Category Archives: General

One to one hand embroidery tuition – learn the art of mindfulness at Marna’s home studio

r Thread Therapy – close work hand embroidery as a tool for achieving mindfulness

As well as being a traditional method of creating beautiful arts and crafts, hand embroidery is a useful tool for achieving a state mindfulness.  The repetitive nature of the stitching and close work helps to focus the mind and put you ‘in the moment’.  We like to call it ‘Thread Therapy‘. It’s a chance for your mind to relax and unburden itself from invasive thoughts.   You can read more about hand embroidery and mindfulness here, in a recent blog post.

Mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.

Marna has become well known for the fantastic Thread Therapy hand embroidery retreats she runs in the stunning North Yorkshire Moors.  A small group are treated to a relaxing weekend of mindfulness and stitching, with delicious meals and relaxing treatments.

There is another option if you haven’t got a whole weekend to spare but are still keen to create something beautiful with Marna.

hand embroidered lampshade

Enjoy a one-to-one hand embroidery workshop with Marna Lunt

Marna offers one-to-one workshops at her home studio, she will take you (or you and a friend) through the process of creating an embroidered lampshade, lantern or simply help you get to grips with all the basic hand embroidery stitches. You can have a chat in advance and work out exactly how you like to spend the day and what you would like to achieve with your hand embroidery workshop.

Marna regularly adds new dates up when she is available to teach – see all the dates and details here.

To enjoy the workshops and weekend retreats you don’t have to have any experience at all with hand embroidery or fabric. Marna will teach you new skills and inspire you to create something you can be proud of. You leave rejuvenated with a new passion for hand embroidery to soothe your soul.

Hand embroidery is easy to learn, we offer free online embroidery lessons, just sign up for our newsletter by clicking here and we’ll email you with the details to get instant access.

FREE ONLINE EMBROIDERY COURSE

 

handmade rosette tutorial

The Little a Rosette Tutorial

I’ve been making these rosettes from a number of years now and I’ve given workshops on them and done talks about them. This time last year me and my rosettes were featured in Good Homes magazine and I’ve been inundated with orders particularly for weddings ever since. I am emailed and messaged every week by customers telling me they’ve been copied which is a shame, but we live in a world where this happens frequently. Rather than let it upset me any more I thought I’d share with all of you just how to make them, it’s not hard. Just takes a bit of time and a good sense of colour and fun. I’ve been supported hugely by you all and so I thought I’d do this tutorial to say thank you. You can use this to make your own styled rosettes and make them your own, customise them, add bits and experiment. Thanks for supporting me and spending your hard earned cash buying from me over the years, kissy kissy.

handmade rosette tutorial
I’m not worried about telling my ‘secrets’ because when you buy from me you’re buying not just the product but my knowledge of colour, my choice of fabrics and vintage buttons and pearls? So this is how I make my rosettes, all you have to know how to do is back stitch. And if once you’ve seen this tutorial, you want to buy some of my colour choices and button selections then you can buy one of my rosette kits from my shop;)

So let’s get started.
What you will need:

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A selection of fabric
A selection of ribbons
Pearls or buttons
Scissors
Fabric glue
Fray stop
Blue water soluble pen
Badge pin
Needle and thread

When choosing your fabric you want a piece of felt to use as a base, a backing piece to cover your workings, and four to five different patterned fabrics for layering. It’s up to your personal choice. I often use a plain one, one with spots, stripes and vibrant pattern and a softer coloured piece. I find the vibrant patterns work best with slightly toned down, less busy, fabrics. The darker colours to the back and the less vivid to the front or your writing won’t be seen.
Your ribbons want to compliment the colours of the fabrics, I use a lot of ribbon, I just think its more lavish. You can find many of the ribbons I use in my supplies shop. I love textures, thick velvety with soft satins and cotton.

How you make the rosette:
1/ Place the felt at the back and chose what order you want your fabrics to go. Then cut them into circles with the larger being at the back.

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2/ Arrange you ribbon on top of the felt and glue in place.

