Member work

Member work

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Chris Yates: "The Artful Teabag" - Friday 2nd March

Our talk this Friday will be by a textile artist who loves to work with recycled materials.  Chris Yates has had a longstanding love of sewing and textiles, and endeavours to keep her work fresh and contemporary by experimenting with new ideas and techniques.  She especially enjoys the challenge of working with recycled materials, teabags in particular.

Perhaps that's why, after working with teabags for several years, Chris seems to be getting a reputation as 'The Teabag Lady', and after her talk you will never look at a teabag the same way again!

Visitors are very welcome to come to Friday talks.

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Zara Day talk and workshop

Zara's talk was riveting, and as a bonus she had brought along two of her stunning chairs for us to see firsthand, along with a range of exquisite samples.  

She outlined her development as a textile designer from studying print making for fashion at college, through teaching to the time when, as a Leamington branch member, she came along to a talk by a textile artist that inspired her to review what she was doing and to consider the possibility of working for herself.  Zara had been teaching textile art at Warwickshire College and took the decision to invest in a secondhand Bernina, which opened up a new textile world for her.  She became hooked on drawing with the sewing machine and soon began to exhibit her beautifully stitched designs at textile and handmade craft shows.  

Zara carried on teaching for a while longer, working on her collections in her spare time, but arrived at the point where she knew she would have to commit all her time and energy to her growing business.  As a result of successful exhibitions at events like Heal's Modern Craft Market in their London store, where her furnishing designs made a great impact, Zara realised that the handmade aspect of her work, though time-consuming, was what satisfied her. She didn't want to go down the retail route, which would mean losing control of her work after the design stage.  

Inevitably, the market for her work is niche - at the higher end, reached mainly through working with interior designers on designs for individual and corporate clients.  She has produced a number of collections and now works on leather, silk and other fabrics, as well as her trademark wool.

We were privileged therefore to benefit from Zara's expertise in a whole day's workshop to produce our own designs for a panel on wool fabric.  This involved cutaway and appliqué techniques, free machine embroidery and hand stitching.

Zara Day - cutaway, appliqué and machine stitch designs on wool
Zara Day - cutaway, appliqué, hand and machine stitch designs on wool
The design element took some time, but we all managed to create a design and start the stitching - to be completed at home, of course ....

We had a thoroughly satisfying and enjoyable day, and our thanks go to Zara for returning to Leamington to inspire us in turn!

Monday, 29 January 2018

Don't miss! Friday 2nd February: Zara Day - "From Textile Art to Interior Design"

Zara is an artisan designer who creates luxurious decorative embroidered fabrics for interior designers, architects and designers.  She combines hand embroidery with free machine and digital embroidery techniques to create designs specifically for the shape of each product - each one is unique and exquisitely made.

As a past member of Leamington & District Branch, Zara will take us through her journey from initially coming along to a series of talks to developing her business as a bespoke fabric designer. Proving that you never know where these talks will take you!

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Workshop at All Saints Church, Leamington

As part of the project at All Saints Parish Church to conserve and restore their historic textiles, a number of our members organised a workshop in the church cafe for interested members of the public to try their hand at stitching designs based on the beautiful embroideries.*

Fr. Christopher Wilson, Vicar of All Saints, showed the group some of the church's precious vestments and explained the ongoing project, which is likely to take some time to complete.

For our part, we had taken photos of some of the embroideries, and from the photos transferred outlines of symbols and designs onto fabric.  Threads, needles, scissors, sample stitch sheets and guidance from our members were provided for participants to have a go.

The original designs, mainly worked in gold thread on silk and velvet, were simplified to make it possible for inexperienced stitchers to gain a feeling of the work that goes into such pieces.

Everyone seemed to enjoy the experience and all made a great start - some were  returning to stitching after an absence, and others were novice stitchers, bravely taking their first step, like Father Christopher ...

We knew there wouldn't be time to finish a whole design in the time available, so people promised to bring their finished piece back for display in the church at a later date.  Watch this space!

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

All Saints Church will be the venue for our next exhibition,
"On my Doorstep", in October 2018.  
More information to follow in a little while.

* Almost all the Parish Church's vestments, banners and altar furnishings were produced by The Guild of St Hilda, which was formed in 1899 to support the church in the area of fine ecclesiastical needlework.
With thanks to The Friends of All Saints' Parish Church, Jan. 2018

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Happy New Year!

