Needlework for Children in France

April 2, 2013

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Text and images by Gabrielle.

Something interesting about our French school (and from what I understand, all French schools), is that needlework is part of the curriculum.

Embroidery and France

I realized this during our first year here, when (then 9-year-old) Olive’s school class completed two separate cross-stitch projects — both the boys and the girls. I asked around, and apparently, this wasn’t unusual at all.

Embroidery and France

Then, just a few months ago, Maude was introduced to embroidery for children in France, when her friend and peer gave her a beautifully embroidered wallet. The whole thing, including the binding on the edges, had been hand-stitched by her friend years earlier. Isn’t it lovely?

The embroidery introduction continued when Maude’s French tutor, an 80-year old French woman named Marie, who is very refined, started to teach Maude different embroidery stitches as part of their tutoring sessions.

I should note, when I mention French tutoring, what I mean is, the oldest 3 kids meet with Marie weekly, one-on-one at the public library. And they just chat. About all sorts of topics — zombie movies, images of our town during WWII, scenes from plays, or even embroidery. The hour-long chats introduce new vocabulary and strengthen our children’s French skills, but don’t involve formally practicing conjugations or rote memorization. It’s a way to practice French, and learn about French culture, without feeling like they’re doing more homework.

Embroidery and FranceEmbroidery and France

Anyway, Marie introduced embroidery to Maude as a topic of conversation for their tutoring sessions, and Mimi, who is so good with her hands, has been loving it.

Marie brought a needle, a thimble, and a small piece of fabric. Maude already had a stockpile of embroidery thread (she uses it for friendship bracelets). And now Maude is practicing the different stitches.

Embroidery and France

And pictured here, Olive’s charming, cross-stitched, recipe notebook mentioned above. It sits happily in our kitchen and records the French recipes we try.

Being able to correctly use a needle and thread seems to be considered a basic life skill here. The understanding is that everyone needs to know how to sew on a button, or make basic repairs to clothing.

No doubt it relates to the clothing culture here, which, from what I’ve observed, is not as “disposable” as it is in the U.S. — especially for adults. People tend to own less clothing overall, but invest more on individual items, then care for them properly, and wear them for a long time.

Embroidery and France

I’d love your thoughts on all of this. What would you think if needlework was introduced as part of the curriculum in your school? Waste of time? Kids should be taking keyboarding instead? Or, referencing Amy’s excellent post from yesterday, would you group needlework with The Arts? And just out of curiosity, how are your own needle skills? Did you ever learn how to properly sew on a button or patch your clothes? I’d love to hear!

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{ 73 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Marille April 2, 2013 at 8:10 am

Good basic needlework is simply a life skill. Even if you don’t end up an accomplished seamstress (like my mother, who used to make my church dresses and some amazing samplers), you can sew on a button and fix a tear and take up a hem. Admittedly, I’m a little biased, because I did a bit of costuming at the university theatre: while I’m nowhere near as good as my mother or my bosses at the costume shop, I can hem and patch and add buttons and sew a straight line, which has been invaluable.
That said, it is nice to be able to make things simply because they’re pretty. I love a good piece of embroidery; a lot of my colleagues here in Vienna have monogrammed handkerchiefs and the like, which I find really charming. I even started on a quilt over the summer (like I said, straight lines!) It’s what Jane Brocket calls a “gentle art”: it does not demand to be practiced, but it makes life so much nicer.

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2 Lucy Mitchell April 2, 2013 at 8:18 am

My needlework skills are terrible – however, I can replace a button on the rare occasions that I need to. My husband, on the other hand mended the net around our trampoline with a darning needle and fishing twine. The ethic in French schools sounds lovely, just teaching kids that things can actually be mended rather than replaced is a lesson in itself!

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3 juliagblair April 2, 2013 at 8:24 am

I think doing needle work is a wonderful skill. I’m envious of the older (my age) women who can knit and crochet while they’re watching TV or while visiting, sitting, listening etc. Their skill seems to be automatic and they are very capable, as far as I can tell, of muti-tasking beautifully. There is something very calming about needle work and the product is one of grace and art. Thanks much for sharing!

