Sunday, 25 January 2015

January 2015 A tale of 2 Members and Regional Chair Stephanie Harper

Regional Chair

First this evening we heard from Stephanie Harper, who has recently been elected as the West Midlands Regional Chair.  Stephanie told us how she became involved in the Lichfield Guild and then to the region. Stephanie explained how she herself had wanted to know more of how the region contributed to the branches as we all contribute financially to the region. This lead her to become involved in the regional committee and eventually to her role as chair.  Stephanie told us that her first action was to invite all branches in the West Midlands to be represented on the Regional Committee and from this she hopes that through the quarterly meetings this will lead to a more proactive region.  

In Birmingham we are lucky to be represented by both Heather and our own branch secretary Clare is also the regional secretary - if you do have any questions or comments for the region Heather and Clare are always happy to hear from you.

A tale of two members

We had an inspiring start to the new year hearing from 2 members Meriel Hutton and Janet Lee who told us about their 'stitch' lives and gave us a great insight into their respective journeys through both words and inspiring examples of their work.

First we heard from Meriel who revealed her sparkly knitted outfit made on her knitting machine.  
Meriel in her knitted out fit showing us a blouse she made from strips of silk.

We learned how Meriel finds inspiration through many things but she concentrated on her four main influences her family; places she has lived, holidayed and visited ; thrift and the Guild.

Meriel told us about family how she had learned to sew and knot from her Grandmother when growing up in Edgbaston. When her doll needed dressing granny taught her to knit socks, turning the heel and grafting the toe. without the money to buy materials Meriel learned to use scraps and recycle materials something that still inspires her today.

We saw wonderful examples of Meriel's work including the patchwork quilt she made for her parents inspired by the birds in Australia where the family moved when she was 12 years old.

Meriel's work includes both the practical items like the  clothing and  bags and cards she produces for any occasion as well as the purely artistic  pictures inspired by the things she loves and places she has visited.

Meriel then told us that since she joined the guild in 2012 she has been inspired by speakers and day schools, other members and stitch magazine. From this she has was encouraged to enter both regional and branch competitions and was clearly a delighted winner of the Christmas competition with her book of holiday post cards.

Meriel's winning entry being admired by members at the December meeting

Janet then told us about her fascinating history in craft. Growing up at the seaside in Kings Lynn and being surrounded by parks at home and school Janet was always inspired by the natural world.  Her mother made dresses for Janet and her sister and her father was a brilliant artist so both influenced Janet as did her grandmother and great aunt who she visited in the holidays.

Because of her obvious talent and interest in art Janet was encouraged by her head teacher to go to art college where she completed a fashion course studying textiles, millinery,weaving and completed the City and Guild's in Embroidery.

After working in a tailors Janet was a bout to go to teacher training when she had the opportunity to work for the BBC at Pebble Mill.  Working in the costume department Janet worked on many productions as diverse as period dramas and Doctor Who.

As her children were growing up Janet continued dress making and toy making. She was in great demand for school productions overseeing and creating costumes.

Janet continued with her C&G at Bournville college and  one of her projects
was then adapted for the alter at Lickey Church which also now houses other examples of Janet's work.

After her C&G Janet joined the Forge Mill Embroiderer's and this inspired her monk in the box.
Monk in the box along with other work including the lovely ruby slippers

Janet has been a guild member for several years and is actively involved entering competitions, attending workshops, contributing to Tolkien project and the Hoard Hangings for Birmingham Museum. Janet is also heavily involved with the Young Embroiderer's and led the young members in creating the Ruby anniversary hanging.
Young Embroiderer's Hanging

A bag from Crazy Mary workshop


Friday, 16 January 2015

Members Surveys

At our December Meeting we put out some Members' Surveys to gather your feedback on your branch, and we have received some replies - thank you.

If you did not get the chance to hand your survey in you can either bring it to the February meeting, scan and email it to, or email that address with your feedback on any or all of the below headings.
  • What were your favourite branch events (e.g. speakers and dayschools) over the past year
  • What do you feel has worked well over the past year?
  • Do you have any suggestions on things the branch could do to improve?
  • Do you have any other feedback for the committee?
Thank you.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

