Whether you are a complete beginner to any needlework craft looking for advice - or a seasoned stitcher interested in comparing notes, I’ve put together eight bits of advice that I hold dear on a day-to-day basis…
- Google is an excellent teacher
If in doubt, go online! YouTube has brilliant step-by-step tutorials for even the most complex stitches.
- Make the inside as neat as the outside
No one sees it so who cares, right? Wrong. It is so important to ensure that the interior or ‘hidden’ parts of whatever you are making look neat. This is just stitching law, especially for embroidery, the back should be as neat as the front. It’s just more professional and indicative of more proficient skill. In terms of the sock animals, I try to finish the seams on all.
- Simplify for a finished look
I’m talking about design here – essentially, less is almost always more. Someone might want bows or tassels, but I tend to think that the overall finished product will look better and more stylish without. Even if the idea is cute and appealing, I usually find I need to remove some element when adding another, for example a bow on a SockDog, might look better on a plain sock than on a patterned one.
- Invest in the best
Of course, for scissors I always invest in Fiskars. They’re the ones with the orange handles, made in Finland. There is just no comparison.
- Find something good to listen to
Sewing can be solitary work which is why I love podcasts! My favourites are true crime series like This American Life, The Teacher’s Pet and Serial. I also really enjoy Conversations of Inspiration with Holly & Co. I’m addicted to Audible too and listen to so many books, but I don’t actually read very much, because I’m just too tired at the end of the day. My mind is also thinking about my business all the time. I also love the Irish radio and listen to RTE1; it’s so entertaining. However, you can still ‘watch’ TV. In the evening, still sewing, I put on Netflix. I’m not discerning about what I watch because I don’t really watch much, I listen.
- Have favourites, especially when it comes to threads
Once you find something that works for you, use it! I swear by Amann thread, for machine sewing, a bit cheaper than Gutterman, and just as good. But for hand sewing I use a thick thread and Gutterman make the best.
- Sharpen your needles
Well, actually you can’t. But change them regularly. Using blunt needles causes all sorts of unruly chaos!
- Practise makes perfect
Nothing worth having, like the skill to sew or embroider, is easy to achieve. Needlework, like any craft, takes time to get good at. But you’ll definitely need to gather up all your patience reserves at first. There are no shortcuts, sadly. But even ten minutes every day will help you improve. Needlework also promotes mindfulness – it’s something that requires complete focus and keeps us away from our phones and emails, which can only be a good thing!
Anything I haven’t mentioned here that you’d like to know more about? Let me know!