Festive Workshops

I’ve teamed up with the Leeds Central Library to run some festive workshops in November and December. Join us for some fun festive crafting and a mince pie in The Drawing Room.

Festive Hexie Wreath

Saturday 20 November 11am to 3pm

Join me for this the fun, festive hexie wreath workshop. I will guide you through the basics of English paper piecing and applique to create a wreath design to decorate your home. All materials and equipment will be provided and the class is suitable for beginners and people with some sewing experience who would like to try something new.

You can book your tickets here

Festive Felt Decorations

Wednesday 24 November 5.30pm to 7.30pm

Join me for this fun, festive felt decorations workshop. I will guide you through the basics of working with felt and hand embroidery to create your own unique decoration. All materials and equipment will be provided and the class is suitable for beginners and people with some sewing experience who would like to try something new.

You can book your tickets here

LED Decorations

Wednesday 1 December 5.30pm to 7.30pm

Join me for this fun, festive, festive LED decoration workshop. Hayley will guide you through the basics of working with soft circuits and hand embroidery to create your own unique decoration. All materials and equipment will be provided and the class is suitable for beginners and people with some sewing experience who would like to try something new.

You can book your tickets here

Making & Mental Health

Sunday 10 October 2021 is World Mental Health Day, a subject which is very personal to me. In my thirties I was diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder and I have struggled with depression and anxiety all my life. I believe that making is a key part of my wellbeing, I’ve written about this before on my blog and in the Arts and Minds newsletter.

I’ve been making since I was a little girl, my grandparents who brought me up were both makers. My granddad was a joiner and engineer and my grandma was a knitter, I was lucky to have access to craft materials so I could create things and play with different techniques.

I find having something to do with my hands gives me a sense of calm, even if I’m not embroidering or doing patchwork I’ll be in the studio organising threads. That’s my favourite task, arranging my fabric and thread. Picking up the materials and holding them in my hands always inspires me as I’m a process led artist.

Sharing my passion for textiles has also helped me to understand how I can use my skills to help other people find a creative outlet. I’ve worked on lots of community and collaborative projects using textiles to share our stories and as a way to find a moment of calm. You can find out more about some of these projects in my portfolio.

Even if you have never embroidered before, I recommend picking up a needle and thread and having a go. There are some great resources on YouTube and Pinterest to inspire you and you can check out my past posts for some ideas on how to make your stitching a bit different. There’s also an instant access embroidery course you can but through Workshop. If fabric and thread aren’t for you, why not try creative writing or photography instead.

Tools of the Trade

I’m often asked about the best way to transfer a design onto fabric for embroidery so I thought I would share some different techniques that I use regularly in the studio. When I’m creating a new design, I like to draw it first on paper. This helps me to get the scale and images right before I start stitching.

Tip… When using any marking tools and techniques you should always test on a piece of the fabric first to check if it’s suitable for the project you are working on.

Tissue Paper

This many sound like a strange way to transfer a design onto fabric but I use this for precious fabrics that won’t take well to being drawn on to. I always put my fabric in the hoop or frame before I attached the tissue paper. I trace the design onto a piece of tissue paper using a fine pencil. I then tack the tissue paper to the surface of my fabric with a contrasting thread.

Once the paper is secured in place, I started to stitch through the paper and the fabric to copy the design. When I’ve finished stitching, a carefully tear away the paper and tacking stitching, leaving my embroidered design on the fabric.

Air Erasable Pens

I’ve been using air erasable pens for many years, in particular the Barnyarns Magic Pen. They’re great for drawing out designs onto fabric ready for embroidery. Some of the pens have a finer nib so you can do some really detailed lines. You can also get a white pen for darker fabrics. I found this is hard to see at first as it writes clear and turns white.

This type of pen fades differently depending on the fabric. I’ve found that on vintage fabrics it doesn’t last as long. If the pen hasn’t faded when your design is finished, you can dab the marks off with a damp cloth.

Heat Erasable Pen

Pilot Frixion pens are a newer edition to my stash after they were recommended by a dressmaking friend. I picked up a bargain pack in Tesco and you an find them online and in stationery shops too. I tend to buy the black ball point types but you can buy other colours too.

I use them for drawing designs on my fabric for workshop samples, around patchwork templates and for larger designs that I need to spend a few days on. When the design is finished, you can use an iron or hairdryer to remove the design. Please be mindful that that this pen may come back if the fabric gets incredible cold. I also had a ghost image left on the fabric when I used a very fine vintage cotton.

***Please note that this is just my personal observation on the techniques I use regularly, everyone has their favourites and I recommend trying lots of different types to find the best one for you. ***

Notes from the Studio

Autumn is here which means I’m busy teaching workshops and running community projects. I’m happy to be travelling again and working in schools, galleries and theatres although it’s still very surreal. I’d forgotten how heavy my suitcase full of materials is to carry around.

I’ve been getting my work ready for the upcoming Prism Textiles exhibition In Search of Possibilities which opens in October. My largest work, The Possibilities are Endless and Overwhelming is currently being framed and I’ve made some changes to the smaller piece For Joe.

My sketchbook is nearly full and I’m planning some new pieces based on my summer research. I’m hoping to begin making more miniature worlds work and I’m trying to decide on the backing fabric and how I will display them.

For regular updates about my practice you can follow me on Instagram or sign up to my monthly newsletter.

In Search of Possibilities

I became a member of Prism Textiles in December last year and I’m enjoying working with other members on the marketing team and the virtual collaboration. Prism is an international exhibiting group of artists working to dispel the common preconceptions surrounding textiles.

