News Archive

Welcome to the Edinburgh Branch of the Embroiderers Guild.

March 2017

Our speaker this month was Georgina Ripley, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Fashion and Textile at the National Museums Scotland.


Many of us have visited and enjoyed the new galleries at the modernised National Museum so it was fascinating to be given an insight into the rationale behind the exhibits and the practicalities involved.


Georgina's particular areas of responsibility are Fashion and textiles post-1900, and the development of the contemporary fashion collections and she was able to give us an enormous amount of information about the 'behind the scenes' work that goes in to choosing the exhibits that will be displayed, the conservation work needed to prepare the items and the practicalities of choosing the correct mannequins and methods of display.


Beautiful slides highlighted some of the items in the gallery as well as a number that didn't make it this time around. It is a joy to know that the gallery displays will be updated regularly, with our new insights this will keep us going back I'm sure.




February 2017

We started the New Year with an afternoon meeting where we were joined by contemporary textile artist Liza Green.

It is so interesting to here about an artist's practice, the processes they use and the techniques chosen to realise their final outcomes. Liza generously shared so many details about how she works and gave us a fascinating insight into how her initial interest is sparked, her subsequent research and how she decides to interpret her ideas.

Liza illustrated her talk with a number of slides as well as a variety of finished items that allowed us to see her work up close.

You can see many examples of Liza's varied work on her website by clicking here.


Liza is a member of Edge Textile Artists Scotland.


As usual our December meeting took the form of a social evening giving members the opportunity to catch up or get to know each other whilst enjoying refreshments and some fun activities.

As well as a fiendishly difficult Christmas themed quiz we went back to childhood memories of making paper hats from newspapers but using Christmas paper and baubles!

Everyone threw themselves whole heartedly into this activity and I think they were inspired by our November speaker Sally-Ann Provan as design skills were clearly on show in the wonderful hats created.


One speaker tonight was Sally-Ann Provan who is a milliner and hat maker. She creates bespoke hats, headpieces , handbags, bridal millinery and has had her hats worn at Royal Ascot, Henley Royal Regatta, investitures and also on stage and screen. She works with the Scottish Opera and Scottish Ballet and also teaches Fashion and Costume degree courses at Edinburgh College of Art.

Sally-Ann was an enthusiastic and enlightening speaker. Her slides showed many of the headpieces which she had made and exhibited internationally . She brought a selection of beautifully crafted hats with her and happily answered our many questions. It was a pleasure to meet and listen to someone who is so creative and skilled and who was also generous in sharing her talent and techniques with us.


Sally-Ann very generously allowed us to photograph the hats that she brought along and to share the images here.


Please have a look at Sally-Ann's website here where you will find many more wonderful examples of her work.


We hold our AGM in October each year and usual combine this with a speaker. This year we decided to experiment with a new format that allowed us to give more focus to our agenda and offer members the opportunity to have a good look at the many projects that are currently being undertaken by members.

We set up stations so that 4 of our regular members could show and/or demonstrate work they produce in their chosen techniques:

Anne showed her beautiful lace work

Her display included her work station set up with a very intricate piece of bobbin lace in progress, the pattern she works from and some completed projects and pictures.

Deborah brought along a lovely kantha work sample

Workshops based on Kantha work and Indian motifs are always popular with our branch members but those shisha mirrors can be very tricky to master!

Margo created a lovely display of beaded accessories

There were birds, flowers, cakes and jewellery of all sorts with such intricacy in even the smallest patterns.

Marysia showed embellishments made in Fimo clay

She also displayed some mixed media pictures that incorporated some of these embellishments.

We also got to see Marysia's prize winning cushion that won The Madeira Threads Perpetual Trophy at the Royal Highland Show 2016.

As well as the demonstrations we had displays of work produced during the workshops held last session; a selection of pieces from our branch archive; a display of entries for the Chairman's Challenge; most of the Travelling Books being completed and some work produced by Edinburgh Young Embroiderers.

The new format seems to have been a success, it was certainly a very sociable evening and a great opportunity to see and talk about each others work and projects.

* Apologies for the shadows on many photographs due to the bright lighting in the hall *

New Session 2016/2017


Our first speaker of this new session was Helen McCook who talked to us about her time as an apprentice with the Royal School of Needlework as well as her extensive career since then.

Helen guided us through the history of the RSN from its founding in 1872 by Lady Victoria Welby right to the present day. It was fascinating to learn that the RSN was set up not only to revive the art of embroidery but also to provide work for educated ladies who might otherwise live in poverty, ladies who required a reference from a clergyman before being accepted into the school!