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4 Lindsey April 2, 2013 at 8:27 am

I adore this! It’s so relaxing and lovely for children to learn a useful skill like this. In France, where beauty is so highly prized (that was my favorite part about studying abroad there) it is truly useful. ;) Maybe not in other cultures, though. I think it’s fantastic!

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5 Alex April 2, 2013 at 8:29 am

This is so wonderful. I am so pleased to learn this.

AT

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6 Robin April 2, 2013 at 8:34 am

I remember learning basic sewing and cross stitch in elementary school in England. It was a great skill to learn even though I barely use it. I feel like I could… if I wanted to!

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7 cathy April 2, 2013 at 8:43 am

I do not know that it needs to be taught in school, but basic sewing skills are a good thing to know. My dad taught me to sew and I have used that skill many, many times.

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8 Kristin April 2, 2013 at 8:45 am

My mother made many of my clothes growing up in the ’70s and I learned to sew (by hand and machine) at an early age. I wish there had been needlework classes in school growing up because I often felt like a fish out of water, forced into a college track when I really loved to make things and work with my hands. Creative professions weren’t encouraged much in the ’80s. That’s all changing now, thankfully! The ‘making’ professions are making a comeback.

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9 Heidi April 2, 2013 at 11:04 am

I agree. For us it was science or nothing.

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10 Cerise April 2, 2013 at 8:46 am

When I was going to private schools in Hong Kong and Bahrain we were taught embroidery as well as crochet. I really enjoyed it. Sewing is a great skill to learn.

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11 dunski April 2, 2013 at 8:50 am

Here in switzerland sewing,stitching,knitting, crocheting(?),cooking, making paper,woodcarving and other things are also essential skills you learn in school…and now that we moved to a village I learn that away from urbanity it is normal, that parents or grandparents teach those skills even before the kids have it in school..so my daughter came home with a note: your kid should practice knitting in springbreak as the other students are much further. I am very greatful for all I learned when I was young. Now it all is a dear hobby:i knit babyblankets,crochet decorations, sew dresses,laptopsleeves,handbags, teach skills to neighbours and kids and am able to cook very foreign recipes because i know all the basics…wow….rather wonderful society…

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12 Miggy April 2, 2013 at 8:51 am

I would LOVE this. For myself and my kids. I know how to sew and can do some embroidery, but what this girl has done far surpasses my embroidery skills. I think it’s wonderful. Skills! Craft! And something about it also says, “We don’t under-estimate what children can do.” And I really love that.

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13 ann April 2, 2013 at 8:56 am

Love this. So wonderful.

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14 Brandy April 2, 2013 at 8:57 am

I think learning to handle a needle is a lovely confidence booster. So many of the skills valued by the education system now are non tactile; so mastering even the basics of a handicraft would likely feel rewarding.
I learned to embroider when I was eight by watching my grandmother. She was home bound and practically chair bound, but she made magic with her hands. As an adult I’ve been able to translate that skill into a confident competence in making precious gifts that cost little, making my own clothes, adjusting the tailoring in my husband’s suits, and upholstering furniture. I don’t list these to say “look what I can do” but rather “look what that simple, old-fashioned lesson from childhood gave me the confidence to try”. It may be that any hands on skill would have the same impact, this just happens to be the one I experienced.
The wallet given to your daughter is beautiful, and Olive’s recipe booklet is so stinkin’ cute!

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15 Molly April 2, 2013 at 9:17 am

How interesting!

I learned to do needlework growing up in rural Kansas as some of my peers were doing it in 4H. In middle school, we had a unit on needlework in our Family And Consumer Science class (the updated name for Home Ec). Everyone had to do it. I also sew on a machine, cook, knit, fix things around the house and tend to view these things as fun challenges.

As an adult, I live in Boston and find that not many of my friends know how to do these these things. I wonder why. Is it regional? Is it city living versus country living? Is it our parents?