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Place the fabric on top of the ribbon and glue in place.
3/ Write on your rosette with the blue soluble pen whatever you like, I chose kiss me because its valentines day coming up, but can also be used on New Years Eve too.

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20130213-194903.jpg Now glue on your pearls.
4/ At this point I let the glue dry before then stitching everything in place. I use glue as well as stitching because then I know everything is fixed very firmly and you won’t find pearls pinging off left right and centre. A badge gets a lot of wear especially when made for special occasions, there’s much hugging and jumping around generally or at least there should be!!
5/ I hand stitch all my products but if you don’t feel comfortable doing this there are may others ways in which you can achieve a lovely finish, they’re lots quicker and easier and just as much fun. You could machine all the items together, you could just stick with the glueing (sorry about the pun;)), both work fine. With the writing you could use fabric pens or stamps with fabric ink.
I like the effect of hand stitching, I like thick layers of lavish fabric and lashing of ribbon dripping down from a colourful gem like circle. I don’t like the stitching or the rosettes to look too perfect, to me they’re a bit soulless and look shop bought or factory made and and that’s not my style.

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I don’t use a bond a web fixer on the rosettes because I like the fabric to have a lip around the edges, for them to curl up and move and be flexible, I find them to be more jolly that way. I want the wind to ruffle them.
6/ I use a hand dyed woollen thread when stitching the words, again I do this for a reason, I like the way the texture works against the rest of the fabrics. When I make something I think about every tiny detail, there’s always a reason for these little touches and a choice of material used and the suppliers I chose. The threads are just the right shade to go with the ribbon and fabric, i often use vintage silk thread too but only when that precise colour is available. I think I may sound a little deranged, well that wouldn’t be far wrong, I don’t always get it right, if only I was perfect (do not tell my children I’m not, if they sense weakness I will pay;)). When things go wrong, I just start again, swearing as I go;)
7/ Now for the backing. You don’t want all those workings showing, not pretty, so I use a plain piece of fabric to cover it, just glueing it in place, then glue or stitch on your badge back and cover that working again with a smaller piece of the same backing fabric.

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8/ Now turn your rosette to the front and give it a squirt of water to get rid of the pen marks.
9/ Fray stop time! Some of the fabrics I use have a very lose weave, like the Harris Tweed and linen. I love these textures and want them to look a tiny bit shabby but to too much, they’ll just fray too much and look shabby in a not so cool way if not treated, so I coat these edges with lashings of lovely stinky fray stop, cor it’s a bit pungent. Works beautifully though.

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And there you go once its all dry and gleaming you can pin it on and wear it with pride.
I hope you really enjoy making this and have lots of fun wearing it. They are gorgeous things to make for your kids, or fun hen nights but to name a few uses.
If you want an extra special one from me I’m always happy to oblige, hopefully from seeing this you’ll see the time and thought that goes into producing these and that I want every one of them to be very special and unique.

I have created this free tutorial for use at home and not for resale, this design has been registered officially and the copyright belongs to me. By all means use this for gifts and personal use but please don’t profit from my hard work and time. If you want to reproduce any information or photos please ask permission first. Thank you.

Hand Embroidery Retreat – Thread Therapy

Mindfulness and Embroidery aka Thread Therapy

Just a few weeks ago we said hello to some wonderful guests at our spring Thread Therapy retreat. Three of them came all the way from AMERICA just for it!!  We’ve added a few photographs from the weekend we spent stitching and relaxing in the beautiful village of Lealholm in the North Yorkshire Moors National Park.

Everyone made really rather a lot of very cool stuff, lanterns, wall hangings, a large lampshade, various hooped art. You see you don’t have to simply make a lampshade you can make anything you want. I have so many projects for you to chose from and all the materials here to do it. We concentrate on hand embroidery (no machines are there as it’s not part of my process), I am there to teach you, guide you and inspire you to create what makes you happy, so you can come time and time again and always get something new from the experience.

People travel from across the country as well as internationally safe in the knowledge that we will do everything for you to make your stay amazing and an experience you will cherish and remember.

Before you scroll through all the pretty prictures from our March retreat, here’s what one of our guest’s felt about her weekend of Thread Therapy.

