23 March 2016

Fun with Freestyle Machine Embroidery

Freestyle Machine Embroidery class in London - Tilly and the Buttons
Freestyle Machine Embroidery class in London - Tilly and the Buttons

Have you ever tried freestyle - or free motion - machine embroidery? I gave it a whirl last weekend at a workshop in our studio - it's SO much fun!

The class is taught by the super talented Sophia Palmer from homewares company Jessali Handmade. She showed us how to use the sewing machine to draw and write in thread. We started by freestyling words and pictures, and later mixed in appliqué to create textile artworks. (I use the word "artworks" loosely, hehe!) You can sew any image of your choice in the workshop - we all went with the scissors and kitty designs that Sophia brought along for us.

Freestyle Machine Embroidery class in London - Tilly and the Buttons
Freestyle Machine Embroidery class in London - Tilly and the Buttons
Freestyle Machine Embroidery class in London - Tilly and the Buttons
Freestyle Machine Embroidery class in London - Tilly and the Buttons

You can do free motion embroidery on a regular sewing machine, with a quilting or embroidery foot attached. Yet it feels soooo different from regular sewing! You lower the feed dogs on your machine so you can move the fabric around freely - up and down, and side to side - to create different shapes. (If you can't lower the feed dogs on your machine, you should be able to get a little plate to cover them up and create a smooth surface.) It really does give you a sense of creative freedom - if a little scary at first! You can hear me shrieking with both fear and delight in this Instagram video :)

Freestyle Machine Embroidery class in London - Tilly and the Buttons
Freestyle Machine Embroidery class in London - Tilly and the Buttons

It's also a weird feeling not to unpick any "messy" stitches. Sophia kept having to reassure us that it's okay to go off the lines, that it's a "fabric expression" and doesn't have to look totally neat. Bizarrely, the faster you sew, the less likely you are to go off the lines, as a slower speed creates longer, more jagged stitches.

You could use free motion embroidery to create decorations for your wall, cushion covers, bags, cards - as well as to embellish a piece of clothing. I'd love to try out this technique on a skirt, or maybe a shirt yoke or collar. My brain is bursting with ideas!

Freestyle Machine Embroidery class in London - Tilly and the Buttons

We all had such a great time and felt pretty proud of ourselves at the end! Sophia was a fantastic teacher - inspiring, encouraging, patient, fun, and ready to share tons of tips and tricks in a short space of time. Exactly what we look for in a teacher at Tilly and the Buttons workshops. So good that, as soon as it was over, I booked Sophia for four more workshops. If you can get to London and fancy giving it a go, come along!


The workshops do sell out pretty quickly, so book quickly if you definitely want to do it. Hope to see you there!

5 comments:

  1. I'll have to see if my mother in law is up for this!

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  2. Tilly, I've been a fan ever since seeing you on the Great British Sewing Bee.

    I first took a free style machine embroidery class when I was a young woman, back in 1977. I still love to do it. Wish I lived close enough to take a refresher course with you. I live on the west coast of the USA, so not going to be able to attend.

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    Replies
    1. Aw thank you! Think of us while you're doing your embroidery :)

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  3. That looks like fun and it's something I've never tried thank you for the tips and I will give it a go. Unfortunately I live in Sheffield so I am a bit far out to just pop to a class, they look like lovely events though. Well done with all your success. xx

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  4. This was the best course I have ever done! Still so excited about it. Sophia is brilliant and it is such fun being 'set free' with free-motion sewing! I would highly recommend this course! In fact, I am a little envious of people who haven't done it yet, as they still have the 'first time excitement' to experience. Book it, you won't regret it, tee hee. Mel

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