Book Review, Sort Of: It’s The BIG Draw Month treffry Full view

Book Review, Sort Of: It’s The BIG Draw Month

I first entered the world of sewing machine drawing at a workshop at the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham. The class was taught by Janet Clare, who is now a Moda fabric designer. I tried to be subtle, but I was wowed–and think I made a little bit of a scene.  A few months later I wrote to Janet for a sewing machine recommendation, and she said she clearly remembered me. Oops! It is embarrassing to think back on that first time…

……… my first “drawings” were amateurish, but I was so excited to be doing something novel and entirely of my own design. I went flush in the face (I am a redhead!). I did a lot of exclaiming I recall. My enthusiasm carried me away and it all went wrong. Janet had to remind me of the basics. Rather than just make the drawing she directed, I made three things in the space of that first class.

This month we’re celebrating the Campaign for Drawing’s “Big Draw” with my version of Janet’s class. I call it simply “Drawing with your Sewing Machine.” I wrote to Janet when I started prepping, and she has generously decided to donate our Stitch & Craft Library her three books. I really admire her patterns and style so fear I would have an opening bias if I were to review these–so I’m actively asking if anyone wants to review any of them for our readers?

In the meantime I can tell you that after Janet’s class, I immediately bought Poppy Treffry’s first book, Free and Easy Stitch Style (Janet wasn’t published then). Poppy’s sewing machine designs reportedly adorn the tea cosies at the Claridges. It could be an urban myth stitch-up, but it seems plausible.

treffryI really liked the pictures of Poppy’s studios, the ‘drawing’ tips in the first half of the book, and the stitched self portrait (page 29) but, “bein’ honest” her colours and designs weren’t to my taste–and while I love older machines I couldn’t figure out how to drop the feed dogs on my ‘el-cheapo’ machine at the time, and I blamed poor Poppy.

That’s the cool thing about drawing with a sewing machine, more so than any other approach to sewing, I have found the style is completely down to each individual maker. How you write, colours you tend to, what you like to doodle… when it’s just you, the thread, and the needle, you really make something that feels and looks intensely “you”. Since I love to play with meaning, personalise, and “go with the flow,” this suits me to a T. So, look at Poppy’s book for inspiration, check out Janet’s range of books to find sources of inspiration (her books explore subject themes) and then have a li’l think, and a li’l doodle, and then do some drawing with your sewing machine.

If you’d like to review one of Janet’s books, or any book in our Stitch & Craft Library, please email

Written by significantseams

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