Every year we have a exhibition that showcases the work of our members and this year’s exhibition In Search of Possibilities opens next month. We’re excited to be exhibiting at The Art Pavilion, Mile End Park, Clinton Road, E3 4QY. The exhibition runs from 21 October to 31 October and is open daily from 11am to 6pm, it’s free to visit and there is no need to book.

If you’re interested in the work we do and would like to become a member, applications are now open and you can visit the website to find out more.

The Return of the Sketchbook

Throughout 2021 I’ve been working with the brilliant Eleanor Snare who offers supervision for freelancers and businesses. I call our sessions art counselling and they’ve helped me to focus on the direction of my teaching and practice.

One of the challenges I set myself was to start working in a sketchbook again, something that I’d stopped doing since the move last year. Throughout August I’ve been adding inspiration images, samples and sketches into a book. I’ve tried new techniques like collage and we went on a sketch walk with local illustrator Savannah Storm.

I’ve enjoyed gathering everything together in one place, it helps me to know that I have a reference to look back on when I’m feeling uninspired. I’ve been making notes about new pieces too which means I can look at the sketches and ideas when I’m spending the day in my studio.

For regular updates about my practice you can follow me on Instagram and sign up to my monthly newsletter.

New Workshops

After my summer break I’m excited to be teaching some embroidery workshops across Yorkshire. Since March 2020, I’ve been continuing to share my skills online, running workshops on Zoom. My new workshops in September and October will be in person, taking care to clean equipment and practice social distancing when possible.

Introduction to Hand Embroidery

Tuesday 21 September 6pm to 8.30pm, Woodend Creative, Scarborough

In introduction to hand embroidery class. You will learn how to do the basics of hand embroidery, from threading a needle to using and embroidery hoop. I will work through some hand embroidery stitches including blanket stitch, chain stitch, French knots and satin stitch. These stitches will come together to create a mini sampler that showcases your new skills.

All materials and equipment will be provided and the class is suitable for absolute beginners and people wanting to brush on on their embroidery skills.

You can book your tickets here

Stitched Portraits

Tuesday 28 September 6pm to 8.30pm, Woodend Creative, Scarborough

Wednesday 13 October 6pm to 8.30pm, The Yorkshire Sculpture Park

In this textile portraits class you will learn how to transfer an image onto fabric to and transform this line drawing into fabric and stitch. I will show you how to use fabric applique to add colour and texture and some easy embroidery stitches like back stitch and French knots to create the stitched outline.

All materials and equipment will be provided and the class is suitable for absolute beginners and people wanting to learn some new embroidery skills.

You can book your tickets here for Woodend Creative and here for The Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Conductive Thread Embroidery

Tuesday 5 October 6pm to 8.30pm, Woodend Creative, Scarborough

In this workshop you will learn the traditional craft of hand embroidery. I will guide you through the basics of hand embroidery, helping you to create your own design using a variety of stitches including back stitch, chain stitch and blanket stitch. Once you have completed your embroidered design onto calico fabric, you will learn how to create a soft circuit using conductive thread to light up the LED within your design.

All materials and equipment will be provided and the class is suitable for absolute beginners and people wanting to learn some new embroidery skills.

You can book your tickets here

On my Bookcase

I’m not an avid reader when it comes to fiction but I have a great collection of embroidery and textile books in my studio. Some of them were bought during my degree and have remained a great source of inspiration for my own work and when I’m running workshops and short courses. I thought I’d share some of my favourites with you.

Embellished New Vintage – Karen Nicol

If you could look at my Art Library borrowing history this book would definitely be the most borrowed so I was excited when it was reprinted in paperback a couple of years ago. This book is a wealth of inspiration, especially if you’re a lover of vintage. Karen shows her beautiful designs and the different techniques she has used to create them.

You can buy a copy of the book here

Creative Embroidery – Jan Beany and Jean Littlejohn

If you’re a lover of embroidery you will have seen the work of Jan and Jean, also known as Double Trouble. This book guides you through the create process, from finding inspiration and sketching to developing embroidered pieces. I found this book so useful during my degree and now I share it with my own students on embroidery courses.

My copy of this book is well worn and sadly it’s out of print but you can find some of Jan and Jean’s other books on their website

Stitch Stories – Cas Holmes

I had the pleasure of helping Cas at the Knitting & Stitching Show in 2018, her work is wonderful. Stitch Stories shares Cas’ work alongside other artists and gives you projects and ideas to try out for yourself.

The book has been reprinted several times and you can buy a copy through Cas’ website

Notes from the Studio

Summer is often a quiet time for teaching as people are on holiday and enjoying the sunshine. As a result, I’m enjoying more time in the studio. It’s been great to have so much time in the space, partially because it’s the coldest room in the house!

I’m working on existing pieces like my largescale stitchscape as well as planning new pieces and shaking things up a bit. I’ve been looking at more sculptural pieces from a few years ago, reflecting on how I can work in 3D on new pieces.

I’ve been working with Eleanor Snare, an independent supervisor for artists and creatives looking to develop their work in imaginative and commercial new directions. I often describe this process as art counselling, helping me to find new challenges and understand my work.

August will be studio focussed, only answering important emails and trying out process old and new. I’ve set myself the challenge of filling a sketchbook, this will be research, photographs, ideas and drawings.

I’m excited to take on this new challenge and develop some new ideas that I can translate into fabric and thread. You can follow me on Instagram to see work in progress and sign up to my newsletter for regular updates about my practice and upcoming workshops and talks.