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Meet Local Maker Needlework on Thursday

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Meet Local Maker Needlework on Thursday

Needlework on Thursday was created by Jen, when she was cross-stitching and embroidering during lockdown. She had the idea to stitch some of her favourite places in Birmingham and so Needlework on Thursday was born!

What first fuelled your passion to make/ create your designs/ products?

I love buying Birmingham art and l love making unique gifts for people, because then they're less likely to chuck them out. Plus cross-stitch is easy.

Tell us about the origins of your business.

In lockdown I was cross-stitching and embroidering from photographs to send as gifts to friends and family when we weren't allowed to see each other. Then a friend sent me a cross-stitch kit for my birthday, and it was so lovely to do a little self-contained project that was just for me and didn't have any time-pressure on it. I had an idea to cross-stitch some of my favourite places in Birmingham for myself, so I started designing patterns and realised other people might enjoy them too. Then it got totally out of hand and here we are!

What’s your motto?

My dad once texted me on the first day of a new job, "remember, whatever happens, it's all good material for your book". I think they're good words to live by.

How would you describe your designs / products?

The perfect gift for a Bronte sister if she were a Brummie and used to go to Snobs when it had the scaffolding outside.  

What was the first success / landmark moment for your designs / product range?

There have been so many lovely little moments already so far, but it was very exciting to have a stall at Craft & Flea in the Custard Factory for the first time. Something I wouldn't have dreamed of a few years ago.

Tell us about your materials - where do you source your materials from?

I use Elbesee hoops from the Cotswolds because they're consistently good quality and don't snap like some others. My hoop backs are specially made and I'm aiming to start getting these done locally.

The aida is Zweigart because they have such a wide range of colours, and my threads are DMC because they're world-leading and colourfast - there's nothing worse than spending weeks on a cross-stitch then spilling a glass of water on it and suddenly someone in a red t-shirt looks like they've been shot.

Tell us about your making process? 

I'll choose places that mean something to me or that I know mean something to other people. Birmingham has such a varied cultural and architectural landscape and we're really spoilt for choice with iconic buildings.

I design my patterns using a piece of software called WinStitch and sometimes I'll sketch it out on grid paper first. I use photographs for reference but I design the patterns from scratch, simplifying the buildings as much as possible without losing the details that make them unique. Once I'm happy with the design (which can take anywhere between hours and months) I'll stitch it myself and then if I'm pleased with the result I'll start putting together kits to sell. The most time-consuming part of the kit making process is measuring out the thread to make sure that each kit has plenty of thread to complete the hoop, but not so much that you end up with a multicoloured hair ball left over.

Have you ever had any interesting commissions?

I tend not to take commissions because I have a day job and when I'm not doing that I'm making/designing new kits, but this year I sort of commissioned myself to cross-stitch a welcome sign for my wedding in enormous 18" quilting hoop. It was a stupid idea because I don't have arms like Mr Tickle's, but it did look good in the end.

Do you have a favourite of the Birmingham museums? If so, why?

Thinktank because it has a planetarium. I love space and I love reclining.

And finally, a tourist arrives in Birmingham for the first time ever, where do you take them?

Top deck front row on the number 50 bus.  

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