One of my favorite things to do - especially at the end of the day - is to busy my hands with an embroidery project. There is something magical about the slow(er) pace of hand sewing: feeling the fabric and thread in my hands, the work of the needle, and seeing the project slowly come to life.
Since I'm often with a project in hand - Thea has been asking me to teach her to sew. We have fiddled a bit with stitching before, but she seemed to become frustrated that her projects didn't look very much like mine. With mixed results, we tried free stitching, as well as me tracing a shape for her to work on.
Yet she was determined that she wanted to sew something for her grandmothers' mothers' day presents. The projects turned out beautifully (our gift for her Omie is pictured above) - so I thought I'd share a bit about how we did it.
To start, you'll need some basic materials: fabric; a marker, pencil, or something to create your pattern; and a template to trace (if, like me, freehand drawing is not a strength).
You'll also need an embroidery hoop (I find plastic ones to be sturdier & easier for little hands to work with) and large child-safe needles (the ones pictured are plastic). And of course, thread (not pictured). We usually use regular cotton embroidery thread, all six strands. I find that using a length no more than 18 inches is easiest: it helps prevent thread tangling and wear - and is easier for small hands to pull stitches tight.
Burlap is one of my favorite fabrics for stitching with my wee girl - it's thick weave nicely accomodates the large needles we use, and I do like the look of it. I was lucky to score a huge amount of burlap at the thrift store for just a few dollars - and it has lasted me for several years.
Use your marker to create your pattern using dotted lines. The dots serve as stitch guides. Using dotted lines finally allowed my sweet girl (4 years) to create the pattern she wanted.
I used a thick mark-b-gone pen, which made for large, visible dots that also bled through to the back of the fabric.
This was helpful so that my girl could turn the hoop over and see where to make her next stitch.
The ink from this marker fades away when sprayed with water, leaving only your pretty stitches. I do love these pens, but I have had mixed results with burlap.
I have found that on burlap, the ink does not disappear, but instead migrates to the edges of the fabric. With that said, I will still use it for projects with my girl, but I will be sure to factor that into my cutting of the fabric
Be sure to start with a large enough piece of fabric, stitch, and then spray. Once the fabric has dried and the ink migration is complete, you can cut out any additional pattern (I traced a circle using a regular pencil).
To create the template for the word "love" in the middle of the heart, I printed out the words in a size and font that I like. I then positioned it where I wanted it on the back of the fabric, using tape to secure. Then I taped the fabric to a window and traced the letters.
The photo above is the finished gift for her Mema. Thea helped picked the fabric, thread colors, and buttons, and, after she had stitched the hearts (all by herself!) I stitched the remaining elements together.
She is so proud of her work! And I am so proud of her.