Embroidery with Kids: Sewing with a Group

It's easy to sew with 1 or 2, but when you sew with a crowd (especially kids) it's best to be prepared!  My class has 18 kindergarten kids and luckily I have a wonderful assistant to support me in my crazy endeavors.  Although I teach young kids, I think I would handle things pretty much the same with older ones.  Here are a few tips for doing an embroidery project in your classroom.   

*Be prepared.  While you want to have the kids become independent sewers, your life will be so much happier if you have the fabric already on the hoops and some needles pre-threaded.

*Start off in small groups.  We began with groups of 3 for 15 minute each over a 3 day period.  This way, I could sit with the kids, make sure they were on the right track and understood what to do.  After this initial period, they sewed during other designated times.  By staggering the starting points, the kids worked and finished at different times which was helpful.  Everyone wasn't clambering for help all at once.

*Make sure your project has a purpose.  Knowing why they are doing something and what the finished project should look like is very important for kids.  Embroidery for embroidery's sake is not going to sit well with young sewers.  Next time I'll show off some cool projects.

*While many kids will need your help with threading needles, tying knots, and fixing mistakes, make sure you have a "DIY" station stocked with needles, threads, and scissors for the kids to practice threading on their own.  I even had Sewing School open to the the theading a needle page for reference.

Here are some common mistakes that I encountered and tried to explain to the kids.  

 Oops!  Someone sewed around the hoop!  You can only go up and down - no whipstiches in embroidery.  How to fix it - unthread the needle, pull out the stitches and start again.
 Oops!  I drew too much and will never, ever finish in time!  How to fix it - unfortunately, I didn't catch this one until the sewing had started.  Luckily, pencil lines will disappear with a  little wash.  She'll sew what she can and then we'll wash it to take out extra pencil lines before turning it into a pillow.
So, with a little planning, heads up, and time, sewing with a group of kids is fun and very rewarding.


Craftysquirrel said...

I am loving these posts, have just done the sewing cards with my 4 yr old in preparation for giving these a go (posted results on my blog). I saw your mention of them before trying embroidery and also in Amanda Blake Soules book. Can't wait for my daughter to give embroidery a try soon.

Lise said...

This is a great idea for a post; thanks for your tips! (In addition to the group things, I learned that pencil washes out; didn't know that one!) I am alone with 6 young children (2-5 year-olds) and have often done embroidery with them. I've got a good rhythm down now, but it's hard to keep the needles threaded fast enough--they use big stitches and have short arms! I love your needle-threading station idea, and will do that for sure next time.

I wanted to add that if you're working with younger kids like mine, embroidery for embroidery's sake is just fine and dandy with them--no goal needed. :-)