Community stitch challenge 2021: Merill Comeau

Community stitch challenge 2021: Merill Comeau

Welcome to the second free workshop of the Community Stitch Challenge 2021 with US fiber artist Merill Comeau.

Here’s the lowdown. It’s important to us that we do our part in bringing together this wonderful global community of stitchers (that’s you!).

And that’s why we enlisted the help of some amazing practitioners and textile art tutors to bring you a series of three 100% free workshops.

The Community Stitch Challenge 2021 so far…

Last week we welcomed texture and pattern expert Sue Stone. We’ve probably only mentioned this a few thousand times (we’re very proud sons) but Sue is our mum so we know firsthand just how amazed she was by the work that’s already been created in response to her video and workbook.

She told us, “I can’t believe how inventive everyone has been. The range of different ideas and variety in how the brief was interpreted really blew me away. And the support within the community is really heartening too.”

Check out Sue Stone’s workshop here

And now it’s time for a new challenge with the incredible Merill Comeau.

Who is Merill Comeau?

Merill Comeau is a mixed media artist from the US, who creates installations, murals and garments examining narratives of repair and regeneration.

In addition to drawing and painting, Merill deconstructs, reconstructs, and alters clothing and linens to disrupt, reorder, and build stories exploring common human concerns.

What is Merill’s workshop all about?

Continuing the long history of using words in art, Merill will encourage you to incorporate stitched words into an artwork.

You’ll begin with super-quick writing exercises to help generate a word, phrase, missive, or adage. You’ll then research and choose a font that helps illustrate your chosen message and discover a range of methods for transferring these letters onto fabric.

Merill will teach a variety of expressive stitches encouraging you to think about reinforcing your message with your chosen stitch style. At the end of the workshop you can choose to make either a full textile piece or a series of samples.

Watch the workshop video

What to do next

Merill Q&A replay

Watch all of Merill’s answers to questions during her workshop week in the replay below

Wednesday 04th, October 2023 / 16:41

About the author

Joseph Pitcher is the son of textile artist Sue Stone. He is an actor and voice-over artist and has worked at the RSC, the National Theatre, West End theatres and several other leading regional venues across the UK. Find Joe on Google

View all articles by Joe



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51 comments on “Community stitch challenge 2021: Merill Comeau”

  1. Lesley Jackson says:

    I just love this lady and her work, and the new techniques she has taught me through her workshops at textile I have always wanted to learn to do text, so thank you so much. My head is buzzing.

  2. Kristi Lavell says:

    I felt the “love” in her stitch.

  3. Jan Booth says:

    Thank you very much for your excellent tutorial. My question is about your use of the hoop. I noticed that you put the hoop over some of the stitches. Does this damage the stitches please? I have thought that the stitches would be damaged and pulled out of shape, but perhaps not?
    Thanks very much

  4. Valerie Mccallum says:

    Excellent workshopI love the meditative and calmness of you delivery thank you Merilll . l am combining yours with Sue Stones workshop.l have struggled with text on art work but will give it a go.

  5. Lee says:

    How lovely to see you again and hear your warm voice! Thank you for giving us new ideas of using text with textiles and being so open with your creations in progress. Currently (since may last year) in Stitchclub but just might instead follow your lead this week. Love the written word but not the easiest to stitch. Thanks for showing several ways. Love your work and your thoughts behind them! Let’s have a good stitchingweek! 🤗📍✂️

  6. Anne says:

    Some great advice on preparing lettering onto pale fabric but how would you recommend drawing the letter outlines onto dark or heavily patterned fabric?

  7. Peggy says:

    Do you sue a backing ? Have printed out my name several times will be interesting to see how the turn out. Liked the texture in the block letters.

    • sometimes I sew a backing before I add the letters, and sometimes I use stitching the letters to hold together a collage of snippets that are pinned together and to cheesecloth. it is easier if the backing is pre-sew constructed — then the pieces of fabric don’t move around.

  8. Pivoine says:

    Amazing! I just like this lady and het work: I have enjoyed her textile art and her teaching. it seems easy and i can’t waut before beginning something!

  9. ella says:

    Your video is so supporting! I was very excited to watch it. And most of it I liked the garment about motherhood. With texts hidden inside. Great idea! Thank you so much for encouraging me to start with all my doubts and lack of knowledge making a piece of mine!

  10. Maggie LV says:

    Finally, someone who speaks my language. I live in a very conventional rural community and no one really gets my work so I have almost stopped doing any thinking the fault was mine. Seeing your work and listening to you talk about it has made me realize that it’s not me. I am reinvigorated and realize that I can just keep making. Fibre work for the most part is inexpensive to make and easy to store. Who knows; when I am dead, I may be discovered, haha.

  11. Kate Taluga says:

    Wow. My muse stepped up to the plate right away with several ideas from your prompts to explore and play.

  12. Alison King says:

    Thank you Merrill for your generosity. I’m really looking forward to creating a piece with text. I’m really inspired by your work around your children’s drawings and your piece describing motherhood.

  13. Susan Holmgren says:

    Thanks for lending your expertise to this Challenge. I have been thinking about stitching a piece with words for awhile. My thought is to include many quotes on race by our former president. But I am having difficulty in figuring out how to incorporate a variety of quotes without having the piece look cluttered. Any suggestions?

  14. GuitarSix says:

    great workshop.