Royal patronage was granted to the school in 1875 and close links with the Royal family and special occasions continue to this day. We were shown beautiful images of ceremonial regalia and told about the symbolism incorporated into the designs.

As well as giving us a detailed history Helen sprinkled her talk with lots of interesting snippets about techniques, such as controlling the uniformity of french knots by using only 1 wrap and increasing the number of threads to increase size instead.

As well as her freelance work Helen has worked as Head of Textiles and Costume for Bonhams Auction House and Workshop/Production Manager for Hand & Lock with many prestigious clients. With an extensive list of workshops and lectures as well as working to commission this is one very busy lady!

Helen's passion and committment to hand embroidery is very clear and an inspiration. Do check out Helen's website where there is a beautiful gallery of her work and where you can find more details of her career.

Mola Embroidery from the San Blas Islands

Earlier this year Dorothy & Sheila had a wonderful trip to Panama where they visited the San Blas Islands. Many of us have read about the beautiful reverse applique panels called Molas that are made by the Kuna people of these islands so we really appreciated being able to see and handle these stunning examples that Dorothy & Sheila brought back with them.

The images below really don't do justice to the tiny, almost invisible stitching and the intricacy of the designs.


Our final speaker for this session was Joanna O'Neill whose talk entitled 'From There to Here ...... An accidental career' took us through a rich and varied range of textile art.

There's nothing embroiderers like more than to gather together to look at pieces of textile art and marvel at their beauty or ponder the techniques used. Joanna brought along such an array of work that several hours could have been spent just drooling over and discussing it.

Unfortunately we have no images of Joanna's stunning quilts, bags and embroideries for this website but do head over to her own website, where you will find many examples of her work.

It is always good to end on a high and Joanna certainly brought this session to a close leaving everyone buzzing and inspired.


Our speaker in May was Janet Rae whose talk entitled ' A Scottish Textile Story' gave us a fascinating insight into the history of textiles in Scotland. It was quite a tall order to cover such a rich and diverse heritage but Janet managed to take us through embroidery, turkey red dye, weaving, jute and so much more with beautiful illustrations throughout.



We were very grateful to Joanne Soroka for stepping in at short notice for our April meeting as our original speaker was unable to attend. Joanne gave a very interesting talk about the Dovecot Studios and her own history with weaving. We were also treated to a great variety of slides showing Joanne's own work and that of other artists.

Some of what we saw really challenged our view of what tapestry weaving is but demonstrated how contemporary artists push the boundaries and keep the art moving forward. It was sad to hear that many art schools no longer teach tapestry weaving as a skill, how important then that studios like the Dovecot exist to promote and keep the skill alive.


The images below are displayed with Joanne's kind permission.

It was a treat to see first hand these beautiful examples of both traditional and more contemporary tapestry weaving.


It was lovely to welcome Branch member Ali Ferguson to speak to us this month and to tell us all about her 'Stitching Stories'.

Ali is well known for her workshops at her studio 'The Purple Thread Shed' and it was a real treat to see the pieces that she had brought along and to hear the stories behind them.

Ali is inspired by the ordinary things and people around her, delving into their stories and representing them with mixed media incorporating everyday items. This may sound simplistic but that is far from the case, as Ali talked us through her working processes she demonstrated just how considered and thoughtful her work is.

Stitch is an integral part of all Ali's work but we were amazed by the way she combines stitch with haberdashery, wood and ironmongery producing beautiful and unusual cloth based works, wooden patchwork and driftwood pieces to name a few.

The images shown are just a few of the items Ali brought along to display and kindly allowed to be shown here, but do take a look at her website where you will find much more detail about her work and many more examples.

Details of Ali's workshops can also be found on her website.


The speaker for our February meeting was Ann Ford, a very fine exponent of Miniature Needlework.

Unphased by the technical glitches getting her slide show to play Ann told us all about the beautiful works of art she had brought along for us to see and about the work of The Miniature Needlework Society.

Members of The Miniature Needlework Society come from all over the world and work in embroidery, knitting, beading, crochet, tatting and lace making, in fact any type of work involving needle and thread! Seeing the examples that Ann had brought along really made us appreciate the work involved and the interests of the makers, there were smocked dresses, baby layettes, embroidered rugs and beaded period gowns to name a few. Ann also shared images of members work from around the world that had us in awe of the incredible detail achieved.


All images show work by members of the Miniature Needlework Society and are reproduced with kind permission from Ann Ford

New Year

This Winter was kind to us and on a sunny January day 33 members met at Charwood Restaurant for our members lunch. A lovely 2 course lunch was followed by a fascinating talk from Alison King entitled ' Where Minister is My Consolation'.


