A Tip to Improve Your Skills–Play!

In the course of my creative life, I’ve had moments when I can’t quite accomplish my vision because I don’t have the skills yet.

Whether being able to invisibly stitch up a hem or having the embroidery stitch repertoire to re-create a fiber landscape, part of being able to create confidently is mastering techniques and materials.

Terry White’s experimental stitching
with yellow variegated thread.
Photos by Terry White

In the latest Quilting Arts in Stitches, vol. 7, artist Terry White describes her frustration when she has a design in mind, but does not yet have the skills to accomplish her vision. How does she bridge that gap? With play!

Terry sets aside “a day (or part of a day) for experimenting each week.”

Here’s how Terry White describes her Experimental Play Day:

“An experimental play day is a time to explore the qualities of the materials I’m using and to explore techniques I have in mind. These may be things I’m reading about, things other people are doing, or just an unfinished idea. I really need to experience the technique to know if it will work and if it will work in my art. If the term ‘play day doesn’t sit well with people around me, then I call it ‘research and development.’

“I need to work with new materials which I bring into my studio. For example: every time I get a new set of threads I need to see what they look like stitched out in free machine embroidery and with programmed decorative stitches.

“I can work out my issues with color, design, and see how far I can push a technique. The thing is, for everything I try that is new there is a learning curve before I can become proficient. Needlework in any form (thread painting for instance) has its learning curve and requires practice. I think that the mastery is gained by doing the thing over and over and getting good at mixing threads, stitches, color, and design.”

In the complete article, Terry White invites you to one of her play days. She admits, “This is real and there will probably be some ugly things to see, but that is all part of it for me.” 

Filled with inspiration and instruction, in Stitches vol. 7 will keep you playing for a long, long time.

Happy stitching,


Rose DeBoer
Assistant Editor, Stitch magazine



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