Sewing: Get It Together
The major pattern companies all have Web sites you can visit. Check out Simplicity at http://www.simplicity.com/. Butterick and McCalls also have online catalogs at http://www.butterick.com and http://www.mccalls.com.
When you embellish fabric, you decorate it. You can add beads, buttons, trims, sequins, embroidery, appliqué and more to finished pieces.
Scale your embroidery patterns and tools up to down depending on th age of the child. Use larger crosstitch pattern, larger needles, heavier threads, and looser-weave fabrics for younger children. Older kids can work with finer, more intricate patterns, smaller needles, and more delicate embroidery floss.
One of the simplest ways to work with woven fabric is with needle and thread. Even a very young child can learn the basic principles of sewing by working with stiff paper that's had holes punched in it, a large needle, and some yarn.
An easy project is to make a beanbag. Use heavy felt, cut out a shape, put the two pieces together, and punch out holes that can then be stitched together with yarn and a large-holed needle. If the child can use a sewing machine, the pieces can be joined that way.
Fill with beans before completely closing the bag, then finish sewing. Bring the thread through the same hole several times to ensure it won't unravel.
If you're in a hurry or don't want to sew, there are amazing fusible webbing (such as "Stitch Witchery" or "Heat `N' Bond") and glue products on the market that allow you to put fabric together with only an iron.
From the first steps of using a needle and thread or a sewing machine to make straight stitches, you can graduate to using a pattern to make a garment or accessory. Look for projects that use mostly straight stitching to start, like pillows or tote bags. Then you might try making a vest. There are several good vest patterns available from each of the major pattern companies.
A vest makes a great "canvas" to embellish. Add appliquï¿½, embroidery, charms, quilting, ribbon embroidery, beading, trims, or just fancy sewing machine stitches.
There are many different types of embroidery-crewel, cutwork, hardanger, and ribbon embroidery, to name a few. We're going to do a project with a technique called cross-stitch, one of the first kinds of embroidery children can learn to do.Project: A Cross-Stitch Heart
From here, the sky's the limit. You can learn to follow counted cross-stitch patterns in kits, magazines, or books. You can design your own patterns on graph paper or using computer software that lends itself perfectly to making your own counted cross-stitch designs.
To learn basic embroidery stitches other than cross-stitch, there are many good instructional sources.
I learned embroidery stitches with an inexpensive booklet from Coats & Clarks, One Hundred Embroidery Stitches.
Cochenille Design Studio makes Stitch Painter for Macintosh, PC, and Amiga.
Stitch Crafts Gold for Windows and Stitch Craft for Mac are available from Compucrafts.
For an overview of many software programs for needlework, check out http://www.wco.com/~kyder/software.html and the Software for Needlework page.