NEW: Search The Forums


Cretive stitchers?

JanF's picture

I have been watching the posts to see if any new ones come up re. creative free-motion embroidery - and am surprised that so few seem to be posted.
After saying that - I don't have anything to post as such - just a general query as to why so few of Threads readers seem to use their machines in this very creative way?
It seems to me that a lot of people like the use of the ready made designs re. machine embroidery - which I refer to as "set embroidery stitches" but are a little afraid to actually use the machines in a freer style.
Is this because a lot of people feel a little inhibited about their ability to think as you do?
I would be surprised if this was the case because it seems to me that lots of the posters are infinitely creative with dressmaking embellishments and other "Crafty" skills but appear to fall short of going the "Whole way", dropping the feed on the machine, and letting go.
I find kids at school love "drawing" with the machines and this is used a lot in my school, probably because I like doing it, but why so few adults?
Ive just realised I cant spell - not good for a teacher is it!!

Edited 1/29/2007 1:04 pm ET by JanF

Josefly's picture

(post #31489, reply #1 of 67)

I would love to do more of the kind of stitching you're describing. My un-tutored attempts have been less than satisfying. Someone has told me it just takes practice, and I'm sure I haven't practiced enough, but also...something I'm doing is just wrong, and I need someone to watch me and show me what it is. There's a video tip on this Threads site about it, but I can't seem to duplicate what I see. I can draw out a design and trace over it with the machine, v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y, but that's my limit. I keep promising myself I'll really sit down and learn how, but for now I've promised myself to fit a pants pattern, finally.

Guess what I'm saying is, I'd love to learn how to do free-motion stitching, and would love to see what others are doing with it. It appeals to me much, much more than using an embroidery machine with programmed designs.

georgiagg's picture

(post #31489, reply #2 of 67)

I am so glad to see someone mention embroidery with out the computer. I have seen people do the free hand on a quilting show and it has motivated me to learn something new.  I am taking a class this weekend called the Upside Down Embroidery.  The decorative threads come from the bobbin. I am excited to learn to do this and other kinds of machine embroidery, too.  Can see many avenues to use this to embellish garments and such.  It will take some practice but then so does sewing.  Will let you know how it goes.

JanF's picture

(post #31489, reply #6 of 67)

I'm glad you responded to my first post - I love using the free - motion skill on the machine. When i first learned to do this I was at college and didnt know you could do this with a machine! Mind u was 1972!!
In college we were taught that the thread had to be on the spool because fancy machine threads hadn't been around then.
We used to use Coton a broder and I still use this at school cos its very good thread to learn with. At the moment I'm using this upside down method to teach pupils to do some sashiko work, but not with free motion - that is the next stage!
Enjoy your course - It will inspire you - or I really hope it does!!
I would be interested to know what else you do on the course - how the skill is developed. I'm always open to finding new ways of doing things in relation to teaching, albeit that I am getting to the end of my official teaching career!
Good luck - Janet

Noelle's picture

(post #31489, reply #15 of 67)


  I'm interested in seeing what you do, or at least "hearing" about it!

I just bought Designer SE (Viking) last week--have lots to learn.  Am

doing monograms right now.  Love creative stitches idea! 

JanF's picture

(post #31489, reply #33 of 67)

As I promised - Ive tried to attach these thumbnail photos before - but no joy - so trying again - apologies if not clear enough - but a selection of what I have done with freemotion embroidery - PS - I do not really look as old as in my portrait! Now wear contacts - and they improve my ageing photos!
Phew - that took a while! Ive probably got too big a size of photo now for anyone to see anything!

Edited 2/8/2007 2:11 pm ET by JanF

DCP02095.JPG56.63 KB
DCP02096.JPG26.16 KB
DCP02097.JPG36.8 KB
DCP02098.JPG46.17 KB
DCP02098_2.JPG46.17 KB
DCP02099.JPG27.82 KB
DCP02106.JPG27.65 KB
DCP02112_x2x.JPG40.57 KB
DCP02113_x2x.JPG65.57 KB
DCP02114_x2x.JPG70.5 KB
DCP02115.JPG52.21 KB
DCP02116_x2x.JPG46.82 KB
DCP02117_x2x.JPG51.3 KB
Josefly's picture

(post #31489, reply #34 of 67)


fabricholic's picture

(post #31489, reply #35 of 67)

Hi Jan,

Awesome. What is the first one, a book? It looks like you used metallic threads. I don't have much luck with metallics, even though, I use the right needle, but the liquid stuff on it, it just ends up breaking. You are so talented. Very nice.


