Stitching faces: where to start

<i>Stitching faces:</i> where to start

You’ve grabbed a moment to yourself. You’ve got your cuppa and you’re having a sneaky scroll through Facebook or Instagram.

But it’s not the words you’re looking at.

It’s the pictures.

Pictures of faces. Faces of your family and friends.

Look, there’s your daughter with her best mate from uni. Her face is glowing with vitality. You can’t help but smile. Or there are two of your grandkids, playing with the dog. When did they get so big?

And suddenly you’re drawn to the face of a stranger. Maybe it’s that line of a determined jaw, or that warmth in a pair of dark brown eyes that’s so entrancing.

Faces are compelling. They’re fascinating. It’s very difficult to stop scrolling.

Emily Jo Gibbs: He is so like you
Emily Jo Gibbs: He is so like you

Faces of your past

Family photos have a special power of their own. You feel a twinge of bittersweet pain when you find those old photos in the back of the drawer, photos that are spellbinding and resonant with half-remembered voices. 

Tenderly, you gaze at photos of your parents and grandparents, as the people they were before you came along. 

Grainy photos of your uncle before he enlisted – and when he came back. Or of that shy young girl who became a mum to be reckoned with. 

You can see their future from the place they cannot. But they are part of your own story, and you are the next chapter of theirs.

Faces of your future

But it’s not just the past that speaks to you. Snaps of new grandchildren show you the promise of the future, the mystery of who they will turn out to be and how long you have to enjoy them.  They are your story’s next chapter.

So maybe it’s time to stitch your family story. 

To catch hold of the essence of your own past, or their childhood, before it escapes forever.

What story would you like to tell?

Sue Stone Family
Sue Stone: Family Portrait

A gift from the heart

You already know that there’s something deeply special about faces created in stitch. Perhaps you’ve wandered through a textile art exhibition, or searched ‘hand-stitched faces’ on Pinterest, to witness creations that take your breath away. You’ve seen the myriad of different styles and thought, “Maybe I could do that.”

And maybe you could. In fact, certainly you could.

We’re not talking about formal portraits. Your piece could illustrate a dozen different moods and messages: the togetherness of a wedding, the joy of that ridiculous day at the beach when a seagull stole grandma’s cheese sandwich and the lilo went out of control; or the calm of those still, small moments between mother and daughter that go unnoticed. 

Stitching your story is more than just art.

It’s connection: your sense of touch is where you meet the physical world, and the tactile nature of textiles means that you’re constantly touching your work, creating an ever-deeper connection with your subject.

It’s celebration: you commemorate your family at a moment in time, or you capture a vanishing heritage.

It’s creative development: when you explore different ways of bringing faces into being, you’re developing your voice. The creative decisions you make help you find and hone your uniqueness.

It’s your legacy: faces in stitch aren’t just about the person portrayed. The relationship works both ways.  You’re revealing to the people who come after you who you are and what you do. You’re leaving your legacy.

But most of all, it’s a gift. 

A gift from the heart. A hand-stitched gift that makes someone you love smile or cry has power and meaning.

When you’ve created your loved one in stitch, you’re saying, “This is how I feel about you. About us.” 

Imagine their face light up when you give your work – your heart – to them. 

So, why don’t you do it?

Sue Stone at work
Sue Stone at work

What stops you trying?

Maybe there’s a belief and a fear that’s getting in your way. 

Innovative textile artist Sue Stone, a member of the 62 group and the Society of Designer Craftsmen, tells her own family stories through her unique style.

She says, “My number one source for inspiration is the family album. Looking inside awakens my imagination and sparks ideas.” But she’d be the first to admit that it wasn’t an easy journey for her. 

She had The Belief. She felt The Fear.

Sue says, “When I first returned to stitching in 2002 my work was purely decorative and mainly abstract. Then my creative spirit started pushing me to become more figurative.”

“I wanted to use old family photos of days out to express myself, my views and my story. But I was held back by believing my work had to be realistic, and of course, I was scared that what I was making just wasn’t good enough.”

Sue Stone: Family Tree – Pop Stone (left) & Alice Ann Stone née Conder (right)

The belief: My work has to be a “proper” portrait

Maybe you believe that, to be a ‘proper’ portrait, your work needs to be a carbon copy of your subject. This belief certainly stopped Sue Stone from attempting figurative work.

