A Year of Embroidery

If you’ve been following me for a while you will know I started sewing around 2015 and have been hooked ever since. This blog has been a place for me to share my sewing and making journey, but I have definitely fallen out of the way of blogging in the last couple of years. When my son was born, I never stopped making things, but I found it even harder to get myself in gear to go outside and take blog photos. I would like to try and get back into blogging again, as it’s always been my favourite place to talk about sewing, and I find instagram can be quite overwhelming with the amount of content available now.

So, lately I have learned to embroider and it has become a really big passion of mine. I’ve also been doing drawing classes online to help improve my embroidery designs so I want to tell you a bit about that today and show you some of my work and how I’m progressing.

I began learning to embroider properly during the first lockdown. I started following the textileartist.org instagram page and discovered that they were running an embroidery challenge where each week an established textile artist would set a challenge for us to complete. There was a facebook page where you could share your final work and your experiences and hear from the artist themselves. I really enjoyed having a go at this and it inspired me to start making more of my own embroidery work.

I played around with a few ideas and ended up doing this embroidery of some bananas.

This piece was based on a still life drawing I did in pencil. I then scanned the drawing, increased the contrast on the image and printed it onto dissolvable paper to stick onto my fabric. This paper is really cool as you can stitch right over it and wash it out later. I would say however, that I found it quite difficult to wash the paper out of this piece, so I’ve stopped using it as much, and am now just tracing my images onto fabric with carbon transfer paper.

I was really pleased with this piece as it was my own design, and I didn’t really know what I was doing and didn’t really plan much before I started, but I did consider how to make it look more volumetric. I used atmospheric perspective, using more washed out colours for the bananas that are further away from the viewer in space and brighter, more saturated colours to bring the front bananas forward. I think this worked really effectively. I also made sure the colours in the shadows were darker values than the lit side. I didn’t consider complementary colours I just went with my intuition, but luckily it turned out well.

This piece took a long time to complete, I worked on it for about 2 months, doing about 2 hours a day, mostly when my son was napping, so it was a long slow one, but I really enjoyed the process and seeing it coming together was really exciting.

It got me excited about the possibility of creating more embroideries so I have been playing around with different ideas.

I’ve also been doing online drawing classes to improve my designs. I did a free trial of Skillshare and completed Brent Eviston’s drawing courses, which were amazing. I am now doing classes on figure drawing and portraiture on New Master’s Academy and am hoping to try doing some embroidered portraits, but I imagine this will be tough going so need to do a lot more drawing practice first.

I have found embroidery a fun medium to work in. There’s something really incredible about the textures you can achieve, and I love the colour mixing possibilities and the control you have over the colours by working in small stitches.

I think part of the appeal for me also lies in the fact that historically it has been such an underrated skill, “womenswork”, which was in recent history largely criticised for being twee and something your granny did. I think this is a big mistake, it’s such a cool and versatile medium. I have seen so many incredible artists using it to great effect and I’m excited to learn more and join the conversation.

2 thoughts on “A Year of Embroidery

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