Richard Box talk

Showing Richard’s combination of painterly techniques with stitch and beading.

We had a very entertaining afternoon with Richard Box for our September meeting. Richard has inspired many hundreds of people with his combination of drawing, painting and textile art including hand and machine stitching. Richard was a funny and witty speaker, who held our interest all afternoon. As well as learning some useful tips, we also had a good day out.

More painterly techniques translated into stitch – you can see an impressionist influence in this one.

Richard told us some amusing anecdotes about his life and his art, and there was lots of laughter during his talk. His first experience of making something in fabric was a Cope for his Church of England father – but he admitted that his father ‘wouldn’t be seen dead in it’. Richard studied painting at art college, but counts himself very lucky to have been taught by Constance Howard, which really awakened his interest in textile art. His painting background can be seen in his work, for example his ability to really observe what is in front of him, and confidence in colour mixing. He spoke about doing art with children with special needs, and the spontaneity that they had to their art, and how he wants to try to help adults to have the same joy in creating things.

Rumour has it that this lovely puss was bought be a member because of the resemblance to her own cat!

Richard is well known for helping people to overcome their inhibitions about drawing and painting, and encouraging embroiderers to use their own observations and art work to make original designs (think ‘Drawing for the Terrified applied to stitch). He talked us through his own artistic process, starting either from real-life observations or from a photograph. He finds that drawing and painting the subject first is essential, as it helps him to ‘understand’ what he is looking at. Having done a painting of his subject, he then simplifies it into basic colour areas, and sketches or draws the main ‘blocks’ of colour which he then applies in pieces of fabric onto a hessian backing. More layers are added, machine stitching is added, and finally hand-stitching and sometimes beading. The photos below show his process, broken down into stages. Thank you Richard for agreeing that we could share these images on our website, and for an interesting and entertaining afternoon, and thank you Gay for organising the afternoon.

Initial bold areas of colour applied with pieces of fabric
More detail added to coloured areas with smaller pieces of fabric
More fabrics and background threads applied
First stitching on the sewing machine. Richard spoke about the importance of ‘blending’ colour from one area into another
Some initial bold hand-stitching
The finished piece, with more hand-stitching details added

Summer Meeting

Our August meeting was a very successful afternoon in the lovely environment of Findon Village Hall. We had plenty of space to socially distance, and with windows and doors open and the sun shining in we had a chance together once again just like old times. It feels like a very positive time in the group: longstanding members are ‘re-connecting’ and at the same time, new members are joining. We took this chance to look back at some of the work that members have been creating during lockdown, and everyone enjoyed the pop-up display of work. If you scroll down, you will see some photos of the individual work that members exhibited on the day. Apologies if I missed yours, but do feel free to send me a photo to add. If I haven’t named your work, or if you know who made one of the un-named ones, please pop a message in the ‘Comments’ box at the end of this post. And here are a few photos of people chatting and enjoying the afternoon.

Linda Hoddy

Betty Byford
Sue Parkinson

Annette Ragless?
Gay Hibbs
Brenda Forrester
Sally Mitchell

Sue Parkinson
Lea Dishott

August meeting Tues 10th August

Our next Meeting on Tuesday August 10th is at Findon Village Hall, High Street, Findon BN14 0TA .
We’re holding our August meeting from 2pm until 4pm in Findon Village Hall, where hopefully we will be able to sit outside if the weather permits! If inside, there is ample space and we will ensure surfaces are wiped down and sanitisers are available. This is a ‘Sit & Sew’ afternoon with tea and cake on offer and a chance to catch up with all those people we haven’t seen for so long. Do bring your own cup/mug if you prefer. We would encourage you to bring along anything worked on during lockdown to that we can have a wonderful display of your work. It would be helpful if you had a small name card to accompany your work.

Garden Sale

They say that buses come in threes – well today the news posts from the website will come as three. Your Webmistress is finally having a catch-up! So here are some photos from the wonderfully successful garden sale that was held Jane Baskerville’s garden. This was another opportunity to get together and chat, drink tea and eat cake – and it was also a very successful fund-raiser for the group. Members came ready to shop, and shop they did! As well as Linda’s bric-a-brac, we also had a lovely collection of textile books that was given to Jane B, donated fabrics, and the delicious print-blocks that were donated by Jamie Mason of Colouricious. We will keep a generous collection of the print blocks for members to use in workshops, but there are so many (literally hundreds!) which means we are selling some as fund-raisers (take a look at the Sales page on the website if you’re interested in the box sets of print-blocks). As well as raising £413.50 for the group during the afternoon, we also raised £37 for the NHS from the teas and coffees. Here are some photos of us all in Jane B’s beautiful garden.

