle through the fabric, then it wouldn’t hold up to much handling. But requiring an actual needle with a sharper point means that it’s a durable fabric that ends up making some plush toys that hold up to play.
To keep this process safe, I had to explain the proper techniques for sewing with a sharp needle and I had to stay close for supervision. This works just fine and she loves doing it! She uses the kits to make gifts for people in her life. And as I’ve indicated, unlike the kid’s sewing machine we bought, these kits are actually good quality. They come with colorful, thick, soft pieces of fabric to work with. And, they also come with additional decorative pieces that can be sewn on or stuck on. The kits include the stuffing that is needed to make the plushies as well. Each piece is pre-cut with guidelines printed on to make sewing them together a no-brainer. I definitely recommend these kits for hand sewing projects – they make prepping for a kid’s project time so much easier due to how they’re designed.