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Create you own Floral Designs

Posted by Jennifer Clouston on May 25th 2021

Jennifer Clouston 

 foolproof Flower Embroidery

 Hand work is my yoga. Whether it be hand piecing, hand quilting, English paper piecing, embroidery, or crochet, I stitch most days and I am extremely fortunate to be able to teach what I am passionate about.

I consider myself a stitcher rather than an embroiderer; I do not strive for perfection but prefer to a transform traditional embroidery stitches by using unconventional threads and manipulating the stitch to be something other than it was intended to be.

Both my mother and grandmother sewed. However, their approach to their work could not have been more different. My mother was, and still is, a perfectionist in everything she does. My grandmother’s hands were never still, they were constantly busy; tatting, darning, playing patience, crocheting. As a little child I would ask her who the new rug was for and her answer has been a huge influence on my creative life. She simply said that she was keeping her hands busy and evidently, “idle hands were the devil’s work”!

To be perfectly honest, her crochet rugs were quite unfortunate as she used whatever yarn was on hand; not concerned with what the finished product looked like. Yet, there was something beautiful about her rugs. I believe that my enjoyment and sense of relaxation I get from simply stitching and not been overly concerned of the outcome stems from my grandmother, and I thank her for it.

My creative philosophy is a “start where you are and use what you have”.

This applies to the thread, fabrics, and my skills. This mantra is what I encourage in my workshops; to be creatives not consumers. It is my preference not to follow a pattern or kit but to create and design my own work as I go, allowing me the freedom to change direction as any time. And yes, this approach will include many ‘unfortunate’ outcomes, but also some glorious and surprising ones… And the latter continues to inspire me.

My third book Foolproof Flower Embroidery reflects this style of embroidery and design process, working with the textiles, threads, and skills that we all have on hand. If a stem stitch is the only stitch you know to create a stem for your flower, feel free to use it. But I also encourage you to look at other stitches you know and try using them instead.

The philosophy of “use what you have” extends to the fabric and textiles we use to embroider on as well. There is no need to rush out and buy the thread that would traditionally be used in embroidery; look through your stash and improvise: preloved, repurposed, and vintage fabrics are a joy to work with, embroidery threads glide through men’s’ wool suiting.

What you know and what you have in your sewing room is enough.

Join me as we create our own floral design from stems, petals, centers, leaves, buds, and stems. Let us create our own backgrounds with vintage fabrics, UFO’s, or your dad’s old suit. It is not so much the finished product that we will strive for, but in the discovery of what we can create with. Let us stitch simply for the fun of it all. Play! I dare you!


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