Fancy Goods

Noun 1. Items for sale that are purely or chiefly ornamental

I’ve been having a really productive couple months with the project my business coach, the brilliant Eleanor Snare set me a few months ago. I’ve been working on some quick research projects, spending a couple of weeks on each theme. I randomly picked the topics from things I saw online and I added all the dates to my calendar to keep track.

I’m now spending time developing new work based on the themes and my early research ideas. I’m starting with Fancy Goods, a project I’ve had in mind for many years but never brought to life. My research had taken me down a path of using bright colours taken from images in Scarborough’s South Bay.

My talented friend Louise Atkinson has also been inspired by my early collages and created these amazing patterns from the images I shared online. I’m hoping to get them printed onto fabric so I can stitch into them and make myself some cushions.

I’ve treated myself to some new sequins from Josy Rose including these tusk shapes. I’ll be working on some new pieces that use beads and sequins to create layers of colour and textures. It’s a tough challenge as I love space around my pieces of work and I definitely have a less is more attitude. I have done a heavily beaded piece before inspired by the couture embroidery course I took last year.

I’m excited to see where these new pieces of work take me and how I can incorporate my original inspiration form the seaside souvenir shops.

Notes From The Studio

I’ve been taking some more time for myself recently, learning how to say no when it’s appropriate. This means I have more time to dedicate to my work and get back to doing what I love which is embroidery. It’s tough to admit that I needed a break from some of the volunteer roles but I’m glad that I spoke up.

I finally got a new studio notice board, something I’ve been delaying as my buyer’s remorse is real. This means I can finally stop moving a box file of research and partly finished work around the studio from surface to surface.

I’ve decided to rework an old stitchscape, it was my first experiment with free motion embroidery as part of the process and I’ve never been happy with the results. I took the plunge and cut into the piece, adding new fabrics and more sky. I’ll be sharing my progress on Instagram.

My first project from the UFO box was one I’d been excited to get finished, a new pincushion and needle roll. I started this project in 2021 and got fed up of trying to get it right, hello perfectionism. I finished the English patchwork pincushion, adding a ribbon to store my quilting clips. The needle roll is cotton fabrics with a layer of wadding in between. The fabric is Famous Monsters by Robert Kaufman, I bought it about twelve years ago at The Knitting & Stitching Show.

I’m excited to be working on new pieces to share with you online and at North Yorkshire Open Studios in June. You can also find out more about my upcoming workshops and events in my monthly Newsletter.

How To…

In this edition of How To… is a little bit different. The question comes from my recent workshop with Leeds Libraries and Leeds Playhouse. I was asked the question a few times during the day I thought it would be a great topic to cover.

“Do I need to use an embroidery hoop?”

Like most of the of the questions I get asked, there’s no right or wrong answer but I will share my preferences and experience with you.

Using a Hoop…

Embroidery hoops are used to keep tension in your fabric while you work. The aim of the hoop is to avoid puckering the fabric which can make your work uneven. Remember to take your work out the hoop when you have finished stitching for the day. Leaving you fabric in the hoop can make marks on the fabric which won’t come out. You can also get a line of oils/dirt from your hands so make sure your hands are clean before you start stitching.

My preference is to use an embroidery for my work because I spend hours embroidering. I also invested in an Elbesee table clamp which is like a holiday for your shoulders. The clamp attaches to the edge of my desk and means you have both hands free to work. You can get a clamp that comes with a 10 inch hoop or a universal holder for your existing hoops.

I also have a seat frame that I use in the car and sitting on the sofa. Like the table clamp, you can get special hoops for the seat frame or a universal holder for your existing hoops.

I wrote a post called Tools of the Trade about using different types of embroidery hoops which you can read here.

Not Using a Hoop..

There are times when I don’t use a embroidery hoop, this is when I’m working on a thick fabric like denim for visible mending or a small piece of aida for cross stitch. If the fabric is stable enough to be held in my hands or too awkward to get in the hoop I choose not to use one. I’ve also stitched into paper which didn’t require a hoop.

Remember, what works for me might not be right for you. I recommend practicing your embroidery with and without a hoop to see what works best for you.

Creative Embroidery Course

I’ve teamed up with Leeds Libraries to offer a six week creative embroidery course in the wonderful Drawing Room at the Central Library. Starting on Wednesday 8th June, join me and learn how to research, develop samples and create your own piece of textile art. I’ll be bringing along some of my moodboards, sample books and finished pieces to show you how I work through my initial inspiration to a finished piece of work.

In week one you will find inspiration in the Art Library, browsing the book shelves, the Sanderson Collection and the beautiful building. You will start creating your journal with images to inspire your work.

