embroidered butterflies

The quiet stitch

Needlework is great for creating a state of quietude.

Working alone (even if you are sitting there with others), it’s really just you and the needle, stitching as you go with the flow or according to a pattern. It creates a meditative state in the same way when we take up our knitting or crochet and do nothing else, think nothing else except to be in the moment.

Moving from one stitch to the next, the next and the next, just paying attention to nothing else except the pattern. Or, your breathing. That’s what makes it meditative. And also why I call it the quiet stitch. In those moments, there is just you and your pair of hands. And then you ask who is stitching?

  1. T-shirt applique. I used a piece of cloth double adhesive as opposed to the other one I have which is only one-sided. It’s very thin but very sticky yet once you iron it on to your working surface, the glue melted away leaving no stickiness. Really great when it’s easy to pass the needle through to do the embroidery stitches. A roll from Daiso costs SGD2.00.

double adhesive from Daiso

Followed up with using cotton sashiko thread for the embroidery. Just freehand and going with the flow. Nothing pre-planned. The appliqué is 100% cotton printed cloth for SGD5.00 from a shop at People’s Park although you can get the same at Spotlight but at twice the price. Threads are from Golden Dragon Store.

t-shirt applique

2. Shoulder bags. There have been numerous occasions when I have found myself just wanting to create a shoulder bag from scratch and hand-stitching the entire project. No machine stitching at all even when it comes to the lining. I continue to find it extremely fulfilling when I complete something entirely by hand. Even a skirt. It’s a great way to just be in the creative act. And to bypass or short out that notoriously busy mind.

3. Embroidery. I have the good Canossian sisters to thank for for starting me off on my love for embroidery. It was a subject in primary school and it was always a thrill to see my teacher take out all those colourful threads for the lesson. There would be no chatting whatsoever while the session is on. Just our hands being busy. Each of us would keep our individual projects wrapped in a piece brown paper in between. This piece of paper also served to line the table thus keeping everything neat and clean.

4. Medicine bags. Symbols have always been a part of my life and I have done front pieces for medicine bags by embroidering them down onto pure cotton and imbuing them with Reiki or healing intentions. There was once this Mason chap who took an interest in my symbols and told me ‘they’ have found them powerful. He asked for more but wouldn’t tell me what he did with them but suffice to say I learned a valuable lesson there.

There are many other projects I have stitched over the years which are no longer with me. I remember doing shisha work with mirrors in a paisley design, embroidering the front of a white shirt. Gifted a friend with it. Bought the gold and silver threads from a haberdashery shop in Perth. Can’t get them here in Singapore. And if you haven’t yet taken up needlework, I hope this inspires you to give it a try. The supplies can be quite simple. With a needle, some thread and cloth or paper, you can start stitching the quiet stitch. You will find needlework can bring you to places within you you never knew existed. Just let your needle show you the way.