Graduate Story: Cathy Howe – Machine Embroidery

Cathy Howe recently completed our accredited Machine Embroidery Course (Skill Stage 2) and has already started on our Skill Stage 3 Machine Embroidery course. For Cathy Howe the course has given her a huge sense of fulfilment and has been a welcome distraction from her full time job. Take a look through her fabulous work and find out how the course has benefited her.

Cathy Howe

When I was at University I enjoyed doing a bit of Machine Sewing. I had also dabbled in a bit of free motion embroidery. Although I had some experience I decided to opt for the Skill Stage 2 course, after reading the guidance from the School of Stitched Textiles about which level to study. I had expected a lot of the course to be a bit of a refresh, but I was absolutely wrong!

My only movtivation for doing the course was to get better at my hobby. I wanted to develop my machine embroidery knowledge and have an interesting and fulfilling activity to do outside my job.

Cathy Howe Machine Embroidery Graduate

Why an accredited course?

I thought doing a formal course would help me stay motivated. Because the course is City & Guilds accredited I felt confident it would cover all the basics properly as well as covering a range of techniques I might not bother to learn if I just followed my own instincts.

I have a job that takes me all over the country (or I did before COVID19!) and I’m never in one place long enough to go to face to face classes.  Distance learning is really the only way I can access courses so I was delighted when I found out about the School of Stitched Textiles.

What have you learned?

I’ve learned that the single most important thing is to get started and to have a go.  The scariest bit of any project for me is just before I start. When all I can see is the endless ways for me to mess it up!  But every time I got stuck into a task I discovered something new.  I haven’t liked or enjoyed every single moment, but I’ve learned something in every single task.  Even if a piece doesn’t end up exactly as I’d imagined, there’s always been something good about it. Sometimes a happy accident makes a piece even better.

What’s next?

I’m already onto Skill Stage 3, and loving it too.  I have created work I would never have imagined, using techniques I’d never heard of in Skill Stage 2. I’ve still got so much more to learn and explore. I would absolutely recommend this course to others!

If you’re thinking of studying a course with School of Stitched Textiles I would recommend the following:

  • Accept that it will take time, and be willing to put the time aside to keep doing a bit because it all mounts up – even if it’s only a short time each day.
  • Be willing to fail – having a go is much more important that doing it perfectly, and ‘failing’ and investigating what went wrong and how to fix it brings faster and more intense learning than instant success ever does.
  • Go for it! Push yourself and dare to find out how far you can go.

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