Breaking The Rules with Embroidery

Remember that time when someone told you that it could not be done.  And you did it anyway?  How great did that feel.

I am an obstructive person at heart, and if someone tells me that it cannot be done – I immediately want to give it a try.

A great example of this is when I first started machine embroidery classes back in 2001.  The classes were at the side of the spotlight store, and we were told that we were going to work on a Christmas tablecloth. I immediately went and purchased a pre-made damask tablecloth that I was going to add embroidery to.  When I returned, the teacher made an example of my purchase, telling me and the rest of the class how damask cannot be embroidered , and what a foolish decision it was to purchase this.


16 years on, I am still embroidering on Damask – and think about the teacher who told me it couldn’t be done.

16 years on, I still remember this incident, and how instead to making me realise that you cannot embroider on damask, it made me sure I would find a way to!

It was the same when I was talking to a hand embroider, and she was dismissive of machine embroidery – saying that you cannot do things like fine work, or stumpwork with an embroidery machine.  So that week I began working on my first stumpwork collection.

I am mentioning this, because we are all given rules on a daily basis, but how many of them do we REALLY need to follow.

This week, I want to challenge you to question the “rules” because . . .

  1. There are probably a lot of other people following those same rules and you’ll benefit from doing at least a few things in a different way. Be a trend setter, and show others what thinking outside the box can do.
  2. The rules might not work for you. Especially if you’re trying to follow all of them at once.
  3. The rules will change. And if you get too tied to them (like I did) it’s really difficult to figure out what alternative is best.
  4. People that made the rules, they figured out what worked by trying something different in the first place. Just because it worked for one person, doesn’t mean it will work for you.

Machine embroidery – for instance began with small (4×4”) designs, that were fully filled, and flat in style.  Over the years, different digitisers have looked at different artwork, and said how would it look in this style?  10 years ago, we were told you could not embroider on minky – now it is one of people’s favourite applique fabrics.  These days machine embroidery has texture, different threads, massive designs in both dense and light stitching, all to create amazing artwork.

So my recommendation, next time you get caught up in trying to follow or figure out the rules, is to try everything, listen to your gut, and give up the rules that aren’t working for you. But don’t give up creating. Because when you give up the rules, you’ll have to start making your own.

Until next time, have a Stitchin’ Day.  Julie.

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    Sheila Codd
    December 6, 2017 at 10:28 am


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