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Hand Embroidery Is To Machine Embroidery…

Hand embroidery is to machine embroidery what home cooked food is to microwave meals.

Threading up a machine, choosing a design from a disc and letting the machine get on with it cannot possibly compare with the rich textures, the variety of threads, the vast body of techniques that have built up over the centuries and the sheer pleasure of hand stitching to the exclusion of everything else that is going on around you.   Machine embroidery does, however, have one advantage.  It has not been around for long enough to have built up a book of rules.
I went to the launch of a book late last year.  This beautiful book was filled with the most exquisite photographs of African wildlife and the launch was attended, by and large, by members of our local camera club.  The venue was set up with numerous large HD television screens and in between the wine and snacks the author gave us a Power Point presentation of the photographs in his book.  The images he had chosen – and there were many of them – were, without exception, pictures that “broke the rules”.  As each slide came up the audience would gasp at its beauty, and he would go on to explain what the “rules” dictated and how, by doing the exact opposite, he had created what was up on the screen, the photograph that took their collective breath away.
He touched on everything from picture composition to focus, from balance to lighting, from exposure to colour.  I stood there, quaffing red wine, thinking oh boy, here is someone who is truly creative and has not allowed himself to be boxed in by the photography police.  A person after my own heart.
What is it about the human race that causes people to want to prescribe to creativity?  Why is it that for centuries the moment someone does something creative there is a whole team out there wanting to create margins and parameters?  Make rules?  Stifle creativity?  There is hardly an art or a craft that has not been subjected to rule making and sadly, hand embroidery might be one of its biggest victims.
A rebel at heart, I am often told that to break the rules you do at least have to know what they are.  Um, no.  I don’t agree.  All you need to know are the techniques.  So called rules only box you in and stop you from exploring your creativity.  That is not to say that you should allow yourself to produce shoddy work.  You should aim for perfection realising, at the same time, that what you are doing is handmade.  That you are human, not a machine.  You do need to take pride in your work and produce the best result that you can.
Take a walk through any shopping mall and go into the clothing and decor shops.  Look at the design on embroidered clothes, accessories, fabrics and soft furnishings.  It is youthful, colourful, fresh and exciting.  We need to be inspired by that.  We need to mix our styles, try out modern fabrics, modern threads, beads, sequins and whatever else we can find.  We need to invent our own techniques and styles without embarrassment, without feeling the need to satisfy the Mother Grundies who disapprove of anything that is not historically correct. 
The human population moves forward all the time and if we want to keep embroidery alive, to make it attractive to the next generation, we need to move forward too.  We must not ignore the vast heritage of embroidery, but we must stop looking back and reproducing what has been done in centuries long gone.
I’m a busy embroiderer, designer, author, teacher, columnist, housewife, mother, dog lover………….and so on.  I can’t promise to post every day or even every week.  I am going to post every time I have something to say.  I intend to be rebellious, informative and inspiring.  I hope that you will join me on this journey.

18 thoughts on “Hand Embroidery Is To Machine Embroidery…

  1. I can't wait to see the wonderful inspiring thoughts, ideas and creations that come up on your blog!

    I am kinda busy with something a little different to what I have been doing, need more time to work on it, but I will!!! I will post results asap!

    Thank you for being such an inspiration!


  2. Thank you for posting and being an inspiration to us all! I can't wait to watch you break more rules and bring more beauty into the world!


  3. Yay – looking forward to reading your posts! 🙂

  4. Welcome to blogging – I hope you find it invigorating, inspiring, and above all, fun!

  5. Hi,this is going to be very interesting. Thank you for sharing this blog with us.

  6. It would be impossible for me to not follow a rebellious woman who encourages breaking all kinds of (crafty) rules;-)

  7. Way to go Hazel! I am with you all the way, if we don't break or ignore the rules we will never find anything new!

  8. Keep writing – I'm hooked already! Oh, and please link your blog to Stitchaholics so that 400+ others will be able to enjoy it! C xx

  9. Often have wondered who made all those rules in the first place… looking forward to follow a fabulous ride. Anna

  10. So true! I love going to my local embroiders guild but only when the stitch police are not about!

  11. Welcome to the blogging world Hazel. I've been blogging for four years and it has changed my life. I look forward to your thoughts, your stitches and your rebellion!

  12. Looking forward to hearing more from you!

  13. thanks for this nice posting…I'm sharing this on my wall in facebook

  14. I think its a very useful article for us so thanks for share.
    Hand Embroidery

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