If you read the old blog very regularly you'll know that the embroidery bug has hit our house hard. I bought a bunch of embroidery stuff early in the year and we just keep at it! My kids are completely sold and I love it just as much as they do. We are by no means very skilled at it, but there's something so therapeutic about a little hand sewing. You know who got bit by the bug worst of all? My six-year-old son! He asks to embroider multiple times a week; it's probably the cutest thing ever.
Today I'm sharing some Simple Embroidered Ornaments with you as part of Handmade Holidays 2015. Cassie from Wholefully and I have been sharing simple homemade gift ideas all week long and today's another day to add to that collection (she's sharing the cutest baby booties today!). Don't be scared off by the idea of embroidering either, if my six-year-old can swing it, so can you! The beauty and nostalgia of hand stitching makes for a beautiful and heartfelt gift. The best part is how easy it is to personalize your ornaments. The sky is the limit!
When it comes to embroidery I am no expert, but I wanted to share with you what we do so that you can see just how easy it really is. In the picture above I did the "Merry and Bright', my eight-year-old did the tree, and my six-year-old did the JOY and gingerbread man. Isn't that awesome!
First up, like every new skill, a little information goes a long way. I'm a big visual learner, so picking up few basic embroidery books has made a big difference. My favorite two are Doodle Stitching and A-Z of Embroidery Stitches.
I like A-Z of Embroidery Stitches because it's a great visual guide to learning lots of basic stitches (and lots of fancy ones too). I do a basic back-stitch, chain stitch, and French knots and that's about it. If you don't want to buy a whole book, those three stitches are a great place to start. My kids just go in and out with the needle... I don't know if that has a name or not but it's just basic hand sewing.
I like Doodle Stitching because it has lots of little patterns. It comes with a CD of the digital images too so that you can print her patterns and trace them onto your fabric. It's great inspiration and the designs are cute but simple.
Now let's chat about supplies.
Needles: I like to buy needles that say "embroidery" on them because the eye is longer and way easier to thread. The most common sizes of embroidery needles are 7 and 9, though I normally pick up the variety pack because why not. Any needle will work though, just don't use a super fat one because it makes the funny little holes where you pull it through the fabric.
Thread: I just bought normal old embroidery floss (the kind you make friendship bracelets out of) in a variety pack. I didn't need super specific colors and just wanted a variety so that worked well for us. I also bought a box and cards to put all the floss on. I like having them on the cards because it reduces the knots in the thread by about a million percent. It takes a little time to wind them all on (why isn't the thread just sold on the cards?!), but it's well worth the time especially if you are going to have kids using the thread. The floss comes with 6 strands of thread all together. Most people will pull out one piece of the thread, thread it onto the needle, double it over and then tie a knot in the end (so that you are embroidering with two strands of thread). I like to start with two pieces so that I'm actually working with four strands when it's all said and done. Ornaments are small and the kids' stitching is kind of big, so working with a little more thread helps you to see the design better. Just my two cents there. The thread is the trickiest part for the kids. I have to thread their needles and tie the knots in the end as well as tie off the fabric when they are done with that color. They need quiet a bit of help with this part but it's a good hands on mama/kid activity. I like to cut my thread about 2 feet long so that after you thread it on the needle, double it over, and tie the knot in the ends you have about a foot of thread to work with. This is a good amount for little people to work with without getting too many knots in it.
Fabric: I just bought some plain jane cotton fabric in a light neutral to work with. I did use a double layer of it (just folded it in half) so that it was a little thicker and so that you don't see the thread on the back side as easily (sometimes you can see the strings on the underside when the fabric is light). I also have done a little embroidery on wool felt (much nicer product than the cheap polyester felt), you only need one layer of that because it's so thick. You can embroider just about anything that will take a stitch, but for these ornaments normal old cotton or muslin will work great.
Hoops: I love embroidery hoops! They really make the process easier. I own hoops that are 3, 4, 5, and 6 inches and they are perfect for ornaments. If you are planning on keeping the ornament in the hoop, the 3 or 4 inch is a nice size. I like the wood hoops best because they seem to hold the fabric tighter to me.
