Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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Embroidered Notebook Cover for Kids’ Embroidery Class


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I’m finishing up the sample of the embroidered notebook cover that we’re making in our summer embroidery class for kids. I haven’t finished the sample yet (first day of class is tomorrow!), but in the meantime, I thought I’d share some photos of the concept so far. I’ll finish the sample up today…

I’m working on wool felt from Wooly Thread. I ordered twenty of the 12″ x 15″ pieces, and cut those length-wise so that we would have forty 6″ x 15″ pieces, enough for 36 students. I wanted the materials to be as economically feasible as possible – and wool felt can be rather expensive! – so the point was to find a notebook small enough to cover with a six-inch wide piece of felt. It so happens that the Mead Five Star Fat Lil’ Notebook is perfect.

So I measured out the strips and marked the inside with lines where the cover, spine, and flaps would fall. I stitched the lines with running stitch in #5 perle cotton, so that they are visible on the front. I left a 3/4-inch space in the middle of each edge of the turn-under for the flap, where I will cut slits for the ribbon ties.

embroidered book cover

You can see the running stitch up the left side, marking the spine area. The ribbon is inserted through the slit on the right side.

embroidered book cover

I worked a simple overcase stitch around the edges of the slit. The stitching here isn’t too neat, but … I photographed it anyway. (Hint: if you plan ahead, you don’t have to rush when working up your samples! Saves a lot of frustration…. rrrrgh.)

embroidered book cover

To secure the flap, I worked an overcast stitch over the two edges of felt (still using perle #5). I think we’ll use buttonhole stitch for the edges when we do these in class. It’s a little more decorative, and they don’t have to be worked this close together. We could also just use a whip stitch.

embroidered book cover

Again, here you can see the running stitch up the left side of the front cover area, marking where the spine is. The whole stitching design was completely random. I didn’t plan anything particular for the cover. But when I work through this project with the kids, I want them to sketch up their ideas for their covers first – or at least the general layout.

I realize the stitching here is a bit advanced for beginning children. They will practice their stitches first on cotton twill, and once they learn each stitch, they will work a little bit of it on the felt, in any design they want, embellishing the felt as they progress through the class. The finish work will come at the end.

The stitches they will be learning and using on their felt covers are the running stitch, the whipped running stitch, backstitch, stem stitch, chain stitch, detached chain stitch, buttonhole stitch, fly stitch, and a little bit of couching. I’ll also show them how to do a ribbed spider wheel, buttonhole wheels, etc., which can be used as individual accents on the covers. We’ll probably throw in a few beads and ribbo here and there, too.

I’ll be working with 36 children, divided into two classes. The ages range from 8 – 10 and 11 – 13. Now, I know it may be a bit adventurous to undertake these with the younger kids, but I think they will be able to do it. Last year, they were chomping at the bit to produce something like this, and they learned really fast! I can’t wait to see what they do this year.

When we finish the notebook covers, we’ll move on to a simple circular drawstring bag. I’ll keep you posted with pictures!


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(8) Comments

  1. Hello Mary, Wow- 36 children- I’m impressed! Where is it that you hold classes? I have wanted to put some classes into local libraries, but apparently librarians think embroidery and sewing are too old-fashioned for todays group. (Funny coming from a less than up-to-the-minute group)but I am so fond of libraries that I thought it would be a great place to teach a “dying” art.Any suggestions?

  2. Hi, Laura – I teach them at a local private school (the same school where I teach during the school year). I think it’s strange that a local library won’t allow you to use a community room or something. Some other suggestions: schools (private or public – contact administration and see if they would allow classroom use for a community endeavor); senior center – many towns, large and small, have them; VFW hall or something like that; if you live in a “nice” climate, a public park that has a gazebo or covered area; a local bank that has a community room or conference room available; a local hotel that has a conference room or large lobby area, or any local business that might have a conference room available at specific hours… If you’re doing it as a “community endeavor” (no profit involved), you should be able to find places that would support the endeavor. The problem would be if you are doing it to produce income, as a private individual. Then you’d have to probably rent a space. If there are any local needlework places, you might get them to “host” you (since they would get sales out of it).

    Good luck!

  3. What a lovely notebook cover – I did a much simpler version in Kids’ Embroidery. Children just love writing notes and in journals so I’m sure they will love this project! And all those stitches. Wow!

    I can’t wait to see the photos of what the kids make.

    Good luck!

  4. Oh – and you could try local churches, as well! They usually have community halls and such, and are happy to support that kind of endeavor.

  5. p.s I have run several embroidery classes at local libraries here in Western Massachusetts for both adults and children. I think Laura should just keep checking w/ different libraries. It takes a librarian or trustee who perhaps has done embroidery – or knows the value of it – to make the program successful.

  6. Thanks so much for describing your notebook project and telling about your class. I have been teaching an embroidery/sewing class for about 5 years. I am also a teacher (5th grade) at a private school and have many of my students in my classes. I absolutely love it, and find it is a wonderful way to talk to preteens about life during these tough years. I have mostly had them doing samplers, bookmarks or tote bags, but this notebook project is adorable. I would love to hear more about your ideas for your class and share some of mine. We are both so blessed to have the opportunity to share with young people!

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