Award-winning embroidery artist Laura Marriott creates intricate, bold embroideries, which are inspired by her travels around the world. By stretching and layering stitches she creates unusual textures, which push digital embroidery software and machines to their limits. Here, she explains how she created this detailed RiverFleur design using Wilcom’s EmbroideryStudio e4 Designing software.

(1) All of my work is inspired by places that I’ve travelled to, supplemented by visits to museums. This particular piece is part of a big collection, which was based on my travels to Africa. I design work as big installation pieces for galleries, and then the work trickles down into jewellery or garment patches like this. The face design is based on a mask that I found in the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford.
(2) It takes me a long time to sketch, plan and develop my designs. Although I designed the work as one complete piece, I then broke it down into lots of different shapes to create different layers. So the eyes are two separate shapes, so are the lips, and the hat is made up of several different elements that have all been stitched together.

(3) I produced this design on a ZSK Sprint 6, and it took six hours to digitise using Wilcom’s EmbroideryStudio e4 Designing software. I do reuse the shapes and designs in other framed artworks, so it’s worth spending the time to make it perfect.

(4) I used six colours of Gunold poly 40 thread, to create a total of 81,631 stitches.

(5) I separated each of the different elements before I stitched them out on the machine. I then cut them out and hand stitched them together to create a 3D-effect and to give my work texture and a handmade feel.

(6) I often use leatherette because it doesn’t fray when you cut it out so it gives a nice, clean line. For this design I used a fashion leatherette, which is nice and supple, so it’s easy to stitch.

(7) I used hand manipulation and appliqué to create the finished design, putting all the different shapes and layers together like a collage, then stitching them together. This process took about three hours.

(8) I used black Gunold poly 40 thread to stitch my finished design onto a denim jacket. This was all hand stitched, and I sewed along the existing stitches to make sure that my stitches were invisible. The finished design measures 29cm x 26cm.