Introducing Children to Stitching and Fabrics

Pat Winter © 2006

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I was not blessed with a daughter, but I did try to include my son in my stitching when he was four. I was a cross stitcher then and I remember he always wanted to pull my needle through the cloth. I set him up with a plastic needle and Aida cloth and he made quite a mess but he enjoyed be included in my hobby. I have been known to borrow the neighborhood children to do crafts.

I have since taught a group of 12 year old girls to make their own bed quilts the old fashioned way, by hand. That is how I was taught by my mother in law, and I believe it is the best way to learn because you must learn to measure and cut with accuracy and not depend on rotary cutters, rulers, and sewing machines to do all the work. I must say I am thankful for the rotary cutters now that I have many projects going at once. And if I had to hand sew all of my first crazy quilt projects, they would probably be falling apart today.

Now that my son is grown and away at school, I took on a nanny position . It is a blessing in disguise. I care for a 7 year old boy named Stephen, and an 11 year old girl named Danielle. They are both gifted with artistic talent. This is the perfect age to introduce them to fabrics and thread, in my opinion. Recently I had the children for an overnight stay. We ended up in my sewing room as they love creating there.

Stephen decided he wanted to embellish the picture of a dragon. I printed one found on the computer onto a transfer and then ironed it on muslin. He used beads and colored pencils to bring it to life.

  The dragon 

Danielle wanted to recreate artwork which was on a mug she received for Christmas. It was a Laurel Burch pony in bright, cheerful colors. I brought out my sacred stash of Ellen Anne Eddy hand dyed cottons, which just seemed perfect for this project. Danielle worked all night on her piece using appliqués, beads, and silk ribbon to embellish her art. I taught her the silk ribbon Fargo Rose. It turned out beautifully and she is very proud of it. I helped her turn it into a journal cover.

Laurel Burch pony    Danelle 

Danielle wrote to Ms. Burch telling her about the project. Laurel Burch replied to Danielle's letter saying how she loved the journal. She also invited Danielle and her mother to her birthday bash in California. She may add Danielle's picture of her holding her journal to her web site. Laurel is very happy to be an inspiration to Danielle. If you want to see Laurel's beautiful Art you can visit her site.

I believe children have a need to experiment in all forms of art including needlework. Many of us never had the opportunity as children to do so, and when we discover this wonderful world of fabrics as adults, we have an opportunity to pass it on to the younger generation.

Crazy quilting has only recently been recognized as quilting and perhaps that is why it is not as popular as traditional quilting. We are all teachers and we need to take a moment and gather a small kit for a child and spend a day introducing them to our love of stitching. You won't be sorry. This is also an opportunity to clean out your unwanted stash and box it up for them to play and learn.

I looked in my collection of books for a simple silk ribbon embroidery book and gave it to Danielle. She had tears in her eyes and I tried to keep from tearing up myself. She said, “Pat, you have opened my eyes to a new form of artwork”. I can't tell you how that made me feel. That is what I'm talking about!

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