Category Archives: Soldering

Where Am I Going Now

For those who know of me and my work. you will know that I have for the last 25 years had a passion for wielding my soldering iron and melting / cutting through organza to produce lace-like / cutwork looking textiles.

I still very much have this passion but during lockdown, I had some enforced spare time on my hands and decided to challenge myself to finally get to grips with a sewing machine with an embroidery unit and the software premiere plus by VSM Husqvarna now relaunched as [new updated version is my Sewnet]. With their continued support and encouragement, I have found a second passion that allows me to turn any of my own drawings into digitised embroideries that can be stitched out and repeated to the same accurate design every time.

Coles Sewing Centre in Nottingham have been tremendously supportive. Rose and her excellent team have supported me whilst I gain my confidence in delivering classes for those students who like to put their embroidery machines through their steps.
The team at VSM Husqvarna Redditch are excellent and are always on hand with the support that I am very thankful for. Their machine support and opportunities to try out new machines over the years have finally, eventually led me down this avenue at a time when I was looking for a new challenge.

This last year, I have actually taken delivery of my very own newly released Designer Ruby 90 and am so enjoying experimenting with what it can do whilst still continuing to push my own creative free-motion machine embroidery and mixed media explorations. In a nutshell, I am into everything to do with creative sewing and when i get a day off from teaching I just want to play, learn and pass on what I discover to my students.

Digitised appliqué, filling stitches and outline running stitches

I am fortunate to be part of a bigger family of crazy, lovely machine people who allow me to experiment along side them and develop projects which they all seam to enjoy pushing forward to bring their own personality to my original project. My family at ‘Keep On Sewing”, led by Pam Neave and some very special people who keep us altogether are a valuable part of my evolution and I just love it when I am invited to tutor for them. This group is so valuable to all of you out there with embroidery machines, that you are not getting full value from because you do not have somewhere to meet with like minded people who own digitised embroidery machines. I can honestly say that people travel from all over the country to be part of this group. Its amazing and made so much more by the hotel, food, fun and good humour that surrounds it.

Layered and soldered organza.
Digitised waterfall panel taught at Keep on sewing in coventry last October 2021

Just before lockdown, my local shop Tudor Rose Patchwork in Bedfordshire gave me the opportunity to start a digitising group at their shop and although lockdown stopped us for a while we are up and going again and now have a well populated quarterly workshop class where i get to practice on them and they tell me where it doesn’t work and then i improve it. [They are such a good bunch and very patient with me]

Weve had a few problems where I have been completely stumped and in a corner. But that’s where our lovely Husqvarna representative Louise is so valuable. She has gotten me out of a sticky situation on several occasions and I can’t thank her enough for giving me little tips and the confidence to try other things.

Floating card stock to embroidery xmas cards

I am writing this blog because I value all the people that have helped me on my personal travels to understand, achieve and have a chance to try something very different.

5 years ago, I would have been very rude about digitised embroidery machines as i like many others considered these sewing machines to be cheating. That was until some determined people educated me and pushed me to try it before I knocked it. Now I know better than to slander what I do not understand fully. Creative free motion machine embroidery, patchwork, hand embroidery and many other textile crafts take many hours/years to perfect the skills needed to create unique individual textiles. The same can now be said about learning how to use a modern software package that will give you the ability to create anything your heart desires once you can master getting it to talk to a machine [your tool] that stitches out what you have spent hours designing and making sure that your actions are understood by the machine.

Of course, the software package has inbuilt programmes and designs and you can obtain three packages starting with Silver, that a beginner can play with and create no end of interesting layouts to stitch out but I assure you if you get hooked it won’t be long before you are downloading the silver package and then the full works that the platinum package has to offer.

Soldered and Layered organza
Designed using software and stitched out on a designer ruby 90
hand-embellished with sequins and gold work couched cords

I now have yet another bow to my strings and although at the moment I am designing project-based workshops that are helping me learn and understand more about the software each time. I can already see that given some more free time I will be using it alongside my free motion skills, mixed media skills and hand sewing skills to create some really interesting textiles. The sky’s my limit and I really can’t wait to explore it.

All I need to do now is add a scan and cut machine and a heat press to my ever-growing collection of crafty machinery, plus another 12 hours to my day and I will have cracked it.

So next time you are letting loose about it not being proper sewing, remember that it takes time, practice and skill to conquer all these machines and to learn how we can make them work for us within our individual fields of craft.

If you do not agree with me then that’s your prerogative but don’t discard these fantastic machines and their software opportunities until you have tried it. Tried and tested is a good motto to stand by.

Layered and soldered elephants
Appliqué and lined design to make a functional box

Alston Hall Residential [The outcome was great]

Well several days have gone by since i last updated my blog and i have been feeling frustrated because i couldn’t get a good enough signal to keep you up to date. I suspect the Pennine mountain range and the bad weather might have had something to do with it.

I finally made it home after a repeat wet journey of the Wednesday going up. I couldn’t believe how much water was laying on the fields as i drove home from Alston Hall.

On Thursday I had a fab time teachinggold work. All ladies went home thrilled with what they had achieved, even ifit was only a piece the size of a postage stamp. Goldwork can’t be rushed andis terribly time consuming so even a small project can take weeks or even months.

Finished teaching at 4pm and clambered to my bed room where Icollapsed on the bed and did something I never do. I had a before dinner nap.
It doesn’t look much when you have spent all day working at it does it.
I’m not leaving until I have finished this bit

On Friday after a lovely cookedbreakfast I taught stump work. We were making an Elizabethan sweet bag and asyou can imagine there wasn’t much of that to show for a hard days sewingeither.

I had a couple of hours to myself at the end of the day and as thesun was shining I decided to get some fresh air and took the time to take somemore pics of the lovely building I was teaching in.
The chapel. Not in use now but very pretty
Taken from the Crochet lawn

Friday night at 8.15pmI started teaching again.This time I was teaching Machine embroidery with organza and the soldering ironand was looking forward to helping my ladies design and worktheir own designs instead of one of my designs. They were a great bunch andmost were willing to have a go and play Earlier in the day I had vacatedmy room of two days and moved to the garden room on the other side ofthe house. I didn’t mind because this room was great and had everything inone place. Also because I had a larger number of students, it made senseand gave everyone a good amount of room to spread out and get comfortable. Andboy did they spread. There was organza and sewing equipment everywhere.

We had all met up for the first time at dinner that evening andthen went to work afterwards. We only did an hour of me explaining andinspiring so that we could get going straight away after breakfast onSaturday.  Everyone was generally worn out on the Friday eveningas they have had to travel, but you always get one or two who want to burn themidnight oil so I signed off at 9.30pm and headed for the bar for a nice glassof chilled wine followed by an early night to bed.
Saturday we got going while making friends and stitching. Demonstrations happenedthroughout the day and I got the job of trying to extract informationfrom each student to help them achieve a stunning piece of work across theweekend, which they all did. I could have brought every piece home with me butthey wouldn’t letthem go and tucked them away quickly so that I couldn’t pinch any
My ladies were all lovely and we all got on a treat. Ihope I bump into them again in the future.
They produced some great work all of which I could of run awaywith. Have a look and see!!!!
Paula’s piece based on photos from a derelict church
I love the bronze through to blue and green appearing in this architechtural sample
A lovely sample of layered organza, stitched with straight lines and cut out with the soldering iron

Based on Andy Goldworthy’s stone photos
Ghost tree based on Andy Goldworthy’s photos

Soldering out the material to be removed from the background and sealing the edges