Amanda’s memorable 3D Vessel Challenge

Message from Amanda who kindly set us the challenge

This year the challenge offers a reflective outlet in an incredible year dominated by Covid, lockdowns and all that has caused.  The idea is to create a 3D vessel that could hold or represent some treasures in your life.  The brief was loose so that it could play to everybody’s different strengths; embroidery, applique, free motion work, what ever inspires as a medium to express your feelings.

Ann K

I started by creating a piece of fabric with my embellishing/felting machine.  On top of a piece of felt I laid a variety of colours of silk and wool fibres and embellished/felted them on the machine.  I then cut out three elipse shapes, two of which I further embellished with a variety of hand stitches, using different types of thread and wool, together with some beads.  I used the third elipse for the bottom of the pouch with no embellishments.

Once the hand embellishment was finished I used bondaweb on a piece of silk to attach a lining on the inside of the pouch.  One edge of each of the two embellished elipses was finished with an overstitch and they were then attached to the bottom, again using an overstitch.  Some beading was applied to each corner and at the top to form a fastening.

The inspiration for this shape came from a similar shaped piece I bought at a local exhibition, which had been made by a friend of mine.  I think I will use it to keep some jewellery given to me by my husband, which has precious memories attached to it, especially as we celebrate our golden wedding anniversary in March 2021.  I think the celebration will just be the two of us rather than the party we had planned!

Ann K vessel challenge 1

Annie F

I chose to make a box because I thought I could!  I’ve never made a 3D thing before so having trawled through Pinterest searching for inspiration I thought I’d keep it simple.  Not that is was as simple as I’d hoped but l leant a lot about how not to go about doing it that’s for sure.
Having said that I really enjoyed the challenge and I’m pleased with the end result though I am not sure what I’m going to do with it!  I am actually planning to do another one to see if I can improve on the technique! Watch this space….
Annie F vessel challenge

I’ve just finished my second attempt at a 3D container and I’m quite pleased with it.  This one is a sort of folding purse with three pockets and grew out of  a piece of fabric stitched all over with a small running stitch in the manner of Kantha work.  The exercise has prompted an interest in Kantha work which I’ve always liked and I now have a book on the subject.

Annie F vessel challenge 3

Judy J

Here is my box for Amanda’s challenge.  I wanted it to be a “happy” box so chose bright colours. I used mounting card for the main construction which I covered with polyester fabric. I had already covered a lot of old buttons with brightly coloured silk so added these with circles of felt. It holds my sketch book along with small embroidered and beaded pieces done during lockdown. 

Lindsay S

A hand made box covered in fabric made from various textured hand embroidery yarns which have been secured to the backing fabric by covering with a fine net that blends with the yarn colour to render it almost invisible. This was then stitched through with wavy lines of machine stitching to create a solid piece of fabric.
The box appears to be empty but it actually contains my thoughts that were running through my head as I made it.
Lindsay box vessel challenge1
Embroidery Guild Challenge

A piece of fabric that was created from strips of sari silk and metallic fabrics which were stitched down and then I used reverse applique to distort the lines. I finished it with hand embroidery and beadwork.
This piece is an irregular shape.
I plan to insert a small bottle inside for fresh flowers.

Ros L

When I heard about Amanda’s challenge I thought about what I wanted to store in my 3D vessel and it came down to letters, music scores, photos, diary records and most of all, the wonderful decorated paper hugs that my two little grandsons had made during the first lockdown.  Rather than create a box I decided on a folder and have really enjoyed embellishing.

I started with a large rectangle of vilene and used strips of cotton drill to form a woven background.  I then used applique, free machine embroidery and hand stitching to embroider this background.  It was quite a large area to cover and I found the size challenging in my machine.  Once completed I made a bias binding with strips of the cotton drill, lined it and inserted a couple of side gussets which I stitched into place with a hand insertion stitch.  To complete the folder I covered an old buckle with the bias binding.  I have now got the fun of filling it with mementos however it is quite large and I have grown to love it so may end up adding a handle and using it as a bag as it is quite large.

Ros vessel challenge 1

Maria F

Not having any mementos to go into a container, I decided to make a ‘book’ of memories.
I divided these into 8 ‘pages’ entitled:
Connectivity, Helping others, Introspection, Nature in the garden, exploring the Countryside, Ageing, Birth and Creativity. 
The ‘pages’ comprise painted newspaper printed onto white cardstock which were then cut into squares of increasing size. These were stacked in order and tied with a machine stitched cord.

