Free-Machine Embroidery

What is it and how is it done?


The first question I am always asked about free machine embroidery is whether I use a computerised sewing machine. Well no, I use an ordinary electric machine that is able to do a zig-zag stitch. But I remove the presser foot, lower the tension until there is virtually none at all and drop the dog teeth.


What I am really doing is using the needle as a paint brush. This means that the flowers and everything else that has texture, are 'drawn' in as I go. The secret is to be very bold and move very quickly, almost letting the needle go where it wants to. You have to keep your fingers out of the way of course!


I usually paint just a wash on calico using fabric paints. All of the detail is done  on the sewing machine with the material held in a hoop.

I am often asked where my inspiration comes from and what is my favourite subject.


I think my main source of inspiration comes from the British countryside. I have to admit to finding it difficult sometimes to concentrate on my driving when I am passing beautiful fields of poppies or rape-seed.


When we look at a tree do we really see it? I mean not just the branches, but all the hundreds of little shapes made between the branches where the blue sky peeps through. 


I usually work from photographs but sometimes I just 'see' a picture in my head and develop it as I sew.