“I was expecting sewing, I was expecting to meet new people and I was expecting (or at least hoping for) a bit of me time! But what I wasn’t expecting was how hugely therapeutic the whole weekend was. It was emotional. It was educational (but not only in a ‘learn these stitches’ kind of way.) It was fulfilling, and it was a start to discovering more about myself and where I am right now. Which I really didn’t expect. Marna is so right calling the retreat ‘Thread Therapy’ because that is truly what it was.”

You can read her full blog post about the experience here.

We still have a few spaces available on our Thread Therapy hand embroidery retreats in 2017, you can find out more by clicking below and also sign up for our free online hand embroidery course.
Find out more about Thread Therapy retreats for 2017

Thread Therapy March 2017

A little glimpse of our latest hand embroidery retreat… bliss!

Hand Embroidery and Mindfulness – Thread Therapy

hand embroidery mindfulness thread therapy

Thread Therapy – How to use hand embroidery to relax and relieve stress

Hand embroidery is the perfect way to relax and practice mindfulness.  Once you have learned the basic stitches (click here for your embroidery lessons) you can use hand embroidery to unwind and increase your feeling of well-being.

thread therapy hand embroidery and mindfulness

What is mindfulness?

The word mindfulness has become the catch-all word for taking time to focus on yourself.

“Mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique”

The operative words for all mindfulness techniques are time and focus, especially focus on the here and now. Craft, particularly the act of stitching, seem to offer more than simply a distraction and can have a positive effect on your mood. Taking time for yourself and allowing your subconscious time to relax and process stressful thoughts can help your overall feeling of wellbeing.

With hand embroidery you cannot rush, you have to take the time to carefully pull the sharp needle through the fabric. The art of making tiny stitches forces you to carefully focus and as you become more accomplished with your stitching you can allow yourself to access an almost trance-like state.  It can be easier for some to access this calm state with embroidery,  or repetitive motion crafts like knitting and crochet, than simply meditating using breathing techniques as the focus.

thread therapy embroidery retreat
Relaxing with hand embroidery at the Thread Therapy embroidery retreat

The science behind mindfulness and thread therapy

The repetitive action of stitching has been secretly offering us mindfulness therapy for thousands of years.  We’re still using just a simple needle and thread and while we’re certainly not suggesting that stitching and hand embroidery is a panacea for anxiety or depression, it can help you to relax your mind and take the focus away from your everyday worries.  For more information on the science of mindfulness through embroidery, read this interesting research by Mindful Stitch: Generating dialogue in and around the threads of wellbeing by Emma Swinnerton which offers an in-depth look at thread therapy.

Learn Basic Hand Embroidery Stitches Online

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thread therapy online hand embroidery lessons

ACCESS YOUR FREE HAND EMBROIDERY TUTORIALS NOW

 

Talent Spot – Amy Louise Davis

For this month’s Talent Spot blog feature, we’re pushing the boat out and bringing to you an unexpected form of embroidery. Welcome to Amy Davis, experimental artist and embroiderer, who takes traditional preconceptions of embroidery and reshuffles them to create beautiful, fun and tactile 3D drawings and embroidery. Amy challenges the boundaries and form which traditional embroidery takes, interlocking everyday materials together to create curious sculptures and surfaces.  Amy’s work is based around specific processes, starting from preliminary line drawings and developing to three dimensional drawings, she steps away from the needle and thread to challenge you to see embroidery in an entirely different form. Voted as Aspire’s Textile Artist of 2015, Amy has had a very exciting beginning as an emerging young artist.

 

99 Problems and a Stitch Aint One.

I’m the husband of an artist.

I’m not particularly “arty” myself.  Part of my job as a Director of Sales and Marketing requires some creative flair but this is usually in the form of a brief given to someone much better qualified to implement as part of a campaign.

I, like many “blokes” am not a fan of shopping.  My shopping filter works like this:-

Buying Chart

(By the way – this artwork is purely my own work)

I don’t find much pleasure in many material things – unless they are practical or necessary.  I’m not miserly or cheap but “nick-nacks”, ornaments or soft furnishings just don’t feature on my radar.

