Sew for the Soul – a new project

At the start of 2020 I set myself the challenge to stitch once a week, just for the love of stitch.
I am always busy stitching, but looking back at 2019 all my sewing was always for someone else or to have an end product to sell. Even though I loved creating all my work I felt that in between teaching at school, being a mum and wife as well as running HanneMADE I wanted space to breath so #sew4thesoulhannemade started.

The initial plan was to stitch each Sunday evening and each month have a different focus. To add to my challenge I decided, not only to record it on Instagram, but also create a video each month in case anyone wanted to join in.
I have always believed things happen for a reason, little did I appreciate what was coming and how this would help others.
During the current lockdown the project the has gone worldwide with others creating their own pieces. I had to spead up the project and the work I planned to take a year has just finished.
You can see the project over on my YouTube challenge -AnneBrookeTextile artist or there is a link on my
On there, if you would like to do the project, are videos of my work, but also of work done all over the world including some of our members in the community videos.
In these strange times I know a lot of people have lost the inkling to stitch and feel a little lost. This project has brought people together of all different abilities and even started people hand stitching for the first time. If you only spent 30mins a day or an evening a week it is surprising what stitch can do can for your mindfulness and mental health.

This Sunday I am starting a new project that will follow along the same lines as project 1 but this time it will be a fabric book. It is a great way to use things from your stash and there will be prompts and tasks for you to follow or you can do your own thing.
There will be videos on YouTube and a hashtag so you can follow others on Instagram and I also post on my Facebook page.
If you add this to your post it means other that are doing the project can follow your work. If you follow the # you will also see the work of others doing the challenge too.
I hope this may give you a project to do, with no pressure and just to reconnect with stitch and join a growing community.
I am missing you all and hope that you are all well and safe and look forward to a Friday when we all can meet again
Anne xxx

Meet our member, Margaret Coop

I was brought up in a typical 50’s household and my mum was always doing needlework crocheting, knitting, and lots of embroidery. She dressed dolls and made brooches for the church bazaar so I loved all that.

I have followed on, really enjoying lots of different methods and finding my own favourites.

I am now doing a paper pieced quilt using up all the lovely scraps of Liberty fabrics that I have been collecting.

Looking through my work I seem to be drawn to green which I think is my favourite colour in textiles especially when using nature in most of my work.

We think you will agree that Margaret has given us a wonderful ‘natural selection’!

Meet our member, Jessica Robinson

Jessica’s interview on Stitchery Stories will be available to hear from Wednesday. You can find it via your podcast app or here. Jessica’s bio for the interview is below:

‘Jessica has been working as a professional embroiderer for over 15 years and is now the Director of her own business, House of Heyday, which brings together her two passions- embroidery and vintage. She is a graduate of the Royal School of Needlework, she teaches embroidery internationally and carries out commissions which include making new pieces and doing textile restoration and conservation. Amongst her many claims to fame is that she has demonstrated embroidery to Her Majesty the Queen; was a member of the team who embroidered the wedding dress and veil for the Duchess of Cambridge; and has co-authored a book, Adventures in Needlework, which was published by the Guild of Master Craftsman Publications. She has also written a stitch manual for Fine Cell Work, a charity that teaches needlework to prison inmates. Throughout her career, Jessica has taken on many roles, including working in the costume department at The Royal Opera House; acting as Education Coordinator, tutor, assessor and studio embroiderer for the RSN; and teaching at the V&A Museum as part of their exhibition – ‘Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up’.
Jessica has recently been appointed as Textiles Specialist for auction house Elstob & Elstob. She lives in West Yorkshire and is expecting her first baby in June.’

Jessica writes, ‘This time we are in has been a great opportunity for me not only to prepare for my baby’s imminent arrival but to focus on my business, catch up with commissions and explore other online ways of offering classes and services. I’m currently in the process of writing an online consultation package to guide people through the process of designing and making their own embroidery kits. I’ve also been piloting and am now offering online classes through the Royal School of Needlework.
I’m nearing completion of three commissions, the first is from a private client and is a mourning embroidery which dates back to 1715. I have conserved and re-mounted it.

The other two are for History Wardrobe, the first is an 18th century apron and the second is a ribbon corset from the early 1900’s, both of which I’m conserving and strengthening ahead of them becoming part of a History Wardrobe presentation.

We hope you enjoy learning a little more about Jessica’s work through the links above.