The memories were mostly painted scrumpled paper, tyvek or photo card backgrounds strengthened with iron-on vilene, collaged and embellished with hand stitching.

For each memory I found an appropriate quote  or poem. I have included the quote by Van Gogh for my creativity memory.

Rosemary C

I made a walnut purse using a technique shown by Nikki VW. I enjoyed the bead work.

Nikki VW

It is made from laminating painted/dyed tissue which has been gilded with foil and free machined and decorated with stitched gold foil from a desert lid and a silver metal food container and coated in acrylic wax and using pipe cleaners in its construction .


Great project using a UFO from Linda Monk’s workshop from several years ago at the guild.

Nikki 2 vessel challenge 1


Embroidery Guild Challenge

This vessel is made with 90% recycling it is made from Jacard cards from the scrapstore painted then I have applied Angelina for the sky, scrap blue fabric which I have  stitched for the Madeira competition and cellophane sweet wrappers, tin foil from a dessert pot coloured with permanent markers and vegetable netting for the roof of the house and green plastic strapping from a parcel that was delivered by courier.
The inside of the container was fabric printed using Transfer paints and the base was a block of wood. 
The design is based on 1930s Clarice Cliff Pottery her Bizarre ware. 
Title of my work is “Bizarre Vase” 
Nikki vessel challenge 2

Fiona H

I thought long and hard about what meant most to me during lockdown, and what was it that I treasured most.  Eventually I came to the conclusion that my most treasured items in these unusual times were the things that I used daily. I started writing a lockdown diary, I used my iPad to listen to audiobooks and much much more, I have taken part in numerous group Zoom meetings and courses, so my laptop was replaced for one with a camera which enabled me to join others online. My container or bag was designed to be just large enough to hold my daily ‘Lockdown First Aid Kit’, of the following items:-
Fabric roll of coloured pencils,
Diary and pen,
Neck craft light
And craft glasses with clip on magnifying lenses. 
As an avid recycler, my bag is stitched from things I already had at home,  an old linen shirt, trousers, blouses and skirts, 2 zips unpicked from a skirts, thermal curtain lining scraps and threads from my stash. All stitched by either hand or machine. It was great fun, so thank you Amanda, and I am so thrilled to  now have a  very personal daily ‘Lockdown First Aid Kit’. It certainly works for me, and will continue to be used daily even when lockdown is over.
Fiona's bag


Here’s my go at a memory vessel. Not quite to brief tho had great fun creating it. It’s a globe shaped papier mache candle holder so 2 images – front and back.

Stella 2 vessel challenge 1
Stella 2 vessel challenge 2


This is a found box, from a gift that was too nice to throw away.  I’ve always loved boxes.  I found the theme difficult to convey on the box but each little scrap of fabric applied or simple bit of sewing represents a part of the lock down experience that we have had.  There are photos of my grand children who have been sorely missed.  The words are from some thoughts shared by my daughter and daughter in law.  The words on the box are free motion machine embroidered, ‘Safe harbour’ resonated because that is what home feels like when the world feels dangerous with the threat of Covid. 
The swirls represent the short walks from home to take in the air and exercise and the long stems the crazy, rather chaotic planting we created in our new garden, unable to get to a garden centre, we planted what we could easily get hold of, putting it into this new blank canvas of a garden.  Inside the box I will store some photos of the family from this year, the text shared by my daughter and daughter in law and a face mask!  Its a rustically covered box, hand sewn but it suits me fine.


This first group of baskets I made from Sari Silks. I was inspired by Clare who generously gave me a 1 to 1 workshop on how to do this technique, I love doing it, its a very methodical process and inspiring when the colours come good.  They are only small baskets but as an obsessive collector of stones, shells and drift wood they make a perfect little container to hold those memories.  Not to mention being a great distraction during the long lock down months.  I believe I’ve made about 10 or more of them now, so this is a few of them.

Workshop challenge

Another set of vessels I made in the first lock down was these three, inspired by a workshop by Debbie Lyddon.  Made from scraps of fabric, painted with acrylic paints and the holes and edging are all hand sewn on pieces of cord.  I rather like the rustic nature of them.  They again hold a few found treasures like drift wood, shells and stones.  A bit of an obsession!

Amanda vessel challenge 4

Ann S

I have made a fabric book with some of the things which helped me get through lockdown. Collages with Labels from tea bags/ hand sanitizer/ seed packets/ gin label/ OS map of Marlborough to name just a few ! My front cover is a piece made at Lindsay’s workshop in October and back cover is a pocket from my sons jeans he threw away during lockdown . A cloth pouch made of painted and distressed linen to put the book in.

