Fan-tastic flowers.

Spring has sprung and our gardens, hedgerows and parks are bursting into life with colourful blooms. Every season encourages the Smockers to gather up some fabric and start stitching.

These fan-tastic flowers were inspired by and stitched at a smocking residential organised by the Smocking Branch of the Embroiderers’ Guild a few years ago.

Traditional smocking stitches are used on hand-dyed fabric and to add sparkle a sprinkle of beads was added. Below is a detail from one of the fans.

There will be plenty of smocking – both traditional and contemporary – on display at the Beccles annual Charter weekend celebrations on July 1 – 3. The smocking exhibition will be in the centre of the Suffolk market town, in St Michael’s Church.

detail of flower

a sample of Italian smocking by Kathy Eagle

This year the annual residential course is taking the form of a re-TREAT. Two smockers, Hilary Wilson and Kathy Eagle, have been invited to tutor the group. They are specialists in Italian Smocking and Counterchange Smocking. These two styles will open up new horizons for those wanting to added a controlled texture to their embroidery.
A sample of Italian smocking can been seen left.

To start the year members are visiting London to see the Liberty in Fashion exhibition at the Fashion and Textile Museum.

When the Smocking Branch of the Embroiderers’ Guild was started it was and still is unique within the Guild. It is the only national branch — though strictly international — and the only one specialising in one technique. Members keep alive the traditional art as well as experimenting with new materials and techniques to take it forward.

To mark the Millennium members of the branch stitched a banner, a detail from the central panel – a pastoral scene – can be seen at the top of this page. The full banner will be on display at the shows, complete with sampler–style side panels. It demonstrates the full potential of smocking.

Entries in the members' annual competition

Blooming Marvellous was the title of annual competition which attracted a number of entries all very different in their interpretation of the theme. The result was announced at the branch AGM in Bath at the end of September. The winner was Maureen Briggs, her piece is pictured.

Presencia UK kindly donated the prizes for the competition.

For 2016, inspired by the birth of baby Princess Charlotte, the title of the challenge is Fit for a Princess. Members have been charmed by seeing Prince George wearing smocked outfits now we look forward to his sister following suit.

Members keep in touch via a quarterly newsletter and informal group meetings in members’ homes plus the annual residential course with guest tutor and the AGM, which is usually followed by members going out for a meal together and an event on the following day.