My kids have always been interested in sewing & embroidering since they watch me do it all the time. When my son was maybe 2.5, he had his own little hoop with a fat needle and took wild, crazy stitches for a few minutes every week. Now that he is 5, we have started working on real projects and several of our friends have expressed an interest in teaching kids to embroider. I thought I’d round up all my favorite tips – please let me know if I missed anything useful to share!
My son is stitching a snuggle snake softie above; I want to preface my tips with the fact that my main objective is fun. I don’t mind if they are learning to do something “wrong” like using knots or not doing a proper running stitch, as long as they’re having fun, just like I don’t care about those things for myself!
My daughter stitching a jingle bird above, her hands are so tiny!
Teaching kids to embroider
- Ask what they want the final project to look like- What are they thinking they’d like to do with the finished project? If it is a wall hanging, make sure you have enough fabric around the edges to tuck in and glue. If it’s a softie, maybe suggest stitching on wool felt so you don’t have to worry about fraying edges.
- Find a comfy spot- It’s easy to end up hunched over, looking at stitches, so find a comfy chair that you can both sit in and work together.
- Use good lighting- Nothing’s worse than squinting at a stitch or realizing too late you missed one because you can’t see well. Perfection isn’t the goal, but prevent eye strain by making sure you have a bright light or sunshine nearby.
- Plan for short sessions- This is not an endurance race! Short sessions help keep enthusiasm up and fingers rested. Kids’ attention spans are short, so I think you should stop when they lose patience and keep their attitude towards embroidered fun and happy.
- Pick a project they’re excited about- Kids will be more engaged and excited if they’ve helped pick the design, the colors, etc! I have some ideas below but you can also always look for clipart or line drawings of whatever it is they’re hoping to stitch. Or maybe they want to draw the design themselves!
- Transfer the pattern wisely- You can see my favorite method here but drawing on fabric would work as well, with a washable pen. I’d recommend against using chalk or chalk pencil, because it’s easy to rub off by accident!
- Prepare well- I like to have a stitched up example and pre-thread some needles. I’m a visual person and it’s way easier for me to look at a photo of a completed project than to look at a diagram or line drawing. If they’re using a pattern, stitch up a quick example so they can see the different stitches.
- Let them make choices- Yellow and orange floss mixed together? Why not! Let kids pick colors, design, and anything else they can so they are more invested and proud of their project.
- Don’t nitpick- I can guarantee that your kid(s) will do something annoying or sloppy when they’re learning how to embroider. Try to bite your tongue! As long as it’s safe, I try to let it happen even if I can see it’s not going to work. What better way to learn than to feel it yourself?
- Use quality thread- Cheap “craft thread” is going to fray, rip, and collect fuzzies. I love using Sulky threads for embroidery because it is 1-ply and doesn’t pull apart like traditional embroidery floss ((you can buy bulk packs on Amazon or on Sulky’s website – single spools are only sold on Sulky’s website. If you’re using DMC or something with several strands, I’d recommend only using a few to keep tangles at a minimum.
Not sure what pattern to use? Check out my list of over 10 free simple embroidery patterns for kids!
Which tip do you struggle most with? Any of them helpful when thinking about embroidering with your kids?
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