Sue says, “Making textures such as brickwork is fine but portraits? I thought it would be too tricky.”

Yes, realism is one way to portray people, but it is only one way. 

Think Picasso. Think Modigliani. Think Kahlo. 

If you always aim to be picture-perfect, you’re narrowing your choices. You’re confining your practice into an image that’s set in stone. The strictures of ‘reality’ can shut down story, quash character, and strangle your artistic voice. It can also stop you experimenting.

Think more widely than mere replication and you’ll be offered more possibilities to express yourself and your relationship with the subject.

Sue Stone’s advice is to see your work as an interpretation, rather than a literal translation of what you see. She says, “Think more about the essence or soul of your person. Look for a feeling of life and character. Allowing yourself to have artistic license and use your reactions and responses to the image to guide your work. That’s far more important than getting people spot on.”

If you’re not worrying about making a picture-perfect portrait, you can relax and have fun playing with styles, textures and materials to capture the essence of your subject.

Sue Stone: Family Tree – Dave Pitcher (left) & Sue Pitcher (right)

The fear: What I make won’t be good enough

This fear has been around so long it’s almost an old friend. Perhaps you feel you can’t draw to save your life. Perhaps there’s a voice from the past reminding you that you, or whatever you make, will never be good enough. 

I was told, when I was a kid, by a needlework teacher, “Just don’t ever do anything with a needle.” So I didn‘t.”

Stitch Your Story student Alison Bainbridge

When I was 18 years old, my teachers told me that my textile work was old-fashioned and had nothing to do with art.

Exploring Texture & Pattern student Joke Lunsing

It’s normal to focus on the negative, to listen again and again to those words echoing down the years. We scan for those negatives and hold on to them. It’s part of the mental makeup that helped us through evolution. It served us when we lived in caves, but it doesn’t serve us now.  

Stitching faces is something new and it makes me insecure.  I need to make the face like the person that I am doing. The biggest challenge now is let go of that and loosen up.

Stitch Your Story student Ignit Bekken

There is a way forward. A way to let go of that belief and dissolve that fear.

The way forward is to focus not on the finished work, but on the process of creation.

Sue Stone: Sue, Joe &Sam
Sue Stone: 63 A Self-portrait, Age 27 (left) and the original photo of Sue, Sam & Joe (right)

Process over product…and why it works

When you focus on the process of creation rather than the end product, you’ll feel liberated. You’ll feel free. Free from your inner critic and the judgement of others. Free from the boundaries of tradition. Free to make ‘mistakes’ and to enjoy spectacular ‘failures’. 

Sue Stone’s creative practice, the one that took her from “starting from scratch” to national and international exhibitions, is built entirely on process. 

She says, “The photographs I like best are the small, faded sepia or black and white photos with very little information in them. These give me the scope to use my imagination to create partial narratives that leave the viewer to draw their own conclusion.”

“The images of my family are used to explore my own relationships. My mum, my dad, my grandparents, my sister, my husband and my children have all been featured in my work. But it’s through my process that I realise all these creative ideas.”

'Stitch Your Story' Student samples
Stitch Your Story Student samples

Process-focussed practice

Sue’s process is for everybody. She says, “Make process-focussed practice your own. Make it suit your character and your aims. Call it play, work, exploration, experiment, adventure, research, observation or all of these together.”

“It’s iterative, and involves reflection. When process feels natural to you, you’re ready to attempt anything, because nothing you do can fail. It’s all part of your learning process.”

But where do you start?

Maybe you’re wondering “What image should I choose? What thread should I choose? How do I do eyes, hair, skin?”

These questions are valid and are exactly the same questions Sue asked herself when she started on her journey of hand-stitching portraits. But, through building a process of experimentation and reflection, she learned what worked for her and what didn’t. Gradually, bit by bit, Sue gained more and more confidence and honed her own artistic voice.

So let Sue’s top five tips for stitching faces give you a starting point for your explorations.  Her tried, tested and trusted pointers will help you build a toolbox of techniques that will banish your blocks and grow your confidence.

