Tag Archives: Embroidery

Summer Embroidery Camp. #1

Six students, eager to learn. Lots of projects, ready to go. One teacher who has not taught summer camp before. Two kittens in the bedroom….break time cuddles essential.

Three of my students are new to me and new to the art of embroidery. Three of my students have been working with me before this week and so have some expertise and confidence.  Ages run from 6.5 to 10 years old. There is one boy attending.

We started with the Embroidery Camp Rules.

1. Be kind to yourself.

2. Be responsible for your tools and materials.

3 Have clean hands.

4. Listen carefully to instructions

5.Time doesn’t matter

6. Help each other.

7. Keep trying.

8. Focus.

These are not in any order of importance. They are all important.

On the second day I ran through them again at the beginning of the day but after that there was no need. It is safe to say that we had six completely focused stitchers for three hours a day. We took a short break in the middle of the session, but apart from that there was twelve hours of learning new skills, making beautiful things and useful tools for future embroidery.

Each of the six students made a set of tools.
Each of the six students made a set of tools.

What did we make?

The Tools.

Each student made a pincushion, a needle roll, a scissor fob and a tassel for keeping the needle threader  safe.

The Project.

Along with making the tools the students stitched a 5 X 7 piece of 8 HPI aida cloth with a sampler of stitches. We made a rows of running stitch, whipped and laced, chain stitch,  blackwork of geometric shapes linked together, cross stitch and a back stitch name. This finished piece will fit into a key rack purchased from Sudberry House.  It ought to be noted here that two of my students were well able to follow a more complicated pattern and these two had a more challenging project. They loved it and altho did not finish it this week I am certain that it will be finished. As you can see from their progress.image

We ended our embroidering week with everyone happy with their achievements and  some eager sign ups for our next session, at the end of next month. What shall we stitch….mmmm ..what a pleasant prospect. I get to plan another week of sharing the art of embroidery with a group of amazing young people. What luxury is that?


What are the benefits of teaching embroidery in the third grade classroom?

The student who stitched this has many challenges to learning…..but not to embroidery. Wonderful work

What skills are learned by learning to embroider in the classroom.

In order to attain a satisfactory result with the assignment the students must….

1. Be able to follow directions exactly
2. Be responsible for and understand how to use the assigned materials
3. Learn the dexterity needed to thread a needle.
4. Learn how to follow a complicated pattern from paper to fabric.
5. Learn the meaning of total accuracy with every part of the project
6. Learn to make a stitch the correct way
7. Learn that only patience and persistence will get the needed result.
8. Learn that perseverance is rewarded with success.
9. Learn the rules of design.
10. Learn to see how color can be used to enhance the design.
11.  Learn the history of the art and its place in students’ lives in previous centuries.
12 Learn  that instant results are not expected or desirable.
13. Learn pride of achieving something the student thought was difficult.
14. Learn the art of total focus and concentration.
15. Learn the spatial awareness needed to follow a pattern.
16. Learn about where their clothing is made and by whom.

17. Learn how to deal with a mistake, how to decide whether to work with the error or unpick the mistake. How some errors can result in artistic improvements. Not all errors are bad.

18. Realize that you do not have to be good at math, reading or very smart to achieve an excellent result.  Amazingly beautiful projects are successfully stitched by students for whom academics is a constant challenge. Embroidery is liberating to such a student.

These are not in any order of importance. They are a cumulative observation of mine over many years of teaching this art and craft to third graders.

Students who start work on embroidery in the classroom setting start out perplexed, worried, tearful, under confident, but curious.

By the end of the session they are knowledgeable artists with confident skills in their craft. They can concentrate, be totally accurate, persevere, be responsible for their project and the materials,  choose colors, know what success means and be confident in their abilities to deliver a good result.  Every teacher wants this for their students.

Just one of fifty beautifully stitched, carefully colored designs. My design their color choices.
Just one of fifty beautifully stitched, carefully colored designs. My design their color choices.


Next Post: What is Embroidery Time?

Sent from my iPad

Under the radar:embroidery as a controversial subject!!

Here are four of 75 trees stitched at the beginning of our stitching year. To achieve this the students had to learn how to thread a needle and make a stitch. Big challenge to understand that the thread has to reenter the fabric from the same side from which it exited. These trees represent a considerable advancement in dexterity and spatial awareness. You can feel the mental energy in the room.

As the academic year draws to a close it is a time to reflect on all we have done in the classroom. In my case this is just a reflection of embroidery as an art, craft and teaching aid. I have been volunteering to teach a once a week class to three third grade classes.

First,  it ought to be noted, that I have been teaching embroidery to third graders at the same elememtary school, on and off, since my children were there in the nineties, both as a classroom teacher and a volunteer.  Our modest program has operated under four principals. I think it would be fair to say that the climate has become progressively frigid. There is no global warming to the concept of teaching elementary students to embroider. At one point last year the principal, incited by the fourth grade teachers,  who considered that stitching was wasting the students’ valuable instructional time, directed that all stitching cease in favor of core curriculum instruction.

The third grade teachers, in a way all teachers will understand, decided that the program was too valuable to their students to allow this. So we wrote a core curriculum additive which meant that embroidery was taught as math. And so we carried on.  But, stitching under the radar has its costs. Now we could no longer send letters home requesting a donation for materials.  Let me tell you…..75 eager embroiderers get through the materials.  Especially when Erik loses 5 needles!!

So what was the solution to this funding gap.  Elegantly we side stepped the need for donations by capitalizing on the students’ love of their newly learned craft and their desire to have stitching materials for the long summer vacation. I designed a cross stitch kit of the school logo and sold these for $10 a pop; that, with another kit of just, thread and a variety of fabric called, “Design Your Own” . By encouraging the students to do chores to earn their money and making sure that the students knew that if they brought their money there would be a kit for them. We raised over $650 which, with some kind donations, I hope will cover the costs for next year.  If we are allowed to continue!!

Next post….the benefits of teaching embroidery to children.

Summer Embroidery Camp

Rolled felt pincushion and a needle roll made of broad already embroidered ribbon and lined with felt and tied with a ribbon

Next week I will be teaching a 4 day embroidery summer camp. It is the first time I have ever done this. I will have 6 students, aged between 6 and 10 years. Three of the students have worked with me before during a Parks and Rec class. What we stitched did not put them off and they have brought some friends along too.

What to stitch? mmmm

I have thought that to make your own stitching and embroidery tools would be empowering and satisfying. So we will make a pincushion, needle roll, scissor fob and tassel for a needlethreader, very useful all. My idea….unless I change my mind, is to collect all these embroidery tools into an empty tennis ball canister. My daughter is a college tennis player and these containers are very easy to come by, totally free and have the massive benefit of being see thru…also there is room for all the tools and a small stitching project too. Neat, clean, tidy, and easy to keep with your stitching. We will see if the students think so too.