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How do you teach someone to cross stitch? Part 1 – Who is your student?

Hi Everyone

Have you ever been approached by family, friends, friends of friends or colleagues and asked if you could teach them how to cross stitch?

I’ve been contemplating this question for some time now and wondered what the best approach would be. Many years ago I would have just jumped straight into it with whomever my student would be. Not really considering their preferred learning style, choice of pattern and materials, their age and abilities, let alone my teaching style!

This series is going to cover all of these things and more in case you are approached and asked to teach someone to cross stitch. So without further adieu…

Why age matters

How old we are and our life experiences can make the world of difference in how we learn new things and sometimes, how long it takes us to learn those new things.

For example, the blog post by the TEFL Academy (posted on 16 January 2017) titled ‘6 Differences between teaching adults and young learners’ talks about the importance of using different approaches based upon the age of your student. Based upon the blog post by the TEFL Academy, you will need to consider the following things if you are teaching adults or children and adolescents:

Adults Children and teenagers
Are autonomous and independent and prefer to work things out for themselves, with minimal direction. You will need to be in charge and provide the young learner with clear instructions on what they need to do with their needle and thread and fabric.
You may find that you and your adult learner can spend a lot more time on the cross stitch project due to extended attention spans. Your young learner may have a genuine interest in cross stitch, but will need a bit of variety to keep them interested. This is where the choice of pattern is crucial. Starting off on a small picture that the young learner is interested in will make the difference.
Keeping things fun is still important for your adult learner. This is where stitch ‘n’ bitch sessions may be more applicable. Having a relaxed environment where there is minimal pressure may help your learner with being anxious about learning something new. Keep it as fun as possible for your young learner – especially for your very young learners. Their key interest is play and having fun. How you do that is up to you!
Finding the motivation for why your person wants to cross stitch is important. It’s just like you needing to find the motivation to stitch a project. This may be closely linked with keeping it fun and having a design or project that they really want to stitch. Finding the motivation for why your person wants to cross stitch is important. It’s just like you needing to find the motivation to stitch a project. This may be closely linked with keeping it fun and having a design or project that they really want to stitch.
Depending on the type of relationship you have with your adult learner, having some ground rules may still be necessary to ensure you both are on the same page. Each person is different. Use your judgement on this one.   Discipline. How you approach this may vary from person to person. For example, setting up some ground rules may help for some people. The challenge will be following through on the consequences should any of those ground rules be broken. E.g. running with scissors, poking others with needles and scissors = no stitching for x amount of time.
Life experience will play a very large part with your adult learner and it can have an enormous impact on their motivation for wanting to learn how to do cross stitch. It will be worth having a chat with your learner to find out why they want to learn cross stitch. Also, you may find that you learn something from your learner while you’re teaching them! The TEFL Academy recognises the enthusiasm and curiosity that young people bring to learning. It will be worth keeping this in mind and trying to enhance their enthusiasm and curiosity while teaching them cross stitch. For example, linking story telling with cross stitch may be one way of keeping it fun and piquing their curiosity!

What about gender?

In this day and age, gender shouldn’t matter – anyone can do cross stitch – what does matter, is the way gender can influence the way you teach your student and how your student learns.

If your student considers themselves to be male, they may initially feel embarrassed about learning how to cross stitch, even though they have a strong interest in it. All because cross stitch and embroidery has historically have been considered something women and girls have done – even though some of the most famous fashion designers are men – e.g. Karl Largerfeld, Hugo Boss, Pierre Cardin, Giorgio Armani and Tommy Hilfiger to name a few. To put this into context, the flosstube video below is the first one from Shaun/ Sean who has wanted to do cross stitch for a long time, but has felt embarrassed and fearful about taking it up, because of the perceptions around who does cross stitch.

Flosstube clip by Sean/Shaun – uploaded to YouTube on 30 January 2019

So what I’m trying to say here is that some of your male students may need some extra praise and encouragement to help them feel comfortable with doing cross stitch. The patterns they stitch may help a lot too. The same may be for your female students and other students who are part of the LGBTQI community who are really interested in cross stitch, but feel uncomfortable about taking up the craft because of some old perceptions about our craft.

So what do you think so far? Have you already taught someone to cross stitch? Has their age and gender had an impact on how you have taught them?

Until next time, happy stitching!


I am an avid cross stitcher. I was first introduced to cross stitch when I was primary school age. Paused for while during my teens and then took it up again in my early/mid 20's and I haven't looked back. To mitigate the amount of time I'm sitting down stitching, I'm a regular member of the gym and I'm a runner. To keep me motivated, I participate in short to medium length fun runs. Which at times feel torturous, but I feel really good at the end of them! With these activities in mind, this blog is about the combination of my experiences with running and cross stitch and encouraging people to think differently about cross stitch - it's not just Grandma's who do this anymore!

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