In early years the child should not be allowed to do fine sewing. Primitive nations used the needle in many ways adapted to the use of children, in coarse weaving; in basketry, in which more or less rigid material was sewed together with softer fibres, such as wool and twisted bark; in mats, hats and baskets of the raffia palm fibre; in braiding; knotting; twining and netting. All of these early steps in household art make an excellent foundation for sewing, and may be used to great advantage in the primary grades, where the awakening power of the child demands work in rapid construction and large adjustments. The articles should be simple in construction and of a character to appeal to their interests. They should be worth doing. Pricked cards are sometimes used, but they are often injurious to the eyes. If they are felt to be a good link between kindergarten and primary the simplest designs should be chosen. Coarse canvas of some dull color, which will not be hard on the eyes, is a good material for children to use. The stitches may be worked in colored wools, and prove a decorative feature. Many little articles may be made from the canvas, such as needle-books, markers, blotters, napkin-rings and mats. Coarse needles and coarse yarn should be used on loosely woven material. Dust-cloths, iron-holders, pot-lifters, book-covers, primitive dress, curtains and hangings for doll's houses and many other useful and interesting things, suited to the ability of children and through which they may gradually learn to use the needle, may be made with coarse stitches. The beginning of sewing is difficult for little hands and the use of the tools needs to be taught slowly. If the thimble is not constantly used at first it is not a serious fault. Much patience is often required on the part of the teacher and also of the child to attain to the correct position of the fingers and to the use of the needle and thimble. Neither fine work nor many repetitions of an exercise should be expected. Judgment and skill are of slow growth, and the demand for them at an early age is always discouraging to the pupil, and often positively harmful. As far as possible each child should prepare her own work. Finer and more technical needle-work may be introduced after the first few years in school, but here also the practicing of the stitches should be followed by their application in interesting small articles. The child learns better by making many simple things, even in an imperfect way, than from solely repeating the stitches until each one is perfect and then later applying them.
Class Lessons and Drills. Learning to sew is a difficult task, especially in the early grades, as the manner of using the tools is hard to master. When each child in a large class is taught individually, the patience of those waiting for the teacher's attention is soon exhausted, and discipline is apt to be poor. It is better for a teacher to give a new lesson to the entire class at one time, and, when all have begun to work, to give such individual help as is needed. The fingers seem easier to control when the new action is practiced in unison, and many of the necessary movements may be taught in this way. The position of the fingers and needle in certain stitches, the knotting of the thread, the necessary movements in sewing, and the use of scissors may be so given by a judicious teacher that they are quickly learned. Regular drills for this purpose have been used in England, and to some extent in America. They are apt, however, to be too mechanical to be of as much value as a short attractive lesson on how to work, followed by the speedy beginning of the construction of some article by each child. A very few minutes at the beginning of a lesson is sufficient to show a new motion, while much time can be wasted in precise drill. In older grades, even where the teacher wishes to obtain original plans from each pupil, class lessons which call out thought and creativity will be found more inspiring than individual instruction alone.