In weeks two and three you will start creating samples inspired by your research from week one. I will demonstrate some embroidery techniques and talk through your ideas to help your select materials and processes to create your final piece.

In week four you will start to build ideas for your finished piece of work using the ideas, notes and samples in your journal. I will work with you to develop ideas based on your inspiration and favourite techniques.

In weeks five and six you will work on your final piece, creating your own unique piece of textile art. This will bring together your ideas and make a unique piece of work.

The course is suitable for beginners and people with some embroidery experience who want to try something new. All materials and equipment will be provided for the course but you can bring along anything from your craft stash that you would like to use.

The course will be structured over six, two hour sessions in the Drawing Room at Leeds Central Library starting on Wednesday 8th June at 5.30pm. You can book your ticket through Ticketsource.

North Yorkshire Open Studios

Our move to Scarborough has opened up new opportunities for my work and I’m excited to be taking part in my first North Yorkshire Open Studios in June. I’ve been visiting this brilliant event for many years and I’m looking forward to opening my studio doors on the 4th, 5th, 11th and 12th June from 10am to 5pm. You can find out more about my studio including access information here.

During the event you will be able to see my work up close and browse my sketchbooks. I will also be demonstrating how my Pfaff Creative 3.0 embroidery machine works and doing some hand stitching. For people who want to get hands on, there will be some hand stitching to take part in too.

I will also be offering a discount on my studio based workshops if you book during the NYOS event. I teach a variety of workshops to suit absolute beginners and the more experienced stitchers. Join me in my studio by the sea and get creative. You can read more about my approach to creativity and wellbeing in the Yorkshire Post article from March.

I look forward to seeing you in June

Notes From The Studio

I’ve been struggling with a creative block for the last couple of months, my energy has been focussed on workshops and the beautiful wedding commission for a friend. This has mean’t that I’ve not been spending time in the studio on my own pieces.

My business coach, the brilliant Eleanor Snare has been helping me to get back into my own practice. To spark my creativity I’ve been working on some quick research projects, spending a couple of weeks on each theme. I randomly picked the topics from things I saw online that week and I’ve added all the dates to my calendar to keep track.

The first three topics are 3D forms, fancy goods and botanicals. I’ve complied research images and worked on samples that can feed into bigger pieces of work. It’s been great to have this new motivation and love for research and making work, something I haven’t done for a few months. My favourite pieces have been the magazine collages I made as part of my fancy goods research and development.

I’m looking ahead to my spring/summer workshops with Leeds Libraries where I’ll be teaching visible mending, an introduction to hand embroidery and a six week creative embroidery course. You can find out more in my latest newsletter.

I’ve also been busy preparing for North Yorkshire Open Studios in June. You can find out more about the event which was featured in the Yorkshire Post on my Media page. I can’t wait to open the doors to my studio for the first two weekends in June.

You can find out more about what I’m working on in the studio on Instagram

How To…

This edition of How To… is inspired by a question from my recent hand embroidered purse workshops at Leeds City Museum. I was asked this question by somebody who is new to embroidery so I thought I’d share my response with everyone.

“How many strands of embroidery thread should I use?”

There’s actually no right or wrong answer to this question, it just depends on the look you want to achieve with your stitching. I’ll be showing you back stitch in the different thicknesses of thread so you can compare.

Remember, different stitches also give a different thickness to the line you’re sewing. Stem stitch created with three strands of thread will be thicker than a back stitch sewn with three strands of thread.

Step One…

Separating your threads can be tricky, especially with metallics. I separate mine from the centre of my length of thread. The length of thread should be around 35cm.

Step Two…

In this example I’ve chosen to separate into three strands which is my preference. Tease apart the threads so you have three in each hand and gently pull them apart. I like to wrap them into a little loop ready to stitch.

Step Three…

You’re ready to start stitching with your embroidery thread, here are the different thicknesses of embroidery thread and how they looked when worked in back stitch from one strand to six

New Workshops in Leeds

I’ve been busy organising some new workshops in Leeds, I’ll be working with Leeds Libraries and Nomadic Beers as part of their Craft & Draft programme of events.

Positive Patches: Cross Stitch

Wednesday 23 March 1.30pm to 3.30pm, Pudsey Library and Wednesday 30 March 1.30pm to 3.30pm, Chapel Allerton Library

Join me for this two-hour cross stitch workshop I will guide you through the basics of cross stitch to create your own personal piece of embroidery. All materials and equipment will be provided and the workshop is suitable for beginners and people who have some embroidery experience.

