Hello needle crafters, this month’s ‘Exploring Etsy’ is all about letting loose – more specifically letting our sewing machines run wild with ne’er a care in the world. I’m talking about free motion machine embroidery. As someone who uses it in her own work, I was surprised to find as I scrolled back through our past Etsy adventures that I’d never really featured the technique before. With so much great stuff out there, I had to rectify this toute suite and the very talented stitcher who’s helping me do this is the fab Lucy Baker of ‘Thread Friends’.
Lucy is a textile artist living in SE London, creating beautiful stitchery for you and your home. She’s also mum to two girls, Florence age 6 and Meg age 3. After having her daughter Florence, Lucy gave up her job as a visual merchandiser at a high street fashion brand. She realised that she wanted a job that would allow her time to be at home with her daughter instead of being faced with a huge commute and childcare costs. Lucy previously studied textiles at university, but hadn’t really done much since she graduated so she started experimenting again. Her free motion machine embroidery skills are all self taught, starting as simple pattern and mark making, her work progressed to something much more exciting! “I loved the fluidity it gave my work, I was able to draw with the thread, creating pictures: landscapes and sometimes the odd portrait.” She also uses other techniques and materials in her work such as appliqué, water colour pencils and inks.
What is your earliest stitching memory?
I always loved being creative from a young age, I was the kid saving loo rolls for the Blue Peter makes (never got round to making Tracy Island though!) , cutting pictures from magazines and sorting out the buttons in my mum’s old quality street tins! I took art at school and continued on my creative journey. When I started college my fantastic art teacher introduced me to a sewing machine, ( I can’t believe I hadn’t used one until then!!), and I loved it! I went on to study textiles at university, taught myself the art of free motion embroidery and didn’t look back.
What fires your imagination?
I get inspired by lots of things, I’d say the quirky elements and bright colours in my work are probably influenced by my daughters…’Mummy can you make me a mermaid bookmark?’, for example, is where that idea came from, turns out not only 6 year old girls like mermaids!
My surroundings inspire me too, I grew up in Norfolk and miss it a lot, so when I first started creating my embroidered pictures, they were of all of my favourite places back home, beaches, piers, harbours.. now having lived in London for 15 years my pictures have shifted to iconic landmarks amongst the bustling city life and amazing local buildings that I’m lucky enough to have on my doorstep.
You get a real sense of the freedom and energy of free motion embroidery in Lucy’s work, which I love. Each stitched piece has it’s own unique personality that brings it to life. Pop on over to her shop to see more of her fantastic work!
Jessica Taylor aka Loadofolbobbins is a Textile Artist and Illustrator based by the sea in Portsmouth. At her happiest with a needle and thread, with a passion for genealogy she often explores old photographs in her Textile art. With her fingers in many creative pies she loves to experiment with new techniques, creating illustrated and stitched goodies for her Etsy shop.