Community Stitch Challenge week five: Emily Jo Gibbs -

Community Stitch Challenge week five: Emily Jo Gibbs

Community Stitch Challenge week five: Emily Jo Gibbs

Week five of the Community Stitch Challenge is now live! Have you been joining in with our weekly challenges so far?

During this time of self isolation and social distancing across the world, you might be feeling productive and full of ideas for how to spend your time at home. Or, you might be feeling more anxious and worried about the changes – a bit lost at sea. At, we wanted to create a way for you to be connected to your fellow stitchers, no matter what you’re feeling.

That’s why we have teamed up with some amazing textile artists to create a free stitch challenge every week. It’s a simple creative prompt that can be completed in just a few hours, with materials you probably have around your home already. Whether it sparks some inspiration for a whole new project, or it just serves as a pleasant creative distraction over the week, we hope you’ll join us to feel more “together alone”.

Stay home and stitch

Over the past month, four amazing textile artists have led Community stitch challenges that have covered texture and pattern, collage and observation techniques.

Last week, the British artist-maker Richard McVetis introduced four couching stitch techniques and asked you to think about the process of making and enjoy the slowness of hand stitching. Richard was impressed with all the wonderful work being shared in the Facebook group. He added that it is “so interesting to understand and record the time” while stitching.

You can take a look at Richard’s challenge video here.

Our online community is growing every week and we now have over 15,000 stitchers in the community stitch challenge Facebook group with hundreds of members tuning in for the live Q&A session every Friday.

It’s never too late to join in, so check out the previous weeks’ challenges here, and read on to find out about the new challenge leader for week five, textile artist Emily Jo Gibbs.

Who is Emily Jo Gibbs?

Emily Jo Gibbs is a textile artist who has established an international reputation over the last two decades for her wonderful work. She is a member of the 62 Group of Textile Artists and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. Her career spans three distinct periods from fashion (as Creative Director of Emily Jo Gibbs luxury handbags), to 3-dimensional work, and now 2-dimensional embroidery, including her commission-based practice and regular teaching. Examples of her work are in several museum collections from The Victoria and Albert Museum and The Crafts Council Collection to the Museum of Fine Art in Houston.

Working commercially for many years spurned a yearning in Emily to create something more personal and thought provoking. Now, her work demonstrates mastery of technique as well as a keen sensitivity for concept. She creates simple yet intricate collages of silk organza pieces and thread work, literally, building layers of sheer beauty. Whether it’s in a lovingly observed portrait or a still life of a jam jar of paintbrushes full of exquisite detail, Emily creates hand-stitched textiles with a delicate graphic quality which highlights the little things – and that’s what makes her work remarkable.

What is this week’s challenge?

In this week’s challenge, Emily is sharing with you her love of appliqué. This versatile technique has been around for centuries and comes from the French word appliquer, meaning ‘to attach or apply’. But in contemporary practice, it has come to mean so much more than that simple definition. Like many modern textile artists, Emily uses appliqué to build depth through layering and enhance imagery, both symbolic and literal.

Using a simple object found around your home, you will create a still life picture using appliqué. Emily encourages you to find a stick, paintbrush or similar object, that has weathered and worn elements. Flacked-off paint on the handle of a brush, different metallic bits and gnarled wood will all add to the liveliness of the picture.

Check out the stitch challenge video where Emily explains the appliqué technique in more detail and shares her own method. But feel free to explore your own artistic process and approach the challenge in your own way.

What to do next

Download the workbook for Emily’s challenge here

Join the Community Stitch Challenge Facebook Group now

Discover more about Emily’s textile art here

Got questions for Emily but don’t want to join the Facebook group? No worries, you can leave a comment below.

Monday 25th, January 2021 / 07:50

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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9 comments on “Community Stitch Challenge week five: Emily Jo Gibbs”

  1. Emily Hedges says:

    This looks really interesting, Emily, thank you. Can’t wait to get started! Off to find a stick now.

  2. CaLynn says:

    Thank you, Emily! I really enjoyed this week’s challenge, to look at an under-appreciated object and really see it. Here is my take and I added a little lady bug to add the “life” into the still life;)

  3. Judith Chestnut says:

    Thank you for posting this series of videos. The videos are informative and the challenges are interesting.

  4. Carole Free says:

    Such a lovely lesson… first, to work on a simple subject like a stick and really understand it’s nuance and second the use of sewing thread to embroider and stitch detail.. somehow it did not occur to me to work so delicately.. I cannot wait to try French knots with such a fine thread.. thank you so much.

  5. Suzette says:

    Being a beginner to appliqué , I found that there was no close up of the actual stitching, she made a few stitches and then showed the complete article . One couldn’t see any of the stitching, it looked solid like a drawing. Maybe this is for people who knows more about appliqué , but I still don’t know how to go about the actual stitching of the appliqué onto the fabric. Could we have close up pictures please? Thank you for the program.

    • charlotte says:

      Hi Suzette,

      You will find a link to the workbook to go alongside the challenge towards the bottom of the article. This has some more in-depth and close up images in it. I hope that helps.

      All the best,

  6. Nancy Sopp says:

    I love this challenge so very much! Emily Jo Gibbs is one of my favorite textile artists. I have not participated in this or previous challenges due to the overwhelming need for homemade masks in my community (so I’m spending my free time making those). These challenges are, however, VERY IMPORTANT to my mental health and I love planning projects in my mind while I stitch away at the masks. THANK YOU to everyone responsible for putting the challenges together! You’re keeping my spirits up!

    • Emily Jo Gibbs says:

      I love that you are imagining the challenges whilst you machine, it’s a good way to iron out all the hiccups before you start 😉 Keep up the good work making masks.
      Best wishes, Emily

  7. Melissa Reilly says:

    This exactly what I needed on this gray morning in Washington DC. I have an old weather iron object of my great grandmother’s – no idea what it was used for – but it leapt out as the perfect item for this prompt.

    I’m thankfully able to work from home during this awful covid crisis, separated from my family and friends across the county. While I can protect myself from the virus (or try), I can’t escape the mental toll of the relentless national, societal, human crisis here in States. I don’t wish to bury my head – in fact I actively seek ways to understand, reflect, and drive change. Handwork and creative exploration is what is keeping me sane in “these challenging times”. THANK YOU EMILY for sharing this technique. It opens my mind and spirit to a new way to connect through textile art. I can’t wait to get started.

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