Sue Stone: Portrait of a Grimsby Girl

Sue’s 5 top tips for making beautiful hand-stitched portraits

Tip 1: Start with an image of someone you don’t know personally

Rather than get going with an image of a loved one, choose an image of someone you don’t know as your first experiment. You’ll get more emotional distance from your subject and this will help you build your confidence and be less judgemental of your results.

It’s important you still feel a connection with that person, or that there is some aspect of the image that draws you in, but starting with a stranger will give you a little more freedom.

Sue says, “If you’re not personally close to your subject, you’ll be free to focus on your process and to understand and master technique first.”

And when you do start a portrait of a loved one, you won’t get sidetracked by the ‘how’. You can focus fully on the way you’d like to represent their character.”

If you’d like to totally distance yourself from the person you’re stitching, create your own collage of facial features that interest you, and work from that, as Stitch Your Story student Anat Dart did with her experiments:

Anat Dart Collage
Stitch Your Story student Anat Dart’s experimental stitched collage (left) & photo-collage (right)

Tip 2: Simplify the image

When Sue felt technically out of her depth making portrait in stitch, she went back to the advice of her old teacher and mentor, British textile art pioneer Constance Howard – keep it simple. Now Sue’s motto ‘less is more’ rules her practice. 

Spend time looking at your image. Find the shapes and start to edit them down. Sue says, “Look carefully at your starting image. Don’t think about what you are looking at as an eye or a mouth. Try to see it as a shape. Then it becomes much less daunting.”

Look again. What detail could you lose? What detail ‘makes’ the character of the person? Pick out the primary and secondary lines of the face.

Celia Anderson Sample and original image, photo credit: Barnadip Banerjee Unsplash
Celia Anderson Sample and original image, photo credit: Barnadip Banerjee Unsplash
Maude May Hand stitched portrait
Stitch Your Story student Maude May simplifies her subject (shown with the original image)

Tip 3: Use the power of positive limitations

Choosing between a wide array of threads, fabric, stitches and techniques can feel overwhelming. But if you purposefully limit your practice to, for instance, a handful of stitches or the colour blue, you can say goodbye to overwhelm. 

Put a boundary on your practice and you’ll find it easier to make decisions. As creative problems come up, you’ll find that, with only a limited repertoire to fall back on, you’ll become more inventive, innovative and creative in making the decisions that solve these problems.

Boundaries sharpen your process and you’ll be able to go deep on a single technique rather than skate haphazardly around dozens of them.

Sue says, “When I’ve struggled with too many choices, I think back to Constance Howard’s words: “You don’t need to know hundreds of stitches. But you need to use the ones you do know well.” And she’s absolutely right.”

“Stitch Your Story” student Jet Kraanen limited herself to three colours and three filling techniques (running stitch, back stitch and flat stitch).
“Stitch Your Story” student Jet Kraanen limited herself to three colours and three filling techniques (running stitch, back stitch and flat stitch).

Try limiting yourself to:

  • Two types of stitch only
  • Only what’s in your stash 
  • Eyes, mouths or hair
  • Limiting your colour palette to three tones only

“When I create portraits, I try to only use materials I already have available. I buy nothing new if I can help it. This was another lesson of the course and once again connected to working within limitations.”

Exploring Texture & Pattern student Joke Lunsing

Tip 4: Sampling beats perfection

When you start stitching, don’t expect to get it right the first time. Sue explains, “A portrait is a visual description that captures all aspects of that person. It takes time to learn.”

“If you were drawing, then you wouldn’t expect your first line to be perfect. You’d rub it out or redraw it, sometimes more than once. The same applies to stitching.”

Getting it ‘wrong’ every so often is simply part of the process of getting it right. You’ll find out what doesn’t work, and what does work for you. You’ll find out more about what you like.

Each ‘mistake’ hones your art and your voice. If you treat your artistic process with curiosity (and yourself with kindness) you’ll soon find that your frustrations turn into an opportunity for discovery.

Exploring Texture & Pattern student Joke Lunsing’s self-portrait sample
April Sproule hand stitched eye sample
Stitch Your Story student April Sproule hand-stitched eye sample

If you feel that you need to get it ‘right’, then try sampling as your process method. With sampling, there is no right or wrong because it allows for practical experimentation. Sampling is your go-to finding out process. There are no wrong answers, just discovery. Sampling is part of what Sue calls “structured experimentation.”

