In February, I had a beautiful, frosty, early morning walk along the banks of the Thames to Hampton Court, to take a one day class in 'An introduction to Machine Embroidery' with the very talented Caroline Homfray. Once inside I gathered with other students for our various needlework courses. We were met by representatives of the Royal School of Needlework (RSN) and here we are (some of us bringing along our own sewing machines too) walking past the Royal Chapel towards the East Gate, to reach the RSN teaching rooms.
From the third floor there were some uplifting views of The Lime Walk and The Broad Walk:
The atmosphere was rich with the echoes of time and creativity, Caroline deftly showed us how to get to grips with the sewing machine for free-style embroidery using a free-style foot with the bottom guide teeth (feed dogs) lowered. I placed bits of used thread between dissolvable fabric and followed a template (as best I could) with brightly coloured thread to make a circular pattern embroidered with simple shapes. The light, opaque material could be placed in cold water to make it dissolve, leaving an embroidered web of shapes that I hoped would be slightly more substantial because of the spare thread pieces I added between the folded material. Here is the practice piece before losing the dissolvable fabric:
It was a very productive day, first of all I was helped to feel comfortable with the machine, (even some of the more experienced machinists were a little anxious). I learnt more from Caroline in that one session than I would have done in a week at home with expert books strewn around me; Caroline was generous and patient in coaxing the best from our creativity. It was also good to share ideas and exchange tips or errors with the other participants even though we had varying levels of experience, it amplified what we learnt.
At the end of the session Caroline showed us some of her beautiful embroidery:
The opportunity to learn from such a skilled a RSN tutor, in the environs of Hampton Court was something to treasure, if you are thinking of increasing your skill set the RSN is a treasure resource.
More about Caroline Homfray: