Friday, March 25, 2011

Teaching a Child to Embroider - An Easy Embroidery Project for Young Children

Teaching a Child to Embroider - An Easy Embroidery Project for Young Children by Denise Willms

My mother tells a funny story about when she was a young girl and spent hours on an embroidery project, then stood up and realized she had accidentally embroidered her picture to the front of her dress.

Back then, embroidery was a skill every young girl was expected to learn. Learning embroidery is no longer compulsory, but there are a few reasons why it is still valuable skill for children to learn.

  • Handling a needle and thread helps develop fine muscle co-ordination
  • Embroidery allows children to express their creativity
  • Embroidery helps children develop self-confidence because they are able to create something beautiful on their own

  • Teaching your son or daughter to embroider may seem like a daunting task, but with the right approach, it can be an enjoyable way for you and your child to spend time together.

    Supplies You Need Before Beginning an Embroidery Project

    Before you begin an embroidery project with your child, it’s important to assemble the right materials. You can find these in your local craft store.

    The first thing you’ll need is about half a meter of white cotton fabric.

    You’ll also need an embroidery hoop. Hoops come in various styles and sizes, but you should look for one that easily snaps together so your child can use it independently. Choose an embroidery hoop that will be large enough for your child’s first project – probably around eight centimeters in diameter.

    You'll need embroidery floss. Most children prefer bright colors, so purchase a mix of primary colors - blue, red and yellow - or your child’s favorites.

    Purchase a real embroidery needle for your child’s use. Craft companies have begun making plastic embroidery needles for children to learn with, but these needles can be hard to push through cloth.

    You will also want to have a frame ready for when the embroidery project is complete. A wooden hoop that screws together is an inexpensive, easy-to-use framing option. Like the embroidery hoop, you will want one that is approximately eight centimeters in diameter – large enough to frame your child’s first project.

    Prepare an Easy Embroidery Design

    The next step is to prepare the design. With your child, choose a simple outline picture in a coloring or picture book. Avoid pictures with details because they will be frustrating for a beginning needle worker.

    Hearts and apples are good designs for beginners, or another simple picture that captures your child’s interest.

    First, iron the fabric so it lies smooth and flat, and then trace the picture onto the fabric. To trace the picture, place the cloth over the picture. With a pencil, lightly copy the picture onto the fabric. Do not press too hard. Dark pencil marks will be obvious when the picture is finished.

    Teach Your Child to Embroider

    To begin embroidering, sit with your child at a sturdy table. Show him how to place the fabric in the embroidery hoop and pull it tight.

    Cut a piece of thread the length of the child’s arm. Demonstrate how to thread the needle and knot the thread.

    To keep the thread from coming out of the needle, tie the ends of the thread together at the bottom. Most children will not be able to thread a needle and knot the thread independently.

    The running stitch is the simplest embroidery stitch to teach.

    Begin the lesson by demonstrating the running stitch. Start with the thread in the back of the fabric and poke through the spot in picture where the child would like to begin. Pull the thread firmly so the knot in the back is pulled against the fabric.

    Following the outline of the picture, poke the needle back down through the fabric about half a centimeter from where you started. Pull firmly so the thread on top is not loose, but not so tightly that the fabric bunches up.

    Following the outline of the picture, poke the needle back up through the fabric about half a centimeter from where it was pulled down. Again, pull firmly so the thread on the bottom is not loose, but not so tightly that the fabric bunches up. After a few stitches, invite the child to try it on his or her own.

    This is hard work for a young child, and he or she may become frustrated.

    Don't jump in to help if your child experiences problems. Give him time to solve the problem independently.

    Do provide help if asked or if your child becomes frustrated. Allow your child to take a break when he becomes bored or frustrated.

    How to Change the Embroidery Thread

    When a thread becomes too short to continue embroidering, or if it’s time to change colors, tie a knot by stitching three times in one place to end the thread. Thread the needle for your child with new thread or, if your child wants to try threading it alone, help him or her do so.

    Framing the Embroidered Picture

    When the picture is completely embroidered, it’s time to frame it. To frame the picture, cut a piece of white cotton fabric to place behind the embroidered picture. This will give a finished look to the back.

    Lay down the base of the wooden hoop and put the backing you just cut on top of the hoop. Center the embroidered picture on top of the hoop and place the top part of hoop on top of the picture. Screw the wooden hoop together to secure the frame. Trim any excess fabric from around the picture frame.

    To decorate it further, you can glue lace or beads to the outside of the frame

    Hang up the picture where you and your child can see it every day. It will be a lasting reminder to your child of what she accomplished, and it will be a reminder to both of you of the time you spent creating something beautiful together.

    Denise Willms is a homeschooling mom of two, and owner of You can find more information

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