You can book your FREE ticket for Pudsey Library here

You can book your FREE ticket for Chapel Allerton Library here

Craft & Draught: Hand Stitched Houseplants

Saturday 2 April 2pm to 4pm, Nomadic Beers

Join me for this two-hour hand embroidery workshop inspired by your favourite houseplants. I will guide you through creating your design and transferring it to fabric ready to embroider. Learn a series of hand embroidery stitches including feather stitch and lazy daisy stitch to build up different textures and types of plant for your stitched picture

All materials and equipment will be provided and the class is suitable for beginners and people with some embroidery experience who would like to try something new. You can book your tickets here

Visible Mending

Wednesday 20 April 5pm to 7pm, Leeds Central Library

Join me for this two hour workshop that will inspire you to get stitching and revamp your wardrobe with some visible mending. You will learn how to use hand embroidery, applique and darning to turn worn out clothes or accessories into a wearable piece of art. I will guide you through some hand embroidery stitches which you use to repair a garment or accessory with holes or ripped seams.

Please bring along an item of clothing or a fabric accessory that you would like to mend. All other materials and equipment will be provided.

You can book your ticket here

Introduction to Hand Embroidery

Wednesday 27 April 5.30pm to 7.30pm, Leeds Central Library

Perfect for beginners, in this introductory workshop Hayley will guide you through all the basics of hand embroidery. Learn how to prepare your fabric for embroidery and use different marking tools to draw your design. Hayley will show you stitches like blanket stitch, chain stitch and stem stitch to create a hand embroidered sample cloth. All materials and equipment will be provided for this workshop

You can book your ticket here

Six Week Creative Embroidery Course

Wednesday Evenings 5.30pm to 7.30pm starting on 8 June, Leeds Central Library

Join me for this six week course where you will learn how to create your own piece of textile art. I will guide you through her creative process, from gathering research to creating a journal of ideas and samples which will inspire your final piece of work.

  • Week one, finding inspiration and starting your journal
  • Weeks two and three, creating samples inspired by your research
  • Week four, develop ideas based on inspiration and favourite techniques
  • Weeks five and six, working on your final project, creating your own unique piece of textile art

The course is suitable for beginners and people with some embroidery experience. All materials and equipment will be provided for the course but you can bring along anything from your stash that you would like to use

You can book your ticket here

Inspiring Women

Tuesday 8 March 2022 is International Women’s Day and to celebrate I’m sharing three women artists who continue to inspire me. I’ve chosen women that work predominantly with textiles, I love seeing how people use fabric and thread in different ways.

Hannah Lamb

Hannah Lamb is a textile artist, lecturer and author, based in her home studio in West Yorkshire. Her creative practice focusses on recording a sense of place through careful observation and material investigation. She works with a range of textile processes, including stitch, print and fabric manipulation, creating textile artworks. Hannah exhibits nationally and internationally and is an exhibiting member of the 62 Group of Textile Artists.

Hannah’s first solo book, Poetic Cloth; Creating Meaning in Textile Art, was published by Batsford in 2019. It’s a great source of inspiration, sharing techniques and the work of other textile artists.

Images courtesy of Hannah Lamb. From left to right At Home, Duty of Care and Fragments Patched I

Leigh Bowser

Leigh Bowser is a textile artist and educator based in West Yorkshire. Her work uses free motion embroidery to create amazing illustrations. She is known for her embroidered pet portraits that capture their personalities perfectly.

During her degree, Leigh started The Blood Bag Project which aims to raise awareness of the rare blood condition Diamond Blackfan Anaemia. The project has been featured in Craftivism books like Strange Material: Storytelling Through Textiles by Leanne Prain.

I love how Leigh works with layers of free motion embroidery to create her work, building up the colours at each stage.

Images courtesy of Leigh Bowser. From left to right custom pet portrait, Animal Crossing characters and pet portrait

The Women of Prism Textiles

I’ve been a member of Prism Textiles since 2021 and our membership is predominately women. I’ve been working with the social media team and helping out with marketing which gives me the chance to share the wonderful work our members make.

Prism are international exhibiting group working together to dispel the common preconceptions surrounding textiles. Embracing both the contemporary approach and the rich traditions of cloth and stitch.

I love the colour and texture of weaver Jane Walkley’s work, she takes inspiration from Sunny Bank Mill in West Yorkshire where her studio is based. Hannah Heys’ work is so bright and bold, the textures of her tufted pieces are so luscious. Maria Walker is a mixed media artist, she creates beautiful installations using found objects. I love her use of objects and the colours she works with.

Images courtesy of Jane Walkley, Mat Dale, Hannah Heys, Luma Content and Maria Walker. From left to right, work by Jane Walkley, Hannah Heys and Maria Walker