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16 Carly April 2, 2013 at 9:21 am

Beautiful! I lived in Honduras for a while and needlework was likewise a skill learned in school there. As someone who loves to sew and embroider, but has had to mostly self-teach, I fully support including this in school curriculum .

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17 Hanna April 2, 2013 at 9:22 am

I love this idea – I think children should learn much more than math and english/french and so one at school. And I like the idea of treating clothes in different way – having less but better quality and taking care of it – it should be supported by school education.

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18 Micah H. April 2, 2013 at 9:27 am

I love the idea of both boys and girls learning needlework. My husband is British and wears his clothing until it is unwearable. After living in the UK, I understood that most people have smaller wardrobes and pay a bit more for each item. I now do the same, but I’ve had to repair his clothes many times. I always wish I knew more than just how to sew a button or repair a hole in the material. And now that I have two little boys, I would love to have more sewing skills. Great post!!

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19 emilee April 2, 2013 at 9:28 am

I would love there to be more skills like this taught and less tv/computer-time in our US schools! Also, it allows those that aren’t the best athletes nor the best academically to shine elsewhere. Love it!

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20 Val April 2, 2013 at 10:02 am

I would love to see this integrated into the curriculum… especially in the younger grades! My mother taught me embroider as a child and I enjoyed it. She has since taught my daughters when they were each about 9 years old. My mother is talented in many of the old handwork skills, and while I loved doing basic embroidery, I am not as skilled (or as patient) as she.

My oldest has a great love and talent for all things artistic, and when she was 11, my mom taught her Brazilian embroidery. This form of needlework is probably my favorite. It’s 3D and pops off the background, and is just delicate and beautiful! I think it’s a shame that these amazing skills are being lost, and I hope that my daughters will at least teach the basics to their own kids (or ask great-grandma to teach them!)

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21 Katie April 2, 2013 at 10:09 am

Absolutely would love to see this mainstream. It’s so rewarding to have something physical to hold that I’ve made. Especially at the end of the day with two young kids. Housework doesn’t last, but the things I make do.

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22 Megan April 2, 2013 at 10:19 am

The idea of teaching children needlecraft in school tickles me to no end. I’m an avid crochet-er, and I recently re-taught myself embroidery (something I learned in middle school home-ec). Kids need to learn a variety of skills in order to find something that makes them happy, either to relax or to make a living. My father, an accountant, enjoys counted-cross stitch. He used to work on projects on the bus into Manhattan, and now works on it at night. He even made a beautiful project for his grandson (my son) for his first birthday. I’m amazed the patience and detail that went into this thoughtful gift.

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23 hannah April 2, 2013 at 10:22 am

i absolutely love this idea. i wish it were the norm in the states!

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24 Jess April 2, 2013 at 10:37 am

So very French! They love them some tradition. That said, I think it’s a super idea!

Private schools here in the UK often teach similar skills – woodwork (I used motorised saws from age 7!), pottery, cookery, special lessons for handwriting and using sewing machines. Even class singing! I remember being 6 and our class project was rug-making.

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25 Jess April 2, 2013 at 10:41 am

Note: the reason I think it’s largely limited to private schools is a) time – private schools have longer hours and b) sadly, it’s hard to get government budget directed towards something with less quantifiable results.

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26 katherine April 2, 2013 at 10:55 am

What a lovely post! Now I want to embroider something! I think teaching various needle crafts in school is a wonderful idea that would help teach so many other skills…patience, planning, fine motor, and the list goes on. I can embroider (basic stitches), knit and sew, but now I’m thinking about how I use those skills practically. Your reflections on how people in the U.S. versus those around the world treat their clothing are really interesting. I waffle between buying higher quality, more expensive clothing and cheaper pieces. The latter always disappoint me. Thanks for sharing these beautiful creations by your daughter and her friend. :-)

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27 Nicole April 2, 2013 at 10:56 am

I actually think it is really, really practical — it is a wonderful way to help with fine motor skills for writing. Sewing strengthens all the same hand muscles. Learning to sew and make something beautiful is a bonus.

