Stitching and (more)cake with the Quick Crafters

Honestly, it’s really not written into my contract but it does seem that every fortnight in Chopwell there is crafting to be done and cake to be eaten! I’m only going along to support the ‘Quick Crafters’ group once a month until September, the group are making a textile panel inspired by the village. So far we have tried needle felting, hand dyed fabrics and begun to learn about free machine embroidery.

At this session we began the process of creating the design in fabric – using the cloth that we had dyed in our very first session.

The whole design has been traced onto craft vilene and covered with bondaweb, pieces of fabric are cut or torn to fit, ironed into place and then secured with free machine embroidery.

We all need a bit more practice with the free machine embroidery so after making name badges last time, this week I asked people to fill squares on a simple grid with different marks using the machine stitch. To make the textile artwork come to life, you need to be confident with the machine, so that details and texture can be added on top of the fabric appliqué.

It’s quite common for people to be a bit frightened of the machine – but I’ve only sewn through my finger once or twice! (And thats when I didnt have a darning foot attached!) The real trick is to manage the speed at which the machine runs so that you can control the stitch length and not break too many needles…I recently ordered in 100 machine needles…just in case! Every session at the machine increases skills, the group have purchased a machine for their club and I think that they will soon be confident free machine embroiderers. Part of the idea of this project is that the skills they learn with me will be useful to them in future projects. So I’m expecting to see machine embroidered bunting and bags at future community events!

I’ve got to tweek the design before our next meeting – at the group’s request, the pavillion is being replaced with the fire station, and we also need some more grey fabric to represent the stonework of the war memorial. That’s on my to do list for next week – this week I’ve been doing the final preparations for and taking part in the Hearth Arts Centre Spring Fair.


The Hearth is a lovely venue, there’s a gorgeous cafe and a great range of artists permanently based in the studios there – as well as the visiting artists – this time all selected from Network Artists  the next art fair will be in November but do check out the Hearth website  for great history, music and other social events!

I sold some new work at the art fair and got invited to take part in another event too! So before I set up at Belford Arts Festival in July, my work will be at the Bywell Arts Festival from 21 -23 June – looks like its going to be a busy summer!




Published by Donna Cheshire Textiles

I am a professional textile artist specializing in Appliqué and Free Motion machine stitching. In order to create a unique colour palette, I hand dye my own fabrics and then use these to create the landscapes and coastal scenes recorded in my sketchbook. I often incorporate recycled or vintage fabrics in my work - they add meaning to the story the work is telling. I love being so close to the Northumbrian coast and countryside and I especially like taking time walk and draw these stunning landscapes

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