Introducing young children to cross-stitch can be easy and enjoyable for teacher and student alike. Use these tips as a guide to help them with their first project and keep them stitching!
Choosing a Project
Offer the child fun, colorful designs that will interest them—this will make them more likely to want to finish what they start. Bright, graphic motifs made up of full cross-stitches are great for starting out. There are many beginner kits available, or try the motifs shown at the bottom of the page.
Once they have chosen their design, gather the materials for them. Start with a basic, easy fabric count. Many kids can start with a 14-ct. aida, plastic canvas, or Vinyl-Weave and two strands of cotton embroidery floss (this makes it easier to secure the floss in the beginning without knots on the back).
To help learn the symbols and transfer the colors to the fabric, make a simple floss card with the color names and symbols listed. If it helps, try separating the strands ahead of time so they can easily be pulled from the card without tangling.
Ready the Fabric
If your child is starting with aida fabric, use a hoop to keep it taut and stable. It is much easier to count squares and bring the needle up and down when the fabric isn’t bending and moving around. If not using a hoop or stitching on plastic canvas or Vinyl-Weave, cut the fabric or canvas with enough extra so that a mistake here and there won’t make them run out of room, but not so much that the excess is in the way. (Usually adding around 6" to each dimension of the finished work is plenty.)
Start your child with a blunt-tip needle with a large eye. This will make it easier to thread and also reduce the chances of poked fingers. If your child isn’t quite capable of threading the needle, help them out each time until they get the hang of it. Along the same line, provide blunt-tip scissors for trimming threads. And, of course, always be present when your child is using a needle and scissors.
Before they begin, explain the symbols and how each square on the chart is the same as one square of aida fabric or plastic canvas. Help them find the center of the fabric and the center of the design. Use a scrap piece of fabric or canvas to demonstrate a few stitches, then have them practice before starting their project. Show them how to begin their stitching and how to end off by weaving under previous stitches. (Click here for Counted Cross-Stitch Basics.)
When they finish a design, no matter how small or imperfect, frame it or finish it and place it in an honored location in your home. Or let them decide who will get the piece as a gift! If they are interested, let them help you do the finishing work. Once they’re done with one project, offer them another. If they want to take a break, keep the next project on-hand and ready to begin whenever they are ready. Just be sure to have enough projects ready for when they love stitching as much as you do!