Most of us have our the daily crap to deal with e.g.

04:05 Up with kid 1 – nightmare management

05:07 Kid 2 – early rising syndrome

06:01 Sod it I might aswell get up now

06:23 Realisation I’ve got into the shower and there is no towel in the bathroom

06:47   Kid 2 – suspected diarrhoea (“can we get away with sending her into school anyway? – everyone else does it…..”)

07:01 Mouldy bread and no cereal – improvised breakfast with googly eyes from the craft drawer and a carrot

07:40 Teeth cleaning tantrum (children not adults)

07:55 Missing shoe – damn it why aren’t they ever both in the shoe rack at the same time!

I could go on and easily get to 99 problems, then I could address the after lunch issues….

I’m the one missing out though – my wife not only creates beautiful pieces of art, she also adores them herself.  They bring her pleasure (much more so than the 83 year old bloke over the road who is essentially an intermediate courier for all of the “nick nacks” etc she buys online but is never in to receive from the courier).

And you – reading this blog, you are enlightened.  You enjoy beautiful things surrounding you.  They enrich your life.  For every missing plimsoll or unexpected car part invoice you seek solace in a bespoke cushion, unique landscape lampshade or embellished print – I salute you.

If it wasn’t for you many of us would live in soulless houses with 1 in 10 of the barren walls defaced with an IKEA print and sofas without a cushion in sight.  We’d never have candles to light for ambiance or receive “ooh where did you get that amazing x?” comments from guests.

And we’d miss it.

For all the problems we all have, I for one have realised that I need to embrace “the stitch” as it not only enables my wife to channel her artistry but the things she creates are nullifying school head lice warning letters, chipped windscreens and broken nights sleep around the world – in the form of beautiful pieces of unique artwork.

Mr Marna Lunt – Textile Artist Husband

How to ~ back stitch

How to hand stitch
I use a back stitch for all my hand stitching because it’s very versatile and I like the look but you can use any combination of stitches for your projects. Back stitch is such an easy stitch to use and with it you can create so many projects, you can make appliqué cushions and pictured hoops and then as you get more confident use other stitches to create a variety of textures and effects on your patterns. This stitch is used as a straight solid outline stitch with no gaps, it’s a fluid line.
Here I shall show you a very easy way to make a beautiful hand stitched heart design that you can use on fabric or card to make a cute and simple valentines gift. And by the end you will know how to use a very versatile stitch and have a lovely little decoration or gift to be very proud of.

What you will need
You will need, an embroidery needle, thread/silks, linen fabric, scissors, a water soluble pen, an embroidery hoop, a little spray bottle of water. When choosing everyday fabric to stitch on, I suggest linen, muslin & thick cottons to begin with as it is easiest to stitch on fabrics where you can distinguish the horizontal and vertical ‘grain’ of the fabric. But when you use a pen to sketch the design or transfer paper then just follow the lines and all will be well. I use a water soluble pen so that if my stitches don’t follow the line exactly there is no permanent marks or damage. I also like to sketch directly onto the fabric so this is a great way of doing so.

Method
1/ Draw design out onto your fabric with the water soluble pen which leaves a blue line.
2/ Cut an arm-length of embroidery thread. Embroidery thread normally has 6 strands twisted together. the french woollen thread I use has four threads twisted together. I use two of these strands when sewing. Separate the threads you need and thread your needle. A good tip for separating floss (another name for this silk thread) is to tape the top of the strand to a fixed surface and then chose the strands and run your finger down the middle to pull them apart.
3/ Thread your needle and put a few knots at the bottom of your thread, there are a few others ways to start your thread and fasten it to the fabric but this by far the easiest to start with.
4/ Bring your needle up from the back of the fabric, then insert the needle to the right a small distance (about half a centimetre) from the starting point bringing the needle underneath the fabric and it exiting the fabric again on the other side of the starting point. Keep the stitches as even as possible. Repeat the stitch following your pattern. Stitch in the same path/flow as you do when writing a word or drawing do not jump ahead in your pattern.

