• One stitch leads to another.
  • Phases and Favourites.
  • Serendipity.
  • Learning exercises.
  • Tutorial Examples.
  • Craft Fairs.
  • What to do with it all?

One Stitch Leads To Another:

Some of us are addicts and if we begin stitching we can’t stop (I speak from experience). Whether you begin as a child or after retirement the first stitches will always be remembered and the joy of creating something yourself is enough to seal the stitching passion. Making something from fabric and thread is satisfying whether it’s useful or beautiful or both. Learning how to do different types of stitching can be the beginning of a long and fulfilling journey. Being enthusiastic about your stitching career or hobby is a great thing, but be sure to give some thought to what you’re going to do with it all.

Phases and Favourites:

I’ve noticed that the finished products will vary over time. You might start by making a fabric flower. Then it could be patchwork and quilting which could develop into making bags. Embroidery may move through cross-stitch designs to surface embroidery in a hoop to mount on the wall. And during this process some favourites might emerge and start to take up more time and more storage space.


Sometimes by happy chance something you make will turn out to be an unexpected success. In my case it was children’s Play Blankets. I’d bought different colours of polyester fleece to make children’s dressing gowns. With my beautiful new sewing machine, which could do computerised embroidery designs, I was putting fun designs on the robes. Inevitably some pieces of fleece were left over so I made blankets with embroidered motifs and backed and edged with quilting cotton. They were an immediate success and I had many repeat orders and compliments about those Play Blankets which had come about by happenstance.

Learning Exercises:

Alongside the learning process whether from books or formal tuition comes the need to do practical exercises. In the stitching world these take the form of cloth and thread to demonstrate some skill. While these precious little samples do serve a purpose once that skill is learned they aren’t really much good for anything. Should they clutter up a drawer or simply end up in the bin?

Tutorial Examples:

If you’re leading a stitching group or demonstrating at a workshop you could be spending precious time producing examples for the activity If they’re only needed once the effort and time expended could make you question their value particularly if there isn’t an alternative use for them.

Craft Fairs and Art Trails:

Making stitched items will sometimes lead the maker to try selling the goods at Craft Fairs, Open Studio events and Art Trails. Success here is dependent on the cost displayed for the goods, popularity and competitiveness of the item for sale and the location and affluence of the market. An inexperienced maker could spend days and weeks making goods for a booked event making the studio or stall look bright and enticing and yet sell nothing. How disappointing that is and sadly goods left over with nowhere to go.

So what to do with it all?

You may have guessed that I’m speaking from experience on all the above. Finding yourself with cupboards full of the beautiful things you’ve made and not sure what to do with it can be disconcerting or even disheartening. My solutions are as follows:

  • Little Girl’s felt bags were an idea I had and very simple to make. But during phases of enthusiasm for a product keep the production low until you’ve assessed how easy it is to find a sale or a home for each one.
  • Favourite makes will remain favourites if you don’t make too many. Keep it special as an heirloom to keep for yourself or if someone special falls in love with it decide if they can have it or buy it off you.
  • Serendipity doesn’t happen often but if by happy chance you hit upon something you’ve made that is wanted by others then keep doing it and improve the design so that it’s success continues to grow. Machine Embroidered play blankets were immediately successful. I sold many different and individually designed ones for customers at craft fairs.
  • Learning exercises and tutorial examples on stitched cloth actually make wonderful Fabric Art Journals. Each sample becomes a page with sewn edges by hand or machine. The cover for the pages can be a work of art in itself and can be bound together with wrapped cord or buttons and eyelets or machine stitching through the spine. There are some good books available on how to make a fabric art journal (or cloth book).
  • Craft Fairs can be an enjoyable social occasion even if you don’t sell very much. However it’s much more satisfying when you are selling. So success depends upon research before launching into the production of items. Explore within the radius of how far you’re prepared to travel to an event. Find out who’s usually there and if your stuff is different from anyone else’s. Be prepared for customers to be unaware of how much it cost you in materials and how much time it took to make as they may be expecting a bargain. Open Studios and Art Trails are exciting to do but quite expensive. There’s a lot of preparation and time commitment. Open Studios also need a suitable display space.
  • Overall, unless you become one of the elite professional textile designers and makers the pleasure of stitching is less to do with selling and much more to do with the joy of the result as well as of giving something you’ve made to a friend or loved one. It’s can also be to do with sharing your skills with others perhaps by starting up a group of likeminded people. Most of all it’s about the enormous pride it can give you to have beautiful things that you’ve made in your home and be able to say – I made it myself. However – don’t end up with too many wall hangings!

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