  15. Anke Mühlig says:

    You are a fantasic teacher, Merill – encouraging, open, honest and humorous. Love to learn from you … Inspiring!

  16. Kathleen Finch says:

    This is a wonderful and insightful presentation. Where you a teacher previously? I teach high school art. One of my classes I teach is Fiber Art. I am inspired by the textile and your work. Thank you for sharing.

    • thank you! I am not trained to be a teacher, but do teach as a community artist in a variety of settings and for a variety of ages. I think loving fiber arts is a great credential!

  17. Claire Riggall says:

    Merill, I warmed to you right away through hearing your lovely voice. I do admire the way you think into a word, draw out meanings and implications. I am always impatient to start … will try to hold back and do more thinking first. Yet I know I am already all too prone to overthink, change my mind, think myself out of doing something. How do I strike a balance?

    • Use a sketch book to jot down ideas and sketch out possibilities. Keeping these notes and images in safely in your sketchbook (you won’t lose them, you won’t forget them) can help you settle on one idea to pursue and save the others for later

  18. Jen Maddocks says:

    Merill, Thank you for sharing your time. Your voice is amazing. Very calming. I’m new to textile art but I have so many ideas swirling around in my head. I hope I can move past my insecurities of not knowing much in the way of stitching and get my ideas on to the cloth. Have a wonderful day!

    • oh yes drop those insecurities! this practice is for you alone to fiddle with, explore, attempt, try out, mess around with… don’t think about anyone else but yourself — NO judgement! good luck

  19. Julia Lowndes says:

    Hi Merill, I have been thinking about your challenge a lot while finishing stitching my Sue Stone week 1 piece. I would really like to try and make something more abstract and less structured. I love your frayed edges, loose ends and crazy stitch. But as soon as I start to plan an idea it becomes more designed and controlled, more figurative (I hope you know what I mean, I don’t know how to describe things well). Should I just start piecing bits of fabric together and see where that takes me? Or should I plan a background and then start layering more fabrics on once I have sewn the base?
    Having written that I realise that both are probably options, and also someone else has asked a similar question about overplanning. But any pointers would be helpful. This is the first time I have done a workshop like this and it is great to be able to ask questions and not just look at videos, so thank you for your time and thank you to Textile artists for arranging it

    • I might try: take two irregular snippets and stitch them together with big loopy stitches. next take two new pieces — maybe frayed ones — and stitch them together with a fiber of a different color and thickness. repeat repeat repeat pairs. Once you have about ten, start arranging them together and stitching them — like a puzzle in which only you can perceive its ‘picture’. This can be your new base onto which you layer a word.

      being free and loose is a challenge! sometime artists that draw use their non-dominant hand to stop controlling their lines! you may need to come up with approaches that use your non-dominant ‘hand’!

      • Julia Lowndes says:

        Thank you for those suggestions Merill, they sound like great ideas. I will sit down over the weekend and have a play with my stash of fabric.

  20. Marleen Van Ballaer says:

    Thank you Merill for this wonderfully interesting workshop. I’m so sorry that I just don’t have the time right now to start working on it. As soon as I find the time, I am going to start experimenting with your generously shared ideas!

  21. Jana Jopson says:

    No fiber artist has ever spoken to my artist-self like you have in this workshop. So glad I didn’t miss it! With no stitch training, no art training, I sometimes let myself believe I’m too far away from being able to pull anything together … and yet I know I have an artist’s eye from the 3-D collages I’ve done over the (many) years. Using art to be my voice is something that is so important to me — I don’t like making pieces that don’t “speak” to the heart (at least to my heart). This has just been a brilliant fountain of inspiration, and even more importantly, encouragement. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! (using caps to emphasize my appreciation)

  22. Linda O’Kane says:

    Merill, thank you for a fabulous workshop. You and your work really resonate with me. I haven’t been able to do your workshop this week but hope I can find time next week. I look forward to it. Xx

  23. Jean Webster says:

    Thank you for the inspiration and encouragement.

  24. Jean Webster says:

    Looking at the material that is the background to your text ‘Rose’, how do you attach the different fabrics together? Is it by basting them? I am going to try the word ‘Hope’ on some fabric I love but I don’t think there is enough of it to make the word as big as I want it to be. Thank you.

  25. Barbara Bexley says:

    What a lovely lady you are, Merill – so down to earth and encouraging. I can see that this could be a whole new line of investigation for me because it will be very personal and so meaningful. Thank you for sharing your work, your ideas and yourself so generously. Best wishes for your future work and plans.

  26. says:

    Your class is an inspiration, full of details on how to start and so encouraging. I started stitching on a piece, Heading for Somewhere Else, during the early stages of the pandemic. Come for a cup of tea anytime. Kate

  27. Pat Wescott says:

    I loved this workshop. I have never done text before and I found it very though provoking to incorporated it with stitch. Thanks for the challenge. I chose peace as that seems to be a need in the world and for me personally. I tend to do work that reflects the times we live in and my reactions to things that bother me. I want to be a quiet voice that speaks to others through art. I really appreciate your project and you.

  28. jennifer77 says:

    Bundle of thanks for sharing

  29. Sandra says:

    This was a great workshop Merill … thank you. I loved your calm guidance, your generosity in sharing, and the great techniques and pieces to which you introduced us

  30. Jan Paron says:

    Excellent workshop! I’m going to work on mine next week. I’m a member of Stitch Club. Is your workshop posted somewhere so I can see student pieces?

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