Embroidered hearts

Thank you to Pam for helping people to make embroidered hearts during our February sit-and-sew. Felt, threads and beads were provided by the committee, and anyone who wanted to join in could use Pam’s template to make a heart to their own design. There were some lovely works in progress.

The hand-stitch table was introduced in sit-and-sew sessions from the December meeting. This followed feedback from several people who had said that they weren’t sure what to work on for the afternoon sessions, including people who are beginners or feel a bit ‘rusty’ on their stitching, and also experienced people who appreciate a new idea to work on. We plan to have something similar at other sit-and-sew sessions. We would welcome ideas for subjects that would be suitable to do in an afternoon session and that don’t require much in the way of materials or preparation. If you would be willing to help beginners in this informal setting, please let a committee member know. Encouraging each other is what SCS is all about.

We were amazed by the stitched 3D pheasant that Gay made in the Mixed Media group. Caroline, Maria and Jane B led a couple of sessions making 3D creatures, and it’s interesting to see what different directions people took the project in. I hope Gay will forgive me for putting a couple of photos here. He is too magnificent not to be shown!

Viviane Proyer

Members will have read the testimonial to Viviane in the recent newsletter, written by her good friend Linda Hoddy, and a previous news post on this website which included Viviane’s own description of her textile journey. The committee would also like to acknowledge the important contribution that Viviane made to the development of our group. Today, the day of her funeral, seems a good day to share this.

Viviane was a long-standing member of our group, and had a great influence on our history. The photo in the previous news post shows Viviane with other friends and colleagues who have also made great contributions to our group (left to right: Anne Turner, Viv Scrase, Linda Hoddy, Elaine Blaney and Viviane).

Viviane joined the group many years ago and she became a committee member, then Chairman. She was also our local ‘President’ of the Embroiderers Guild for many years. Viviane was very influential in setting up the Embroiderers Guild Regional Committee, which acted as a communication channel between different groups across our area and organised regional activities. The former ‘Region’ is still going strong (as Stitch Together) and organises things like online courses and summer-schools, so Viviane’s influence extended beyond the end of the Embroiderers Guild. Viviane was always a passionate advocate for the EG, and always encouraged members to think about the positive things that the EG did, for example in preserving the textile collection. At our meeting in November 2018, she gave a talk to members on the history of the Embroiderers Guild, describing the origins of the national organisation and the local branches. Viviane was very disappointed when the national Embroiderers Guild and the local branches ‘parted company’, as she had always believed that the national guild and the local branches were good allies. Despite this, she stayed involved and enthusiastic when we re-formed as the new SCS group.

In 1998 Viviane was asked to stitch a new pennent for the Worthing Mayoral car and in 1999 she was asked to stitch a new flag for the car, both of which she did on behalf of the Embroiderers Guild. The photos here show the Mayor thanking Viviane for her work, a newspaper article, and the pennant.

Viviane organised and oversaw the creation of the Worthing Hospital embroidered panel, which I believe can still be seen in the hospital today. The collaboration and camaraderie that was created by making the panel turned into a long-term group, which became the Thursday workshop which is still going strong. We are hoping that Cobi can share details with the group of how it was designed and made.

Viviane was an accomplished embroiderer, who combined traditional skills with more contemporary approaches. It would be nice to show some of her work here, so if anyone has any photos they could send us that would be much appreciated.

Grandmother’s kitchen

Members will have heard by now about the sad loss of Viviane Proyer, a long-term member of our group and good friend to many. There is a tribute to Viviane in our newsletter for members. In addition, we would like to share some words here that were written by Viviane herself, describing her journey into embroidery. Viviane is pictured here during our 40th anniversary celebrations, with others who have also all had an influence on our group. Left to right: Anne Turner, Viv Scrase, Linda Hoddy, Eileen Blaney, with Viviane on the right.


Godmothers Kitchen and Making do and Mending

I was born in Switzerland and lived there until I was 19, so my upbringing was in that country and it was there that my early experiences of stitching and knitting took place.

I was brought up with my maternal grandmother who had a great influence on my use of the needle.  She had seven children and with a growing number of grandchildren she was deft at making something out of “nothing”.  She was always making little presents for us all with remnants, embellishing the various items with crochet and embroidery. Perhaps this was the beginning of my love of “remnants”, always looking in the tubs, the fabric shops, always finding something that can be used later.

During the war the Government issued wool packs to be distributed to schools and organisations asking for socks to be knitted for soldiers in the Army. As a very young girl I knitted a pair with my aunts help.  This was good training for later in my married life as my husband loved hand knitted socks.  I somehow enjoyed doing the heel best as this took away the boredom of the straight bit!

At school we were taught to “mend” all manner of things.  So, we mended, neatly patching and adding new pieces to sheets, shirts etc. and sometimes using the tail of a shirt to make a new collar.  We learned to do all manner of seams, plain seam, French seam. felled seam.  Mending was an art in itself.

Whilst we stitched in class, we had a practice of someone reading a book out loud, taking turns.  Usually a pupil, well advanced in her work, would have the privilege to read in class.  I enjoyed both stitching and reading and often found myself sitting on a desk, perched above the others, reading away.  Wonderful!

It was the practice in Switzerland for every girl to prepare her “trousseau”.  A list was made of the required items.  There was a standard list, all made in good cotton or linen, whatever you could afford.  Specialist firms existed producing such quality fabrics.  Once bought, all the pieces were initialled with embroidery and sometimes embroidered with very intricate patterns. These items were to last a lifetime.

As I grew older, we used to spend the winters evenings in my Godmothers kitchen cosy with the warmth of the Aga, a big lamp on the round table and there we would stitch, making tablecloths for the local fete.  It was heaven.  We chatted away, sometimes listening to the radio – a play or a concert.  These were really lovely and peaceful evenings – and no television.

Then I married, had children and my husband (very wise person) bought me my first sewing machine, my very own…and all the skills learned in my childhood had to be put to the test.  Money was short and I remembered my grandmother making do, using old to make new.  I became very inventive, trying all kinds of mix and match…decorating dull little dresses, learning to smock, knitting intricate patterns for boy’s jumpers.  All had to be different.  But I never knitted stockings for my daughter.  I had this awful memory of the scratchy wool used for one pair of stockings my mother made me.  Horrid.

I always was grateful for the early teaching I received.  I know I was then good at it and enjoyed it, but it was even better when later on, much later on, when I retired, to be able to throw the boundaries to the wind and be really creative.  And the discovery of the Embroiderers Guild opened an entirely new vista.

Another article written by Viviane

I have always been able to stitch, but it was mostly for practical purposes. I consider myself a late developer as I got into the creative side of stitching when I retired. I met Ken DeDenne whose sister was a doyenne of the Embroiderers Guild and he encouraged me to take a City and Guilds course in Harrow.  I did two years then we moved to Sussex, and I continued in Fareham.  I never looked back.

I took a year’s course with Jane Lemon “Ecclesiastic Embroidery” which was wonderful and has been very useful when asked to do some throws and stoles for the Chapel in the newly built hospital in Worthing. I am an all-rounder, being interested in all kinds of embroidery and like working with paper too. I love attending courses to give more variety in my creativity. Basically, I enjoy all manner of Textile orientated creative work.  I also enjoy passing on to others my knowledge and promote all textile activities.


This is a prayer sent to the Scene South East Regional magazine by Viviane in May 2020. Very appropriate now.









RIP Viviane.