A sample is just a practice piece. It’s purposeful but doable. The stakes are low. You ask the question “what if?” and your sample answers. Through sampling, suddenly something puzzling comes into sharp focus and you’ll say to yourself: “Oh, so a longer stitch gives a softer effect!”

Tip 5: Look for the layers

Looking for the layers of an image is another way of simplifying it. Sue asks her course participants to visualise their image as a series of layers, like a painting. She says, “Thinking in terms of layers can really help to clarify the order of the making process. Pull the image apart to identify how it’s built up through complexity. Try to pin down where the layers meet and shift into each other.”

Stitch Your Story student April Sproule layers in stitch
“Stitch Your Story” student Melanye Coleman ,layers in fabric sample
Stitch Your Story student Melanye Coleman layers in fabric sample

One final tip

Don’t forget to play.  See how young children create – they do it for sheer enjoyment and once they’ve finished something, they simply move onto the next one. Their inner critic doesn’t yet exist. Playing makes it so much easier for you to suspend self-judgment. 

Playing is a way into portraiture in stitch. It makes you bolder. Bold enough to start your big adventure, your own journey of self-discovery, of deepening your creative expression, of connecting and reconnecting with your own stories and histories.

You’ll start to develop a way of seeing and making that will help you enjoy creating those resonant, expressive portraits of the people from your past (or in your future) that will give you a special kind of joy.

Do you find the idea of stitching faces and people exciting? Or is it perhaps a little intimidating? Is there someone in particular, someone important to you, who you’d like to stitch in your art? Let us know in the comments section below and we’ll try and help out.

Monday 22nd, July 2024 / 11:45



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52 comments on “Stitching faces: where to start”

  1. Kathy Campbell says:

    Just what I needed to read.

    • Mary Lee says:

      Thank you!!! I missed Sue’s classes when she was in the US last year and truly wanted to enroll. I find myself now saving $ in hopes to fly over to Britain to take one of her classes there. Meanwhile I’m working to create my own methods for fabric and embroidered portraits. I read everything I can get my hands on and after finding an old black and white photograph of my mother (1940’s) that no one had ever seen…I was motivated to begin. So far… I’m enjoying the process and am pleased with the progress. I’m thrilled to be on your mailing list. I get SO EXCITED when I see your name in my inbox! Every single article provides inspiration for my creative interests. I am still building my own ‘toolbox of techniques’ for textile portraits and found Sue’s 5 top tips very helpful. Again, my sincere thanks!

      • Sue says:

        Great to hear that you are getting excited about making embroidered portraits Mary and thank you for your interest in taking one of my classes. I love those small black and white photos so I’m really thrilled that it motivated you to get started. We have some free training coming up that will help you on your journey so keep an eye on your inbox for more details coming soon.

  2. Irina says:

    I’m really interested in the emails you send and now you have brought up the subject of stitching portraits which I have been thinking about for a while, it’s quite exciting. I think it’s the scale that’s putting me off; I want to do life size but most photographs are small or very small. Now I think this is where I should start? Any advice?

    • sue says:

      Hello Irena, I’d advise that you start with a simple, clear, and most importantly’ in focus’ image that can be enlarged. Keep an eye on your inbox for news of some free training coming up that may help you get started.

  3. Gaylyn Kaufman says:

    Thank you so much!
    This has helped and inspired me more than you can imagine.
    These are precious nuggets generously shared, and I am grateful.
    Isn’t it amazing that often, just the right words, opening a perspective, a viewing place, in just a particular way, can shift ones obstacles away.
    The words on positive limitations has done that for me! And is swirling into many areas of life!
    Gratitude and blessings.

    • sue says:

      Thanks for your kind comments Gaylyn. Using positive limitations has certainly helped me over the years. Keep an eye on your inbox for some free training we have coming up that may also help to motivate you further.

  4. Berna Scanlan says:

    Dear Sam and Joe

    I am so inspired from your email to attempt to stitch portraits. As you say, just use two or three stitches and three colors. I can do that.
    Thank you for your wonderful emails. I’m looking forward to Wednesday already.

