Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Online Embroidery Classes

You've taken an embroidery class, and you are hooked.  You are stitching up all of the samplers that you can, you are telling all of your friends about your fantastic new hobby, and your weekends are starting to resemble a scene in a Jane Austen novel.  (In the Jane Austen Drinking Game, this would count as "Display of Womanly Skill.")

But soon, you develop a tolerance.  You start to crave the harder stuff--complicated stitches . . . other historical and international stitching styles . . . actually turning your embroidered work into an object.  You would gladly keep taking classes until you've drained your textile hobby budget.

And that's when you realize that you have taken the only embroidery class available in your tri-county area.

It's a crushing feeling, and that's if you could find a beginner class at all.  I was able to take a class at my local craft store because the owner happens to be interested in embroidery.  When my mom expressed interest, I looked on Google to see what classes were in her area.  After sifting through the useless "custom embroidered logo" entries, the only classes I could find were in little independent craft stores in the downtown of her nearest large city--a 40-minute drive on a good day, or a train ride.  Though Michaels and Joann Fabrics both carry embroidery supplies (usually languishing in the farthest corner of the store), I have yet to find any that offer embroidery classes.

That is where online classes can fill the void.  These have become more common in recent years, and are especially convenient for embroidery because you can work on your project in front of the computer.  classes can take different forms, depending on who is putting them out.

Large websites like Creativebug and Craftsy publish classes in the form of videos.  Subscribers can either pay a monthly fee to access all the classes they want, or pay individually for each class.  The classes here are a step-up from free video tutorials on YouTube, filmed with high quality equipment, adequate lighting, and higher resolution.  The videos are divided into chapters so that it is easier to go back and find specific parts to watch.  I find that visual lessons are very helpful for beginners, because it helps to see the steps being performed.  With videos, you can also rewind it as many times as it takes to understand a step.  Rebecca Ringquist of Drop-Cloth Samplers has several great classes up on Creativebug, including one that covers the stitches on her original sampler.

Individual teachers can use a different method, releasing each "class" as a PDF document with detailed instructions for completing the lesson.  The teacher makes herself available by e-mail for questions.  Sometimes the teacher will open a private Facebook or Flickr group for all students taking the same class.  In this virtual classroom, students can share pictures of their works in progress and ask each other questions.  While the class might last a few weeks in terms of releasing the PDF lessons, the group is open for several months so that students can progress at their own pace.  This style of online class is good for embroiderers who have mastered the basics and want to learn additional skills.  (If you find it easy to learn stitches from diagrams in books, that will work in your favor.)

For a birthday present, I am treating myself to an online class from one of my favorite embroidery bloggers, Nicole of Follow the White Bunny.  She designs patterns inspired by illustrations in children's books.  Her class, Furry Nice, will cover the techniques necessary to stitch small animal portraits.  I can't wait for class to begin on April 10.  Other students have been introducing themselves in our private group.  Nicole is from the Netherlands, and other students are from the USA, Norway, Australia, and the UK.  Even though we are worlds apart, we are able to introduce ourselves and visit each others blogs.  It really is starting to feel like a class.  I feel so lucky to be a crafter in the Internet age, when I can overcome geography and limited resources by clicking on a link.

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