I was taught basic sewing in my Northern California public school the same year we were taught cursive. My children are being taught at their French immersion school in kindergarten which is also when they start cursive.

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28 Heidi April 2, 2013 at 11:00 am

Needlework, Knitting, Crochet – all of these repetitive, meditative arts can be used to calm anxiety. It works because your brain can only do one thing at a time, and it calms the rage pathways. (Read Laurence Gonzales’ “Surviving Survival” which is an amazing book, and a challenging read,(because you are reading about people to whom terrible things have happened, and how they overcome these challenges) but fascinating) Apparently they teach schoolchildren to knit in Sweden because studies show you learn better when your hands are busy.

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29 Anna April 2, 2013 at 11:36 am

We moved our daughter to The Waldorf school this year where they have “handwork” as part of the curriculum. At first, I was really skeptical. Shouldn’t they be doing “academic” work? I now understand how critical these skills are to learning. They aren’t just learning how to make something pretty- they are developing lots and lots of important skills (and helping their brain develop)! I feel that we’ve lost track of the simple fact that not all learning is easily measured!

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30 Adrienne April 2, 2013 at 11:36 am

My son started sewing at the age of three because sewing buttons seemed like the perfect church activity – quiet, keeps his hands busy, develops fine motor skills. He was even more interested one Sunday when his dad sat down to sew a button back on his shirt, because he wants to do everything his dad does.

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31 Diana April 2, 2013 at 12:26 pm

My grandmother made beautiful smocked clothes for my sisters and I as well as our dolls. She taught us to crochet and hand sew. My mother is also a seamstress and taught me how to sew. I have now taught my children. I am always surprised when people don’t even know how to thread a needle.
I do think more life skills should be brought back into schools. We have so many children that don’t know how to really do things for themselves. Yes they may have soaring test scores, but can they cook or sew a button?

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32 Aimee April 2, 2013 at 12:35 pm

Charlotte Mason talks about this in her books concerning the importance of training and educating children. It is of utmost importance that children are able to have life skills and work with their hands. They are doing something that is meaningful and creative. I would love to find a good book or tutorial that teaches needle work if you know of any please post a link it would be so helpful. I also think it is important on a number of levels that we are buying good quality clothing and caring for it properly. However it seems that when I try to explain this concept to family and friends they don’t get it. Most people in America would rather spend 10$ on a cheap pair of shoes every year than buy a 120$ pair that could potentially last a life time!

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33 KelliO April 2, 2013 at 1:58 pm

I’ve always admired Anna Maria Horner’s work, and she has several books, patterns, and a blog. The blog really shows how she’s taught her family to value all hand and textile works. http://store.annamariahorner.com/nanmaneno.html

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34 Brandy @ The Prudent Homemaker April 2, 2013 at 5:01 pm

I have several links to some great embroidery sites with stitch instructions on my website: http://theprudenthomemaker.com/index.php/sewing/embroidery

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35 hcarroll April 2, 2013 at 12:37 pm

I learned embroidery (as well as other types of needlework, knitting, crocheting, etc.) as a student in a Waldorf school in the US. All Waldorf students take Handwork beginning in the 1st grade. In addition to being very practical skills to possess, for children handwork has so many benefits including the development of fine motor skills, concentration, and patience. While I only attended Waldorf until the 6th grade, I am still (at age 30) an avid knitter and consider myself skilled at handwork. I only wish that they would incorporate this into public school curriculum in the US so all children could benefit!

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36 Ma April 2, 2013 at 12:41 pm

I think this is great. Not only is the work beautiful but it teaches kids to focus. By doing this, kids are able to sit down, be quiet and get something done. Everything is so rushed and loud nowadays. I think it teaches children more than art and a skill. It teaches someone how to relax and, unfortunately, a lot of people don’t know how to do this anymore. As far as a skill goes… my kids have two pairs of pants with holes in them right now. I wish I knew how to fix them!!!