January Notices

Birmingham Branch Notices January 2015

We would like to wish a happy New Year to everyone from all of the committee. We are looking forward to an exciting and busy year and can’t wait to hear from Meriel and Janet tonight about their work. Please everyone extend a warm welcome also to Stephanie Harper our regional chair.
National Guild Organisation: Those of you on email should have received a copy of the proposed changes, if not there are some spare copies here tonight please take one.
The national AGM Birmingham Library is on Sat 11th April if you want to come don’t forget to book your place. The form was in the Contact magazine and the address to send it to is Embroiderers Guild house, 1Kings Road, Surrey, KT 12 2RA. We will definitely be having an exhibition of our branch’s work which will be placed in the theatre. Pieces will be covered by the Guild’s insurance. We still don’t know definitely about space and facilities but will be discussing at our next committee meeting this month, so should have clear instructions for the next meeting. Be thinking about what you might like to include.
Regional Day is happening on Saturday 20th June 2015,10 till 4 pm, Leaminton Spa. The Madeira Lecture is by Nicola Jarvis on Goldwork and the competition is All that Glisters is Not Gold. The Young Embroiderer’s Competition is Bright and Shiny. Tickets will be approxiamately £18 with an optional meal for £8. If you would like to go to the day and they are well worth it, see Clare.
The final deadline for Tolkien pieces is the February meeting so that they can be put together in time for the AGM
Library first Saturday of the month 11 am hopefully some of you will be able to join us in February.
The list for individual members who are willing to lend their own equipment is available tonight please use it if you want to get involved with this. If for example you have an embellisher you are willing to lend you would add that with your contact details. Another member could then approach you individually.
Thank you for your response to the brief survey of Branch members Heather is collating responses and we will feed back to you all soon.
Please keep supporting the raffle and volunteer for a bag if you haven’t had a chance to do so. Colours can be found on the blog, or by asking Lorna, but the colour for February is orange so please bring contribution in that colour if you can at the February Meeting.
Thank you to Tina who is joining the branch subgroup for The Regional Day 2016 We still need a volunteer for Cocomad joining Angela Bernadette and Jayne. Please think about it we had such fun together last year and will be organising a meeting soon.
Don’t forget our Saturday Day Schools and see Margaret if you are interested. The next day is on 28th March and is ‘Basically Speaking with Art Van Go’; learn to use a range of materials for building up a surface. On 27th June it is tantalizing textile tag books with Angie Hughes. The workshops are always friendly and fun and very supportive and uncompetitive so think about coming along.
We hope you enjoy this evening; you will no doubt be inspired by the work of our two speakers

Bernadette on behalf of the committee    

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Willard Wigan: Through the Eye of a Needle at the Library of Birmingham

You may be aware of the artist Willard Wigan, who creates amazing micro sculptures in the eye of a needle, or on pinheads. These are so small that they can only be seen with a microscope, and are being exhibited currently at the Library of Birmingham until the 25th of January.

Tickets to see the exhibition are £5 for adults and £3 for children aged 5-16, with family tickets costing £12.

For more information, see:

Monday, 12 January 2015

Raffle Bag Colours - 2015

As you may be aware, we are repeating the raffle bags we did last year for 2015, having a large and a small bag each month. For these, one member decorates a canvas bag according to the month's colour scheme, and we ask all members to bring a small item to contribute to the bag, e.g. some thread, beads, candle, etc. One attendee will win the large bag and one will win the small bag, with the items being split between the two bags.

The colours for this year are:

January - Red
February - Orange
March - Yellow
April - Green
May - Blue
June - Turquoise
July - Pink
August - no meeting
September - Violet
October - Bronze
November - Silver
December - Gold

2014's Silver Bag
There are still a couple of bags left to decorate, so if you are interested, please see Lorna at a meeting. We look forward to a great year of raffles, and thanks for your support.

Friday, 9 January 2015

Library January 2015

We were back at the library in January and despite the rain outside we had bright day inside with  a lucky 13 members and one of our regular visitor, Sue from Stoke. 

Everyone was getting on with projects, both new and old as usual we had the pleasure of looking at everyone else's work. We were well 'marked' with both the Regional Banner and out own bunting. 

Our next library meeting is Saturday February 7th from 11 until 2  so try to pop along and see us.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

January Branch Meeting - A Tale of Two Members

This Monday's branch meeting (January 12th) is our annual 'A Tale of Two Members' talk, where we enjoy hearing from two branch members about their journey through embroidery, with plenty of examples of their creations to look at.

This year, Meriel Hutton and Janet Lee will be sharing their embroidery with us, and we will also be visited by Stephanie Harper, who has recently been elected as the West Midlands Regional Chair. Stephanie will be speaking to us briefly about her plans for the next three years of her leadership of the region. She will also be arriving early, so you can chat to her about any queries over a cup of coffee.

If you're new to the Guild, visitors are welcome, and the first session is free, with a charge of £4 thereafter. Please see here for details of where we meet. See you there!