' Where Minister is My Consolation' is the title of a large mixed media piece of work inspired by a sermon preached by the Reverend James Black, a family ancestor, at the occasion of the unveiling of the monument to McCrea's Battalion in 1922. Alison was also inspired by the book 'McCrae's Battalion' by Jack Alexander and has woven quotations from this book with references to the Reverend Black's trench maps and photographs along with personal research to create a very poignant piece of work.


It was a great honour to hear the story of this work and a privilege to see Alison's sketch books and samples. This piece of work will be on display in Edinburgh later this year - details will be posted when available.


Our pre Christmas celebration evening began with the first exchange of our Textile Journey Books. What a beautiful display they made with a great variety of subject matter expressed in a number of different techniques. Everyone taking part was very excited to select their next book to work on during the Christmas break.

The fun packed evening continued with everyone making rice filled sock snowmen; an activity conducted with much hilarity and chatter that resulted in an array of snowmen!

After festive refreshments the evening was rounded off with a Beetle Drive and a raffle that sent everyone on their way in a party mood until we meet up again for our lunch outing in January.


Our November meeting was bustling with activity at the start as members collected their Textile Journey Books in order to take them away and complete their first pages. There was also the January lunch to sign up for - don't worry if you haven't signed up yet the list will still be open at our December meeting, don't forget your cheque book and to make your menu selections.


We were also delighted to welcome some new members and to see them join in with the Textile Journey Book project, we hope they will enjoy this and all the branch activites.

Our speaker for this evening was Fiona Wemyss from the Weymss School of Needlework.

The Weymss School of Needlework has a fascinating history starting in Weymss Castle and being passed down through the Weymss family. It was so interesting to learn about the people involved in the early days of the school and to see examples of the beautiful work produced, some of which had been brought along.

Not only is this a school offering a regular programme of classes (that can be found on their website), but it also functions as museum housing a collection of textiles and original design patterns all of which are being preserved and catalogued.

It was so interesting to learn about this dedicated team of people preserving such treasures for future generations and sharing skills of such a high standard, and a real treat to get to see such high quality examples close up.

NDS Skills Exchange Workshop (2)

The second Skills Exchange Workshop with students at Edinburgh College of Art took place over 3 consecutive Mondays in October. Once again a group of branch members and Thistle Quilters joined Lindy Richardson, Programme Director, Textiles, and a group of her students for a fascinating programme of activities.


Day 1 - We all met in the Edinburgh University library for a practical Conservation session. We were divided into small groups that included an embroiderer/quilter with 2-3 students; this gave us the opportunity to get to know each other whilst studying pieces in the collection and making stuffed mounts for the garments and embroideries.


Day 2 - We all reconveened at Edinburgh College of Art for a day led by the students. To start with we were taught the basics of computer aided design using Photoshop, we used photographs and sketches taken during day 1 to produce multi-layered designs for sublimation and transfer printing. For most of us this was an exciting new skill to learn and we were all fascinated by the process of heat transferring our designs onto synthetic fabrics.


The students' expertise really showed in their designs but their encouragement and support led to us all achieving a variety of prints to take through to the final day.

Day 3 - This final session was led by the embroiderers/quilters; the students we were working with had previously identified the particular skills they were interested in learning so we were each able to concentrate on a particular technique. Working in our groups we tackled fabric manipulation; quilting; basic embroidery stitches; insertion stitches/faggoting; crochet; felting and tassel making. The students were all very keen to learn and produced a variety of samples that they showed and talked about at a feedback session; they have also produced very interesting blogs to demonstrate the skills they have learned and that form part of their coursework.


During individual interviews we were asked about our paths into embroidery/quilting; how we felt about the skills exchange and what other techniques we would be interested in learning.............. Hopefully a sign of more opportunities to come.



NDS Skills Exchange Workshop (1)


On 17th & 18th June some members of the Guild together with members of Thistle Quilters, were involved in a skills exchange workshop with Lindy Richardson and students from Edinburgh College of Art.


On day 1 we were introduced to the history of the Needlework Development Scheme and told about the re-discovery of a collection of antique textile samples in the college basement. Lindy is now working to research, catalogue and conserve this collection as well as widening its use and exploring embroidery in the 21st century.


Samples are to be remounted onto boards with fabric supports that will allow the items to be viewed and studied with minimal handling; everyone enjoyed getting to know each other whilst stitching and it was interesting to learn about textile conservation techniques.

On the morning of day 2 the textile students took the lead teaching screen printing using screens made from samples in the collection. After a very busy but enjoyable morning we had an impressive selection of prints ready to use in the afternoon.

After lunch it was the turn of the embroiderers and quilters to share their skills as each group made small quilts or embroideries using the printed fabrics.



