Embroidery Hoop Art for Beginners

As someone who has never been gifted in the art of sewing, embroidery always intimidated me as an art form. I follow a lot of incredible artists online who embroider and I was inspired and encouraged to give it a go myself. Surprisingly I found that it’s not as difficult as I feared, and I’m not as terrible as I predicted! Here is a little guide to get you started on your embroidery journey, from one beginner to another.

Embroidery hoops – what and why?

Whether you want to create a piece of embroidery art on a shirt, bag, blanket, or to frame, an embroidery hoop will be your friend. An embroidery hoop ensures that equal tension is applied to your material to avoid any scrunching, tightness, or saggy bits between your design. You can put a hoop onto lots of things, or you can even leave your art in the hoop as they make very cute and quirky frames. Embroidery hoops are really simple to use and they come in lots of different shapes and sizes meaning there will always be an appropriate hoop whatever the project.

I’ve got my hoop, now what?

In my example I’m using scrap cotton to create a piece of art intended to stay in the hoop – if you have any material scraps lying around they could be perfect to practise on! So, we have our hoop and whatever we’re wanting to to embroider on so now we can begin. I have tried a few different ways of drawing designs onto my material, and so far my preferred method is with a pencil. I scribble my design on paper first to check I like it, and then I redraw the design in the hoop. The only downside to pencil is that it will rub off as you work, but it’s easy enough to redraw the lines and it’s also good for if the design needs to change whilst you’re working on it.

From here all that’s left to do is start. The scariest part of any project is starting, but honestly embroidery can be as simple as you want it/need it to be, and it can be really fun, so just dive in. Any old sewing needle will do for your first go, and you could even use regular thin thread, but getting your hands on some embroidery thread would be a good shout. It can be tricky to thread the needle, but with lots of patience you’ll get it eventually!

There are lots of different stitches you can use, but my favourite is a split stitch. Split stitches are made by splitting the stitch, who’d have thought it. Basically you make your first stitch like so ‘-‘ and then to make your second you want to break through your first one, splitting it, to create a solid line and a pretty texture too. There are lots of tutorials online about the different stitches so go find some for more options when you’re ready.

If you’re leaving your art in the hoop a nice way to finish it off is to trim the material leaving about an inch around the hoop. Then you want to simply sew all around the material at the back of the hoop and pull the thread tightly to secure and tie.

And that, as they say, is that. I hope this post was helpful, although reading back through it I’m not sure it will be all that useful, but it was fun to write so I’m happy. If you take anything away from this post let it be encouragement and motivation to give embroidery a go and to approach anything new you want to take on with enthusiasm and confidence, chances are you will be able to do it and you’ll do it very well.

Thanks for stopping by! See you in the next one.

Love from Beth

If you really like any of the hoops in this piece I have three for sale in my shop, but they’ll only be available until February 1st. After then I’ll be closing my shop. Check out prices and what I have on offer over at bethaniesplaceshop.com ❤️

How I Landed my Dream Job – Everything Happens for a Reason

My mum has always been a firm believer of things happening for a reason. Over the course of my 25 years as her daughter my mind has changed many times as to how far I agree with her sentiments. Here I sit, on the floor of my favourite room tapping away at my iPad, now telling you that I dare say I agree with her. I won’t go as far as to say that everything bad that happens will one day magically be okay because it’ll have been for something good in the bigger picture, because that’s not true. Sometimes bad people do bad things, and bad things happen to perfectly normal and good people for no reason whatsoever. Trauma of any definition is deserved by no one, least of all you my beautiful reader. Yet there are some circumstances in which I’m starting to believe maybe there is a guiding hand of sorts that puts obstacles in our path in order to show us alternative routes.

