A fun hand embroidery challenge

may2020 branch meeting hand embroidery challenge

At our recent Embroiderers’ Guild ‘virtual’ branch meeting we had a lovely afternoon working on a fun hand embroidery challenge. We tested out holding a virtual branch meeting in April, and everyone who attended all said how much they had enjoyed it, and how uplifting it had been. You can read about that here: https://www.stitcherystories.com/how-to-run-online-embroidery-meeting/

So we decided that for our May 2020 meeting we would expand our ambitions! I still wanted to use a free Zoom account which limits us to 40 minutes when 3 or more people attend. And anyway, it is supposed to be an embroidery group meeting not an online webinar, and we wanted to do some embroidery. I emailed our branch members a couple of days beforehand with the plan, 2 Zoom links and the guidance that they needed to collect some fabric and threads for the challenge, and a small hoop – whatever was handy, but I didn’t reveal the challenge details.

This is the plan we designed for the afternoon.

  • 1.30pm start meeting (this is our usual start time)
  • have a quick catch up chat and show what we have been stitching on this last month
  • 1:50pm Alison set the hand embroidery challenge
  • 2pm – off we go and work on the challenge
  • zoom meeting closed
  • 4pm second zoom meeting opened
  • go round each member and see what they created
  • 4.30pm end meeting (our usual end time)

We had all been busy over the month and all had something to show off.

We stuck to our schedule and just before 2pm off we went to work on the challenge.

Our Hand Embroidery Challenge

Pick either chain stitch or fly stitch or both. And go and play and see what you can create in the 2 hours. If we wanted, we could add beads or sequins too.

So I flapped around the house, rummaging about through my stash to get some inspiration. I spotted some pretty blue sequins and decided that I would stick to blue. I found some lovely Stef Francis variegated blue rayon that I loved but hadn’t found a project for. Add to that some blue organza and a turquoise shiny fabric I haven’t a clue what it is called. My inspiration – the swirling sea. Swirls in chain stitch. I had a plan – YAY.

2.20pm I sat down and cut out some circles in the blue organza and used the handles of my ‘stork’ scissors to make some smaller oval shapes in the turquoise. I simply pinned them down and with a ‘disappearing’ pen drew some loose spirals of differing sizes.

What to do with the rayon?

I hadn’t really worked well with rayon before so decided to keep it ‘whole’ and work chain stitch at a size suitable for the thread. I always work ‘reverse’ chain stitch ‘cos its easier and doesn’t hurt my fingers as much as working chain stitch on taut fabric does, or is that just me? Just stitching the spirals in chain stitch was very enjoyable. The piece came together quickly.

The clock is ticking!

Of course, 4pm came around really quickly and it was time for me to start the second Zoom meeting. Once again we shared what we had created, and all the pieces were lovely. Very creative! As usual, it was fascinating to see the range and variety of art work.

This is what I had created by 4pm.

swirling sea chain stitch sampler after 2 hours may2020

Making a simple embroidery video

I asked everyone’s permission to take some screenshots of us all, at the start, and with our work. Everyone was also asked to email their photo of their creation as at the 4pm deadline. I made a very simple video using the free Windows Movie Maker. It’s a simple video editor that allows you to combine photos (and video clips actually) with text, transitions and music to create a simple video.

We wanted something visual to share on social media, and to encourage other branches and groups who were perhaps struggling with getting some sort of ‘virtual’ meeting up and running. I shared it on our Facebook Page, and also in our Facebook Group for our region, Yorkshire & The Humber region. The Embroiderers’ Guild also picked it up and shared it too.

Simple videos like this are a great way to publicise what your group (or you!) is doing. My simple little video reached 1277 people, with 573 views. Brilliant!

And my hand embroidery piece?

I really enjoyed the afternoon and the ‘luxury’ for me of spending 3 hours focused on my embroidery and being creative. I thought it came together really well. In fact, once the meeting had ended I continued stitching until I had done enough spirals. I also split the rayon into its 3 strands, and did some smaller stitches and spirals too.

This is what I had achieved by early evening.

swirling sea chain stitch sample wip1 may2020

I wanted to have some sort of border around it, like waves. There was a pot of Artline Modelling Cream in champagne in our art box, and I also had some lovely Lumiere ‘light body metallic acrylic’ paint in pearl blue. As a sample, I tried painting them onto the cotton base fabric and liked the effect. I felt brave painting around my finished embroidery, and, finally, I added a few blue sequins, held in place with a French knot. Erm, is that cheating?

wave samples may2020

We all agreed the meeting was a success and are going to do something similar for our June meeting. A bonus for me was that I actually finished. AND, I’m really happy with my simple hand embroidery chain stitch sampler, Swirling Sea. YAY!

swirling sea chain stitch sample may2020
About the Author
This embroidery and textile art blog and podcast are created and produced by Susan Weeks.