JanF's picture

(post #31489, reply #36 of 67)

Thank you - I dont think the pic shows it up quite correctly as I used metallic fabric(in fact stretch metallic lycra fabric - sandwiched between cotton evenweave and a synthetic lining fabric!) The actual stitching was ordinary machine polyester thread too. Not a combination I would ordinarilly use 'cos I'm not a fan of synthetics usually- but I wanted the metallic fabric to give the contrast to the dull yellow surrounding fabric.
Also it was stuff I'd got to use up!
I can't say i would usually mix - or recommend mixing- different types of fabrics for a full piece of work but I wanted the sparkly effect. I just attached ready - purchased, sparkly cord around the edge of the book. The book I use at school to keep lesson plans in - and for the pupils to see working examples of what they could achieve.The design was a drawing I did of the end of a pew in my local parish church which I just reproduced 4 times, turning 2 upside down.
Like you I find the metallic thread annoying because they do split easily even with the correct needles too - but I tend to limit metallic stitching to small areas for effect or to highlight some sections.
Also after 28 years of being married to a Yorkshire man - about whom the saying goes [that they are "careful" with their brass(money)]it obviously rubbed off in that I never throw stuff away and recycle fabric snips and resent paying loads for what seems to me to be very expensive threads!
It pays off though - this year's exam preparation question for my class, is to do with recycling - so at least Ive got loads of examples of what is possible, to help them prepare for the exam!
Thanks again -Jan

fabricholic's picture

(post #31489, reply #37 of 67)

Hi Jan,

Am I correct in assuming that you teach different kinds of sewing? The book is beautiful, no matter how you achieved the effect. That would have to inspire students.


JanF's picture

(post #31489, reply #39 of 67)

yes - ur right - I teach what we call KS3 and KS4 (11-16yrs old in old money! - sorry I realise that won't mean anything to you - its a reference to before we went decimal with our coinage!!and people still use the saying to refer to the "old days")
I have to follow the National Curriculum for Ks3(compulsory) which means that I teach textiles skills alongside task analysis, research, design specification, designing from 1st - development - final design (all evaluated)making and final evaluation.
I do this using whichever textile skills I feel I want to promote/or like /or am good at!. My personal slant is that I want them to use a sewing machine well, so applique/reverse applique, free motion etc do feature quite highly. At the mo. I'm working on sashiko work and African style cushions in Ks3.
The KS4 pupils chose to follow my subject, but the exam board set the course.
If anyone is interested they could go onto and it should explain what I have to do, gives past exam papers for the written exam, and I think also examples of work. The title = Textiles Technology (under Design Technology)
If I was working full time I would also teach "A" level D and T, but i chose to work less hours and have a bit of sanity and time for myself.
A sign that retirement is becoming increasingly attractive!
I think a lot of members to this site seem to be garment orientated, and I do have to do quite a lot of this at KS4, but money can be an issue for pupils and my capitation allowance!! so very often - apart from time, this can limit what I am able to do.
Also i'm one of those who cannot bear doing the same thing every time too. If you think that any year group is split between 6 different media areas ( eg. food, textiles, resistant materials( wood, metal, plastic), systems(electronics)and IT ( and the pupils rotate around these) - it means that I can be teaching the same scheme of work 6 times in a school year. In fact I can be doing it 12 times cos the school intake is split into houses - which means I can be teaching 2 groups in any 1 week, for each year group!! Clear as mud??
Lets just say that after 1 year of it - I change my scheme!
It suits me though 'cos I need to keep up with trends etc. and it stops me from being bored! I've seen enough posts regarding boring teachers who turn pupils off textiles by insisting they make aprons etc!
Anyway - hope the explanation wasn't too boring!!!

Just to say - just checkedlink - you would need to go into publications - then specifications to find out what i teach!

