Final assessment piece by Hand Embroidery graduate Teresa Miller explains how she has learnt different way to generate design ideas.

I Learnt Different Ways to Generate Design Ideas

In the midst of uncertainty and solitude during the Covid lockdowns, many found solace in various hobbies. For Teresa Miller, it was a journey back to her roots of crafting that not only helped her navigate through the tough times but also unlocked a newfound passion for hand embroidery. Having studied both of our Skill Stage 2 and Skill Stage 3 distance learning Hand Embroidery courses Teresa shares her experience of finding a new enthusiasm for needlework and learning different ways to generate design ideas. This is her #MyStitchJounrney.

Hand embroidery graduate Teresa Miller has completed two courses with SST and learnt different ways to generate design ideas

“As someone who loves studying and has been described by friends as ‘a perpetual student’, I was drawn to the accredited courses as it would give me a qualification at the end which might enable me to generate an income from something I love doing.”

Teresa Miller

At the end of 2023 I completed skill level 3 in Hand embroidery. I have always been a crafter of some sorts, learning to knit and crochet when I was little, doing O’ Level sewing whilst at school, and then often having a cross stitch project on the go as an adult. But it was the Covid lockdowns that gave me the time to get back into my embroidery in a more focused way.

In the lead up to the lockdowns I lost both my parents, Mum first in 2019 and then Dad 8 months later just a couple of months before the country went into its first lockdown. Mum was an avid embroiderer, having turned to cross stitch after a stroke. For Mum sewing was therapy and Dad adapted her embroidery frame so that she could stitch with one hand. Mum had a vast stash, as all of us crafters do, of embroidery threads and fabrics, which I inherited, and so during the first lockdown I decided to put them to good use.

Studying Hand Embroidery

I started by taking part in the Textile Artist Stitch Club Challenges. These were great as they got me thinking beyond cross stitch and kits and took me back to my childhood when, for a couple of years, I belonged to the Junior Embroiderers and once a week, on a Saturday morning, would be allowed to paint and burn fabric, and do imaginative things like created vegetables out of textiles (I still have my leek).

With my enthusiasm sparked I enrolled in a couple of online courses with the Royal School of Needlework. I found I enjoyed the textile collage and applique course but not so much the silk shading – that required just a little too much precision for me. I also found sewing to be very therapeutic, helping me both through lockdown and the grief of losing my parents. I wanted to do more so I started to look for other online courses and saw the accredited courses on offer through the School of Stitched Textiles.

Studying with the School of Stitched Textiles

As someone who loves studying and has been described by friends as ‘a perpetual student’, I was drawn to the accredited courses as it would give me a qualification at the end which might enable me to generate an income from something I love doing. I started with the beginner hand embroidery course (skill stage 2), as I was a little uncertain of my abilities, and then progressed to skill stage 3 learning new styles of embroidery and techniques throughout both.

Biggest Challenge

For me, my greatest learning challenge has been the design modules in SS3. As someone who sees herself as not being able to draw, I found this difficult but through the course I learnt different ways to generate design ideas and this is something that I want to focus on now as I now prepare to start skill stage 4. As I move forward, I would like to be able to generate designs that I can turn into kits as well as start teaching others to enjoy hand embroidery, not only for the beautiful artifacts that can be produced but also the therapy that can be derived from slowing down and taking time to consider something one stitch at a time.

Advice for New Students

For anyone wondering how you can study embroidery through distance learning be reassured that the support on offer is good. Tutors provide videos of the techniques you are expected to learn and regular zoom sessions, with a tutor and other students, help to keep you connected to the group and provide an opportunity to bounce ideas of other people. And your tutor is always available via email if you aren’t sure of something. If you take advantage of the zoom sessions and the Facebook groups you won’t feel isolated.

If you are still unsure, start small, try an unaccredited course first, but be warned, they are addictive. Who knows where you will end up.

Joan Harrison Bursary

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