Simple projects that use whole stitches and bright threads. For example, the Tiddlers range from Mouseloft cross stitch kits (www.mouseloft.co.uk) are ideal for youngsters and only £1.59 per kit. If you already have materials, how about one of these free charts from Gathered? Caterpillar cross stitch patterns, Gold medal cross stitch pattern, British beach huts cross stitch pattern, Sailing boat cross stitch pattern, Lamb cross stitch pattern.
Make a card to send
These will also work well because not only are they small and manageable, they’ll provide a superb sense of achievement when the child hands over their completed greetings to family and friends.
Pick a fun theme
Select designs that feature the child’s favourite hobby or animal. A cute character should help to keep them motivated.
Don’t overdo it
“Give the child a project that’s within their capabilities,” advises Roger at Mouseloft. “Small designs with only a few colours will give them more chance of achieving the satisfaction of completing a piece of stitching.”
Pick a fabric that’s easy for small hands to stitch
Equipment wise, start with low-count fabrics such as 6-count Binca or plastic canvas, so it’s easy to see where to stitch. Also invest in a large, blunt-ended tapestry needle – it will be easier for them to guide through the holes.
Keep initial stitching sessions short, simple and positive – little ones can lose concentration very quickly!
Demo the basics
Show them the basic steps of making a cross stitch and offer support, but resist the temptation to take over completely – let the child be as hands-on as possible, even if they make mistakes now and again. Need a refresher? Head to our How to Cross Stitch post and video tutorial.
Encourage and oversee
Remember to give lots of praise and encouragement along the way and supervise kids at all times.
Let their skills grow
Once they are able to stitch competently you can introduce yet more creativity: “We always suggest children colour in graph paper and create their own designs,” says Cara Ackerman of DMC. “Although any chart can be followed, there’s something personal and special about designing your own.”
Kids love bright colours and seeing their designs come to life. If you’ve got your binca fabric and needle ready, stitch with 3 strands of thread, rather than 2 as we usually do as adults. This helps the bright colours shine (catching children’s interest) and also works better with the bigger count of the fabric to create a fuller design.
Why teach cross stitch for kids?
If there’s one thing that’s even more enjoyable than stitching, it’s passing your love for the hobby on to someone new. Teaching a beginner to cross stitch is immensely satisfying, and kids make excellent pupils! Lessons will provide a great opportunity to spend quality time with your child or grandchild, allowing you to bond over a shared pastime. Even better, stitching can help boost their hand-eye co-ordination, concentration and maths skills. So, if you know a young relative or a friend’s child who’s itching to catch the stitching bug, we’re here to help you give them the best possible start in their new hobby.
Cross stitch designer Susan Ryder used to be a teacher, and ran a stitching club for youngsters aged six to 11. “Never underestimate what children can do – they can really surprise you,” she says. “Counted cross stitch is really good for them as it involves counting, co-ordination, planning ahead, appreciating the use of colour and experiencing the satisfaction of seeing a picture appear on a blank piece of fabric. Several of the children even became confident with fractional stitches and working on evenweave… and some of them ended up preferring to stay in at breaktimes and stitch, instead of going out to play!”
Kids of any age can start learning to stitch, although it’s normally at around six or seven that they start to show an interest in the hobby. Once they do, it’s a great cue to start coaching them. Stitching is fantastically enjoyable, and you’re sure to find it doubly so when you introduce a youngster to the hobby. Armed with these simple tips, you’ll be all set to give the younger generation a chance to fall in love with cross stitch, just like you did!