Rough Trade Books Extra Curricular - A little online amusement for abnormal times Randomise!

Lola Lely’s Embroidery Workshop

Madge Gill’s embroideries are complex constructions of abstracted marks, textures and colours that challenge the conventions of needlework.
This workshop, originally created for William Morris Gallery in Summer 2019, is an opportunity to explore embroidery and mark-making techniques with an emphasis on instinctive and spontaneous approaches to making.

Its aims are to inspire free-form shapes and thinking, therefore ‘perfection’ is not a goal, if participants have any ‘mistakes’, leave them in and keep going.
When looking at Madge Gill’s embroideries, we don’t expect participants to fill their entire pieces of calico in the same way, as that may take days!(depending on the size of your piece of calico). We would like you to focus on the stitching technique and free form creations.
Madge Gill invented her own stitches and we’d like to encourage participants to do the same. Look at Madge Gill images and embroideries for inspiration and ideas in this online gallery here. Please stitch in a way you feel comfortable, using stitches you know well or perhaps try out inventing your own stitch. This is all about giving it a go.

What you need…

— 25cm x 20cm piece of calico or any scraps of material you can get your hands on
— Large embroidery needle
— Collection of different coloured threads
— Pencils and/or pens


1. Using a pencil, draw a freehand scribble in 3 seconds on the fabric.

2. Using whatever method you choose, stitch this line into the fabric for 15 minutes or till your thread runs out.

3. Now draw a second scribble onto the fabric, not worrying if the lines cross each other.

4. Stitch with a new colour thread for another 15 minutes, or until the thread runs out.

5. For the next 15 minutes, begin filling blocks of the scribble in/or trace another line if you’re enjoying it and want to continue.

6. Have a good stretch and a cup of tea and a biscuit.

7. For the last 30 minutes, continue to draw and stitch lines or continue to fill in blocks of the scribble.

8. Once you’ve completed this embroidery session please share your work via Instagram tagging @RoughTradeBooks and using the hashtag #MadgeGillArtAtHome