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37 TracieMcOB April 2, 2013 at 1:22 pm

I would definitely love to see schools in the US incorporate some kind of needlework in school curriculum. This generation is losing the sense of accomplishment and skill that comes from learning such an ancient (?) skill. In this instant-gratification/techno world, children are lacking in the simplicity and beauty and hands-on tasks that help you learn so much more than embroidery. My Grandmother taught me to embroider, sew and cook – In Jr. High I took Sewing and Cooking. Now you have adults that don’t even know how to sew on a button that falls off their pants, literally. In my 20′s I worked with a young woman that was going to take her pants to the dry cleaners to sew a button back on her pants! I taught her how to do. Schools here, especially in So. Calif. do not prepare our children for real life. (nor do their parents)It’s actually is scary!

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38 hibiscus April 2, 2013 at 1:35 pm

Hello. I’m a 27 years old french mother and I would like to know where your children go to school… I have never learnt sewing at school and I am desappointed I don’t (I would have been better in embroidery than in english!) . Indeed, sewing is now fashion for women but for our mothers it was a grand-mother activity, something linked with the past, not usefull on “plastic days”. Today, with the return of economy and ecology, sewing will may be teached once again. But I don’t think it is the priority of the National Education, so I will teach the little things I learnt by myself to my daughters. You’re lucky!

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39 Jen L. April 2, 2013 at 1:42 pm

I love this! I was surprised recently at my daughter’s Montessori school. She is in a 1st-3rd grade classroom. All the kids were taught to knit and crochet. Everyday at pick up, they all sat on their big area rug, talking, laughing and knitting or crocheting. Even the boys were into it, too. The teacher told me that the boys, especially, were going home at night and knitting/crocheting at home. Love it! We forget this old-fashioned skills can be so useful, melodic and engaging.

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40 Elisabeth April 2, 2013 at 1:46 pm

I am currently a college student (in the US), and I am taking a drawing class. For our final assignment, we were encouraged to try different mediums and be original, so I decided to embroider an image. Another girl in my class is also doing an embroidery piece. Our drawing professor is so intrigued by it that he is planning to offer a multi-media class next year which will include needlework. I have actually never been taught to embroider, so I have been learning as I go, but so far I am really pleased with my piece (it’s 18×24″, so it’s really big).

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41 Jennifer in France April 2, 2013 at 3:17 pm

I’ve been raising my kids in France for 15 years and have never seen sewing nor cooking nor “industrial arts” in their classrooms. These subjects were part of my personal education in US public schools, as well in Scandinavia. Yours are Lucky to have someone outside of school. I send mine to muséum ateliers for art, as they have hardly done any in their rigourous schools.

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42 Jenny April 2, 2013 at 3:23 pm

Being someone who loves to sew and has a little bit of experience with needlework, I love this! I think it’s a lovely idea and I wish US schools would incorporate more of this. Our art classes include the typical mediums:painting, pottery, pastels, paper mache, etc. Why needlework is not considered important is beyond me. Hoorah for the French schools!

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43 Jillian in Italy April 2, 2013 at 3:27 pm

I love that the French teach embroidery at school. Education isn’t all about numbers and letters in my opinion. These are life long skills that the kids will definitely appreciate having at some point in their life.

When I had my kids home sick with the flu this winter (10 days) we did lots of embroidery and they loved it. And ended up creating the most beautiful designs. Here’s the link below.

http://jillianinitaly.com/2013/02/06/embroidery-with-kids/

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44 Jana April 2, 2013 at 3:27 pm

I’m from Germany and here knitting, crocheting and also embroidery is part of the elementary school curriculum. I’m really happy that I’ve learned this back then, but I think it would be way more important to include cooking classes. I know how to cook and bake, because it is one of my favorite hobbies and I’m also writing a food blog, but some of my teenage friends don’t even know how to boil a egg…

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45 Sara April 2, 2013 at 5:32 pm

I teach in a Montessori school, and we have sewing as a part of our curriculum. Waldorf schools also do. The kids LOVE it and really like being able to create something themselves. Yay for sewing in France!

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46 Brandy @ The Prudent Homemaker April 2, 2013 at 5:46 pm

I have been teaching my children to embroider, and I think my boys love it even more than my girls. They were thrilled when I told them that your boys are learning to embroider at school as well.

