Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Hand Embroidery: Embellishing Printed Fabrics

Participants work: Textile marker and stitch on printed fabric

One of my favourite elements of my work is running workshops. I love taking an idea to people, sharing it with them and seeing how differently everyone interprets it. Last year I was asked to do a couple of textile based workshops for Tullie House's Saturday Sessions, the first of which was in February.

Set up and ready to go in the lovely Meeting Room at Tullie House

Ready to go

Selection of fabrics to work into

For a while now I have been taking printed fabrics and working into them with textile markers and hand embroidery. It struck me that this would be an excellent workshop idea. One of the comments I get a lot is that people would like to stitch but they can't draw or make their own designs. I happen to think this is rubbish and that with a bit of guidance everyone can come up with a creative design but I also think that when there's an easy solution to an issue why not try that first?

Using textile markers to add colour to the fabric and give a base for stitching

Adding colour and personality with textile markers

The aim of this workshop was to give people a starting point to explore colour and hand embroidery. By using printed fabrics the scary element of making one's own design is removed so the focus can be on experimenting with stitch and colour. At a time when the rise of the adult colouring book seems unstoppable it seems clear that the creative desire is out there, it just needs a bit of nurturing and encouraging.

Adding stitch to our coloured in fabrics 
Adding stitch to our coloured in fabrics 

Deciding which stitch to choose first

Despite a few technical hitches at the start of the day it was a really lovely workshop with a lovely group of people. The atmosphere was very relaxed and quiet, with everyone focused on their work quietly enjoying the slow meditative qualities that hand stitch offers interspersed with lots of interesting conversations. One of the participants described the workshop as a treat which as well as being a great compliment I thought was very apposite; in our busy lives it can be hard to find time to sit still and work on something as time consuming as a hand embroidery so it is a treat to have a whole day focused on just that.

Work in progress

Work in progress

Work in progress: Effective use of feather stitch to build texture and depth

I always find that workshops are very much a two way learning experience, I hope that my participants learn from me and go away enthused and with new ideas and skills but I usually find that I come away with something new too. On this occasion I discovered new artists to research and learnt about some of the characters in Carlisle's textile teaching past. I even had time to work on one of my own pieces which I really appreciated.

Bright and bold colours and stitching

Stitch, buttons, sequins and colour creating a beautiful and unique piece

Working on my own piece...

I also always enjoy seeing how people handle the same media so differently and am often inspired by their approaches. One of the participants chose to cut up some of the motifs from her chosen fabric and this really changed the technique and opened up new possibilities. I also sold a piece of work so that's always a nice confidence boost! At the end of the session I felt full of inspiration and ideas and excited about the next workshop at Tullie House (which if you are interested is making mini Textile Banners on 23rd April!)

Simple, bold colours add an interesting twist to this piece

And it changes again when the motifs are cut out

I love the colours in this bird and the careful choice of stitch

Bright and chirpy!

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