Combining the love of colours, the outdoors & textiles. A graduate story by Maggie Laws.

School of Stitched Textiles graduate, Maggie Laws‘I loved art when I was young and drew and painted a lot, but then I also enjoyed sewing and needlework. For my art coursework in high school I included a batik and hand embroidery. As a geography student I continued with art as a hobby, becoming increasingly interested in textiles. I took some evening courses and one summer holiday I went to The Ceilidh Place in Ullapool for a textile course on slashing and burning fabric; as a student I had little money so travelled on the bus with my tent and sewing machine.’

Graduate Maggie Laws talks to us about her experience of the machine embroidery course.

‘Over the years, I did bits and pieces when I could. I was interested in the City and Guilds Machine Embroidery course as it seemed it would give me the scope to learn new techniques using my own designs, but I did not have the time to do it. The opportunity arose when I gave up my job to look after the kids after my husband’s job took us to Angola. This was the perfect opportunity to follow my dream.

Living abroad, the course was my lifeline, something I really enjoyed and which kept me busy. The course is broken down into 12 modules, so I found I could focus on one module and not be overawed by the whole experience. However, I missed the interaction and inspiration of other students. I found that motivation slumps at the start of a module, but after the first few times, I learnt to expect this and to work on through as each module progressed, I got better. I also found the SST galleries on the web to be really useful.  

Vibrant colour used in machine embroidery project at the SofSTLiving in Angola, I have to bring most materials in with me. This means reading ahead and careful planning. I have also saved what I can and have used more unusual materials such as thick plastic or the straw paper that flowers are wrapped in for sale. I like colour especially reds, oranges ad yellows and always find I have significantly less dye and fabric paint left in those colours.

‘The machine embroidery course is broken down into 12 modules, so I found I could focus on one module and not be overawed by the whole experience.’

My second module was based on Aberdeen Harbour where bright orange lifeboats took my interest. My other interest is the outdoors, and I enjoy using geology as a subject. I enjoy exploring the different textures and trying to show them through different materials and design.

Having finished my level three certificate in Machine Embroidery I have now started my diploma. Still in Angola, I base some of my work on everyday life in Africa. Part of my inspiration for my design work is the amazingly colourful African Fabrics. We will probably return to Scotland with the next couple of years and I would like to continue with textiles, no doubt using the Scottish landscape for inspiration with maybe an African slant.’

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