Embroidery for Children

In Roz’ newsletters she has been discussing how to get the younger generations interested in stitching. I tried to think back to when I began needlework. My mother did some embroidery because she stitched my birth announcement. However, I don’t remember her teaching me to stitch. I did earn a couple of needleart badges during my Girl Scout adventure. I embroidered pillowcases and dresser scarves for gifts until my early twenties when interests came along. My embroidery supplies gathered dust for many years.

In 1996, our adoptive children moved in. Eight-year-old Robert was very interested in anything to do with arts and crafts. He wanted to make something for David, my husband, for Father’s Day as he had seen a framed cross stitch piece in our house. I drew a couple of sports related designs and showed him what to do. This was from a child who had never seen needlework before and was known not to sit still for more than 5 minutes at a time! So, having survived that experience, I decided I might be able to teach another child to stitch!

In July, I went back to Topeka, KS, for vacation to meet my brand new granddaughter, Skye. She has an older sister, Ana, who is five (and-a-half!). Ana is having a hard time sharing mommy so I planned to spend extra grandma time with her. I wondered whether she was old enough to learn to stitch. In preparation for that experience, I did a little research into teaching children to stitch. Here is what I learned…

The major step in teaching any embroidery class, but especially to kids, is to be prepared. Most of then don’t have the patience to sit while you prepare the supplies. Get all the supplies organized and ready to pull out at class or when the child is ready to learn. You might consider setting up a sewing basket for the child. It helps them to learn to keep track of their supplies, and sometimes the parents don’t stitch so won’t have the materials on hand. In their basket you might put the following items:

  • 100% white cotton fabric is good for the beginner. It’s easy to pass a needle through. I used white trigger cloth which I cut into 15-inch squares. Trigger cloth is also available in ivory. Iron the fabric before you begin.
  • You can use floss or pearl cotton threads. A full skein, or the thicker pearl cotton, will let the child see their results better and will better cover the design lines.
  • Needles can be an issue with younger children. You don’t want them to be hurt or discouraged with a small, sharp needle. Try starting them with a size 20 tapestry needle (7036A). The needle is easier to hold onto and if the fabric weave is loose enough, they should be able to get the needle through. If the child is older, or it is just too hard to get a tapestry needle through the fabric, then try an assortment of embroidery needles (7113).
  • An embroidery hoop is a must! Kids will love these fluorescent hoops.
  • A pair of scissors is also needed. Scissors come in a variety of shapes, colors, and prices. Choose one that is appropriate for the child’s age.
  • Stitches should be basic such as the running stitch, stem stitch, and satin stitch. The older children may want to try other stitches. An excellent book that would fit easily into a stitching basket is 100 Stitches Embroidery by Coats and Clark (2341).
  • A small package of baby wipes or individual towelettes will help keep little hands cleaner.
  • Find a child-appropriate design to stitch. You can use your imagination. Try tracing around a fun-shaped cookie cutter or draw something free-hand. The key is to make sure the design is large enough.
    Think about coloring books where the ones for the youngest children are large designs with few details. Then the designs get smaller and more detailed as the child ages. Trace or draw the design onto the fabric. You could use an iron on blue pencil (6634) or water soluble marking pens.

That Artist Woman had a fabulous idea for combining kid’s artwork and embroidery! She worked with a 5-, 8- and 10-year-old while on vacation. She had them draw something about their vacation, their name, and the year. Here is one of the pieces of artwork! See more at her blogspot.


I remember a hypothetical question one of my teachers posed way back when in high school. If a caveman suddenly appeared in your town today and you were given the task of teaching him to drive a car, what would be the first thing you would need to show him? The answers were varied such as show him how to move the seat back and how to put the key in the ignition. Others suggested showing him how to put the car into gear, or changing the radio station. Those were all things he would need to know, but before you even got to these things, you would have to explain what a car looks like, the purpose of the car, and show him how the car works. It’s the same with stitching and children. A majority of children may not have had the opportunity to see someone stitch, so they won’t have a clue about using a hoop, threading a needle, or using floss. So, start at the beginning with the basics, explaining and showing them each step.


Crafty-Moms.com gives these reasons why children should still learn how to stitch:

  • Handling a needle and thread helps develop fine muscle coordination.
  • Embroidery allows children to express their creativity.

  • Embroidery helps children develop self-confidence because they are able to create something beautiful on their own.

I have a couple more to add to this list.

  • The next generation will keep the needleart alive!
  • Embroidery gives them something to do when they are "bored".
  • Also this gives them a way to make their own holiday gifts

While doing my research I came across a great resource for moms. Denise Willms is a homeschooling mom of two and owner of WAHM Articles, a directory of free articles written just for moms. The topics cover everything from homemade cauliflower soup, how to reuse baby food jars, organizing and money saving tips, to job hunting skills.


Well, my project didn’t turn out as I had planned. Since I get to see Ana only once or twice a year, she had her own agenda and wanted to do the things she had planned. We still did some crafts, using Perler beads to create shapes and then you iron them to make them melt. The play dough also got a work out AND I learned there is a whole bunch of new colors to choose from! We even spent some time coloring. Overall, it was the time spent together that mattered most to Ana. Maybe next year we can get stitching on the agenda!!!

Since I couldn’t get Ana excited about stitching, I decided to design a baby announcement to give to Skye’s parents for Christmas. Using the Celebration Transfers for Embroidery (1850) book, I combined several elements and added my own to create this design. Here is my work in progress.

Another aspect of my vacation was the opportunity to stop at a couple of antique malls during the long drive. There I found a couple of interesting embroidery pieces (that I could afford!) What I noticed is that the older embroidery pieces used basic stitches like lazy daisy, straight and stem stitch, and some satin work. Today’s pieces incorporate a variety of stitches and embellishments.

We hope this guide makes your stitching easier and more enjoyable!

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“The following article was written by Debi Feyh of Nordic Needle and published in their weekly e-mail newsletter. Permission was granted by Nordic Needle to share this article in (name of your publication). For information on subscribing to their weekly e-mail newsletter, visit www.nordicneedle.com. A free mail-order catalog is available to you upon request if you live in the USA or Canada.”

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