Category Archives: Embroidery

Mexican Embroidery

This spring I have been travelling to see my family Sean and Camila in Costa Rica and Caitlin in Lisbon, Portugal. Costa Rica does not have a distinctive tradition of embroidery so I decided to look at the Central American embroidery from Mexico. Having done research on the internet I then bought a book’ Mexico bordado’ by Gimena Romero . This book is inspiring, it shows different types of embroidery and gives you clear instructions on how to do the stitches. It is in Spanish but the photos are so good I could work from them to do a sampler . 

I enjoyed the picture making of Bordado purepecha. Building up a story scene was a lovely restful activity. I used a couching stitch, detached chain stitch , french knots and stem stitch.


Otomi embroidery from central Mexico has been sewn for centuries but evolved in the 1960’s as a desperate need for income after severe droughts . The designs are from native flora and fauna and spiritual beasts. I started off using images from the book but soon started drawing my own images from animals and fauna I saw in Costa Rica .

Sean had previously bought me a cloth from Mexico which is Otomi embroidery. This is a close up of some of the design. It is mostly sewn in herringbone stitch with stem stitch used for lines.

Caitlin also bought me a Mexican piece of embroidery which is quite unique and I am still investigating its origin. If anyone has seen anything similar I would love to know about it .

I have enjoyed my Mexican sewing and will certainly be using these techniques in the future maybe with a Yorkshire twist.



Palestinian Embroidery Samples

I had the delight to obtain a copy of this book produced by Sunbula in Jerusalem. . It is a beautiful book full of beautiful photos and thoughtful text. In the book it shows very clearly some of the stitches used in Palestinian work other than cross-stitch.

One fascinating section shows the joining stitches used in clothes.(as fabric woven by hand would be the width of a hand loom. ). At first glance the join looks like two rows of satin stitch but it is in fact a plait joining stitch. It was lovely to learn this new technique.

I also had a go at the couching work seen in the Bethlehem area

These couched areas are filled in with satin stitch, these designs just show the simple motifs the work on costumes is far more complex.

The last set of samples show the use of applique , particularly the use of triangles and V shaped reverse applique. The applique was embroidered in a zig zag back stitch. 

I unfortunately have no photos I can use of the beautiful dresses but if you follow this link to the British Museum you will see some exquisite work. Hopefully in the future as I continue my research I will be able to show you examples.   

Palestinian Embroidery

I have recently been preparing for a charity workshop on Palestinian Embroidery . It is a fascinating area of study. and here I share a little of what I have learnt.

The design on the right is one of my samples with the popular cypress trees on  indigo dyed fabric

Palestinian embroidery is very beautiful and unique. It is recognisable with its rich colours and distinctive patterns, influenced over time by ideas from the east travelling along the ancient trade routes. Contact with Europe also inspired new patterns for example from the church convent schools and pattern books from DMC arriving with new threads in the 1930’s.

The geometric and later the floral patterns were embroidered onto cotton and linen cloth. These were popular on the clothes and household linen. Girls would learn at an early age to embroider and growing up they would work on their wedding trousseau, which would include some intricate dress wear. The dresses may have an embroidered chest panel, side panels and sleeve panels, the patterns and style depending on the region.

 Bright colours were often used on natural undyed cloth or indigo dyed cloth. Red was a predominant thread colour, each village having a slightly different shade Pink, green, orange, violet, and yellow thread would pick out parts of the patterns to give the design vibrancy. The random placing of accent colours adds interest and as an imperfect finish gave protection from the evil eye.

This card  is one of the designs  for use at the workshop.

Although a lot of cross stitch is used for the designs, couching, chain stitch, split stitch and satin stitch are also used. Applique was also a feature and often sewn down using a zig zag back stitch. As the hand woven cloth would be quite limited in width it had to be joined so the joining stitches became part of the garments pattern embroidered in bright colours

Geometric designs create the base of Palestinian patterns but flora and birds add interest. One popular motif is the cypress tree, each region would embroiderer it slightly differently. This symbol is said to represent longevity.

Palestinian embroidery is now on the UNESCO cultural heritage list to “protect Palestinian identity, heritage and narrative”.

This photo is of some purses from a co-operative of ladies stitching Palestine embroidery for sale. To see further designs have a look at their website .

A little bit of Embroidery

At the end of July I was fortunate enough to go on an embroidery weekend with the Yorkshire region at Bishop Burton College. It was so lovely to chat and stitch with friends -all in a COVID friendly way of course!

I spent the weekend being tutored by Florence Daisy Collingwood who both inspired me and taught me new skills. I had taken my Celtic/Viking sketch book with me and worked on two bird designs taken from that period.

