Thursday, 4 February 2016

Free Motion Embroidery Hoop Art

Free Motion Embroidery Hoop Art  was an alien term to me just a few months ago,  until I saw the work of Debra-Dee Designs.  I loved her work,  each piece is beautiful and unique. Free motion embroidery allows the creator to be more expressive as there is no pattern to follow.  I asked Debbie if she would tell us more about it:

What exactly is free motion embroidery hoop art?
Free motion embroidery is basically, drawing with your sewing machine! If you imagine holding a pencil straight up in the air and then moving the paper around beneath to draw an image... That is what is happening with your needle. It reminds me a bit of etch-a-sketch and I used to love that as a child.

In order to sew free motion style, the wonderful thing is that you do not need to be able to sew well! In fact, I am very much a beginner at sewing and following patterns etc. I think it's more important to have a love of materials, art and general making, than knowing how to make up a dress that fits!

There are a few important things to sort with your sewing machine, in order to prepare for free motion stitching. 1. drop the feed dogs (the teeth that grip your material to pull it through in a straight line) 2. Turn your sewing length to 0. 3. Have an embroidery hoop in which you place and stretch your base material into OR iron some medium or strong interfacing (most common brand is vilene, but I use a budget brand from Amazon and it works a treat!) onto the back of the base fabric, so it is stiff to work on. 4. Be prepared to play about with your tension. Sometimes the rear thread can come through when the tension is too slack or it all jumbles up behind etc. You just need to adjust it slightly depending on the different thickness of material you are working with. This just comes with practice.

You can use any kind of thread, but there are special machine embroidery threads which can really embellish your work with their added lustre (Madeira and Gutterman are well known makes)

Do you do any other embroidery or crafts?
Honestly... No! Not unless you include crafting with my 6 year old. As a child, I was always making things and my mum was great in that she let me make an absolute mess and she didn't mind at all.

I have bought a book on hand embroidery and I have tried out a few stitches, but I do find it hard with my hands; they soon cramp and stiffen up. I also tried crochet, which I would love to be able to do, but similarly my hands simply cannot cope with all that use. Using the machine is much less physically demanding.

I have however, always loved drawing. I did take up Zentangling just before I started sewing ... And I really should do some more, but when I have the energy to do something for myself, I always choose sewing at the moment!

When did start and what encouraged you to take it up?
I started in January 2013, this year! My first inspiration was Kirsty Allsopp on the telly, where she demonstrated free motion embroidery. I immediately thought, how fab... I would love to have a go! More recently, I happened upon a truly amazing textile artist on Facebook - Lucy Levenson (have a look at her page... She is incredible...And a truly lovely lady too!) I messaged her and told her how much I admired hew work and asked if she could recommend any books to get me started. She suggested a book by Poppy Treffry, 'Freehand machine embroidery: learn how to draw with your machine'... And it all started from there really.

Do you find it helps you? If so in what way does it help?
I think most importantly it keeps me happy when I spend long days at home, alone. It gives me something to think about, even when I am not so well - I look forward to feeling better so I can get on and do some sewing. Looking forward to doing things is not so easy with this illness because it robs you of being able to do so many things you did 'before'. This is something new... and on a positive note, I doubt if I would have made time for it before I got M.E., so I have something to thank M.E for!

Can you explain a little about the charity you are raising money for with some of your pieces?
Invest in M.E. is an incredibly important charity. They are putting money into Biomedical Research into M.E. which is truly essential in order to truly make a difference to the thousands of people with M.E.... To find the cause, treatment and ultimately a cure. They are planning a Rituximab trial, which is successful, could provide a treatment that could literally give people their lives back. In a recent trial in Norway, 67% of people benefited significantly from the trail. I remember reading somehow here in the UK, the government has spent millions on 'research' (e.g. The farcical PACE trial) but not biomedical research. It's a crime!!! I'll stop ranting now... It's just something I feel passionate about, and hence why I am raising money for IiME by selling a selection of my art hoops.

Where do you get inspiration from for your designs?
Quite often I just start out with an idea in my head and then I draw a rough sketch. The best bit is when I then select some materials, start cutting and playing with positioning and design variations; the design just kind of evolves from that process.
Poppy Treffry's books have often given me a starting point for inspiration (house plaques are one of her suggested projects) and I also follow a number of textile artists on Pinterest and Facebook whom, I seek inspiration from. I always try to add my personal stamp opposed to simply replicate. I particularly love 'Lucy Levenson' and Dear Emma', both of whom have Facebook pages.