One of the questions we get asked the most is 'how do I choose a sewing machine?' We don't profess to be experts on this - we have very old and very nice sewing machines which we use and which do just what we want (most of the time!), but they're not high tech and weren't the result of a lot of research. There's a quote from Poppy in our little film for the Eden project where she says 'you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find a good one' and that is certainly true of the way we work, our machines have come from car boots, the dump, charity shops and the odd sewing machine shop (oh yes and ebay), quite often chosen because they’re pretty, about 13 of them at the last count! We use old Singer machines which are really very simple but you can also do the technique on many different machines that will be far easier and do much more than our Singers. Your best bet to start with is your local sewing shop as they will have a wealth of experience on the subject, although be clear on your budget before you go in and don’t let yourself be seduced by the array of possibilities! It’s a good idea to write a list of what you want the machine to do first and then you’’ll know whether those extra features are of value to you or not. Experience says you should look for a machine that is metal rather than plastic and quite heavy and sturdy. Our machines have a little screw on the undercarriage which allows you to drop the feed dogs and then we hold our fabric stretched tight in an embroidery hoop but if you can’t find one which does this then you can purchase a metal plate that covers the teeth whilst you're sewing, or, we’re told, that it works if you set the stitch length to zero, though we haven’t tried this so can’t vouch for certain. We don’t use an embroidery foot when we’re stitching but again this is something you may have to experiment with for yourself, kissing frogs again! Once you have your sewing machine you’ll find most bunching up and bobbin snarling issues are down to tension of the cloth, the machine and you! So you just need to play with it, and relax, till you get it right. If you attend one of our courses Poppy gives plenty of advice on sorting out annoying snarl ups or there are also 2 books from Poppy packed with advice alongside the projects for you to complete. Good luck!
Hello, it’s Sarah. I have been working in the Poppy Treffry shop in St. Ives for nearly 2 months now and I thought it was about time I tried out some of this freehand machine embroidery! I attended one of Poppy’s courses last Friday and had such a great time. I am used to a sewing machine so that was a bonus but there were a few on the course that hadn’t even sewn before and everyone still completed their piece by the end of the day. Poppy was really friendly and helpful and explained everything in a simple step by step way so that it wasn’t too taxing! The course took place at the studio at Penzance, it was nice to see the environment that all the products are made in. It was a sunny day and Poppy had the doors flung open to let the summer sunshine & breezes flood in. It is such a lovely place to make and create, I’m very jealous as I would love a studio for making and crafting; I’ll have to put up with the tiny spare room office at home for now!the stichers at work
So the day started off with a meet and greet with Poppy and my fellow stitchers for the day. Of course there was immediately a cup of tea served in Poppy Treffry mugs. I had the boat one! Poppy demonstrated how to stretch the fabric tightly in the embroidery hoop, this is the basis of freehand embroidery and is very important as it doesn’t work properly if your fabric is too loose. Once this was done we could start having a go at sewing. We each had a singer sewing machine and sat down to start stitching away. The first hour or two was spent having a play and getting to know the techniques and getting used to the machine with a few Poppy demonstrations for appliqué in between. I seemed to stitch variations of flowers and leaves, so it was clear that this would feature in my final design. I had quite a scribbly style which was handy as if it didn’t go quite inside the lines, I could say I was meant to do that! Others were more precise and neat; the lady next to me was a teacher and she was amazing at freehand embroidery writing. It was good as everyone had a unique style! When we got to a point that we were happy, we could start thinking about the design we wanted to create in the afternoon. Once it got to 1 o clock it was time for lunch so we walked across the road to the beautiful Trereife House where we all had lunch together in their café and a little walk round the garden. The food was lovely and it was the first time I had tried potted stilton and frosted grape - find something similar heremy design laid out ready to stitch
After lunch and some sunshine it was back to the studio to get started on our pieces. You can either make a bag, cushion, tea cosy, egg cosy or a purse. I chose a cushion with of course a floral design. I sketched out what I wanted it to look like on paper and selected and cut out my appliqué pieces, took a deep breath and made a start. At first I thought it was going to take forever but as you get going you get quicker and before I knew it, it was 3 o clock and time for more tea and biscuits. Then it was just some finishing off, some ironing and then to actually sew the cushion and, tadah, it was complete! We put everyone’s creations together on the sofa and stood back to admire with a sigh and a sense of achievement. We even got a little goody bag to take home with us.Our finished pieces or art! Cue smug faces!
I was so pleased with what I had produced in a day, I met a lot of nice people and it was great to work with Poppy in her inspiring studio. Now I can tell everyone that comes into the shop how amazing the course is and that everyone should have a go at freehand embroidery as it really is very fun, and quite addictive!My lovely cushion in it's new home!