Embroidery has long been celebrated as a beautiful and intricate craft, capturing the imagination with its delicate threads and exquisite designs. Hand guided machine embroidery blends the precision of machine stitching with the spontaneity of artistic expression.
Free hand machine embroidery is a technique that allows artists to create dynamic and expressive designs using a sewing machine as a tool for drawing with thread. Unlike traditional embroidery, this technique involves manoeuvring the fabric freely under the needle while controlling the stitching speed and direction. The result is a fluid and spontaneous artwork that combines the precision of machine stitching with the organic nature of hand-drawn designs.
We recently brought our vintage Singer sewing machine back to life to experiment with the antique, coming up with new ways to use it that provides a different effect to machine embroidery.
Hand guided machine embroidery offers unparalleled opportunities for artistic expression and experimentation. With the freedom to move the fabric in any direction, we can create flowing lines, intricate shapes, and expressive textures, allowing our imagination to take flight.
We started by blending colours in various ways to create expressive surfaces that flow from one hue to another to see what could be achieved. These have a lot more natural feel than digital embroidery and can be used to suggest movement.
These inspired a fluid blue piece which we created with water in mind, using scraps of fabric and layering them with various stitch lengths in a range of blue yarns.
One of the unique aspects of free hand machine embroidery is the ability to merge different artistic mediums. By combining fabric, thread, and mixed media elements to add depth and richness to the art, which is what we did in these woven like samples. We used our vintage Irish Singer machine with various yarns and cords, manipulating them in different ways and couching them down with satin stitch to create these unique textures.
We particularly like this dramatic neon piece which wouldn’t look amiss in a high end sportswear campaign. For this we moulded some tubing by hand, using the singer to catch the piece in place to create this fantastic, futuristic looking sample.
The rhythmic motion of the sewing machine, coupled with the freedom of movement creates a mesmerizing and meditative process. As you guide the fabric under the needle, a sense of flow and harmony emerges, allowing you to immerse yourself in the creative journey and be present in the moment.
Free hand machine embroidery encourages you to embrace imperfections and the unexpected. Unlike precise digital designs or traditional embroidery patterns, this technique celebrates the beauty found in organic lines, quirky shapes, and unintentional variations. Each piece becomes a unique and authentic representation of your artistic voice, embodying the charm of the handmade.