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47 Shannon { A Mom's Year } April 2, 2013 at 6:52 pm

One day I picked up my youngest from her after-school Mighty Girls book club, and walked past a knitting class and an art club meeting taking place at the same time. It was so great to see all that creativity happening!

Your story reminds me of something that happened to a friend of mine years ago. She was in Norway for a semester abroad and the teacher told the group of American students that knitting wasn’t allowed during class. The kids looked at each other, like, why would we be knitting? But by the end of the semester, every single student was knitting in class! (Sorry, that always cracks me up.)

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48 Grace @ sense and simplicity April 2, 2013 at 9:51 pm

That is too funny – the power of negative suggestion!

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49 The Prudent Homemaker April 3, 2013 at 10:41 am

That’s hilarious!

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50 Lisa | Happy By April 2, 2013 at 7:00 pm

I live in Albania, SE Europe. We did needlework in middle school as part of a class called “Household economy” or something like that. I did several projects, including basic sewing, technical sewing and its different methods, even knitting (if I remember correctly). We also did a few clothes patterns and doll’s dresses, which were my favorite. I still have the pieces of clothes in my home and I remember being very eager and passionate about them then. Now I don’t even fancy sewing a button, because it’s been so many years.
So, I think it’s one more helpful skill to get from school. The boys must be having a nightmare, but most girls should be enjoying it.

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51 Dee April 2, 2013 at 7:12 pm

Their work is beautiful! My own needlework is fair (I sew small toys for my kids by hand). I got my start at school in St. Lucia when I was about 5. My own kids have done a bit of embroidery here and there. My 12 y/o took a “teen living” course in school and he learned to used a sewing machine there. His sister plans to take the same class next year and she also dabbles in hand sewing toys. I think handwork would be a fantastic addition to the school day!

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52 Bibliosophy Handmade April 2, 2013 at 7:33 pm

I always taught needlework as part of my art curriculum for K-8th grade. The interesting thing to me was how much the boys really loved the stitching. They never poo-pooed it as too girly. I think the intense handwork aspect of it really appealed to them, as well as being able to create something pleasing without a lot of “artistic ability” (in their mind).

I do sewing with my own toddler and preshool kids, and have had success with burlap stretched over a frame and big needles and thread, or just yarn with a plastic tip. My littles also love to hold my hands while I knit, and “help.”

How great would it be to see handwork in our American schools as a useful skill, but also a way to relax and recharge the kids’ minds during the day!

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53 Alysa April 2, 2013 at 8:33 pm

So, this is NOT what everyone else is talking about in this space, but I love that your children have Marie for a tutor! I would love to be a tutor like that, for children or adults. What do you even call that kind of tutoring? Is that a thing here in the US?

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54 Joanna April 2, 2013 at 9:40 pm

My mother taught me to embroider and cross stitch when I was seven years old. At the time she was embroidering flowers all over a quilt top for my birthday and then she completely embroidered a dress for me. I treasure those pieces. So I continued to embroider pillowcases, napkins, tea towels, and table clothes for years for my “hope chest.” But by the time I was an adult and wanted to use them….they were never to be found. Probably left at a Goodwill during a move by some family member by mistake. So sad. But still a good skill and a great teaching moment with my mom.

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55 Grace @ sense and simplicity April 2, 2013 at 9:53 pm

My kiddos went to a Froebel school for their middle school years (Grades 6, 7, 8) and their learned to do many different occupations, including needlework. My oldest son embroidered the prettiest little Christmas tree which I framed and put on our tree as a decoration every year. I always think that it is pretty rare to have something embroidered by a boy in our society and I’m lucky to have this pretty piece.

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56 Alida April 2, 2013 at 10:11 pm

I did needlework at school here in Chile. Actually one of the projects was to embroider a sheet set (which I also made), which my three-year-old son wears now. I think it is a beautiful skill and I admire that both girls and boys learn it.