Real people!

The sun shone, and we finally managed to meet up in person for our July meeting. How lovely to see ‘real’ people rather than rectangular people on a computer screen, and how lovely to see those members again who haven’t been joining us on Zoom. Our July meeting took place as an outdoor ‘socially distanced’ picnic. Many thanks to Sue P for organising the day, and for organising the wind to drop and the sun to shine! No more words, just lots of lovely photos.

Bags, Boxes and Books

At our June meeting one of our members, Sue Bush, inspired us all with her amazing collection of Bags, Boxes & Books. Sue talked us through the many techniques used in her work including beading, felting, weaving, patchwork, embroidery and canvas work. Sue is a prolific stitcher and we greatly enjoyed her talk (comments above from Sue P, thank you).
(Note from webmistress: Sue made us promise not to call her talk ‘Bag-lady’, tempting though it was!)


Every once in a while, something happens that makes you feel really good. It is especially heartening when that something good has grown out of something not-so-good.

You may have heard that Colouricious, the company who sold Indian print blocks and did print block workshops, sadly went into liquidation.  The owner, Jamie, recently advertised on FB that she wanted to give away her teaching materials to people or groups that could make good use of them. She is re-training as an art therapist and plans to volunteer at an orphanage in Costa Rica. Rather than sell off her print blocks, she wanted to give them away, ‘to spread some happiness around’. How nice is that! I contacted her and explained that we are starting a new group having lost all our funds to the Embroiderers Guild, and she thought we would be good recipients for some of her things. My husband and I drove up to meet her in London, and Jamie stuffed our car to the roof with lovely goodies.

I took the most child-friendly craft materials and haberdashery to The Treasure Basket Association, a local Worthing charity who provide play therapy. They also send out craft ‘treasure baskets’ for children who don’t have much to do at home in the holidays, and run craft clubs for children. This is a great charity that I would love us to support in the future in some way if we can.

That leaves a lovely stash of goodies for Southdowns Creative Stitchers. Jane Baskerville is now storing lots of things in her garage on our behalf, which can be used by any of our groups or workshops. This includes fabric paints and other textile and mixed media products, sponges, drop-cloths, Angelina fibres, coloured transfer foil and all sorts of other scrumptious things – too many to list here, but they will be available for you to play with if you come to our groups and workshops.

There is an amazing collection of print blocks. We plan to keep about 4 or 5 trays of assorted designs for use by SCS members, and we will sell others to raise funds (I did check that Jamie is OK with us selling some). Some are lightly used, but they are in good usable condition. We will be selling those individually with prices ranging from £3 to £15 based on their size or complexity. There are also some beautiful brand-new boxed sets of print blocks which we will sell as full sets. We are offering them to members first, after which we will advertise them on ebay at full price. There is a new ‘sales’ page on this wesbsite, where you can see photos of the box sets and prices. If you would like to buy anything, contact Jane Robinson directly if you have my email address already, or send a message via this page.

There are also lots of other items from Colouricious that we will offer for sale to members. These include fabrics, haberdashery items, paper patterns, patchwork and quilting patterns, threads etc. We plan to hold a ‘garden sale’ for members. It will be at fairly short notice, so that we can catch a good weather forecast. Members will get an email a few days in advance. We will ask people to say what time they’re coming, so that we don’t have more than 6 people in the garden at once and we can socially distance. If you’re not comfortable with mingling in a group yet, you are welcome to come over and look at the things on your own – I can bring them out to the garden for you to have a good rummage (East Worthing, near the hospital). If you’re not venturing out at all yet but are interested in a particular kind of print block from the list below, get in touch (via a message at the bottom of this post) and you can choose from  photographs. They can be posted, or if you are in Worthing  I may be able to drop them off to you if I’m passing.

Individual print blocks – too many to list in detail!