Washable Colored Fabric Markers: Having your design drawn right on the fabric is a must. I loved getting these colored markers for the kids because they have a hard time seeing the design when it is all one color. I like to draw the stitches (not just straight lines, but each little dash so they can see where their needle goes in and out) in the colors they will use. This is great for really young kids (my four-year-old son needs this extra step and my bigger kids did too when they were first learning). When they get the hang of it you can transition to just colored lines and they can decide the length and spacing of the stitches. If you can decide your colors as you go you'll only need a nice black washable fabric marker for your design. You have lots of options when it comes to the design too. For the ornaments I just free-handed little designs for the kids. You can print off pictures from the internet, use coloring book pages, or draw something on paper first. The easiest way to transfer an image is to tape your design to the window and then tape your fabric to the window over the design. If the fabric is light and the sun is out, you should be able to trace the pattern onto the fabric pretty easily.
This is how I draw things for the kids to sew. Pretty visually easy to understand what's going on...
That's about all you need to get your embroidery on! My kids are working on larger 10 inch by 10 inch quilt blocks and they also are making lots of ornaments for Christmas. The ornaments are just the rights size to test the waters and get a project done in just an afternoon. They are a great place to start for anyone!
Simple Embroidered Ornaments
What you will need:
Fabric (to embroider on and more if you are going to stuff your ornament)
Ribbon for hanging
1. Start by deciding on a design/phrase/ornament look. Use the fabric pens to trace the design onto the fabric and then place the fabric inside your embroidery hoop. If you are going to free hand the design I like to put the fabric in the hoop first and then dray my design so that the fabric is tight and I know just how much space I have to work with.
2. Embroidery your heart out. (See beginning of post for lots of suggestions)
3. Remove the embroidery from the hoop and gently wash it to remove the marker. I just wash mine in the sink with a little warm water and a dot of dish soap.
4. Let the embroidery air dry flat.
5. Press the embroidery with a hot iron to remove any wrinkles.
-You can either leave the embroidery in the hoop and give the hoop away too or you can sew a back on and stuff it-
For the embroidery in the hoop ornament, put the embroidery back in hoop. You can use a smaller hoop too if you like. Just make sure that it fills the hoop nicely. Trim the edges of the fabric that stick out of the hoop so that just the fabric that is tight in the center remains. Hot glue a ribbon (and bow if you like) to the top as a hanger. You can also hot glue ribbon around the outside of the hoop.
For the embroidered ornament that is stuffed-
Trace around the embroidery to the size of ornament you'd like (I generally trace around the outside of the hoop). Keep in mind you'll need about ¼ inch of seem allowance. Cut the embroidery out along your line. Cut a second piece of material the same size for the backing (you can use a cute Christmas fabric of a colored fabric here). Place the right sides of the material together and sew around the edge, leaving a ¼ inch seem allowance. Leave an opening at the top of the ornament (about 2 inches). Turn the fabric right side out through the opening. Fill it with a bit of stuffing (scraps of batting work great) until it's as puffy as you like (stuffing is option if you want a flatter ornament, leave it out). Stick a looped ribbon for hanging at the top of the ornament, and use pins to close the opening shut (make sure you pin the hanging ribbon in place), and then hand stitch the hole closed. If you don't have a sewing machine this project is small enough that hand stitching is still reasonable.
I hot glued a little ribbon around the outside of the hoop on the gingerbread one. Cute and easy!
You have so many options! You could embroidery a little replica of someone's home, monograms, butterflies and flowers, a chicken (my best friend made me an embroidered chicken ornament last year and it's the best!), your child's name as they have written it (that makes for a really fun little keepsake! Tiny people chicken scratch writing is my favorite), animals, snow flakes, phrases, and just about anything you can think of. This whole project should only take about an afternoon.
Turn off the electronics, turn on the Christmas music, and sit and enjoy the simple pleasures of needlework. I think your whole family might pick up this new hobby! It's so rewarding. Don't forget to pop over to Cassie's blog today too. She's got the cutest sewing project up!
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