As Florence had experience working at the Royal School of Needlework she shared new stitches and techniques which stretched my abilities. I am really pleased with my finished pieces of work ,my only disappointment is Florence lives so far away I can not go to more of her workshops. I will however endeavour to grow my skills and as I have started going to the Airedale Stitchers’ Group I hope to take guidance from more experienced embroiderers there.

Here are my two embroidered pieces.

This is the Celtic bird design made into a book cover ,appropriately for my sketch book .

This piece I have mounted and framed, the Viking bird design has been used to learn linear knot stitches. 

Thank you for new friends I made at the weekend , Pauline Heywood for organising the weekend and Florence for her inspiration. . 

New Workshops in Ilkley and York

In the past month I have been busy working on the workshop content for the York and Ilkley Workshops, hence the lack of posts on my own work. I have also been on an embroidery weekend which was excellent led by Florence Daisy Collingwood and when I have finished my Celtic embroidered pieces -hopefully this month, I will share them on my blog.

I am tutoring the hand embroidery and hand quilting classes including ‘Stitching in the Dales’ classes, looking at Vintage embroidery, English Paper piecing, North Country quilting patterns and Gold work. 

Along side these are ‘World Embroidery’ workshops once a month starting with Indian mirror work, Indian kantha work, Vietnamese stitching and Japanese Sashiko work. 

Our first class was a taster session , sampling applique, embroidery and quilting which was very enjoyable and samples of lovely work were completed.

If you would like to book or look at the complete selection of workshops take a look at the Dutton’s link below

If you have any questions please get in touch , it would be lovely to see you and to share my love of textiles with you.



Making patterns

Over the last month I have been working on my Textiles hanging , using chainstitch and embroidery stitches along side quilting the patterns I studied on the strippy quilts. I have also added sequins, buttons and beads to add detail and focus. I enjoy the variety of techniques and spending time working out the exact colour and thickness of thread I want to use to create the right balance in the composition, although it has led to some unpicking when I’m not quite sure. Next month it should be ready for hanging and display which will be a great accomplishment.

Where to start?

My aim for the Amy Emm’s Bursary was to gain knowledge of the linear designs of the strppy quilts made in Northern England. By studying these quilts and doing extensive reading I have definitely extended my knowledge, although with this knowledge comes more questions !

I have created a collection of samples to be shared with the Quilters’ Guild Museum Collection. (which is recorded in previous blogs ) The curator Heather Audin has just posted an article about the work.

I am very grateful to her support and can’t wait to be able to go to the museum again to study the quilts, photographs are of an excellent quality nowadays but it is not the same as the real thing .

Now to the next part of my project , to create a contemporary wall hanging using these designs. Where to start ? 

I wanted to use strips of  patchwork as my base fabric, I had in mind a pretty colour scheme of pinks with greens, reds and yellows as the pink and white strippy is popular in the North of England. I also wanted a rose theme, as I have seen rose printed fabric and quilted rose flowers used on the quilts.

Starting stitching is like starting a new sketch book, daunting. I decided to draw a strippy design with a single chain I had been sketching, but spent a while getting round to it!

  The single chain is yet to be stitched, I am not sure on the colour to make it stand out but not dominate . 

Meanwhile I am planning the other designs

As you can see I work with a background then build up the quilting and embellishment as I would do when I am  painting . 

I am still recording and researching strippy quilts so if you have any to share I would love to see them.



Embroidery for my beautiful granddaughter

February and March seems to have gone so fast . I went to visit my son Sean and his new family, Valeria and baby daughter Camila. I took with me a piece of embroidery for Camila – her own Costa Rican Mandela . A mandala based on the ox cart wheels that are decorated in Costa Rica . 
The beautifully painted ox cart wheels . 

Camila’s embroidered mandala to enjoy as she grows up . 

Back home I am now working on my North Country ( Durham ) quilting – photos to follow . 
Stay safe and enjoy your embroidery and quilting . 






A New Year

A new year and lots to do. I’m working on new workshops and have regular classes at The Sewing Shed in Ilkley , Dutton’s for Buttons in York and Oh Sew Sweet in Barnsley . At the end of January I am doing a workshop for the Embroiderers Guild looking at Indian mirror work , and it has been lovely looking back at my visits to India and getting all my Indian fabrics out as I prepare for it. 
I am also continuing my research and work on Durham/North Country quilting and have just finished an embroidered central design from a whole cloth quilt.

This quilted piece completed in December is using colourful thread to show off the amazing designs of the Northern quilts.

This year I will continue to study these beautiful quilts from our rich heritage and celebrate the intricate folk designs. 

Happy Sewing and Quilting for 2020