Sew What’s New In My Networked Learning Project?

Before beginning this networked learning project, I was an aspiring textile artist, with a dream to recreate an image I had seen on a card.  While still firmly a novice, I have learned different kind of stitches, purchased embroidery supplies, and transferred patterns to cloth since the start of this project.

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My embroidery journey began by searching blogs and tutorials for ideas of what kind of supplies I needed, and which stitches I should learn.  After research, I decided that my pattern used a backstitch, a stem stitch, a daisy stitch and some french knots.  I viewed tutorials and replicated the stitches on my test fabric.  As shown from my example above, my initial stitches were a bit uneven and my line wavered.  I learned that a stitching along a pencil line can make shapes more even, but that practice is the only way to improve stitch evenness.

One of the early challenges I faced was the question about which fabric to use.  I wasn’t getting clear answers from tutorials or blogposts.  I decided to reach out to a crafter by commenting on her blog, asking for her recommendations.  She answered my comment!  Cotton it is.

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Thus armed with fabric, floss and fear, I began.  I transferred the design from my postcard to the fabric, and stitched.  And stitched.  And stitched.  And ripped out stitches, re-watched tutorials on how to make those stitches, and stitched some more.  Several hours later…

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I did it!  My stitches aren’t perfect, but I am so excited by the outcome.  I learned four stitches and recreated the pattern that I’ve had on my wall all these years! I am ready to take those mad stitching skills to the next level and work on a tea towel for my final project.

I made a stop motion video to recap my Merci project from beginning to end, using pictures that I took about every 2 minutes to document my progress.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JUU6c7Z2kwc&w=560&h=315]

While I have enjoyed learning how to embroider, I’ve also discovered challenges.  Knowing which beginning resources to use, and how to bookmark them meaningfully for future reference was daunting.  Fortunately, I remembered that I had used Pinterest in the past to curate lesson plan ideas and created an Embroidery How-to board to keep track of resources.  Additionally, I found a community of embroiders on Pinterest, and have searched their pins to discover new tutorials and ideas.

My favorite tool for learning embroidery has been Mary Corbet’s NeedleNThread tutorial videos.  These videos are concise, with clear verbal explanation and visual demonstration.  Her tutorial series is extensive.  I also benefitted from the Kin Community videos on basics, stitches, and pattern transfer.  These beautiful videos demonstrated basic steps. My other pins link to other tutorials, and visual inspiration.

In addition to navigating and remembering in an overwhelming digital environment, I have been challenged by the somewhat isolated process of this project.  I have always learned in the context of a community, but for this project I had to chart the course of my learning and find resources I needed on my own, without the support of discussion partners or sewing circle friends.  Learning this way was not easy.  However, I was reminded of the interpersonal nature of online lifelong learning through my interaction with the crafty blogger.  She, and other teachers, were one click away.  Even if my stitches wavered, or my stem needed to be ripped out yet again, I could easily go back to the video lesson, review steps, and reach out to my online community.

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