    • sue stone says:

      Hello Berna, Great to hear you are inspired to stitch portraits. We have some free training coming up that will help you get started so keep an eye on your inbox for more details coming soon.

  5. Eve Clark says:

    I joined the ‘stitch your story’ at the beginning but sadly could not get in the mood due to depression and anxiety brought on my my dog being seriously ill and deteriorated week by week in front of our eyes. He has lived longer than the vet expected but it is hard knowing that if he doesn’t die as a result of sudden death then his continuing weakness will force the decision to end his life. Meanwhile he enjoys a limited short walk and wags his tail. Last year 6-8 miles a day were normal, often more . Now it is 1 mile a day.
    .I was trying to do a dog portrait for a friend but it was never ‘right’ due to working from one sun shadowed photo only. So now I am thinking out the box – think raining chocolate over landscape and dogs! Needless to say I still struggle with anxiety over it but thanks to your article today I realise that it doesn’t matter and neither does it matter if they like it or not. What matters is finishing it avoiding finding excuses and learning from it through my current situation.

    Thanks again. Eve Clark

    • Joyce Gordon says:

      Dear Eve, Companions, like dogs, are so important in our lives especially when we humans suffer from depression. My two Australian Shepherds have been the reason I get out of bed. There is a study underway by the veterinarians at University of Washington in Seattle working on extending the healthy lives of dogs as they recognize how important our four legged companions are, especially as humans age. Something to consider is to make your dog a special square kerchief and embroidery on two edges ‘Always by my side in life; in my heart forever’ and place a paw print in the triangle. If you do need to euthanize your dog, place the kerchief around their neck so when they leave for the other side of the rainbow, your love will travel with them. Embroidery is great therapy. I wish you well in your journey. Joyce

    • sue stone says:

      Hello Eve, I am so sorry to hear about your dog. I have always found that when times are very tough throwing myself into my stitching really helps. Doing, enjoying and learning as you go is the important thing rather than the end result.

  6. Carita says:

    Please forgive my question.. i don’t know much about free stitching yet. How does one make the transfer from photo to palette? I too find this particular section fascinating! Thanks for all the shares!

    • sue stone says:

      Hello Carita, There are many ways to transfer an image to fabric. The method I use is very simple and low-tech. Keep an eye on your inbox for more details of some free training coming up that may help you as a beginner to stitching.

      • Don says:

        Am pleased to hear there will be information on transferring images from photos to fabric coming up. That is my block at the moment to trying it.

  7. sue says:

    Really helpful advice. I am just starting my portrait journey in thread, I love drawing realistic portraits in pencil, So this is my next challenge to get the essential details and feel their personalities come through.

    • sue stone says:

      Hello Sue, I’m very excited to hear that you are starting your stitched portrait journey. We have some free training coming up soon that will help you so keep an eye on your inbox.

    • Kim Goodwin says:

      Hi Sue,
      Do you use any type of fabric sealer or medium if you are stitching & painting? If so do you pre-treat your fabric before beginning the work? This question may have been asked and answered but I couldn’t find it. Thank you so much in advance/

  8. John Fong says:

    This is such an excellent “summary” of the art that it should be published in book form! Even though I
    have stitched portraits before, it was a jolt to my thinking of how wonderfully written and summarized
    it is!….. Just wonderful!

    • sue stone says:

      Thank you for your kind comments John. We really appreciate them. Keep an eye on your inbox for some free training coming up very soon which may interest you.

  9. Nancy Sopp says:

    Your wonderful article arrived in my inbox at exactly the right time. I have been sampling portraits — making practice pieces — for a couple of months and began working on a self-portrait last week. Dealing with the inner critic is the hardest part, and you gave some excellent tips. Thank you so much!

    • sue stone says:

      Hello Nancy, Great to hear you are working on a self portrait. Sampling is a great way to get started. We have some free training coming up that will help you so please keep an eye on your inbox for more details.

  10. Val Hatton says:

    I did a “Focus on Faces” workshop with Sue Stone in January. Despite never doing anything like it before, I finished the portrait at home and have hung it on my sewing room wall to remind me that “I can do it “. Thanks for a great class Sue!

