I found these rolls of thin burlap at Michael's craft store. This class really enjoys sewing and burlap is a very easy fabric to manipulate with both plastic and metal needles for young children because the holes are so big. It is very easy to fix major sewing errors when the children sew around the embroidery hoops we were using to hold the fabric.
For this experience we moved on from earlier free form sewing to following a line/design. We drew each child's first initial on the top of the burlap with a Sharpie marker. The children chose their yarn color and followed the line with their stitches. Once that was done they were encouraged to add decorations from a variety of embellishments that were available; feathers, beads and buttons.
Once the sewing was done, which for some children was done over several days, the children searched outside for a thin, short stick. Then we showed them how to sew the top of the burlap over the stick. We tied a string on to the stick on either end in order to hang the banners.
This activity fostered fine motor development as well as eye-hand coordination from following the path of the letter, letter recognition, and required sustained attention. The children were very proud of their work. They were also exposed to embroidery hoops which most of them had never used before for sewing (we use them a lot for sorting in our classroom).
If you like the idea of sewing with burlap, check out an earlier post about a cooperative sewing experience here.