There the process of designing your own pieces of embroidery may start with deciding on a particular project you want to make, such as a panel, a bag or an item of clothing, or grow out of a design idea from something you have seen that was inspirational. The thing is that it is a glorious adventure that will bring you hours of pleasure and a sense of achievement, not something to worry about or feel daunted by. Get excited by the sources of inspiration around you and with a bit of practice you will be developing design ideas that will please you. The world is overflowing with an infinite number of exciting images that provide sources of inspiration for every embroiderers needs.
Good design is difficult to define and is ultimately a matter of personal taste. However it is generally recognised that the components of colour, line and texture and the way they are used in a composition play an important role in the overall success of a completed piece of embroidery. Remember no design can be intrinsically wrong – it may be unusual and maybe next time you would do it differently, but if you like it, it has a value and the characteristics of its style make it unique to your work. Even if you don’t like it, it still has a value, as part of the learning process, and will contribute to the success of the next piece of embroidery you do.
The idea of actively looking for inspiration can seem rather intimidating, but be satisfied with keeping it on a simple and enjoyable level. Remember that no one ever starts out as a great artist or designer. Everything and anything can be a source of inspiration for embroidery, from products on the supermarket shelves to the flowers and insects in the hedgerow. The sheer wealth of choice may be the main problem you encounter.
Inspiration does not come out of thin air. The essence is to observe closely, this will help you to focus on your subject, understand how it is constructed and see all the possibilities. Through this type of observation you will begin to understand the form and structure of the subject: for instance, how petals are attached to a stem or how the branches of a tree curl toward the sky. This appreciation of your source of inspiration will help you to record your impressions more clearly and will eventually show through in your finished embroidery design.
However endless the inspiration drawn from nature, make sure you also think about man-made structures. Buildings and skylines offer a geometric treat to the eye, whereas individual artefacts, jewellery and textiles provide more random patterns. Keep an eye out for any interesting exhibitions and take the time to rediscover your local museums.
Man-made objects are all around us and demonstrate how others have interpreted original source material. For example a comparison of how the same type of flower is treated by the Dutch masters or in pop art will help you develop your design skills.