    • sue stone says:

      Hello Val, I’m so pleased that you have finished your portrait and hung it on the wall. It’s always rewarding to hear such positive feed back. Thank you. We have some free training that will help you coming up so keep an eye on your inbox for more details.
      Thanks again, Sue

  11. Susan Ludwig says:

    I love reading each ‘episode’ from Textile Artist.. this one is superb in my opinion. As I glanced at the title, I thought “oh dear,” as if one might have ‘bit off too much’ but “NO”! This is a beautiful learning tool! Well-tuned, excellent photos and great tips. Kudos! Take a bow, gentlemen!!

  12. Virginia says:

    I love your texts, and the photos of the artist’s work, thanks for sharing, I am going to try with a face.

    • sue stone says:

      Hello Virginia, Great to hear you are inspired to try a face. We have some free training coming up that will help you so please keep an eye on your inbox for more details.

  13. Marje Lewis says:

    Thank you for your most interesting e-mails. I really enjoy seeing the accomplishments of the fine artists that you spotlight and marvel at their skills. Although I’m 85 years old and my high-energy quilting days are over I still enjoy producing small art quilts and have made a number of quilted portraits of friends which they really enjoy. Sue’s article on stitching faces has me itching to try out this form of portraiture; I have lots of treasured family snapshots to work on so I look forward to the Wednesday message with enthusiastic anticipation.

  14. Mary Coughlan says:

    I am loving your lessons but like Carita I would love to know more about transfering the image, photo, onto the fabric please. I am inspired

    • Marie de Waal says:

      I would love to know more about stitching portraits, also like to know how to transfer outlines of faces onto fabric? Is it too late to to be included for the free training? Your work is so inspiring cannot wait to start on a project soon, but knowledge of how to go about the process is keeping me from getting started!

  15. Barbara Wilder says:

    Thank you so much for your support, the words I have been reading have been a real eye opener, I thought it was just me!, now reading Sue’s story has given me the confidence to make a start and not be too critical of the attempt. I am really enjoying the course, but I know exactly what holds me back, so hopefully reading your inspirational words , I can move forward with true Yorkshire grit.

  16. Jana says:

    Even without the anticipation of something exciting to arrive tomorrow, this was one of the most engaging newsletters I’ve read to date (I’ve been a subscriber for maybe 6 months?). I LOVED seeing all of the variations on stitched faces. Kept shaking my head in wonder at the creativity, the depth within the simplicity. I am brand new to creative stitching, but have done some watercolor. There, too, if you simplify the faces, you can achieve an emotion nonetheless, a countenance that speaks. I have never considered hand stitching a face, but I am so excited by the prospect! This newsletter feeds my soul.

  17. Katie says:

    I am so excited about all the new possibilities that come every time I read one of your newsletters. I am eagerly awaiting this upcoming info that you keep mentioning. One question I have is how to render people with different skin tones within the same portrait. Looking forward to learning more! Thanks!

  18. Oh this is such good advice, and I can also use it in drawing and painting. My biggest fear is always in ‘wasting’, if I do something wrong or it doesn’t come out right the materials are wasted and so expensive to replace. The ‘bully’ behind this is always ordering me to get it right the first time and that is just so stressful. I see that I need to deal with that now, and trust that the good Lord Who gave me the talents will also provide the materials when needed. Also that I need to give myself permission to just play, and not be so serious about it all. Thank you Sue Stone.

  19. sabrina says:

    This embroidery style is so amazing! I love it!
    Compliments for the creativity and the art!

  20. sandi says:

    Love this site!

  21. Lindsay says:

    Sue, Joe and Sam,
    Thank you for the wonderful work you do. I so appreciate
    You are generous people. See you at the webinar!

  22. anna mae says:

    this was exactly what i needed to read today. i’m going to print this and read it every time i feel paralyzed. so glad i found this site and your work, and all of the incredible work shared here.

  23. Roelien van der Greft says:

    What an inspired story We (3 women) also heard from someone who did the online course Exploring textiles and patterns, by Sue Stine. Is there an opportunity to follow that course now?

  24. Ellie says:

    I loved this article, Sue. Your tips make the idea of stitching portraits accessible to me. I am not very experienced but am now excited to give it a go. What is the worst thing that can happen? …I will have a new experience. Thank you for these tips!

