Stop-motion embroidery animation: Take 1

Beautiful, ‘hands-free’ blackwork video HERE: (click link to watch my minute’s worth of madness)

There are a lot of efforts undertaken to docuement the embroidery process. For example, when I was working at Hand and Lock, we made a video of the Mary Katrantzou London Fashion Week piece under construction – we set up a camera on a tripod scheduled to take a picture every 30seconds, which were then strung together into a video. The end result was a bit jumpy, but showed the overall progress well. However, it also showed our hands intermittently positioned in shot as we sat poised over our stitch.

Surely the embroidery process could be documented ‘cleanly’, without needing to resort to film or having hands obscuring the image? Or at least, so I thought at whatever ridiculous hour of the morning when, afflicted with the usual insomnia, decided to test out a theory. No filming me while I worked: I could go one stage further to preserve my process….

The result is a blackwork sample that magically ‘grows’ before your eyes. Excuse the shakiness of the camera and the misaligned frames: I was judging each frame by eye, and without a tripod or other fixed measuring device it’s pretty tricky to maintain constancy. The thousand-plus frames were then strung together at speed, stop-motion-animation style, to create a ‘moving image’.

Interestingly, I cannot think of a single piece of work I’ve ever undertaken (besides teaching) where the ‘intended output’ was not the finished embroidery itself. The conventional way of working is to devote hours of time and dedication to the working process which manifest themselves only in the final outcome. This video shakes up that system somewhat: the finished sample is now merely a by-product of the ‘artwork’, which is the video itself. The process of stitching, instead of the completed set of stitches themsleves, has become the focus.

More practice is required! And potentially more patterns…


  1. fascinating to watch

  2. Fascinating procedure to watch. I enjoyed it immensely.

  3. I’ve often had the same idea for some of my embroidery but after only a few photos decided I’d rather get on with the stitching. Well done you for this first attempt. It might be a shaky video but it’s still very watchable and I look forward to your future ‘series’!!

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