Recently my mum has had reason to whip out the old classic ‘everything happens for a reason’ as I have been looking for a job. At the start of December I landed an interview for a job – in all honesty it wasn’t a job that I really wanted to do, but it did tick almost all of my perfect job boxes. I was excited at the thought of not having to worry about money any more and being able to work from home, and the positive response I received following all steps of the application and interview process left me feeling incredibly confident that it was mine. I received a phone call the day after my final interview. They thought I was great and they so wanted to give me the job, but someone ‘pipped me to the post’ as they had more experience. I was promised first shout at any future positions, I thanked them for their time and ended the call. I broke down. ‘Everything happens for a reason,’ my mum said when she called to check in on me after hearing I had been turned down. I could’ve punched her through the phone, but instead I sighed and said, ‘let’s hope so.’

That same day my partner found a job listing he was adamant would suit me. With his encouragement I wrote a compelling cover letter and sent off my CV not expecting to hear back at all, but this is where the story gets interesting. The application I sent in was for an academy within a company, it was an opportunity to gain access to an incredibly interesting and growing industry through learning on the job, to progress from a junior to a fully qualified analyst in the field. A hurdle I have faced my entire working life is that I haven’t had the experience companies want, but this opportunity only required an interest in the subject and a relevant degree – both of which I have plenty of. I applied for a handful of other jobs too, becoming more anxious as the days went on about how I would support my family if I had to rely on my art alone. The week before Christmas I received a call.

The call resulted in an invite to an interview for the analyst academy position. I had two weeks to prepare and it was an agonising wait. I researched the company, listened to podcasts talking about case studies related to the industry, I practised my answers to expected questions, and I agonised over how incredible this job would be. Unlike with the job I lost out on I didn’t tell anyone about my upcoming interview, that was until I told my mum, but I made her promise not to tell anyone for fear of jinxing myself. I was able to share my worries, doubts, and hopes with her, and she was excited at the prospect of finally seeing me put my degrees to good use. Sharing the burden of my anxiety with mum and my husband allowed me to go into the interview lighter. I also put a Tweet out the day before asking that if anyone had any positive energy to spare that they send it my way, and the responses I received filled me with all the more confidence.

The interview came and it was the longest I’d ever had an interview last, my interviewer was lovely and she approached the process in a very conversational and easy way, one that suited me perfectly and allowed me to cover all of the bases I had practiced. I was told I would hear back by the end of the week, the interview having taken place on a Wednesday, and we said goodbye. I wrote a followup email thanking her for her time and then I waited.

Friday came and went with no call. Doubt began to creep in and although I tried to remain positive I began to worry that I had been forgotten or that I was receiving the cruelest of rejections, the silent treatment. All weekend I watched my phone anxiously, knowing that no one was working, but hoping nonetheless that someone would call. On Monday my mum called and my heart nearly fell out of my mouth when the phone rang, once again she said, ‘everything happens for a reason,’ and again I replied with a hopeful sigh and reluctant agreement. To distract my mind I played a game of Magic against my husband – I won! And we decided to play a computer game together to continue the distractions.

As we sat down to pick a game to play my phone rang. It was them. I took myself away into the living room to answer the call and spoke to the person who had invited me to the interview, the talent scout for the company. At first we exchanged pleasantries and I was asked how I found the interview, I expressed my enjoyment of the interviewer’s style and I bit my tongue waiting for the news. ‘Good news,’ they said, and my heart leapt. An offer. Finally. We went over the usual post offer bits and pieces and with one last congratulations from them and a final thank you from me I ended the phone call and ran to give my husband the biggest hug I could. We did it.

Everything happens for a reason. Maybe. All I can say for sure is that as hard as the initial rejection was – and the many that came before it – I am beyond happy that I didn’t get the chance to settle for something that wasn’t where I really wanted to be. I start my new job in two weeks, and within 9 months I’ll be fully qualified and taking on my own cases. The best part is that not only will I be working in an industry that genuinely interests me and that I am excited to grow into, I get to do it all from home full time. For those of you who know me because of my art, this is also an exciting time for me and my art because I am getting the chance to reclaim my art as a hobby. I have loved selling my art and growing a small business, and I couldn’t be more proud that my art is in over 100 new homes around the world, but I have missed creating for myself, and I have been craving the sort of challenge that my new job will reward me with.