  25. clemence says:

    Vraiment super. Bravo pour cet excellent travail.

  26. Carol says:

    I am lucky to have found this website today. As I was tooling around the site looking at various stories, I kept thinking about my friend who will be 100 years old this July. I would love to make her something that she will enjoy and this article on stitching faces answered my wish. I have only sewn on a button or two in my 72 years but, am curious to see if I can play around with stitching. So, I will begin! Thank you for this article as it has both inspired me and freed me to try.
    I look froward to the free training coming up to help guide me along my new path!
    Thank you for your help and inspiration. Stay safe, well and creative!

  27. Carol Rivera-Kron says:

    I want to thank you, Sue Stone. I just discovered your website and while searching around discovered the stitching faces article. I can barely sew on a button and, yet, your words lured me into trying my hand at stitching a portrait of my good friend, Eleanor. She will be 100 years old on July 20th and I wanted to give her something special.
    I started by looking at a photo of her at 99 and decided to try to sketch what I saw. I worked from that sketch. I found an embroidery hoop I randomly picked up at a second hand shop and searched around for some embroidery threads and found a box of different colors left behind by my daughter when she left home to begin her own life. I sat for a few days thinking about starting and then, one day, began. Today, July 20, 2020 I will briefly visit my friend. Masked and safely distanced due to the Covid-19 virus I will wish her a very Happy 100th Birthday and enjoy our friendship, together!
    Thank you for encouraging me to let go and begin!

  28. Pauline says:

    I have just joined Textile today!
    I have been really inspired by reading all the information there. I paint and draw portraits but have always wanted to do embroidery ones. I am not a good embroider as I tend to crochet, but I want to learn how to do embroidery, so I can start attempting portraits. It sounds ambitious but I can go along with your ethos of 2 stitches and a 3 colour palette.

    What material do you use for drawing on and what pens/pencils?

    I would like to enrol on your online portrait course when it starts.

  29. Aruna says:

    I am thinking of starting a portrait art and this has been a very motivating article by Sue Stone and has also given very good tips to start.But my concern remains as to which basic fabric to use for the embroidery.
    Thank you Joe and Sam

  30. GRACIELA says:


  31. Mary Lou Zeek says:

    Thank you for inspiring me to keep on stitching. I LOVE stitching faces and now can’t wait to start another one. I can’t wait to join the stitch club.

  32. Mary says:

    I love this article about stitching faces!! I get inspired to try it again. I have done portraits on the sewing machine with fabrics for texture and color but not all hand stitch. It is on my to do list.
    Thanks for the inspiration.


  33. Jassy says:

    Absolutely fascinating. Love your talent. Would love your emails. Thank you

  34. Before I heard of any international embroidery community, I had seen some ribbon work in books in local fabric store, which fascinated me, starting me as a lone embroidery self-taught artist in the Bluegrass of Kentucky, U.S.A. I had done pen & ink drawing and cartooning since childhood, with many people telling me my drawings are much like Matisse’s whom I greatly admire.
    I am especially in love with Matisse’s aportraits of women, so thought I’d embroider my take on a few of his oil portraits into a series of my own mini embroidered works. I was working on my third 4” by 4” piece when hospitalized for a knee replacement. A commotion of circumstances occurred, causing the loss of two when I suffered some sight problems. My ability to see to embroider is now, thankfully, returning. Here I hope to include my photo of the third portrait done almost completely in French knots (which I love!)
    I am now age 71 and also a dedicated poet. I have written a lot in agreement with Sue about creating in the joy of the process! So true!
    I hope I can get my portrait to show and you all might find some inspiration from it. I am new here, hoping to make floss loving friends! I also am working on embroidering . I will re-post it today 5/22/22 as I am not able to set it here. Will look further on this marvelous site.
    portraits of birds and cats. Take care, all, and be well.
    I do not have a website, but post my work on Facebook at sally young-eslinger

  35. Rae Fuller says:

    Hi Sue, Loved your Article. It reminded me of being in your class. What fun I had. I have also really enjoyed the classes you have taught in Textile Artist. I think you are a gifted Teacher.

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