Mélange means a mix, a collection of different things. Which is also probably how you feel at the moment! Sewing is bringing comfort to a lot of people, and many are finishing off projects or discovering and using stashes they have had squirrelled away. Others are joining on-line projects and sharing a connection and purpose that way.

So we thought it would be nice to share a few things members are doing at the moment and maybe they will inspire you to do a a few minutes of something stitchy!

Judith’s pin cushions (Sue Hawkins kits)
A book of fastenings in the making for her grandson
Jan’s Zippy bag
Jan’s Nuno felting
Deborah’s quilt called ‘Al Quds qabbeh’ (Jerusalem chest piece)
Jacquie’s needle-felted bird for national stitch day
And some fabric dying for the regional challenge
Julie has made these from a kitted square wool using wool form the family’s Ryeland sheep and hand dyed in memory of her grandson to raise funds and awareness for Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice.
Wyn is working on pages for a linen fabric book
Rachael has been working on Anne Brooke’s #sew4thesoul project
As has Jan
And Judith
Jan is a member of Piecemakers a group led by Annie Lancaster (of The Crafty Owl based in Elland.) ‘We are creating 20 panels (each 60cms by 100cms)based on the Ogham-a Celtic calendar which comprises 20 different trees. My panel has lots of different techniques on fabric and paper including hand and machine stitching,appliqué,quilting and printing. All of the fabrics used including the background are old linens. Our exhibition at Halifax Minster (which should have been now) will go ahead- hopefully later this year.’
Jeanette is developing wooden block prints
And Sue is making all things Japanese!
Abigail was inspired by to make shy Easter bunny cards and buns in hoops
Jane’s Superhero quilt – a present for her grandson
Janice, hand-binding her quilt – almost there!
Wendy has been problem-solving to re-line and Edwardian handbag, very tricky!
And we leave you with Wendy’s rainbow made for Jessica’s baby using a small motif from our Janet Brown workshop

Hope you enjoying looking through our melange? Happy stitching!

Meet our Member – Natalie Oldham

Like many, my creative journey began as a child. I was an only child until the age of 13 so creative thinking and imagination were crucial. I spent hours drawing and creating, playing in the garden and marvelling at the colours and patterns found in the natural world and generally just admiring its beauty.

Art was my passion throughout school, much of it self-taught from my observations of the world around me. Colour, pattern and texture have always played a huge part in my life and work. At 18 I attended an Art Foundation Course at Dewsbury College …this was a real revelation to me and broke all sorts of conventional rules and generally taught me it was OK to play – not everything had to look like photograph. I look back on this time fondly …….this was where my textiles journey really began.

I spent years visiting and admiring the beautiful work and exhibitions at local galleries, especially Bankfield Textiles Museum (a gift to have on my doorstep).  I was always amazed by the rugs of Peter Colgan and a display showing his design process…..this was where my interest in hand tufted rugs began.

I followed a specialist Art Textiles route at the University of Wolverhampton (based at Kidderminster College – yes that’s right, I travelled from carpet town to carpet town). I studied B.A Hons Design For Floorcoverings and Interior Textiles (the only course in the country at the time that did a hand tufting specialism). I spent 3 years designing and making different textiles but finally specialising in hand tufted rugs and wall-hangings.

It was during my degree course that my appreciation of my hometown of Halifax and Yorkshire heritage began.  My work often looked at the natural and man-made landscapes, the distinct architectural features of the carpet mills such as Dean Clough.  I had not realised when I lived here that I had such a stunning natural backdrop to my life – the hills and fields, the patchwork of green, framed my life.  It wasn’t until I moved to the flat Midlands that its absence was apparent.

At University I had a 3 piece rug design selected to be produced and hung as a permanent exhibition in the newly built Kidderminster Library.  This was a fantastic experience, leading and managing a team of my peers to produce the large scale pieces.  The final outcome was a hand tufted triptych  based on the town and its heritage.  I included rag rugged sari silks in the windows of the buildings – giving me the challenge of developing a two person rag rugging technique through huge a stretched canvas.  I graduated with a First Class Bachelor of The Arts Degree and was finally presented to Princess Ann when she opened the Kidderminster Library.

At 22 I progressed to the University of Central England, Birmingham, to complete the most intense and amazing PGCE year, training to be a secondary Art teacher.  I was selected to travel to Holland and take part in an international ceramics and ICT project with teachers from around Europe….all such amazing experiences that have helped to shape and form the teacher I have become today.

I used to love driving home and watching the landscape rise…..coming off the motorway in the middle of nowhere, occasionally having to avoid a “free range” sheep. I always knew I would return “home”……. 10 years in the Midlands and Worcestershire but I knew I would return and settle here.