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Birmingham Embroiderers' Guild: Programme 2015

We are looking forward to another fabulous year of talks and workshops for 2015:

  • Monday 12th January - A Tale of Two Members; a great session finding out more about what has inspired two of our members to pick up the needle. This year we will be finding out more about Meriel Hutton and Janet Lee.
    • Additionally, at this session, Stephanie Harper, the Regional Chair will be attending our session to give a short talk about her plans for the region. There will also be the opportunity to ask Stephanie any questions you may have about the Guild.
  • Monday 9th February - Colour Story with Edwina MacKinnon; Edwina will be sharing with us her passion for colouring fabrics, and the methods she uses to dye and paint cloth.
  • Monday 9th March - Beginners Canvaswork; a practical evening learning more about canvaswork stitches - all welcome
  • * Saturday 28th March - Basically Speaking with Art Van Go; learn to use a range of materials for building up a surface, see here for info
  • Monday 13th April - Yurts, Yaks and Yoghurts with Jane Davies; talking about her textiles adventures in Kyrgyzstan
  • Monday 11th May - Travelling Books;a fun evening starting our travelling books project, come along to find out more
  • Monday 8th June - A History of Buttons with Jennifer Swindells; she shares her knowledge of buttons with us - why not bring along some of your favourites?
  • Saturday 27th June - Tantalising Textile Tag Books with Angie Hughes; create a fab mini book, see here for info
  • Monday 13th July - Embroidery with Stevie Walker; she will be bringing along lots of her embroidery, and we will look forward to the Westhope Workshop in autumn 2015.
  • August - there is no branch meeting in August.
The programme from September 2015 to September 2016 will be published over the summer 2015.

Normal branch meetings take place on the 2nd Monday of the month, from 7:00 for 7:30pm. Visitors are welcome at all branch meetings - see this page for details of our meeting venue.

Items marked with an asterisk (*) are workshops, which need to be prebooked in advance at any branch session. For more details about the 2015 workshops, see here, and for general information about workshops, see here. Details about any required materials will be provided in advance of each workshop.

In addition to branch meetings and workshops, we also meet for Come Stitch With Us, a fun, free social sewing session at the Library of Birmingham on the first Saturday of each month, including August, see here for more details.

The programme may be subject to change at short notice due to circumstances beyond our control. Any changes will be posted on this site. # above denotes a programme change.

Dayschools 2015

We have four exciting dayschools for 2015, details of which are below.

Saturday 28th March 2015
Viv from Art Van Go – Basically Speaking

An introduction to the basic materials used in surface embellishment, concentrating on the most versatile mediums that can be adapted for all sorts of surfaces - including fabrics. The materials covered may include Markal Paintstiks, Bronze Powders, acrylics & texture gels, dyes & paints, Angelina Fibres etc. Their properties and processes of the materials are explained, and comparisons/contrasts to similar materials made.

Please note; due to a wedding at the Cotteridge Meeting House, this dayschool will be taking place at Northfield Meeting House, a short drive away. We will provide the address and directions for members, and may also be able to arrange to take some members there from Cotteridge who would otherwise struggle to get to the session. Please speak to Heather at a branch meeting.

Angelina fibres - image from Art Van Go
Saturday 27th June 2015
Angie Hughes Tantalising Textile Tag Books

Angie is a fabulous tutor, she has led workshops for our branch before, and is back by popular demand, showing us how to create fabulous little stitched tag books. It looks set to be a great session, and is sure to book up quickly.

Click here for the Requirements List.

Some of Angie's Tags

Saturday 10th October 2015
Helen McCook – Goldwork

Helen will be sharing goldwork techniques with us, in order to give a good introduction to the topic. For more information and pictures, please see her Facebook page and her RSN page.

Saturday 28th November 2015
Sarah Burgess – Landscapes of the Imagination

Travelling through landscape we absorb colour, shape, line and mark both consciously and unconsciously. The ancient and the contemporary, the country and the city, collide and overlap in our imaginations. Source material as the starting point for a series of mono-print sketches we will build accidental and intentional printed marks on experimental surfaces, complex paper and fabric prints incorporating text, stitch and mark can be layered, fabrics inserted, contrasts explored and shapes exaggerated to create a personal idea of landscape rather than a specific place.

Click here for the Requirements List.

One of Sarah Burgess's landscapes
Booking and Payment
To find out more about any of these dayschools, or to book onto one, please speak to Margaret at a branch meeting, or email

If you would like to book place on the dayschools, we would prefer it if you could pay either by cheque or bank transfer, as we incur fees for banking cash, which we currently do not pass on to members. If you would like the branch bank details, please speak to Anne at the next branch meeting.

To find out more about dayschools generally, please see this post.

Year In Review - 2014

The start of a new year is a time for looking back, and for Birmingham Embroiderers' Guild, 2014 was a very good year. Here's a summary of what we did.