Edited 2/11/2007 12:02 pm ET by JanF

Josefly's picture

(post #31489, reply #41 of 67)

I thoroughly enjoyed your description of your job, and I'm impressed with the British school system. I didn't know what Sashiko was until I just now googled it, and wow! Where've I been that I haven't seen this beautiful stuff? I want to try it, but not now, no, no, no, I've got pants-fitting to do. Bet your students love your class.

JanF's picture

(post #31489, reply #44 of 67)

I must own up to the fact that I didn't know what sashiko was until about 8 years ago!I think i found out by looking at something done by hand at a local quilting fair - and then researched it. Also i do like to look at textiles from other cultures - although not always to my taste etc. i can adapt colours/motifs etc. I'm sure most of us stitchers have a library of reference books too. I sometimes cringe to think of the amount of money Ive spent on illustrated books, but ive done that since the late 60's. Its my reasoning for always telling my husband Ive got no money!
Probably we've all done pieces of work - to sell them to then buy some more fabric/thread or a book -- to go on and make something else to sell/give as pressies or wear - and then run the circle again and again!!
Ive a horrible feeling that although being able to make something to sell or to make something for someone to wear has at times been a life-saver for me, It has also been my biggest area of spending!
nice to chat - janet

wally wombat's picture

(post #31489, reply #53 of 67)

OH Jan,

 WOW you've blown me away, beautiful. I'd be happy with half your talent, congratulations.


amapola's picture

(post #31489, reply #38 of 67)

Thank you for sharing your beautiful work. You've inspired me.



JanF's picture

(post #31489, reply #40 of 67)

It would be nice to think I did - but in reality I do the same as others - look for inspiration around me, books etc - even seeing how others do some things that I do but in a different, often easier , way. I've realised after joining this group that there is a lot I dont know about textile work - even at 57!! and 30 years of teaching!
Too easy to get stuck in your own groove I often think - hence looking forward to my own time - no school orders of work - just what I want to do!!
Happy sewing!

FitnessNut's picture

(post #31489, reply #42 of 67)

What beautiful work! You can teach me anytime!!!

Follow your bliss ~~ Joseph Campbell

Follow your bliss ~~ Joseph Campbell
JanF's picture

(post #31489, reply #45 of 67)

Well!! if in about 12months time you fancy a holiday in North Wales, coupled with learning/acquiring/perfecting skills in some textile area I might possibly oblige!!
i'm definitely taking the plunge and setting up a business with my daughter to run courses (residential if poss)so watch this space!!
Hope u dont mind my "tongue in cheek" advertising. My daughter is telling me i have got to self promote but as yet I cant do it without feeling cheeky and too "in your face"!!
perhaps by next year when Ive got to self finance my "textile habit" I will have learnt the art of promotion - definitely will be a steep learning curve!

blondie2sew's picture

(post #31489, reply #47 of 67)

Dear Janet.

I just got through reading through this whole entire Thread!! And all I can say is "you go girl" I have learned more in these 47 posts then some of the classes I have taken for free motion..

I don't have an embroidery machine I have one with a ton of decorative stitches. so in the gallery when I post my stockings I have always just did free embellishing if you will...

I have taken a class on Machine Beading which I have to say was fun and I got the hang of it!! I have just frozen up when it comes to the thread painting and free motion. Scares the spit out of me...Don't know why like your very first few posts I am too very creative and I just hang up on it all!! Some advice to me was have a glass of wine!! Basically don't get hung up just relax!!

We have a group here in the NW called MEOW....Machine Embroidery of Oregon and Washington..This is totally free motion and I have been wanting to join just to be in a group with ladies for the ideas! Hopefully next year when my lil one is full time school. The neat part of Free motion is you are not limited to wear you can go!!

Anyway I love it and I so appreciate your School instruction to us!! You Rock in my book!! You get paid for your instruction and yet you gave so freely of your heart and time to really go into detail with us!! We are truly blessed to have you around. And as for your work like the other post "WOW"

From my Heart to yours You are incredible!!


Josefly's picture

(post #31489, reply #48 of 67)

Amen to Connie's message.