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5/ When you have come to the end of your thread you need to secure the thread so it doesn’t unravel after all your hard work. Turn your work over and do a stitch into the back of your last few stitches, make sure you don’t go all the way through to the front of your fabric, when a loop has formed pop your needle through the middle of that loop and pull. This will knot and secure it. Then cut your thread and if you need to start an new piece of thread another way of starting your new piece and securing it before stitching is by picking a few loops in the back if the fabric, being careful again not to go all the way through the fabric and do a few stitches on top of each other and you’re good to go again.
6/ When you’ve finished your stitching, give it a good squirt of water to get rid of the design drawn underneath. Then iron the fabric and design and put it in the embroidery hoop. Tighten the fabric so it tight inside and then trim round the excess fabric.

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Hand stitching on card
The principle is just the same but instead of a water soluble pen just use a pencil very lightly on the card. After you have marked out your pattern. Use a pin and pierce holes of an equal distance apart around the lines of the whole pattern. This will be where you thread your cotton/silk through. Then before stitching rub the pencil lines out so they don’t peak through the stitching. I have used a cotton thread for my card, I just doubled the length to make it a thicker line. Do the back stitch around the pattern following the dots and finish the thread of as before. I put a small piece of washi tape over the workings to make it neater and to cover the ends. This is a beautiful simple card for any occasion, you could add some stamps letters to add a message.

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Bag Lady ~ my crafty bag of wonder

There’s nothing more frustrating starting out on a crafting mission and not having everything you need to fulfil it’s rightful destiny. Argh! Life can be so cruel!

Well before I start any sewing and hand stitching How To’s I think I put to let you know what you’ll be needing so you have time and go about and buy some, or like me get Internet shopping. I buy nearly everything on line. It’s so much easier when you have kids and it means you can concentrate and compare prices easier.
I’m not going to recommend any particular sites because to be honest there are tonnes out there and a good google search shows you everything. You’ll have deferent things you are looking for, but if you struggle then Hobby Craft is a good source of pretty much everything, there a also loads of people on Facebook ready to wow you with their fabric goodness.

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So this is a photo of all my essentials. I need these every time I do any work at all. These things I recommend you have before starting out with hand stitching.
So what do we have…..
1/ a selection of needles, sharp embroidery ones are best
2/ scissors, small tipped for detailed work and bigger fabric ones for cutting out designs and templates
3/ a tape measure
4/ lots of cottons and threads, I mainly use vintage or waxed thread for ease of sewing
5/ silks or woollen threads, these are thicker for lots of colour work rather than use stitching fabrics together
6/ pins and a pincushion, my Emma Lamb crocheted one is my pride and joy

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7/ blue water soluble pen, this is utterly vital, I sketch all my work directly onto the fabric and with this I can create without fear of ruining the fabric underneath
8/ a spray bottle of water to get rid of the blue pen marks
9/ an iron, you must always iron you work after you’ve finished and when using bondaweb and stabilisers
10/ fabric obviously!
11/ fabric glue, I use this to add security when fixing buttons, I stitch them on too, but when doing fits for kids every extra measure to stop things coming off is needed
12/ fray stop, a fab glue type thing that stops the edges of your dip fabric fraying too much. I purposely like my rosettes to fray for the vintages look but I use this so that they don’t go too far
13/ a selection of beautiful buttons, I use vintage ones 99% of the time and like the fancy detailed ones

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14/ You may notice a little tin with beautiful illustrated women sewing on, well that it my tin of imagination! You can buy it, it’s free. It’s all about you and it’s the most important thing you can ever have. You may to think you have it but you do!
15/ bondaweb, I use this all the time for my hearts and cushions when I’m doing appliqué, it’s very very useful when doing bigger projects
16/ a sketch book and pen for jotting down all your ideas

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So this is what I think you’ll need to get started and we can add things in from there for each project. I use these things every day and can’t manage with out them, however if you’ve seen my studio you’ll see how a few core tools can get out if hand. I hope I don’t infect you will my addiction too much, I don’t want to be responsible for divorces but I warn you now, I am a very bad influence;)

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