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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Preparing Kids’ Embroidery Classes for a Monday Start!


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Happy Saturday, and a Happy Weekend! What are you stitching this weekend?

Here in Kansas, where the temps are topping out in the 100’s and things are pretty sticky, I’m working on last minute touches for the first round of summer kids’ classes this coming week.

We’ve divided the kids into age groups and planned our projects accordingly. This year, there are two projects on the table – a stitch sampler needlebook and another hand embroidered flour sack towel.

Stitch Sampler Needle Book

I love both projects for this summer’s classes, and I think the kids will like them, too.

The projects can be adjusted in level of complexity for each age group. So, with the stitch sampler above – used to make this needle book that I showed you here – features several more complicated stitches and composite stitches, it’s suitable for the older kids who have already had some stitching experience.

With the younger kids, we’ll be using a simpler selection of stitches, but dressing them up by showing them how to whip and lace their embroidery stitches, and how to combine certain stitches to make them look a little more complicated than they are.

Hand embroidered summer garden on flour sack towel

Speaking of finishing touches, this piece needs washing and ironing! It just came out of the hoop. I completely forgot to stitch that butterfly until the very last minute.

No worries, though. It’s a simple little butterfly worked with very basic stitches: stem stitch, fly stitch, and French knots. It could be simplified further by opting for backstitch instead of stem stitch, too (though, as far as complexity goes, both of those stitches are exactly the same movement – they just produce different results).

You can see more of this Summer Garden design here, with information on where to find the pattern.

Hand embroidered summer garden on flour sack towel

As you can imagine, it’s not enough just to stitch a couple things and say, “Hey, I think I’ll teach kids how to stitch these two things, too,” and leave it at that!

There’s a lot of preparation that goes into hosting classes for kids. Besides the whole schedule coordination – considering groups, times, ages, skill levels, etc – there’s the question of getting in supplies, kitting them up, and situating a decent work area.

In the photo above, you can see the kits for this round of classes starting Monday. There are twenty students altogether, each with a kit containing linen for their sampler needlebook (pre-cut, served, and marked); a flour sack towel with the design pre-transferred; some 15 skeins of thread, sorted; several appropriate sizes and types of needles; two hoops (4″ and 6″); and small scissors.

The supplies are separated into ziplock bags to keep them clean and neat (clean and neat being the operative words, when dealing with kids!), and all these are tucked into a non-woven tote bag to keep everything together. In the past, I’ve used paper gift bags, but they don’t hold up well for the three-week duration.

Each child’s name is written on the tote and placed on the table, ready for the first class on Monday.

The classes are divided this year into classes of 4 or 5 depending on the age and skill level of the students. The oldest class has six students in it, the majority of whom have had some decent stitching experience.

Hand embroidered summer garden on flour sack towel

I’m afraid I didn’t take a very good photo of the classroom set-up, but you can get the idea above.

In the front room of my studio, I arranged two folding tables arranged in an L-shape. They face a very large window overlooking the neighbor’s backyard, which is gorgeously adorned with well-kept flower beds and beautiful shady spaces. It’s a great view, considering there isn’t much on my studio’s property worth looking at!

The space is sunny and bright and roomy. Still, dedicated light is a good thing, so each child has a task lamp to work under. You can find the task lamps that we use for classes listed on my Amazon Recommendations page, in the first spot under the Tools & Accessories list. It’s been a great little lamp, and it’s affordable!

The walls behind the sitting spaces are blank, because the room is small enough without adding clutter on all the walls, but the other walls have windows, some decor, and one has a screen we can use for video projection for other classes. With the kids’ classes, though, I don’t use video projection. Since we’re working with small numbers at a time, in relatively close quarters, it works best all around to demonstrate stitches without a screen as an intermediary. They learn better, too, because it is directly hands-on.

So, that’s how the last couple days of this week were spent, in preparation for Monday’s classes. I’m looking forward to them, and down the road, I share some progress and insights. I always learn new things and develop new ideas while teaching kids!

I hope you have a jolly weekend!

This article contains an affiliate link to my Amazon Recommendations page, which means that any purchases made through that link result in a small commission for Needle ‘n Thread at no extra cost to you. Every tiny bit helps! Thanks!


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(16) Comments

  1. Dear Mary

    Good luck with the kids classes next week. What lovely kits and I’m sure the kids will love their projects especially rapped so nicely in those tote bags with their names on them they will feel special. I look forward to the progess on their individual projects. Thanks for sharing with us the photos of the room and needlework bags for the kids I’m sure they will love it. Good luck

    Regards Anita Simmance

  2. I am thinking of teaching my granddaughters to embroidery, so am finding your articles on class prep very interesting. How do you teach a class of 6 students the different stitches without using a projection screen? Do you print handouts? I can see that having a kit ready with supplies would be the way to go.