JanF's picture

(post #31489, reply #50 of 67)

I'm happy to oblige - but I'm conscious that it is a 2 way thing! ive learnt quite a lot from other posters!
Thanks Jan

JanF's picture

(post #31489, reply #49 of 67)

Thanks for your vote of confidence - it is quite nice to be able to pass on a little bit of knowledge and keen sewers are much more receptive than youngsters sometimes! i like your idea of the group meeting - but I had to s******* to myself at the MEOW !!
- could be that you dont say it in the states but women here say that, when they want to say that they are, or someone else is, being "catty" about other women! Its a play on the fact that women love to gossip about others not present at the time!
of course i'm sure that wasnt what was intended with naming your group!!!
Was it??
Well if it was I think its a great name - but that might be my slightly warped sense of humour!

Edited 2/18/2007 5:35 am ET by JanF

Cherrypops's picture

(post #31489, reply #51 of 67)

I too thought 'catty' in reference to MEOW...You are not alone in this warped sense of humourous world we live.

I agree it is a great name for the group and do hope the gals only get their 'claws' out when their machine goes awry not their counterparts in sewing.

I have enjoyed reading through this thread. Please continue.

:) CherryP

blondie2sew's picture

(post #31489, reply #52 of 67)

How funny "MEOW" in may different languages..

Yes actually over here in the states we can say she is the real Cat's Meow which in turn means she has it going on...usually in the man department. But I don't know if you are any other countries are into the who shorten down and acronyms.(spelling?) anyway. It is funny.

When we type sometimes we forget the whole. There are other countries other cultures that are probably going "What!!!" I know I have done that in some posts around here. And then usually one of us ( I think mostly from the US will ask the question..what does that mean)

I hope I clarified a bit. Like Tigger says (that's Winnie the pooh)

Ta Ta for Now


JanF's picture

(post #31489, reply #54 of 67)

Just a thought - Ive never done any machine beading - how difficult is it to start? Could you recommend any good books - or pass on any good practical tips for me to start trying this out?
i understand the principles - but need a little help getting basics sorted out - in very simple terms?
Whenever you have a few spare minutes would u kindly point me in the right direction?
Thanks Jan

blondie2sew's picture

(post #31489, reply #56 of 67)

Hi Jan,

Yes I would be more then happy too. What I will probably do is attach a Word Doc with all the info for you..So then you can easily print it out and I won't be taking up a ton of space on this thread!!

Thanks for asking. I haven't done this in a while and after you asked me well I just might have to start playing again..

Ok Here it is done sooner then I thought!! I am hoping this is clear and precise like you have written your instructions to us! Please let me know if you are not understanding a part or so.
I wish I could snap shot some pics for ya but my honey has the camera and well that is in NZ until next week.

I am hoping I did a job well done for you


Edited 2/20/2007 8:11 pm ET by blondie2sew

blondie2sew's picture

(post #31489, reply #57 of 67)

Ok after I edited my post to you I realized I couldn't attach on my edit so here is another post for my attachment.


Machine_Beading.doc24.5 KB
JanF's picture

(post #31489, reply #58 of 67)

Thank you very much - I have had a quick read and it seems straightforward enough - although I can see why you said it takes time to practise - but it gets quicker!
I'll let you know how I get on - In a way it might not be too difficult for me to get started cos I was taught to do free embroidery without a presser foot on the machine - albeit years ago - but I think I will need to actually admit to myself that my glasses are not going to be good enough for me any more and get a magnifying glass attached to my machine!
I would like to perfect some method of attaching beads by machine though, cos I want to bead a few corsets and they take ages by hand!
And yes your explanation was fine and easy to understand - Thanks very much Janet

Becky-book's picture

(post #31489, reply #60 of 67)


Not sure when I'll get around to trying it but now I can't excuse myself for lack of instruction!


cree9's picture

(post #31489, reply #43 of 67)

The pictures are wonderful and the skills to do the beautiful work are awesome - I have only one sample of the work I used to do free hand and now that it is framed I may not be able to get photo - I made pictures in thread on material rather like the woman except that I used threads more like paints and covered the material with often several layers of various colored threads and used decorative stitches to get ragged effects and so on - this was before hoops, stabilizers or anything like that - all stretched by hand and done with feed dogs down so I controlled the speed or placement of thread or whatever without any help from any assists.

JanF's picture

(post #31489, reply #46 of 67)

Thank you - I'm interested in the term thread painting! Do you think its a different form of free embroidery - on its own - or is it a development of the free-motion stuff i do? Possibly it relies on the amount of threads actually used, and I assume it refers to completely covered areas of fabric - am I correct?