Ann S vessel challenge 1

Thank you to everyone who contributed and we look forward to seeing all this amazing work in the near future.


Jessica Grady’s brilliant embellishment workshop on Zoom

Following her talk to our branch on Zoom, Jessica led an online workshop the next day.  It was the first time we had undertaken a live online workshop and I must say, under the circumstances, it could not have been more enjoyable.  Jessica had sent out a comprehensive materials list and listening to her talk, I soon realised I had numerous “found objects and materials” to add to my sample. 

We started promptly at 10.00 and Jessica explained she planned to record the session which she would make available to participants after the three hour class.  Until I viewed it briefly, I didn’t realise I had missed several snippets of information and additional techniques even though I was in front of my laptop for most of the morning. 

As an introduction Jessica talked about all the various things we could use as embellishments on our sample and then taught us how to make plastic sequins which was great fun.  From then on she gave us one suggestion after another and was extremely generous sharing her knowledge and techniques.  The morning flew by and I think I speak for everyone who took part when I say, Jessica this was really great fun.

Write-up by Ros

Jessica’s website:

Instagram:  @jessica_rosestitch

Facebook: @jessicagradyembroideryartist 

Below is a selection of our samples.

Amanda Jessica G workshop
Amanda's sample
Jackie B Jessica G workshop
Jackie B's sample
Ros 1 Jessica G workshop
Ros' sample
Ann S Jessica workshop
Ann S's sample
Annie F Jessica workshop
Annie F's sample
Linda W Jessica G workshop rotated
Linda W
Linda W' s sample
Tase's sample
Tase's sample
Lindsay's sample
Lindsay's sample
Nikki 2 Jessica workshop
Nikki's sample
Maria Jessica workshop
Maria's sample

Jessica Grady – exciting embellishment textile artist – March 2021

Jessica Grady gave a wonderful talk from her home in Leeds to 35 of our members on Zoom.  She started her talk by explaining she chose to go to university in Norwich because the course gave her the opportunity to explore weaving, knitting, surface and print. Jessica had several internships working for, Hand & Lock, Zandra Rhodes and Marks & Spencer.  For her final year project she decided to research simple embroidery stitches and her French knots were created in various sizes, threads, materials and backgrounds.  Her final Degree piece displayed a large piece full of embellishments.  Jessica then took part in the New Designer’s Show followed by the Graduate Showcase at the Festival of Quilts in 2014.

Jessica with her work
Jessica with her work behind when she was awarded the Embroiderers Guild Scholar Award

Travelling to South America gave Jessica yet more inspiration for her work and reinforced her love of colour.  On her return she started working freelance creating embroidery designs for collections through an agent where the copyright is sold with the purchase.  It became clear that she would be better off managing her own destiny and in 2016 Jessica branched off on her own and had an article printed in Stitch magazine and took part in North Yorkshire Open studios.  

In 2018 she was awarded the Under 30’s Scholar by the Embroiderers’ Guild and the following year she displayed her work with the Prism Textile Group.  Along with other textile artists including Louise Baldwin, Sandra Meech and Cas Holmes, Jessica is involved with the group, Art Textiles Made in Britain and, as an ambassador, early in 2020 she was invited to display her work at the Tokyo International Quilt Festival .

During the pandemic Jessica has undertaken personal commissions and created online tutorial booklets.  Community work is obviously a rewarding part of her current life and Jessica talked about creativity in stitch for NHS staff, young carers groups and giving talks and workshops to primary and secondary schools online.   Thank you Jessica for a great talk.

Report by Ros

Photos thanks to Jessica

Instagram:  @jessica_rosestitch

Facebook: @jessicagradyembroideryartist 

Daisy polyps
Embellished work by Jessica Grady

Wonderful collection of work by Robina

For you all, ‘A Loving Hug’, inspired from a painting by Romero Britto. I worked the black lines first by free machining over the design which I’d drawn onto vanishing paper, as the demo. last week.  The colour was added after, using the reverse dyes, but I painted  the design, and not randomly coloured, as the demonstrator had done. I also repeated the pattern, as you may notice by all the extra hands, but I only stitched and embroidered the centre area. I popped in the black & white ‘hug’, so you have a before and after.

The other thing is My penguin panel, which I add to every now and again as I think of things which might make it more interesting.

The final piece, Amsterdam was inspired by last month’s speaker Andrea Cryer.


Thank you Robina for sharing your work and I look forward to receiving images of other members’ projects  in the future.