    1. I do have a screen for projecting overhead video from my camera, but I don’t do this with the kids. I think they learn and retain better when they aren’t locked into the screen. So we (my niece helps me with the classes) work with two kids at a time, demonstrating a stitch, while the other kids are separating floss, or selecting colors, or what-have-you. I do sometimes give a handout with some of my step-by-step stitch instructions for more complex stitches, when necessary. Just remember if you use a handout that kids need to be taught how to “read” a stitch diagram or stitch instructions. They don’t necessarily pick up on a diagram at a first glance – sometimes, you have to walk them through the steps and show how those steps correspond to the diagram.

  3. This looks like so much fun! I’m an excellent student and I love small class sizes because you can get to know the other students better, and the teacher doesn’t feel so distant and foreboding.

    I was wondering where these students are coming from. Is it from your church? Community center? Word of mouth? Local school district?

    I think it would be more interesting for the older students with experience to get to try something new, such as goldwork or stumpwork (on their own of course! those would be very expensive supplies to buy!). Then, they could bring their projects in and you could give some advice or guidance. If they finish before classes are over, you could maybe hang them up as inspiration for the younger students. And there I go giving unsolicited opinions about your classes again. I’m terribly sorry, I know it is quite rude. You know what’s possible time wise and skill-wise, I do not. I’m just imagining The Perfect Class. Sigh.

    I’ve looked into it and all I can find in Michigan are small cross-stitching groups. No classes and no other techniques. If anyone knows about anything in Southeast Michigan (up to Saginaw even) I would be quite excited to check it out.

    1. Here in my town. I announce it by word of mouth, and the spaces fill up very quickly, mostly from parents I know. I’ve never had a chance to actually put in the newspaper or announce it in any public way, because it fills up from kids whose parents are among my own acquaintance, or acquainted with people among my acquaintance.

      Yes, you might be a bit too idealistic in your imaginings. Just like going to school, each year, even with embroidery, review is essential, and my classes are still at the point of having to review the running stitch and backstitch – even the older participants. They aren’t quite up to goldwork, stumpwork, etc.

    2. Whitney,

      Sorry this is late. I’m a little behind on Mary’s posts. There is a place called POST. They hold workshops for many different “crafts”. I almost did not reply because it’s in Detroit (just south of Grosse Pointe) and your comment led me to believe you lived much further north. Then I decided not to assume. I’ve wanted to go for some time but, to date, have not been. It takes a lot for me to travel below 8 Mile these days. If you are interested their website is…mutualadoration.com. There website explains who and what they are much better than I could.

  4. Hello Mary, Now that you are all set up for your class, will the kit for The Leafy Tree be ready soon, or have I already missed it? I am so excited to order this kit. Your kits are so beautifully put together, and so much fun to stitch. Thank you for teaching me so much. Nancy.

    1. I’m working on it! Everything seems to be heaping up at once, but I’m working on it at night right now. I’ll announce it on the site – very prominently – when it’s time to release it, letting everyone know what day and what time it will be available for sale.

  5. Mary you kit up just beautifully. I’d be so excited to come to one of your classes, with a kit like that waiting.

  6. HI Mary, can you tell me what count and type of linen you wound up getting for the kid’s needle book line sampler? Good luck with the classes! Such a great thing for kids!

    1. Hi, Denise – It really depends on what you have available. I would say a 28 – 30 count would work fine, but again, work with what you have access to! The fabric in my sample here is no longer being made. It was Montrose 1750, but it’s not available anymore.

  7. Thanks for this post. I am preparing a proposal for my school board (I just retired) to suggest we create groups in high need schools to teach students to knit. But as we gather evidence in research, we find that all sorts of handicrafts can be beneficial in helping children and staff in dealing with stress, anxiety and depression. I am planning on adding embroidery to the proposal (I have embroidered since I was 6), so this is very helpful in practical matters.
    Our biggest obstacle, as always, is funding. But I worked for a Catholic board and the last time I started a knitting group, I put an ad in the local church’s bulletin and got swamped with needles and yarn. I hope for the same this time.

  8. I would have loved attending your classes as a kid. I liked to spend my summers making things and it would have been so much fun to be in a class with others who did too.

    1. Hi, Mary – This is something we’ve been recently discussing. We might, towards the end of the summer, but it really depends. I’m a little short on space, which is problematic. So we shall see!

  9. Hi Mary! I know this post is pretty old but I am currently teaching my 10 year old and 16 year old hand embroidery. I was wondering if I can have your opinion on a few things regarding the pedagogy of the practice of teaching it I guess you could say. I am an advanced beginner myself, but I so want them to learn with me. They seem to enjoy it and I am so proud. How do you think the beginning of the teachings should be organized, I have been reviewing on “sampler” like pieces what was taught the last time we stitched together. Do you think this is a good method, to review what was learnt last and then to practice one or two new stitches? I’m trying to work with all of the bones of hand embroidery first:running stitch, back stitch, stem, blanket, buttonhole, long and short, satin, chain, split stitch etc on straight lines first and then circles. Anything else I should focus on? My other question is this: do you think it is good practice to have them redo stitches that are wrong, let me clarify, this is on the final piece, not the practice piece or should I just leave it? The last thing I want is to discourage them but I also want them to learn proper technique. Thank you for teaching.

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