I had such a great day yesterday testing out Jo Dewar’s wonderful new Machine Embroidery Workshop to make a bespoke journal.  Jo’s studio is full of colour and creativity and set in the most idyllic Worcestershire countryside – it even has roses round the door!

Pink-threads Blue-threads
Purple-threads Orange-threads

Jo is an enthusiastic and inspirational tutor and extremely generous with her enviable stash of materials and secret techniques.


It’s a very long time since I dropped my machine’s feed dog and had a go at free embroidery, so it took me a little while to loosen up!   When stitching my lampshade designs I use straight stitch, and just one line of it, so it needs to be accurate, neat and in the right place, with the correct tension.  With free embroidery you can run wild and stitch over and over the same area with mismatched tension and hide any bits you decide you don’t like. Liberating!


With the first piece I made – the cover for my journal, I couldn’t help but start off with a neat grid structure and controlled stitching, but Jo encouraged me to add movement and texture on top.


After a lovely lunch served in the garden we had time to make another piece for framing at home.  I tried hard to draw with my needle and came up with this.


My fellow student was the lovely jeweller Sharon McSwiney who was very excited to be working with a full palette of colours and even more excited to go home and show off her newly-found sewing skills!


Jo’s workshop runs from 10am until 4pm and includes expert tuition, all materials, lunch and refreshments.  You go home with your very own A5 journal (which Jo makes up for you using your stitched design on the cover and 30 sheets of super quality paper), plus a head full of ideas to try at home.

The workshop is ideal for both those like me who use a machine regularly but in a conventional way, and those like Sharon who don’t even own a sewing machine.

Thanks Jo for a fabulous day.

Our first creative play date was led by Sharon, so the next one is down to me – these talented makers are hard acts to follow….. gulp!

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