A Fun Filled Start


Our first meeting of the new session took place on Tuesday 1st September; it was lovely to catch up with old friends and to meet new ones as all the usual administration was dealt with.


Our Chairman Mary welcomed everyone back and encouraged us to sign up to take part in a travelling books project, one of our members has been part of such a project and explained what it entailed and displayed some lovely samples. Sign up has been good so far so watch this space for more details.


It was then time to introduce our speaker for the evening - Jane Campbell-Smith with her 'Flights of fancy'.


Jane talked to us about her journey as an embroiderer which has been coloured by an early encounter with an aggressive bantam hen! Jane has very successfully turned her hen phobia into a beautiful and quirky body of work illustrated by the many varied samples she brought with her. Jane chose hens as the subject for her City & Guilds and it was a treat to look through some of her sketch books filled with drawings, prints and stitched samples and to see some of her framed samples from this time. The continued development of her work could be clearly seen; there were a number of more traditional pieces with printed/painted hens, some embellished with stitching; a hen themed doll made on a workshop that even wears an apron printed with hens and a number of the fanciful 3 dimensional birds that have become Jane's signature work.

We were kept captivated by this lovely, witty lady and there was a great deal of laughter in the room as she described her work with titles such as 'Tiller Hens' and 'Mr Walker's Mocking Bird'; we were also very lucky to be the first to see a new piece of work, a hen complete with flashing eyes!

Having time to look closely at Jane's pieces was such a treat as everything is beautifully and skilfully made and there is a lot of detail to appreciate such as the basket made using free machine embroidery with hen motifs and the printed background in one picture that is made using an element from another piece of work.

Jane was very generous in allowing us to handle and photograph her work and very kindly agreed that images can be shared so do enjoy viewing the gallery below.


Summer Outing to Dumfries House

This year's summer outing took place on Monday 29th June with a trip to Dumfries House in East Ayreshire. A lovely lunch was followed by a guided tour of the 18th Century house with its stunning collection of original Cippendale furniture.


Thankfully the weather held out and after the tour there was plenty of time to explore the beautiful grounds; this made for a very relaxing end to a lovely day.

Tudor Talk and Costume Display by Julia Soares-McCormick

Our talk on Tuesday 2nd June proved to be a wonderfully entertaining and informative way to end our programme for this session. It was fascinating to learn about the construction of the beautiful costumes on display as well as their historical context and importance.

The images below show the traditional under garments and the costumes of Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth I, Mary, Queen of Scots and Julia's husband Mick in full Henry VIII costume.

Many more of Julia's costumes can be found on her website


Lunch with talk by nationally known quilter - Margaret Boe


This event was enjoyed by over 30 members. Margaret gave a lively talk about her life as a quilter and showed us many examples of her quilts, including her latest - a quilt to celebrate Burns' famous poem - 'Ode to a Haggis'


60th Anniversary Party

Our party to celebrate this special event was a great success. It was attended by over 50 members and many guests.

Members brought embroidered or stitched textile work from 7 decades - there were many comments along the lines of 'Do you remember....?' as people browsed this interesting collection.


Our guest speaker for the occasion was Andrew Crummy. He designed the Great Tapestry of Scotland on which many of our members stitched. He also designed the Prestonpans Tapestry and the Diaspora Tapestry, the latter about to be revealed and exhibited as part of the Year of Homecoming. Members were interested in his comments about the resurgence of interest in stitched art and community projects.


(The Diaspora Tapestry will be displayed in St Mary's Cathedral, Palmerston Place, in August at the same time as our own Branch Exhibition.)


Presentations were made by the CEO of the Embroiderers Guild, Terry Murphy. A certificate was presented to mark the 60 years of the EG in Edinburgh. Certificates were also presented to two members with long membership. Christine Cochrane has been a loyal member of the Edinburgh Branch for 45 years. Meriel Tilling has been a member of the Embroiderers' Guild for 61 years, teaching many of the current members as part of their City and Guilds courses. Many members received certificates and badges for 25 years' or 35 years' membership.


Two celebration cakes were cut by Christine and Meriel and enjoyed by members along with a glass of 'bubbly'.

An important part of the evening was catching up with friends old and new, and a good time was had by all!



Celebration Day with Maggie Grey

'Putting on the Glitz'


This excellent day was another highlight of the 60th Anniversary year.


Maggie Grey lectured in the morning, then a buffet lunch was enjoyed by all.

In the afternoon we were treated to a demonstration of some of Maggie's techniques.

There was even the opportunity for a bit of 'hands on' activity.

Add abundant coffee, tea, soft drinks and delicious home baking and you have a day to remember.

Thanks to all those who made it happen.








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