I have now taught for over 20 years, initially for 6 years in the Midlands, I moved back “home” and worked for 10 years inBradford and now I am Head Of Visual Art at Calder High School in Halifax.  I love shaping young minds, watching their creativity grow…creativity is infectious and I constantly strive to push and develop myself as well as my students.  I have to create work myself to help me unwind and to benefit from all the health properties that creativity can bring.

I have been constantly developing my textiles skills and knowledge on a variety of courses since I returned to Halifax. Initially I went to Varigations in Sowerby Bridge…loving the creative atmosphere and likeminded people I met. Initially this was an invaluable part of me developing my textiles skills to set up an Art Textiles A’Level when I worked in Bradford. I started to support that and then became hooked!

Once Variegations closed I looked for other places I could learn new skills.  It was on a course by Anne Brooke that I first heard of the Halifax Embroiderers Guild.  She encouraged me to join ….and I haven’t looked back since.  The Guild is a great bunch of creative people with so much shared knowledge and experience….and a good sense of humour.  We have fab speakers, inspiring workshops and lovely play days.  I love it, it is such a progressive group and everyone is so supportive and encouraging.

For many years I didn’t take part in the challenges as I always thought I was too busy). Last year I entered for the first time and won the Chairman’s challenge with my miniature bee book in a box, I was so excited. I entered the “Man in Space” Aurefil challenge on regional day and came third in that too. This has really encouraged me to make more time for myself to be creative as I have realised how important that is for me.

This summer I have created a page on Facebook called “ArtyNat” and I am using this to showcase and catalogue the work I make. I am setting myself new challenges in terms of subject matter, but there is always an underlying connection with nature and the environment.

My personal work has developed over time, drawing on all the different experiences and skills I have gained on a wide variety of courses and workshops over the years. I have brought together my passions: my local environment and landscape, textiles, colour, pattern and drawn imagery. I print, dye and bond individual and unique backgrounds, draw on fabric and collage it into the piece, finally machine and hand stitched embellishments finish the scene.

I am constantly striving for a new personal challenge and so am working through a variety of different subject matter and themes. I have recently completed a Gentleman Jack series celebrating all things Shibden and Ann Lister, following the fantastically successful Sally Wainright series.

If you want to follow my recent work then please look on Facebook (follow the link).

Sewing for the soul

People are rummaging, stroking piles of fabric, grouping threads into delicious colour palettes…. what’s going on?

Anne explains a project you might like to join in with below!

#sew4thesoulhannemade started in January 2020 after I decided I would like to sit and stitch, just for the joy of stitching at the end of each week, instead of having to ‘make’ something all of the time.

So hunting through my stash I selected a colourway and collected together fabric and thread and made a start on putting a project together. I know how others love a project so began sharing my piece via my Instagram page and inviting people to join in. The original plan was to have a task each month to work on.
January – Gather your stash and the straight stitch. February – Suffolk puffs. March – Adding knots (French, bullion, pistil and colonial).

However, with the current situation, more people have been joining in and sharing some beautiful work. So I have moved tasks to every 2 weeks to keep everyone going. It is very addictive and enjoyable losing yourself in the colours, fabric and techniques. I am not sure it will last the whole year as I am running out of fabric on my strip but I will continue to post ideas that can be explored and played with. There is now a growing community on Instagram if you follow #sew4thrsoulhannemade you will see the beautiful work that is evolving week on week.

To support the project I also ventured onto YouTube and have begun uploading a video with each task along with other projects I have been doing.
If you would like to join in please do so. You can do as little or as much as you wish, but I warn you it is hard to put down once you get going.
There is a link to my channel on my and you can keep up to date on Instagram hannemadebyanne

Happy stitching xxxx

Cancellation of meetings and workshops

Dear Everyone, I am sure you will understand the decision to cancel meetings in the light of Coronavirus. Until further notice, all guild meetings, play days and workshops are cancelled.

In the meanwhile, best wishes to all our members and followers and here’s hoping you stay well and find joy in your creative activities over the next few months. Perhaps there will be enough extra work made to host extraordinary exhibitions at the end of this long trial? 😊

Sew what?

At our meeting on Friday, we all brought our current sewing projects and told the group what we were making. There were a lot of comments afterwards saying how nice it was to listen to each other and find out a bit more. In a large group like ours, it’s easy to miss some of the huge variety of work. So without further ado here is our gallery!