January 2014:
We started the year with our Tolkien session, which led to the wall hanging which members are currently creating.

Also in January: We had the first of our raffle bags, which was red, and we're looking forward to another year of raffle bags.

February 2014
We enjoyed a Tale of Two Members session, seeing lots of lovely work from Angela and Margaret.

Also in February: we had a great Come Stitch With Us Session at the Library of Birmingham, with 10 people in attendance. Our sessions have grown in size since then, and we are looking forward to them throughout 2015.

March 2014
In March, we welcomed the Friends Meeting House steward, Tina Helfrich, who shared her knowledge of Amish Quilts with us, along with many photos and some physical quilts.

Also in March: We welcomed Kay and Michael Dennis for a Stumpwork workshop, and members enjoyed a trip to the NEC for the Sewing for Pleasure show.

A stumpwork strawberry in progress
April 2014
In April, we welcomed Mr X Stitch, who shared his own work with is, as well as lots of fabulous inspirational stitching from around the internet.

Also in April: we had a lovely yellow raffle bag, and the regional embroidery project for the Staffordshire Hoard Gallery was underway - you can read Clare's interim report on it here.

May 2014
May was a very busy month, as well as lots of announcements and ongoing plans, we enjoyed stitching doodled leaves.

Also in May: Members had a successful trip to Uttoxeter Quilt and Stitch Village, winning several prizes in the competition.

June 2014
In June, Felicity Howatson came to share examples of her ecclesiastical embroidery with us, accompanied by many amusing tales.

Also in June: June Parkinson showed us magical ways with lutradur, and we started the branch DVD library.

One of the finished pieces from June's Lutradur workshop.
July 2014
In July, we had a fabulous summer party, where we enjoyed a talk on handmade fabric cakes from Greta Fitchett, as well as eating lots of cakes, having a great competition, and raffles.

Also in July: We had a fabulous day at the CoCoMAD festival, and found out about a discount for Guild Members at House of Fraser.

August 2014
August is always a quiet month for the branch, however we enjoyed celebrationg the National Day of Stitch with a practical session at the Library of Birmingham.

September 2014
In September, we had an inspirational practical session, looking at some of the Folios from EG House. Don't forget that the competition theme this Summer is 'Inspired By The Folios', so you may wish to refer back to any notes and sketches you took to start creating your entry.

Also in September: We had a fun, chatty session at the Library.

One of the pieces from the Folios
October 2014
October was our Branch AGM, and Claire Muir shred some of her lovely fascinators with us.

Also in October: As it was our AGM, we had the annual Chair's and Treasurer's reports.

November 2014
In November, Tina Francis led a fun practical session where we stitched tapestry brooches using oddments of wool; a technique that several members have been inspired to develop into cards and other projects.

December 2014
In December, Alex from Clear Vision came to show us the tactile books that the charity uses to support blind and partially sighted people with enjoying books and reading.

Also in December: Several members enjoyed a dayschool with Greta Fitchett, creating hand stitched 'chocolates'.

Some hand stitched chocolates.
For a look further back, feel free to read our reviews of 2013 and 2012. To look forward to the year ahead, here is the 2015 programme, and here are the 2015 dayschools.

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Embroidered Chocolates with Greta Fitchett

In November, we enjoyed a dayschool with Greta Fitchett, making embroidered chocolates. Greta shared her boxes of chocolates with us for inspiration, and then we all sat and stitched.

It was a fun, friendly session - we enjoyed dreaming up the flavours we were stitching.

A strawberry cream by Margaret:

More chocolates in progress:

Lots of tasty sewing supplies in pink and brown:

Some beautiful finished chocolates:

As we needed to put the chocolates in empty chocolate boxes, we also had the task of finishing off some chocolates - a chore indeed!

All our finished chocolates looked brilliant:

In all, a relaxed enjoyable day with lots of chatting, stitching and chocolate eating.

Our next dayschool is on March 28th with Viv from Art Van Go, at Northfield Friends Meeting House. Viv will be taking us through a range of mediums used in surface embellishment. If you are interested in coming along, please see Margaret at a branch meeting, or email

Thursday, 1 January 2015

January 3rd Library of Birmingham

Library of Birmingham 

 Happy New Year!  We are in our normal spot at the Library on Saturday, on the Mezzanine floor above the library cafe from 11am until about 1pm, and we would love for you to join us. Feel free to bring any stitching projects you are working on, and we will have felt, binca and other activities for both adults and children. As always everyone is welcome and it will be great to have lots of members there. So even if you can only make it for an hour or so do come along to catch up, have a chat and a stitch