Thursday, July 25, 2013

Studio day with the kid

Sofia and I decided that for the rest of the summer she could spend Thursday afternoons with me and it would be our "studio day." Today was the first and I decided to teach her some embroidery stitches, explaining that embroidery was part sewing and part drawing with a needle and thread.

In preparation I purchased two embroidery hoops; an assortment of colored perle cotton; tapestry needles, which have large eyes and fairly blunt points, but still small enough to easily sew through cotton fabrics and  a blue marker that disappears with a spritz of water. I used the marker to draw a simple smiling sun face on two pieces of white cotton fabric. I thought it would be good for each of us to have our own practice piece. I could demo  the stitches on mine and she could copy them on hers. I wound the perle cotton onto plastic bobbins—skeins get too tangled in my opinion.

I started the lesson with an explanation of all the tools and materials and a quick bit of tool management and safety—keep scissors closed, pass them handles first; when not in use keep the needle pinned through the fabric; how to put the fabric in the hoop. Then we were ready to stitch.

We started with a running stitch for the rays of the sun, then moved on to the more difficult backstitch to outline the sun. Note that Sofia rejected the expected sun colors for her own favorites. I like that personal touch! She caught on quickly.

Small goofs along the way are par for the course and easily dealt with. She did not sew it to any of her clothing!

Popsickle break! Mango popsickles are delicious.

Back to the studio to learn the lazy-daisy stitch, proclaimed "easy and fast!" I thought she might find that stitch a bit more difficult, but I was wrong. I told Sofia she could stop for the day at any time. The first rule of Studio Day is that when it isn't fun anyomore that's the time to quit. But she was into it and wanted to finish it. And she did.

We took it out of the hoop, spritzed out the blue lines and pressed it.

She did a great job. I'm sure my first embroidery effort did not look this good. Now she is interested in embroidering her name on a pillowcase.

 I bought perle cotton instead of floss because I thought it would be easier to handle for a first project and it was a good choice.

Threading the needle was a challenge and I ended up threading needles for her. I need to find a needle threader that will work with the perle cotton. My threader with the fine little wire loop wasn't up to the task.

White Kona cotton fabric was perfect for stitching with the blunt tapestry needle. Not too tightly woven.


  1. A beautiful piece she produced!

  2. Yay Sofia!!! What an amazing first piece of embroidery. Not sewing a project to one's clothing is something I still haven't mastered. This post took me back to summers spent with my Gram. All of the handcrafts I learned with her and her friends formed the basis of my life long love of textiles and creating. Sofia will remember these studio days with you as long as she lives. (I have used floral wire that comes on a spool as a needle threader. It might be easier for little fingers to hold.)

  3. I taught a kids sewing club. Threading needles was the biggest problem! I used crewel needles which aren't as blunt as tapestry, but have big eyes.
    For a simple needle threader, I brought a reel of handquilting thread someone gave me. We cut off lengths of it, doubled over, stick through the eye, put the embroidery thread in, and then tug through the eye. The quilting thread is strong enough, and flexible, and if you need to tug a bit more, you can wrap the loose ends round your finger. The kids called them 'freddies' (one of the regional accents in this part of England often uses f instead of th, especially with an r after it.) If you lost it or if it was overhandled too much, it was easy to cut another one.

    Do you have 'Coton A Broder' thread there? It frays far less than perle can do, but isn't stranded like floss. The infant school (age 5-7) had a lady come one afternoon to teach small groups of children to embroider. I still have the Binca cloth sampler my son did. Anyway, she used coton a broder. DMC and Anchor both do a range of them.

    Look forward to seeing more projects. Well done little artist!
    Sandy in the UK

  4. Ohhh Terry - my beloved "Aunt Burt" taught me how to embroider at the age of 7. She also gifted me this nifty embroidery box filled with everything I would need (you know how little girls love boxes filled with treasures). Well that led to me stitching for 20 yrs (I always had some project going). At 26 I got a quilting book by mistake when I had ordered an embroidery book. The next thing you know I was quilting - which Aunt Burt also did as a passion also. When I was 44 and she was 93 - I got sit down for a cup of tea to show her what my 20 years of quilting had taken me. All because she gave me my first embroidery lesson at the age of 7. So keep on Sewing those seeds - you never know where its going to take Sofia!! Blessings!!!

  5. I'm not sure I have perfected the lazy daisy stitch. Go Sofia! What a wonderful way for grandkids and grandparents to spend time together. I hope that my girl will be interested in my sewing/crafting hobbies. She's three, so we have a few more years.

  6. Beautiful! Thank you for taking the time to work with her. The payback is tenfold.

  7. What a fantastic job she did! I am so looking forward to the day when I can do these types of things with my granddaughter...I just hope she has the interest.

  8. This brings back such memories. When I was four my grandmother taught me to hoop the cloth, thread the needle and do a cross stitch and had me embroider rows of Xs following the hem of every pillowcase she had in the house - all in an effort to keep me out of her hair on rainy days.

  9. Sofia took to embroidery like a fish to water. These summer afternoons together will be great memory-makers as well as wonderful training for her.

  10. Being taught by the best! Funnily enuf I have a little package of embroidery stuff ready to use this week with my 5 year old g'daughter! I forgot the embroidery hoops though- hope I can find one before we head out to spend the week with them! Nice post, Terry! She's a lucky little girl, and it looks like a future embroidery lover!

  11. The dental floss threaders for braces are the best for heavier threads/yarns. For what ever reason they seem hard to find, but are basically fishing line that has been formed into a loop at one end. I will try to remember to put one in my wallet to give you.

  12. Anonymous9:52 AM

    What a fun summer activity. I think I'll give it a try with my granddaughters. Maybe we'll sit in the shade and have a summer conversation too. The dental floss and quilting threads are super ideas.

  13. You're the best grandmother, Terry!

  14. How fun! I love your "when it's not fun anymore..." rule. Sometimes I, as an adult, forget that and end up getting frustrated and make even bigger mistakes. She is lucky to have you so close...and so are you! :) I hope you enjoy your future Thursdays together.

  15. What a great job! I've forgotten how old Sofia is now....5? Charlie was in my sewing room on Saturday afternoon and asked 'could you teach me to sew MiMi?". I said yes..... but then we were called away to eat dinner. He is almost 3, but I think that if he is interested in learning, I can start him with a basic stitch. Of course, his Daddy won't be very supportive, but then we don't have to tell him, do we?
    My Nana taught me to embroider, and I have the very fondest memories of those wonderful days.


  16. Way to go Sophia! I don;t know that my daughter would have stuck with the project all the way to completion. She's got great hand skills too. I have a flat metal threader with a small hook on one end and a larger on the other. It works great for needles with largish eyes and with bulky thread. I look forward to more Studio Day projects.