Jane – #sew4thesoul work
Anne – visit her YouTube site at #sew4thesoul
Natalie – #sew4thesoul work
Rhona – bird based on Nancy Nicholson
Jacquie – bluebell wood
Margaret – felted landscape
Maureen – lichen
Sue – family wedding book
Wendy – Nicola Jarvis bird
Jeanette – work inspired by vintage costume detail
Wyn – fabric book
Catherine – red work
Davina – #sew4thesoul work
Margaret – work for Wyn’s felt jug kit
Abigail – Finishing a found vintage tablecloth, and little brooches
Dulcie – toolkit holder
Sharon – Crochet shawl
Sue – cross stitch
Rachael – stitching sky
Janet – needlecase

Our next meeting is on Friday April 3rd. If you would like to visit, please contact us via the tab at the top.

Dionne Swift

We welcomed Dionne as our guest speaker last night. Dionne is a textile artist exploring drawing and mark making through her observations of the world. She uses energetic free machine embroidery to realise many of her creative intentions – she enjoys painting and drawing with thread and stitch.

Sketchbook pages

Dionne started by telling us about her family history in textiles. Her grandma smocked dresses and her practical approach to dressmaking meant that a dress that fitted Dionne at aged 4 could be fitted at aged 16 with the letting down of a pleated seam and some extra material around the waist. Unfortunately her grandma was less interested in aesthetics so the colours of these additions often played no part in how something looked!

At aged 11, she was allowed to use a treadle machine, which she believes was the start of her interest in sewing and the nature of stitch. This was eventually donated abroad to support women in areas without electricity.

Dionne graduated from Goldsmiths college. Her final piece was a large paper-based panel inspired by buildings. Her tutor’s instructions were nothing more than ‘find a desk and get on with it’. Whilst somewhat bewildering at the time, Dionne believes this has formed the core of her creative approach ever since.

Following this, she completed an MA and moved to West Yorkshire where she found herself captured (sometimes literally) by the weather! The change in geography and weather patterns was a stark contrast to the midlands. Dionne says that even when working in other countries, her interest in the landscape lessens when the geography is flat, as the hills and geological nature of the land is so central to providing the life, movement and energy of stitch across a design. I think our Yorkshire landscape isn’t very far away from much of the group’s own work and inspiration. Living here, you can see a hill or view from even the most built-up places which is a constant delight.

Work based on Holme Moss

Dionne, then told us of her work with Devore and the scarves and later wall-hangings which formed the core of her international business at the time, winning several awards.

An Arts Council grant allowed her to reassess her work as an artist versus business-woman. ‘New Grounds’ explored small defects and faults around her which she describes as ‘lost areas’. These observations were taken into collography, and the cracks became a visual metaphor for a situation she found herself in.

Dionne described wonderfully the difference between working with larger, harder, almost ‘cutting’ organdie and smaller softer, protecting felt pieces.

A move to her own studio space found her back with that one instruction ’find a desk and get on with it’. Faced with a literally empty studio, she sat down and drew. Hills… moors…stone walls…

Dry stone wall sketch
Stitched wall

Dionne became supported by Janome and uses a fast machine to produce her pieces containing different types and blocks of stitch, and her irregular built surfaces. The uneven edges of her recent work are formed by changes in tension and the push and pull of machining.

Dionne works and teaches in Italy as well as here, and in the Janome centre in Stockport. Whilst in Italy, she has been making 50 pieces of work to celebrate turning 50, and in Morocco she has found a new, vibrant colour palette; her pieces once again returning to buildings.

Finally, we were treated to a few close-ups of her newest work exploring light on thread, but that’s our little secret!

Sad news

It is with great sadness that we would like to let you that Catherine Davies passed away last Sunday morning. She had been battling illness for some time and had been admitted to hospice on New Years Eve. Her funeral is on 21st January at 3.15pm at the Huddersfield Crematorium. then afterwards at the Roundhill Inn in Rastrick.

Catherine a talented stitcher and a brave and lovely lady.

And it is also with a very sad heart that we report to you of the passing of our much loved friend and former Chairperson Linda Saltmarshe. Linda was an inspiration to us all. Despite suffering for years with a thoroughly debilitating illness. She was a gifted artist and embroiderer who produced inspirational work. Whilst she was Chairperson at Halifax branch she led us on our textile journeys by encouraging us to take part in “in house” and branch challenges. A lovely kind lady who will be missed by us all in Halifax and throughout the textile world”.