Burlap “Sampler” — Stitching Project

There is some­thing very calm­ing and sooth­ing about stitch­ing on fab­ric… even my 5th grade boys love it! I usu­ally find that in a class of 25, there might be 3 or 4 girls who have some expe­ri­ence with stitch­ing by hand, and for every­one else it’s brand new. What a valu­able life skill to learn! (I may have to do this project at home with my husband!) 
The early set­tlers in Colo­nial times brought this craft from Europe to Amer­ica in the form of quilt­ing, fam­ily trees and sam­plers. I also like to show my stu­dents exam­ples (mostly pho­tos) of embroi­dery from China, Japan, India and Bangladesh. You can google “embroi­dery” along with the name of almost any cul­ture and find inter­est­ing exam­ples of stitch­ing through­out history.


  • 9“x12” burlap
  • Blunt tapes­try needle
  • Ruler and pencil
  • Yarn (vari­ety of colors)
  • White paper or card stock, 5–1/2″ x 8–1/2″
  • Scis­sors

Embroi­der — to dec­o­rate cloth by sewing pat­terns on it with thread

1. Peel away a few strands of burlap from each edge to give you a solid rec­tan­gle with square cor­ners.… and fringe!
2. Lay your ruler along each edge and draw an out­line about an inch inside your fringe. Go over this line a few times if nec­es­sary to make it dark enough to see.
3. Cut a piece of yarn about 4 feet long and thread your nee­dle, mak­ing a knot at one end.

4. Do a “run­ning stitch” over your pen­cil line to form a bor­der. Try to keep your stitches equal in length and resist pulling them too tight!

5. Now, draw a sim­ple out­line shape on your paper and cut it out. Cen­ter this tem­plate on your burlap and trace around it.

6. Finally, use a vari­ety of stitches and col­ors to com­plete your design. (If you can’t fin­ish your project in one ses­sion, keep some yarn in your nee­dle and weave it through your burlap to keep it from get­ting lost.)

The run­ning stitch, back stitch, and satin (or straight) stitch were used on this “sam­pler” and are easy to learn. Visit a web­site like this for easy to fol­low instructions!


8 Responses to Burlap “Sampler” — Stitching Project

  1. tishalou May 5, 2010 at 2:24 pm #

    does every stu­dent make a fish? If no — what other sub­jects do your stu­dents make — I would love to see some stu­dent examples.

  2. Nf1andprek-whisper May 5, 2010 at 7:10 pm #

    i once used burlap a lot and now I can’t find it to buy it, michael’s and ac moore dont’ have it?? do you use an online source, I love the project.

  3. Phyl May 5, 2010 at 7:39 pm #

    These are fun. I do a burlap weav­ing project with my 3rd graders (pull strings and replace with woven pat­terns of yarn) and they love it. I order the burlap from Nasco or School Spe­cialty.
    I’m just start­ing my own blog called There’s a Dragon in my Art Room and I hope your read­ers will take a look and comment/critique at http://plbrown.blogspot.com/

  4. TeachKidsArt May 5, 2010 at 9:39 pm #

    Tishalou, my stu­dents can work with what­ever sim­ple shape they like… a bird, sun, heart, star, etc. We’re tak­ing a break to make Mother’s Day cards, but I’ll post more pics when they finish!

  5. TeachKidsArt May 5, 2010 at 9:44 pm #

    I buy my burlap from a local craft/fabric shop, but good to know that Nasco and School Spe­cialty carry it. Love the weav­ing idea, Phyl!

  6. Gail May 6, 2010 at 8:46 pm #

    I love this project. With Grade 1 I have the kids embroi­dery their name. The stitch­ing projects then get more com­pli­cated the higher the grade. They all seem to thor­oughly enjoy it no mat­ter what their age…boys too.
    Love your example!

  7. liz @keepingwithmyjoneses.blogspot.com October 21, 2011 at 7:12 pm #

    Stitch­ing is so calm­ing. This is a great project for par­ents as well to pre­serve young children’s art. I’ve done it with lit­tle hands too turns out great for gifts. Reminds me of learn­ing to sew with my grandmother

  8. JoAnn November 24, 2013 at 5:25 pm #

    Hello, Thank you for your idea and for the instruc­tions, it makes things so much easier!


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