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57 Caddy April 2, 2013 at 11:06 pm

I learned sewing in Home Economics class at school but also enjoyed doing it outside of school. My mom encouraged my interest in crafts and taught me how to crochet. She also helped me look for sewing lessons in college when I became interested in making my own clothes. She grew up in a time when a lot of their clothes were made to order and so even though she doesn’t sew much herself she understands tailoring and has been able to pass some of that knowledge down to. I’m not very skilled at sewing but I consider the tailoring knowledge invaluable.

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58 Jen April 2, 2013 at 11:59 pm

I agree, I think its great to teach needlework to young children! Such a great skill to have, improves hand-eye coordination and is a fun creative outlet. We homeschool our little ones and I taight our 5 and 6 yr old embroidery last year and and we’re working on sewing and knitting!

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59 Christine April 3, 2013 at 12:40 am

I think this is a wonderful idea! I think that it is important for people of all ages to have “quiet” skills. My children attended a Montessori school through the 8th grade and as first graders they hand stitched napkins. as they got older, they knitted and then even designed and made quilts during each of their 4th 5th and 6th grade years as gifts for the 8th grade graduates. I can go on and on about the life skills they learned, along with the idea that giving someting handmade is meaningful. When they graduated and were presented with a quilt from their younger peers, they really appreciated all of the hard work that went into them. Recently, when I was frustrated with one of my quilting projects, my 19 year old son offered to seam rip for me, he had so much experience!

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60 Janet April 3, 2013 at 7:08 am

I loved reading the embroidery article and how it is included in the french school curriculum. We lived in Australia for many years while our 5 children were growing up. They too teach needlework for boys and girls, starting in kindergarten. It is a wonderful small motor skill as well as a gentle sense of accomplishment. I loved when my 5 year old, Sebastian, would surprise me in a conversation by saying, “Mum, come look at my long stitch!” The quiet, slow, practical skill lessons are important too.

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61 Lauren April 3, 2013 at 7:18 am

What a useful skill! I plan to teach my own children how to use a needle and thread, as I’m doubtful they will be learning it in school.
You mentioned that people learn to mend their clothing in France and keep things longer and this is something that is so important to me- I love being able to quickly stitch up a little hole in a seam and get lots more life out of an item. I just finished a blog tutorial about how I “mend” our bedsheets when the edges get frayed in order to get more use out of them, while still having pretty sheets: http://plumfieldshop.blogspot.com/2013/04/how-to-get-more-life-out-of-your-linens.html

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62 Brittany at The 1000th Voice April 3, 2013 at 8:01 am

I love this! I wouldn’t be incredibly bothered if it were taught in US schools, but I think there’s a lot more that needs to be worked on before teaching needlework. It seems like it could be worked easily into a greater art or home ec curriculum, but with both of those curriculums already axed or on the chopping block it doesn’t seem likely.

I will definitely consider teaching DD about needlework (or having my much more accomplished mother teach her)! It seems like a great way to learn a life skill (sewing on buttons, etc), express oneself more creatively, teach confidence and teach hand-eye coordination. I think I’ll have to pick up the plastic needles and canvas and some yarn for my little one!

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63 Azra April 3, 2013 at 10:33 am

How fantastic! I really would love that schools in the US teach kids some of these life essential skills.
I have learned knitting from my grandmother and I have tried needlework when I was a little girl, but I really never had too much patience for it. These are wonderful skills to have. How lucky you are.

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64 The Prudent Homemaker April 3, 2013 at 10:46 am

Are the comments on this post disappearing? I’ve commented three times; one of my own plus two in response to different people. All of my comments are gone, plus I do not see the ones posted by others where I posted a reply.

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65 Jennifer April 3, 2013 at 11:54 am

My eight year old recently learned embroidery in art class at school. She loved it so much that she has started embroidering at home too. I had an old Klutz embroidery kit stashed away for when she might show an interest. My Mom taught me the basics when I was little and I am pleased that my daughter is following suit!

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66 Valerie April 3, 2013 at 1:05 pm

My grandmother taught me how to crochet, and my mother taught me all the basic sewing skills along with how to smock. It seems all my dresses as a little girl had smocking on them, lovely little pictures and details.

