Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Embroidery for children - gentle ways to encourage them

My mum has always sewn and crafted as well as both my grandmothers, but I actually learned how to embroider at primary school. I was 9 and can remember it well.... our teacher Mrs Frew, presented the whole class with some bits of denim to transform into a peg bag. It seemed an impossible task but in actual fact was entirely do-able.... and most enjoyable! I was completely smitten and been in love ever since (spurred on by the fact I won that years sewing prize, which admittedly went straight to my head!) 
My mum still uses that peg bag some 30+ years later! Looking a bit worse for wear ;)

It would be fair to say that I'm keen to nurture any interest in sewing with my 2 girls, and Skye (who is now 6) has shown an interest in sewing and embroidering for a few years now. 
I came up with a couple of ways that suited her skills and interest, which I thought I'd share, just in case you know a little person that would like to try!
Granted there are a lot of sewing kits available to buy for children, but  there doesn't seem to be much for the pre-schooler , plus I am always keen to use items I already have at home, and like the idea of  personalising which the kits don't necessarily allow for.

Skye did this when she was 4! Makes me smile :D
This is made from a craft foam sheet where I drew a very simple shape (as requested by Skye) and then punched out holes,using a hole punch around the outline.(I had planned to cut out the butterfly shape, but Skye liked the rectangular shape)  It's much like the old lacing cards I remember playing with as a child.... and simply requires the weaving in and out of the thread, and adding on some big beads if they fancy! 

I had previously bought  some yarn needles which are big, blunt, plastic needles that can easily be threaded with a colourful wool. These captured the essence of a "real" needle which seemed the most important element to Skye at the time.....she wanted to do "real" sewing!  The craft foam added to that by coming in a variety of colours to choose from, and being flexible enough to allow movement and being comfortable to hold.

I also took the craft foam, hole punch,needles and wool up to Skye's pre-school nursery where all the girls and boys seemed quite enamoured with the idea. Shapes varied from hearts and rockets, to rabbits and kites :)

Fast forward a year and a bit later, Skye wanted to do some sewing where she was using an embroidery hoop and "proper" thread!
I still reckoned the yarn needle would be the best/safest option so looked out some fabric with a loose enough weave that would allow for a thick needle. Linen seemed like the best option out of what I had.
Using the water soluble pen I have to transfer embroidery designs, Skye then drew her picture onto the fabric.
Skye wanted to go over the lines of her drawing with a line of stitch and the easiest way I found was to show her Running stitch. She would go up one line doing running stitch until she reached the end of the line, then she'd turn the fabric around and go back down the line sewing running stitch in between the gaps she'd just created. She got it pretty quickly and was happy with the effect, which I reckoned was far more important than teaching a "proper" backstitch.
She used embroidery floss which was doubled with a MASSIVE knot on the end! I think I've mentioned it before but I am ALL for a good granny knot....though my Granny would be most disgusted! :)

I love seeing that little face in deep concentration...and the proud smile that came with the realisation that she too could embroider!

I would love to end this with the finished embroidery to show you...but as with most kids, the attention span ended shortly after these photos! And the desire to go back and finish the little picture has not returned either.
I'm curious to see where our little sewing adventure takes Skye and I next :)x

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