Elephants, Paisleys, Spirals, Birds, Plants, Flowers, South American designs, Tiles, Circles and squares, Indian designs, Geometric, South American designs, Tiles, Angels, Christmas trees, Snowflakes, Nativity Scenes, Hearts, Scripts.

Eco-printing and eco-dyeing

Caroline Nixon, Textile Artist and Eco-dyer











We had a wonderful introduction to the magical and mysterious processes of eco-dyeing for our April Zoom meeting. Caroline Nixon, textile artist, told us about the art of producing plant-based images on fabric through the process of layering, binding and steaming.

Caroline spoke about the benefits of using natural processes, including the rich, subtle, harmonious colours and images that are produced; enjoying the element of surprise: preserving traditional arts: and the fact that it is so much better for the environment than using chemicals.

Surprisingly, the colour of the plant is no indication of how well it will dye or how long-lasting the dye will be. Caroline told us about the mordanting process that can make some plant dyes long-lasting by binding the colour to the fibre. One useful tip for plant variety; once you have exhausted your garden and if you don’t have easy access to the countryside, you can ask your local florist for the leaves that they have discarded in their bins!

We also heard about shibori, the art of producing patterns in dyed fabrics through tying, stitching or clamping the fabric to create areas that resist the dye. Indigo is a wonderful plant dye to use with this technique. (As an aside, the photo above was taken in India when my sister-in-law and I had an indigo-dyeing lesson. In a wonderful wardrobe malfunction, my sister-in-law turned up in white trousers. However, she did manage to end the day with the trousers still pristine white – what an achievement!). After Caroline’s talk, several of us were saying that it would be great to have an indigo-dyeing day when we can do some tie-dye/shibori – an idea for the future. It needs to be taught by someone who knows what they are doing, as there is quite an art to having the indigo vat ‘live’.

There are so many things that can be done with eco-dyed fabric. Caroline showed us images of her work where she has dyed, printed, over-dyed, stitched and quilted. The resulting cloth can be used for so many things – clothing, furnishings, or just to enjoy as a work of art.

One of the ‘Travelling Scrapbooks’ going round the group at the moment is Lindsey’s book on ‘Rust’. This has inspired some of us to have a go at rust dyeing. It would be lovely to have a day being shown how to do this properly, but it was fun to start with some experiments. Here are a few things that have been put in the book so far.

Sue Bush, rusty nails and hinges on calico
Linda Hoddy, rust on paper
Jane Robinson, rusty nails and found objects on paper

Recommended books:

Jenny Dean: ‘Wild Colour’.

Alice Fox: ’Natural Processes in Textile Art: From Rust Dyeing to Found Objects’.

Caroline Nixon’s website:




Sue Bush, Rust. Inspired by work for one of the Travelling Scrapbooks.













Welcome to the new website for ‘Southdowns Creative Stitchers’. We are really excited that the new group has been established, and you will be hearing from our Chair and Membership Secretary very soon with more information. We are very pleased to have got this far.

None of us expected the Embroiderers Guild to pull the plug on local branches so suddenly, especially during lockdown. We decided to approach it as an opportunity. Starting up a new group whilst ‘keeping the show on the road’ has been…well, let’s just say: ‘interesting’. It’s a bit like keeping the car driving along the motorway whilst some people replace the engine, some people change the wheels, and others operate the accelerator, brakes, clutch etc. At the same time, Rose (Chair) and Sue (Secretary) have managed to keep their hands on the steering wheel and their eyes on the road. Somehow, miraculously, we have managed not to career into a ditch!

After a month or so with our heads buried in legal matters, constitutions, finance, planning etc, we are now a fully constituted, officially existing new group. If you are interested in our new legal status, we opted to become an ‘Unincorporated Association’. This means we are answerable to our members and our constitution and no-one else. If you would like to read our new constitution it will be sent out, and will be put on the website soon.

Members of the former WTEG will be hearing from Rose our Chair soon with more information about what we have got planned, and from Betty our membership secretary about how to join.

We plan to keep our roots firmly in the traditions that have served us well for over 40 years. Don’t worry, we won’t be throwing the baby out with the bathwater! Having said that, alongside our traditional activities we also plan to introduce a new sub-group with a focus on contemporary textile art and mixed media. We feel that one of our strengths is the diversity of interests across the group, and we plan to build on that.

We’re looking forward to welcoming back old friends well as new members.