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67 teddie April 3, 2013 at 7:38 pm

Teaching embroidery should be included in school. Not only does it teach life skills it improves fine motor and eye hand coordination. If your doing cross- stitch there are math skills included in counting and reading a graph. It also teaches patience ,as too many things today are instant. I was taught embroidery from my Grandma, who had me sit on a footstool near her while she taught me to embroider tea towels. She told me that I neede to learn because “this is what ladies do” I was 4 and this was in the 1050′s. I can’t see well enough to embroider much,but I LOVE to sew and my sewing room is my favorite room. ALso I have 4 sons and I taught them basics. They sewed patches on their boyscout uniforms and later their USAF and Army uniforms.

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68 Grania April 4, 2013 at 5:49 am

I was brought up in England and Germany and in my childhood in Germany needlework was compulsory in Junior School for boys and girls (i learnt needlework, crocheting and embroidery) and compulsory for girls in high school (grammar school) up to about year 9, where I also learnt knitting, sewing basic clothes on a sewing machine, macramee, making rugs etc. etc. My friend, who was in the first coed year in an all boys school learnt knitting from my mother – in a totally different way – yes there are different ways to knit in Germany and in England! Unfortunately needlework etc. has now been abolished in many schools around the country.. My children’s school only offers it in a sort of after school club. My daughter was so keen to learn sewing on the machine – so I was happy to find a course run for Kids and/Or teens in our local Shop catering for sewers/knitters…

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69 Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes April 5, 2013 at 12:05 am

Not just France, Belgian kids get an elementary course in stitching and knitting too. Both boys and girls. I always wondered why they thought us knitting and stitching but not how to paint a wall, drill a hole in wall or how to repair a faucet.

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70 Lucie-Lou April 5, 2013 at 1:16 pm

I am French and live in France. Sorry to make you disappointed but sewing is NOT part of the French scholarship. Well yes it used to be… in the 19th and 20th centuries !

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71 Charlotte Snyder April 20, 2013 at 9:06 am

I teach in a Waldorf school, where handwork, woodwork, and art are integrated parts of the curriculum. Knitting, crocheting, and sewing reinforce counting skills, concentration, manual dexterity, and rhythm. Moving on to embroidery and cross stitch introduces the need to design and plan a project. Sewing your own clothes in middle school makes you learn to follow instructions and work on a semester-long project. These are all skills needed in life, as well as the practical skills of sewing on a button and ironing your own clothes. The result? A young adult who has confidence in his or her own skills and an open mind to ideas.

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72 jet April 20, 2013 at 11:48 am

Yes i embroidering often my cloths or i use those stiches for my art work , to made of it a totally differend material of it. By painting it and gluing it to become a other kind of surface on my objects.
I oftenly made embroiderings as well on my felted objects, they are often tiny shapes but i like the oposite of the both fabric bolt felting and the tiny delicated stiches of the embroidery yarn.
And yeaaah i have learned on the economical classes i had to took many years ago to uses a patch which are often embroidered as well on my cloths.LOL
I hated those lessons, but later on the art academy i was glad that i had learned it because i could try it out on a differend level and much higher.
so i still be glad that i had learned all those stiches, i have many embroidery books, not for the stiches any more but for the inspiration.
Thank you for the sharing, i love it that your children are learning this old technick as well;-D Have a fun weekend:XD;

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73 Anna April 8, 2014 at 5:28 am

I have been volunteering to teach embroidery in elementary school. With ten years of this experience I KNOW students grow so much when they astonish themselves by mastering a skill and making something beautiful. I have taught hundreds of third graders to embroider their own sampler. I currently have 75 third graders at work on a sampler. The principal wishes I was on the far side of the moon. She thinks it is a waste of student time and will not contribute to the raising of test scores. The teachers defiantly embrace the classes I teach because they know that embroidery the way I teach it is art, math, social studies, it teaches responsibility, focus, patience, perseverance, understanding of the rules of design. …I could go on. I live in California.

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