Old World Designs

Having visited the wonderful world of Britex Fabrics, it was going to be very hard for my next crafty stop in California to be anything better than a disappointment. However, while Britex Fabrics might be the Aladdin’s Cave for the sewer, the small, unassuming Old World Designs in Menlo Park is probably the hand embroiderer’s Nirvana.

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Trials and Tribulations of Thread Shopping

Although I still have ten thousands kits to work through and an unimaginable number of works in progress, after I finished my Ribbonwork Heart, I found myself hankering for some more ribbonwork but with no obvious next project in line.

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While I love working pre-made kits because you can just dive straight in and don’t have to worry about how it will look, I’ve been feeling more and more that I want to move to designing my own pieces and mixing techniques because, let’s face it, there is no project that is not improved by the inclusion of spangles.

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Review: Ribbonwork Embroidery: Techniques and Projects

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links meaning if you sign up to the course from this blog, I get a small commission. However, any recommendations and opinions are my own. For more information, please click here

Ribbonwork embroidery (or ribbon embroidery) is, rather unsurprisingly, the art of sewing with ribbons. This is often done in combination with embroidery floss and other materials. As well as being delightfully quick to work up, ribbon embroidery is excellent value in the effect versus effort department, with even the simplest of stitches looking very dramatic. Also, who couldn’t love something that involves getting to play with silk?

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I had the pleasure of taking a Royal School of Needlework Day Class with the author of Ribbonwork Embroidery, Sophie Long, over a year ago now. When I heard that she was going to be writing a book on ribbonwork embroidery, one of her specialisms, I was rather excited to say the least.

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RSN Day Class: Needlelace at the Fashion Museum

As well as the more intensive embroidery qualifications, the Royal School of Needlework (RSN) runs regular day classes as a way for people to try new techniques or get an insight into what it is like to study with one of the world’s most prestigious hand embroidery schools. Occasionally, the RSN teams up with other organisations to put on special classes on either different themes or different skills.

Recently, the RSN ran a series of classes at the Fashion Museum in Bath, with designs based on items on exhibition there. I was lucky enough to be able to attend the Needlelace day class, stitching a small butterfly/dragonfly/questionable insect as inspired by a motif on an embroidered Elizabethan woman’s waistcoat.


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Tambour Beading Workshop

Tambour (seemingly known interchangeable as tambour beading or tambour embroidery) has been a technique that I’ve wanted to try for a long time. Tambour is usually a technique uttered in the same breath as ‘haute couture’ as it is often the technique of choice for adding the glitz and glamour to wedding and evening dresses.


When you think of embroidery, you usually think of a needle and thread, but tambour is worked with a hook, very similar to a crochet hook. It’s also a little bizarre as you have the back of the work facing you as you stitch with the ‘live’ thread or beads underneath. The reason for its popularity though, is because when you’re not fumbling around like a true beginner, it’s an incredibly efficient technique for applying beads and embellishments to fabric.

When I had the chance to try a class with Tambour and Clutch, it seemed like the perfect excuse to learn something new. However, I never thought I’d feel quite as out of my depth doing chain stitch as I did starting tambour!

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Jacobean Crewelwork: Day 4

When I started this blog, I honestly anticipated it would just be read by a handful of beleaguered relatives and friends and web crawlers. Much as I really wanted to be able to contribute something to inspire and help other people, just in the same way so many other people have helped me, I expected the blog to sit in some cold, dark corner of the Internet, being populated in obscurity.


It came as a great surprise one day when I received an email from a reader, asking a little more about my experience starting out studying with the Royal School of Needlework. That reader was the lovely Catherine over at Hillview Embroidery who is now zooming away with her Jacobean crewelwork, featuring the world’s most adorable oversized squirrel.

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