When bought my first Embroidery machine in 2009 on a whim shortly after I retired, I assumed I would just be using the cute little designs built into the machine to decorate towels etc. How wrong I was! I quickly discovered how many alternatives were available from a plethora of specialised websites. For a while I was satisfied with these but then I began to realise that the possibilities went so much further than embellishment. The world of “in the hoop” embroidery designs opened up a new world for me and then a new career!
Digitising software came to me as a Christmas gift and I was away.
Strictly speaking, all embroidery using an embroidery machine is done in a hoop, but the designs can also consist of a sequence of outlines and seams which will produce a complete item – made in the hoop.
My first attempt was this very simple cookie cutter style of rag doll. As you can see, my artistic skills are somewhat lacking but the engineering worked!
After that the ideas came thick and fast and I was soon sharing my designs with other embroiderers on www.cuteembroidery.com.
Many people helped me by being enthusiastic about my creations and after a year, honing my skills, I was asked to produce designs to be sold on www.mygardenembroiderydesign. (This owner of this site has, sadly, recently passed away so the site is no more.)
I did this for a couple of years and earned a little money, but was frustrated firstly because the site owner only wanted small scale designs and secondly because I was paying too much income tax!
I retired (again) and gave up my self employed status and continued to design for my own enjoyment, but soon realised that I needed more. In a light bulb moment I decided that I could “sell” my designs but that customers could pay a charity instead of me. By this time, my designs were becoming more sophisticated and complex and were more like engineering than embroidery.
I contacted a local hospice where my best sewing buddy had received wonderful end of life care and discussed the plan with them. Facebook was suggested as a platform to work from. Although I was a member, I didn’t realise how it all worked and had shied away from using it up to then. The logistics presented me with quite a learning curve!
My new venture needed a name and, as my designs usually involve a lot of fabric manipulation to construct a useful item, Engineered in Stitches seemed to fit rather well.
The first design I offered was this crochet hook case which became popular as the group gained members.
It is almost 4 years now since Engineered in Stitches came into being. We have over 6000 members from all over the world and the total raised for St Barnabas Hospice in Lincoln is somewhere around £15,000.
The lockdown here in UK between March and June was a very productive time for the group. Members appreciated having help and inspiration to keep them going and I was on a roll producing new designs. I don’t want this to become a catalogue, but I’ll finish by adding some of my favourites.
These are a couple of smockfrocks to fit babies and toddlers. The fabric is pleated, embroidered and the dress completed almost entirely in the hoop of the embroidery machine.
This bag with Sashiko style quilting is also made in the hoop with minimum sewing to complete it. It was made using fabric and hardware from Jumble Sale purchases.
It is always fun to recycle. These zipped purses are another example. I love to find a pair of big jeans!
Finally, I suppose I should add a quilt! This one was made by my sister using designs I released as a “quiltalong” at the end of the summer. The rectangular blocks were pieced, appliqued and joined in the hoop of her Janome MC500E. It was then backed and bound and is currently waiting for battery operated lights to be added to some of the stars along the top.
I hope this has given you an insight into the capabilities of embroidery machines and perhaps open a new world for anyone who already has one.
Find Engineered in Stitches here https://www.facebook.com/groups/208211239626036