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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Children’s Embroidery Project: Butterfly Towel


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The results of this summer’s children’s embroidery classes keep trickling in! This project is another towel, embroidered with a butterfly and flower design. The project was worked by Josephine, in the age 7-9 class, and I think she did a terrific job! You just have to check out her chain stitch…

The towel below is embroidered with perle cotton #5. The kids picked out their own colors, though some had a little help with coordinating colors, if they tried to get a little too … whacky!

Hand Embroidered Butterfly Towel from Children's Embroidery Class, Summer, 2008

I like the bright colors that Josephine chose! On the towel, the kids worked six kinds of stitches: stem stitch (around the butterfly), backstitch, French knot, chain stitch, daisy stitch, and straight stitch.

Hand Embroidered Butterfly Towel from Children's Embroidery Class, Summer, 2008

She did a perfect job with her stem stitch around the butterfly. On the lines inside the butterfly, I had them work backstitches to cover the lines, rather than longer straight stitches, which would have been the normal choice for the lines. I was afraid that, if the towels were used, long straight stitches might catch on things.

Hand Embroidered Butterfly Towel from Children's Embroidery Class, Summer, 2008

The petals on the flowers were worked with daisy stitch, and then filled with a straight stitch in a contrasting color. Adding a straight stitch helps hide the pattern marking. On this pattern, which I traced on each towel using a light box and micron art pen, the petals for the flowers were marked with a straight line. The daisy stitch “surrounds” the straight line, leaving it visible – hence, the straight stitch! Besides, I like the “full” look of the petals with the contrasting color inside, don’t you?! And, right smack dab in the middle – a French knot! The kids did a good job with French knots!

Hand Embroidered Butterfly Towel from Children's Embroidery Class, Summer, 2008

My favorite part of the towel is probably the base of the design here, because I associate it with a remark made by one of the kids in the class: “They look like cacti.” Cacti? You’re 8, and you’re pluralizing cactus into cacti? I thought it was funny! And she was right, they do, in a thickish sort of way!

BUT – check out her chain stitch! Isn’t it nice? It’s so even and snuggly fitted!

Excellent job on the towel, Josie – now…. what’s your NEXT project?


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(9) Comments

  1. What a beautiful job Josephine did! I do think those straight stitches filling the daisy stitches adds something special to the flowers. They remind me of lovely little aster flowers. And that chain stitching is awesome! I love it for the stems. Well done, Josephine! -Jeannine

  2. Excellent job, Josie. All of your stitching is so neat and you choose great colours for the design. I am most impressed with the French knots because I still find these really difficult to do and yours looks so neat.

    Well done

  3. I have a 4 year old daughter and I want to teach her. What is the best age to teach her to embroider something- what do you suggest and is 4 too young? I don’t want her to hurt herself but I want to get her started. What do you think?


    I love your blog and I am a subscriber. It is so inspiring!

  4. Hi, Amy –

    I don’t think 4 is too young, but you might start with something very simple, like plastic canvas work, along with blunt tapestry needles. Another thing that is great for little kids is felt. If you mark out a design on felt, using dashes for running stitches and solid lines for back stitch, I’ve had four year olds stitch things like that. Use pearl cotton rather than stranded floss, and larger needles (like a #1 crewel needle).

    You’ll have her going in no time!

    Good luck!

  5. Do you print the pattern on to the material for the children to copy – if so how? Thank you. It really looks wonderful.

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