Go behind the scenes at The Handmade Festival and meet the makers bringing their passion and skills to you in September.

Stacey Chapman of Art Sea Craft Sea will be hosting Machine Embroidery Workshop in the Janome Sewing Studio.

  • Stacey Chapman

Trained as an illustrator, Stacey taught herself freehand machine embroidery after seeing Kirstie learn the skill on the her programme. An exhibiting artist in the South East, a columnist for Love Sewing Magazine, Stacey also teaches regular freehand machine embroidery workshops in John Lewis, Oxford Street and Margate. She is delighted to be working with Janome again and to be part of the new Handmade Festival. 


What are you most looking forward to at The  Handmade Festival?

Running the Janome freehand machine embroidery workshops! It is just so inspiring to be in an environment with oodles of amazing creative buzz and energy. It is so exciting to see each individual interpretation of each project and to witness creative breakthrough moments. Pure joy! As well as seeing all of the friends and repeat participants that I have had the pleasure to meet through the years I have been lucky enough to work at the Handmade shows.


What has been your best ever project or make?

For the Handmade Festival? Probably so far, the Autumn leaves. The reason being is that there were so many completely different versions that the participants made that blew me away. I was so impressed and it was wonderful when a lady called Claire returned last September with her fully finished piece. It was stunning - she did such a fantastic job. I felt very proud of her and I loved the fact she enjoyed it so much that she wanted to go home and carry on with it in her own time.


Do you have a favourite material to work with?

Not really. I love each thing that I work with at that particular moment, whether it be a found object picked up from the side of the road or a vintage thread kindly given to me. If you forced me into an answer, I guess it would be rare and stunning vintage cloth. I love the unusual patterns but especially the colours. They are so very different from the colours of modern fabric production. They almost vibrate with their richness. They make my mind spin with possibilities and inspiration of how to incorporate them into an artwork. 


What is the biggest disaster you have had?

About a year into my practise, I undertook a freehand machine embroidery portrait of a tiger that was over double the size of my normal commissions. I spent over a month full time working on it. I used Solvy stabiliser for the first time and I submerged the artwork to dissolve the backing. I had used a much bigger proportion than normal of damaged second hand and very old vintage threads on the piece.  I put it into the water and they all ran into each other. No more intricate colour blending. Gulp. Luckily I only dunked the lower half before I noticed the dye running. But when all of your work is really about the colouring blending of each tiny stitch and thats why they take so long, when they all run into each other, it is pretty soul destroying. But hey, you live and learn 😊 Ooh, by the way, does anyone want to buy a portrait of the top half of a tigers face….? Just saying….😉


What’s your go to snack when you need a break?

Crisps. Every time. I wish to goodness I hated them, but if the makers of onion rings or Pringles ever wanted to sponsor me and wanted me to feature their wares in the background of any online workshops, I wouldn’t ever disappoint them!

If I was being good, it would be dried black olives.


Are there any skills you would like to try?

Yes, I am just about to start a short course at the Tate Modern in soft sculpture. I have a whole exhibition in mind involving this practise and I am very excited in learning this new skill so I can incorporate print making, machine and hand embroidery, collage, drawing and soft sculpture. The possibilities are mind blowing.


What would feature in your motivational playlist?

I love musical theatre. Defying Gravity from Wicked is always the first play when I need motivation. Followed closely by Wonderful World, Louis Armstrong and Proud by Heather Small.


Find out more about Stacey on her website and follow her on social media:

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