Contemporary Couture Embroidery

For the past few weeks I’ve been going to a class from Hand & Lock with tutor Lucy Martin, a recent graduate and specialist hand embroidery practitioner based in the UK. As part of my professional development I’ve been learning alongside my teaching and studio practice and it’s been great to try something new and play with materials again.

In week one we learned how to sew on larger beads, cup sequins and create this leaf with detached chain stitch and goldwork bullion. It was great to get started with some familiar stitches but I found working with double thread very tricky and tangled at first. My favourite technique here is the leaf, it’s so textured.

In week two we learned how to use leaf shaped sequins, creating more texture with this filling technique. I was still struggling with the double thread so my couching was a little bit untidy. I loved using the tiny sequins and seed beads, I’ve used these before but never together.

In week three we used organza, bugle beads and goldwork check to add more texture and sparkle. I found the organza tricky to work with and the beads were very thin so a tiny needle was a must. My favourite technique was the goldwork check, using it to fill a leaf shape. It catches the light beautifully and providing you wax your thread it’s easy to stitch.

In week four we used raffia, seed beads and bugle beads to create texture and dimension. I loved creating the little beaded walls and I’d started to get used to the double thread. The raffia was really interesting to work with, we couched it down, securing it in place with tiny stitches. Couture embroidery is so neat and you don’t see the stitches.

Week five was my favourite week, we created lots of texture with seed beads, sequins, bugle beads and goldwork bullion. I also began to experiment with materials during the workshop. I was finding it hard when we started to work with the design on silk, the fabric wasn’t right for me so I found a scrap of wool to try the techniques out. The best technique that week was the chain stitch with goldwork bullion. My first attempt was a bit wonky but the second one came out beautifully.

The course has been really interesting, learning how to use materials in a different way. I’m going to use these techniques and the ones I learned in a class with Jessica Grady in the summer.