One of the workshops I teach is called “Stitchtionary” and it is a new approach to an old lesson. I love to stitch and have lots of books with endless diagrams in them in my studio library. I love to thumb through the pages and try out new stitches to see how they look and feel. This often meant I had a little pile of stitchy try-outs that I could not part with. So what to do with these little gems? I punched holes into the top of each doodle piece and clipped it into a folder. Then just because I am an embroiderer I made a fabric version of the folder and used all of the stitchy ideas from the pages inside to decorate it. The cover has lots of different stitch combinations, couching and beading techniques that brings my chosen fabric alive.
This is by no way a new concept, I am sure there are lots of embroiderers and sewing machine users who do the same thing, like most things now it is hard to find something that is completely new. But I quickly realised that this could become an excellent way to introduce anyone to the art of embroidery because it combines practice and application all in the same piece. Historically this lesson was the Band Sampler, students were taught various stitches and they had to apply them to their band sampler. When it was finished it was dated and framed as an example of their skill and as a piece of art in the household. These school room pieces are now historic heirlooms that tell the story of how young women were introduced to embroidery and the skills that they achieved.
My book could quickly become an heirloom, my daughter loves it and I will pass it to her as a record of my skills and maybe an example of my art too. I have several, with snippets of work in them, some hand embroidered, others machine stitched. All are little gems I couldn’t part with.
This is the workshop that I will be teaching at the weekend workshop being held on the Isle of Wight on the 12th and 13th September (check the diary page for full details). If you sign up I will introduce you to some wonderful stitches that will build into several book pages to begin the process of building your own personal Stitchionary. Using your own chosen front cover fabric you will then apply the stitches you have learnt to create a lovely stitched and beaded cover for the precious pages you have created and maybe these will be added to as your obsession with your work grows. Believe me you will not want to part with even the smallest bit of embroidery you make. So what better than to store them in a book that tells your story, celebrates your skills and creates an heirloom that might tell your story to future generations like the traditional band samplers do now.