State Flag Embroidery for Kids

Back in my teaching days, I always did at least one (and usually) two stitching projects with my fifth grade students. In December, we sewed felt stockings. Later in the year, we made colonial samplers or a similar project that supported what we were studying in history. 

The vast majority of my students had absolutely no needlework experience. There was always some frustration with threading needles, dealing with tangles, and accidentally pulling the thread out of the needle two seconds after finally getting the darn thing threaded, but overall, almost everyone enjoyed learning how to sew by hand. I had to establish a lot of ground rules regarding needle use and safety, but in 11 years, I literally never had to take a needle away from anyone for using it inappropriately. And nobody ever lost a needle. A few were dropped, but when that happened everyone did exactly what I'd told them to do: freeze until the person who dropped it has picked it back up. (Or else. See: Miss Jones means what she says.)

As a teacher, it can be really hard to squeeze in projects like these. The schedule is already packed with curricula you have to cover - a year's worth of material in Math, English/Language Arts, Social Studies, Science, PE, Music, and whatever else your state or district may require. When you add in the extra effort (and money) it takes to get 32 sets of supplies and then deal with safety protocols before you even teach the skill... well, it can be daunting. But projects like these are SO important for so many reasons. 

With all that said, today's project is for you teachers (and homeschool moms) out there. Specifically, I'm thinking of those of you in Alabama and New Mexico, because your state flags make fantastic beginning embroidery projects. Affiliate links below. 


State Flag Embroidery for Kids



Cut felt into 3x5" squares. I photographed the threaded needle on the fabric to remind myself to tell you to use all 6 strands of the floss. That's why the large-eye needles are important. 

Use a ruler and a Sharpie to draw the design you'll be stitching. It's just corner-to-corner for Alabama; for New Mexico, it's a set of 16 lines. You can pre-draw these for students, or better yet, lead them through a lesson that reinforces measuring skills and/or geometry terms. 

Once you've drawn your guidelines, start stitching! I recommend kids start with no more than 18" of floss or there will be major tangles. Teach them not to knot (ha!) the needle; the only knot should be at the end of the floss. Use backstitch for New Mexico and satin stitch (equidistant across the diagonal lines) for Alabama. 

This is a case of "do as I say and not as I do" because I actually made my sample with a couching stitch. It started out fine...

... but it was extremely difficult to keep the main thread straight. About halfway through, I'd wished I'd just drawn the lines with the Sharpie. 

The Alabama flag takes a lot more floss than New Mexico; plan on 4 kids sharing a skein if you make your stripes narrow like I did. If you make the stripes more true to size, you'll need a lot more floss.  

You can hang your finished flags vertically to make a cool classroom banner, or attach them to dowels and flag bases, then display them on students' desks.  

It would be so neat to see a classroom full of these!

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