What is slow stitching? The mindful DIY craft you need to try.
Updated: Mar 6
Slow stitching is a relatively new concept that incorporates old hand stitching traditions. It's a craft where ancient practices and creativity collide. Unlike stitching that is used to mend or make a garment, slow stitching is the act of using needle and thread to create art; just as you would paint, draw or sculpt out of clay. I like to think of it as hand stitching with a creative purpose.
Slow stitching is also an unexpectedly good mindfulness activity. Long before the notion of mindfulness was popularised by the wellness movement, people have been using crafting to relax and be present - she may not have known it but your Grandmother was onto something pretty groovy whenever she sat down to knit! But whether it be knitting, crocheting or other DIY crafts – using your hands to create has long been viewed as particularly beneficial for the anxious amongst us. It allows the busy mind to be distracted through the act of doing - so much so that ‘welldoing’ has become a term of phrase. And a term I love, actually!
Slow stitching is currently my favorite welldoing activity. It always has been if I'm honest. I can spend hours making art through needle and thread, consciously crafting without a care in the world. I love to see the same relaxed enthusiasm come to life in my slow-stitching workshops. As a maker, it’s always wonderful to be able to teach someone a new craft, but to do so knowing that you’re giving them a tiny slice of the slow life - an escape from the busyness of the day-to-day - well, that aspect is such a boon for me, and I still get a kick out of it after teaching craft all these years.
Sustainability in craft is so important. One thing we can all do is make our wardrobes more sustainable by mending and upcycling. Using recycled garments in your slow stitching creations is a wonderful way to hold on to the past while breathing life into something new (especially if you're sentimental like me!). Every now and then I'll fossick through my wardrobe or a local op-shop to see what I can use in a new slow stitching project.
Slow stitching workshops are now a regular fixture on my creative workshop list, taking place in Melbourne, Sydney, and the Gold Coast. You can see a full list of slow stitching workshops here. Soon I will have an online slow stitching craft class available also which I am REALLY excited aboyut (you can check out our online basket workshop here if you like).
So, what are some slow stitching ideas to get you started? Here are eight creative ideas I've tried and tested for you:
1. A piece of artwork. Just.make.art! I must admit this is one of my favorite past times of late. This gives you free rein to create whatever you want. My only advice would be not to make your piece too big - start off small and create bigger as you get more into it. As visual artist, Jenny Davis says:
“I use the thread to make makes and the textiles to paint. Slow stitch connects and is an extension of my abstract painting”.
2. A stitch book. Use this as a sampler of all the different stitches you know and learn along the way.
3. An insert for a garment. Create a shape that is suitable to be inserted into a garment. Below right is a square insert I stitched as a feature on an old shirt. But you could have stitched cuffs, a collar, pocket - let your imagination run wild!
4. Deconstructed Jeans. Turn them into a book cover or bag. Jeans are so useful (and plentiful! Who hasn't got an old pair in their cupboard?) as denim is strong. Hot tip: using an existing pocket makes for less work. Here I have turned a coin pocket into a book cover.
5. A stunning mandala. Mandala patterns are lovely to work with as you are controlled by a circular shape which for some reason is (for me) extra theraputic. Work your way around the centre using different stitches and colours.
6. Just stitch! Practice stitching and see where your mind takes you! Even if I just play stitch I can get lost in it for a whole evening. Afterwards I sleep like a baby.
7. Mending and patching. The original use of hand stitching!
8. Darn jumpers and socks. I used to say I would never darn socks, but then I made a pair and was totally hooked. It was strangely fun and the result was the comfiest pair I'd ever owned. I just love the feel of them and now I only wear handmade socks. Because they take so long to knit - I darn them!
9. Make patches for a quilt. Incorporate elements of stitching to your quilt squares to make a piece of art you can stay warm in!
Here are the workshops we are holding in Sydney, Melbourne, and Healesville, VIC: