We chat to free machine embroidery expert, Heather Everitt

21 December 2022
Heather Everitt, creator of the pretty poinsettia brooch project in issue 140 of Stitch, shares her stitching secrets…

Q. How long have you been embroidering/stitching?

A long time, probably since the age of 4 or 5, so over 50 years. Trying to make clothes for my dolls was my first project.  

Q. What led you to try it for the first time?

My wonderful Granny Mary, who introduced me to the joy of the button tin and simple stitches like French Knots. She also taught me to read and write, she was a marvel. 

Heather Everitt

Q. What are your main areas of expertise – and what do you like about each technique?

I love the process of appliqué, especially with the beautiful colours of pure silk. Putting colours together and building images is really satisfying. Free motion embroidering is like painting adding threads and areas of texture. 

Q. Where do you like to get your inspiration? What is your design process like?

Nature is my main inspiration, I’m so lucky to live in a beautiful part of the UK, North Devon. I’m a magpie too, I love collecting so anything can spark an idea, a piece of fabric, an old book, etc. I really enjoy the design process, everything starts with a drawing usually in my sketchbook. I feel you need time to ‘play’ and be prepared to change or discard what you make. Things you put to one side can suddenly be useful when you revisit them. 

White stitched butterfly

Q. What do you love about using Liberty print fabrics in your work?

The quality, heritage and colours. I adore all things Liberty, my mum took me into the store when I was quite small and I asked if I could live there. My proudest achievement is having my work for sale in that iconic store, a dream come true.

Q. What has been your favourite project to create so far and why?

That’s a really difficult one, I’m so fortunate to be asked to work on a variety of projects. I love making bespoke pieces for Liberty; I recently worked on an embroidered banner for a tattoo artist and that was a real departure. The imagery was quite Gothic and a real departure from my usual style. 

Stitched butterfly on a map

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Q. Any advice for someone who hasn’t tried free machine embroidery before?

I think it’s like developing a muscle, rather like patting your head and rubbing your tummy at the same time. Lots of practice, I find drawing spirals with the needle a good exercise to get use to moving the fabric as you stitch. Use good quality threads and a new needle too. 

Q. Where do you work - do you have your own studio?

At the moment I work from my home studio but I’m in the process of having a new studio built where I can also run workshops. I’m so excited to have a big space, no doubt I’ll fill it quite quickly! 

Green and brown stitched butterfly

Q. What is the stitching scene like where you live?

I have some great independent shops nearby where I can pop out and buy a bobbin of thread, which I know can be a problem in some places. North Devon is a hub of creativity and many of my friends are makers and artists. 

Q. What did you enjoy the most about creating your poinsettia brooches in issue 140 of Stitch?

I love being set a project, exploring the shape and simplifying it to create a brooch was rewarding. I wanted the finished piece to have a quality, luxurious feeling. Making sure I sneaked in some Liberty print was fun too. 

Embroidered poinsettia

Q. What are you working on next?

I’ve just finished my Christmas card design for this year and I’m in the middle of some large pieces for Liberty which I’ll deliver at the beginning of November. I have a couple of commissions to complete before the end of the year, hopefully there will be some time to experiment and work on new things too. Oh and one craft fair to prepare for, so plenty to do. I’m so lucky to get to do something I love every day. 

Find Heather’s poinsettia project, with full step-by-step instructions and templates, in issue 140 of Stitch (December 22 - January 23) - on sale NOW!

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