Have you ever wanted to try embroidery and stitching with your kids? I have! I’ve always been drawn to textiles. In art school I was passionate about fabric design, and in my 20s I used to make children’s clothing and sell them to Barneys in NYC. With my passion for fabrics and yarns, it’s actually shocking that I’ve never tried this with my art students!
Thankfully, Shannon from Hatch Art Studio is back and she is going to show us how to do this creative and simple embroidery + stitching project with kids.
Here’s Shannon in her own words…
Are you looking for a cozy, not-so-messy, family-friendly project this winter? I’m all about the warm + wooly when it’s cold outside. So let’s dig out the yarn bin and get started!
I call this invitation “Free Form Embroidery and Stitching”. There’s actually nothing new or especially innovative about this process. However, here’s the secret about this project (and skill in general)… there are about a bazillion ways to experiment with these simple materials and you and your children seriously can’t go wrong.
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Supplies needed for embroidery with kids:
~ Embroidery hoop of any size
~ Burlap fabric (before you go out to buy, check your craft closet.. I kind of want to bet you have a piece of it in there somewhere)
~ Various yarns (pipe cleaners + thin scraps of fabric work great too)
~ Beads (optional- but choose pony beads so you can thread the needle through)
Step by Step Guide to Embroidery with Kids:
1. Pull apart the embroidery hoop and place your burlap inside. Screw it back together.
2. I actually like to trim the edges now so there are no “roadblocks” for younger children exploring this material. The tension and open weave of the burlap in the hoop will make this a frustration-free stitching experience!
3. Thread a plastic tapestry needle with a piece of yarn of your choice (I like to set out a variety of yarns in various thicknesses and texture).
4. For first timers, tie a nice big knot on the end so that it doesn’t pull through the open weave of the burlap with rough and heavy-handed stitchers.
5. For young children, have them begin from the back of the hoop and poke and pull the needle through, then down again from the top. It may help to hold the hoop with them for the first couple of stitches.
At this age and stage, this is practically a mark making experience. Think of it like scribbling at this stage and let your child lead the way- no need to move them towards anything more structured than this.
6. For slightly older kids, or those looking for more stitching fun- you could offer many stitching variations. As I mentioned before, a yarn with a different texture or thickness is going to offer a completely different experience, so try that next.
Note: I don’t worry about the back of this project too much- you can trim the pieces in the back and tape them down if you like (they’ve already been knotted, remember?)
Here are some ideas for stitching variations:
~ Stitch length: move your needle in and out of various openings in the burlap to create longer and shorter stitches
~ Experiment with creating rows of stitches that are right next each other (to create a more solid shape) or further away to be able to see each stitch
~ Fold your yarn in half or thread 2 or 3 different colors together and experiment with stitching that way
~ Try stitching out and then coming back to the same spot to create a radial design like a flower or starburst
~ Short, random stitches kind of look like polka dots to me! (Go in and out in openings as close together as you like)
~ Stitch around those random stitches with another color to create a background (see pink and red piece)
~ Make a series of Xs or crossing over your previous stitches with a new color
~ Use a metallic pipe cleaner or a thin strip of denim or other sturdy fabric to weave through
~ Create a design and transfer it to your burlap with chalk
~ Incorporate beads, plastic pieces, or pom poms (just thread onto your needle before completing a stitch
I’ve now played around with these materials with my 3 year old son Graham, a group of 1st and 2nd graders, and yes, I even made time to do a few (OK, a whole bunch) of stitches at home after everyone went to bed. It’s calming, meditative, and engaging which is exactly what we need to get through the freezing cold days of winter.
Hope this project finds a way into your home this winter!
A little about Shannon:
Shannon Merenstein is the owner, creative director, and lead educator at Hatch. She is endlessly inspired by the creativity, joy, and imagination of children. Shannon returned to the wonderful city of Pittsburgh after graduation from Pratt Institute, where she studied painting and art education. For the past 8 years, Shannon has been an art educator and instructional coach at the Environmental Charter School in Pittsburgh, all the while dreaming up and testing out new and creative art projects for her children. When she became a new mom last March, the inspiration for Hatch started to emerge. Looking for creativity-building experiences for her son, Graham, Shannon saw a need for a studio like Hatch in the city. When they stumbled upon a former gallery in Point Breeze, Shannon and her husband, Cole, envisioned a beautiful space to inspire and activate creative thinking! Part art-making studio, part community-gathering space, Hatch aspires to be a special place in Pittsburgh for people of all ages to explore, create, and imagine.
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Did you like this project? Here are more ideas using hoops: