My kids love to hand sew when it’s simple and produces a finished product quickly. We made these ornaments during our first snow day with materials we had on hand and in our pajamas, of course. There are options for older kids as well as for the younger child, or one who is just learning to sew. You may need to help your child with a step or two, and please observe your child closely since the project requires a needle and scissors. So if you get the whiny, “Mom, I’m boooorrred,” grab some supplies and find a cozy spot near a fire for some good old fashioned stitching. They will be so proud of their work and you will have a little keepsake to hang on the tree for years to come.
Here are the supplies you’ll need:
- pinking shears
- large needle
- chalk or disappearing ink pen
- embroidery floss
- hoop (not mandatory but really helpful)
- wool, felt or linen (loose weave fabric is easier to push a needle through)
- holiday fabric for backing
- ribbon or rick rack scraps for hanging
First take your hoop and eyeball about 2 inches larger to make your cuts. If you stack your felt and backing fabric, you can cut them at the same time.
Set the backing aside for now. If your child is adept at embroidery or hand stitching, have him or her draw a design directly on the felt fabric with the chalk or disappearing ink pen. Explain that each line will be stitched over so draw something that is in one dimension with easy lines. A simple tree or mitten outline would be fairly doable, but a poinsettia or Santa could get tricky for a young embroiderer. Also, keep in mind the colors of floss you have on hand before choosing your design. My daughter chose a snow man with a simple hat for one and a snowflake ball ornament for another.
Now just get the needle loaded and stitch along those lines. My daughter, at nine, still needs help threading the needle and a reminder to leave a sufficient tail to tie off. If your child is new to embroidery, you may need to give more instructions as needed. (Knot goes on the wrong side and work from front to back and back to front, etc). When I’m loading a needle for either of my kids, I separate the strands into groups of three strands. I double the strand and knot it off at the tail so they don’t loose the needle. Standard embroidery floss is made up of six strands twisted together. If you separate them before you knot off, you won’t have a super thick strand which would be too hard for them to push through the fabric. You can also separate them into groups of two if you are using a smaller needle or want thinner lines.
For the younger child or one who’s new to embroidery, cut a simple shape out of a felt scrap and have them stitch it down to the main piece. I cut an outline of a tree, but a mitten or star would be cute as well. After you cut out the shape, use chalk or disappearing ink pen to draw a line about a quarter of an inch in from the edge of the felt. I’ve found that it’s easier for them to follow a line. Now thread the needle, knotting off at the tails so the needle is secure, and let them stitch along.
Let them choose some holiday fabric for the back side and cut with the pinking shears through both layers to prevent fraying. For the next step, I knotted the floss and made sure the knot was in between the layers so you don’t see it on the back of the ornament when you’re done. Attach the layers together by stitching around the outside. Have your ribbon ready during this step so when you get to the top you can tuck it between the layers and stitch through it.