Our wee girl just turned 7, which is amazing because it was only 5 minutes ago she was just a little baby. Handwringing over aging aside, we offered her the choice of a dolls house or a sewing machine as a present. She chose the sewing machine, which I was very happy about, because I remember having a lot of fun with my sewing machine when I was little, and it was not the same as using my Mum's. We bought her a little wee machine that's light enough for her to set up herself, but with all the necessary functions (straight, zig-zag, and reverse stitches). Here it is: The Elna Mini.
As her first project, we decided we'd make something for her hallowe'en outfit: a hooded cape made of stretch lamee velvet, lined with seersucker, with tricky bits like gathering along the neckline, ribbon closures at the front, etc. (Kwik Sew 3723) Perhaps a little ambitious for a first project, but with the very significant advantage that it was something she actually wanted to make.
Actually, I have to say, I'm a big fan of the run-before-you-can-walk learning strategy. There's nothing like doing something you're really interested in to make you learn the skills as and when required. She did lots of the pinning of pattern pieces onto the fabric, some of the cutting out, pinned some of the pieces together, sewed along the straight seams, and mastered the reversing at the end of each seam. I did the rest. In a time-honoured tradition, she learned some new swear words as I caught my fingers on the pins. Essential to have a good range of expletives for sewing, you know it as well as I do. We finished the cape in an afternoon, and she wore it out trick-or-treating as Little Red Riding Hood.