Thank you so much for reading today’s post, and what I hope to be the first of many as I find my way down the new path I have carved for myself. If you’re here for job searching advice I offer this, apply for everything and take every interview as practise for your dream job. It might take years, as it has for me, but you will find it, or something that will carry you closer towards the dream. Research the companies you’re applying for, and make sure to practise your interview techniques, there are lots of good sites with lots of advice. After that, it’s all up to you. I look forward to sharing more with you in the future, and if you’d like to see more from me make sure to pop your email address in the email subscription box to receive email updates. I’ll be posting a mixture of posts like this, book reviews, art related posts, and possibly some other bits and bobs so it’ll be a good mixed bag of entertainment. I’m around on Twitter and Instagram too and will be posting frequently across all platforms so please do connect with me over there for more. Anyway, that’s more than enough for now!

See you in the next one,

Love from Beth

Black Lives Matter

I don’t often post in response to racism. It’s usually because I tell myself that it’s not my place, or that there are louder voices closer to the situation, but I’m starting to realise that I used those thoughts as a cover for my anxiety and discomfort. I didn’t want to alienate myself from the people around me who also wouldn’t talk about racism. If there’s one thing a lot of people don’t like, it’s being called out on their shit.

I posted a run of the mill self promo post yesterday even though it felt wrong to do so. I felt the pressure of so many other people doing the same and I knew that even if people thought it was crass they wouldn’t say anything because so many others were doing it. It struck me as crazy this morning that my mind even processed the situation like that. How can ignoring something so cruel and powerful feel more comfortable than talking about it? We’ve all been given yet again another tragic reminder through the murder of George Floyd of how messed up the world is yet we’re continuing as normal, as we always do, giving the perpetrators permission to continue to oppress and murder. We chose to leave it up to those directly impacted to fight day in day out alone. Imagine the power we could have if we worked together to uplift their voices.

Things will go back to ‘normal’. It’s up to us what ‘normal’ is. It’s in our hands to make a new normal, one in which the colour of someone’s skin doesn’t determine if they’ll make it out of an encounter with the police alive. How do we do this? We do this by refusing to shut up. We do this by being actively anti-racist, we do this by ensuring that this isn’t forgotten about, and that we take every opportunity to learn and grow and be better as individuals and a community. It won’t happen over night, but it is possible. A positive change only happens if we acknowledge that systematic racism is real, dangerous, and that we are all susceptible to it. Racism is so deeply ingrained in our society that a man was murdered on camera for the world to see by a police officer and it took riots to even see a hint of what is being called justice. That this has happened and there are countless numbers of people who haven’t said a word about it, again I understand why, but it’s insanity when you think about it.

A lot of people are angry right now, many have been for a long time, and I want to use the anger that I feel to do something. All that most of us can do at the moment is raise awareness, sign petitions, donate, and try to be better people in the grand scheme. I’m hoping a few people see this and join me in doing all you can. We need to keep that anger alight and keep trying to make changes and be better.  This isn’t something to post about now and forget about, this is something we need to incorporate into our thought processes, into how we raise our children, and how we act and talk to our family and friends and strangers. 

I am writing this in the hope that I can direct some of my family and friends to it, especially those who have insisted to me that racism doesn’t exist anymore. I also strongly urge everyone to do some research for yourselves, and please remember it is not the responsibility of black people or any oppressed person to educate you.

As anxious as posting this makes me, it’s nothing compared to the anxiety people face who don’t have my white privilege. Be uncomfortable, and seek to understand why, use that to become better people and to help create a safer world for everyone. This isn’t about me, or you, it’s about everyone and everything, it’s about right and wrong, and in being silent we’re all just giving those who continue to oppress and violate permission to do it. It’s up to all of us to speak together to say that we won’t stand for this anymore.

See the below links for ways you can help right now and other useful reading materials written by people far more eloquent and knowledgable than me to continue to help in the fight against racism and injustice.