We were pleased to welcome Guild CEO, Terry Murphy, to our first meeting of the year.  Terry came to discuss the benefits of belonging to the Guild and to hear our experiences and questions, especially about the rising cost of membership.  He also called in to see the JETS who were busy in the upstairs hall finishing their De Denne competition work and their workbook covers.

Terry's main message was that, like other charities, the Guild is facing many challenges to support members and branches while keeping its costs manageable, increasing membership and complying with governance regulations.  There are no easy answers, and it is likely to be a continuing topic of conversation between trustees/staff and branches/members.

We thought Terry might be interested to see some of our members' work from workshops over the past 12 months:


After a lovely bring-and-share lunch, we were treated to a short talk and demonstration of lace making by member, Gaye Dopson, which was fascinating and illuminating.  A mind-boggling number of hours go into making even a small piece of lace.

Lucy's lacy reptiles - 3D shapes covered in lace and beads

We then had a couple of hours to start our own small piece of work incorporating pieces of lace, or to continue stitching an existing project.

The sales table this time groaned with books that members wished to recycle.  Quite a few bargains were snapped up, but that still left a couple of boxes full to be passed on to a charity bookshop.  Nevertheless there are benefits to everyone from weeding out things we no longer need - not least freeing up our shelves for new titles .... !

On the subject of giving to charity, Gill Dakin, who was the winner of our Christmas challenge, decided to donate the £25.16 raised through the challenge to Rugby Young Carers, who wrote a very nice thank-you letter, saying that it "will bring smiles to the faces of the children by funding the next workshop planned for early 2018."

Our next talk is on Friday 2nd February:

Zara Day, "From Textile Art to Interior Design".  

Zara is an artisan designer who creates luxurious embroidered fabrics for interior designers, architects and designers.

More details soon.

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Junior Embroiderers' Programme 2018

We meet in the Upper Hall at St Mary's church, St Mary's Road, Leamington Spa CV31 1JW on the first Saturday morning of the month, 11.00 - 1.00 pm.

Our sessions cover all kinds of textile-related activities, such as hand and machine stitching, dyeing, printing, weaving, using beads, and much more. We have made a variety of things, from bags to cushions and wall hangings, as well as cards and gifts for special occasions, and we are keen to enter competitions and take part in exhibitions. 

If you are interested in joining the group and would like more information, please contact:
Janet Rose, Group Leader: 01926 430120 / also has lots of information for young embroiders 
and textile students.

These are some of the things that are on our calendar this year:

  • 6th January  Finishing Work

Finishing our De Denne piece and Work Book cover

  • 3rd February  Felt Poppies

Making poppies for a display in St Mary's Church, Warwick later in the year

  • 3rd March  Chicken bunting (1)

Making bunting 

  • 7th April  Chicken bunting (2)

Finishing our bunting

  • 5th May  Pot Tops

Making an embroidered padded top to a pot

  • 2nd June  Pot decorations

Embroidered and beaded decorations for the pot lids

  • 7th July  Postcards

Making a postcard using the sewing machine

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

12 Days of Christmas + Instagram

You can now see photos of our textile work on Instagram: @leam.embroiderers.guild

On the subject of Christmas celebrations, here is a selection of members' pieces submitted for our 'Twelve Days of Christmas' challenge.  Over £25 was raised for charity by members voting for their favourite piece. (The winner was Gill's book of .... The Twelve Days of Christmas.)

Seven Swans a-Swimming

Twelve Days of Christmas

Three French Hens

Christmas Tree Festival, St Mary's Warwick

We are delighted to have been able to take part in the 2017 Christmas Tree Festival at the Collegiate Church of St Mary's, Warwick.  Launched at the Victorian Evening on 30th November, the Festival will run until 10th December.  There are still events going on, and around 50 trees decorated by different organisations on display, so it's well worth a visit.  

Here are a couple of photos of 'our' tree, adorned with the lovely baubles handmade by Leamington & District members, including some by the JETS.

Monday, 13 November 2017

JETS' Suffolk Puffs

The girls had previously marbled a cotton bag in their September session using the shaving foam method that Sally showed us.

This month they learned how to make Suffolk puffs (also known as yo yo's). It proved a little tricky for small fingers, but they persevered and each managed to make several which could then be added to their own bags. The puffs needed ironing flat first.

They will be finished off at home, with the panel being stitched onto the back of the bag.  We will take some photos at our January session to show them off to everyone.

So now each member of the group has a special bag to carry their JETs work book in.
The girls decided that Suffolk puffs are a lot like Marmite - you love them or hate them!!