Gear Threads Is The Mr X Stitch Machine Embroidery Column - Presented By Urban Threads!

Welcome to Gear Threads, where we showcase artists who are elevating machine embroidery to new heights!

Artist Tina Crawford takes “thread sketching” to a whole new place with her work at Tobyboo. Her thread sketching is similar to other freestyle machine embroidery artists, though it differs in a few important ways. First, she does all her work totally free-hand, without any framework or sketch to start.


“Not many embroiderers work the way that I do, I don’t draw before hand – the fluidity of the thread with machine embroidery leads itself as my pen and I love to capture each wobble and mistake as part of the drawing’s originality and charm.”

The next step, however, is where her process really differs. You see, instead of keeping the medium purely as a Textile art, Tina Crawford takes the “sketch” part literally. The design is scanned in from its “sketched” thread phase, and transformed into the final art on the computer.


From this process there is a wonderfully fluid and yet remarkably clean piece of art, a fascinating mix of thread and digital.


After completing her pieces, she then transforms them into all kinds of home goods, printing them on china, pillows, teacups and more.


The original art, though digitized, gets to keep all the charm of its loose threads and imperfections. The handiwork of the embroidery is not at all obliterated by the digital transformation.


Since 2012 Tina has created pieces and illustrations for St Paul’s Cathedral, Sir John Soane Museum, Kew Gardens, Oxford Universities and John Lewis, to name a few. Her pieces often focus on storytelling, characters and history, with just enough quirkiness to keep it all feeling delightfully British.


Want to see more, or grab a piece for yourself? Visit her website Tobyboo, or check out her YouTube page for some excellent short videos on her creation process.

What Technique Is This?

This is free machine embroidery and if you want to find out more about it, check out our dedicated post!
We’ve featured some great free machine artists on the site – here are four you might like!

Urban Threads - Unique and Awesome Machine Embroidery Designs

Gear Threads is brought to you from the offbeat gals at Urban Threads. Created by illustrator Niamh O’Connor, Urban Threads is revolutionizing machine embroidery one edgy, elegant, innovative, and/or offbeat design at a time. Discover the future of digital stitchery at