Mindfulness Practise with Hand Embroidery

Mindfulness Practise with Hand Embroidery
08/08/2019 Elin
Hand embroidery as a mindfulness practise
Charles Henry embroiderer

My husband @_charleshenry_ deep in concentration and mindful of his embroidery process

When I first began to embroider, I was struck by the relaxing effects. It was as if my mind got clearer and my body calmer with each stitch. A sense of mental and physical presence made embroidery my go to activity whenever life got stressful. However, it wasn’t until much later that I drew the connections between hand work and mindfulness. In fact, hand embroidery is an ancient mindfulness practise, performed by men and women throughout history. Yet, in the modern trends of meditation, mindfulness, self care, yoga and more, embroidery tends to be forgotten. But, why?

Hand embroidery as a mindfulness practise

When I google the term “mindfulness”, I find explanations that roughly include the following three things:

  1. Focus your mind and body on the present
  2. Disconnect from the stressors around you
  3. Let your thoughts free from judgement

Read through them and you will immediately see the connection with embroidery. The slow process of hand embroidery, allows your mind to rest. The repetitive movements as well as the soothing sound of the needle that pushes through the fabric, makes you disconnect from your surrounding.

Embroidery pattern Manhattan New York

Pour a cup with your favourite drink and let the stitching begin! Here I am with some coffee (with loads of cream!) and our pattern of Manhattan Bridge in New York – it’s a perfect design to concentrate on the repetitive backstitches that makes up all the contours (i.e. the whole pattern!). Click the image and you can try out this hand embroidery designs already today.

Charles and I often talk about how it’s not the greatest number of stitch techniques that will make you a better embroiderer. But I’ve come to realise, that this principle of “less is more” also applies to embroidery as mindfulness art. Part of the mindfulness practise is to let your thoughts free of judgement. Hence, if you begin to over complicate your process with unnecessarily advanced stitch techniques, you will feel everything but free. If you let me guess, you’ll most likely feel even more overwhelmed and stressed.

Instead, concentrate on fewer basic stitches that are easy to learn for everyone and anyone. You may have reasons in your mind of why you can’t start embroidery today, but lack of experience shouldn’t be one of them! Basic stitches such as: Straight stitch, back stitch and satin stitch are easy to learn for everyone. Either you can have a look at our full article guide or watch our free video tutorials on how to do any of these techniques. In addition we also have another article that introduces you on how to start embroidery from the beginning.

Disconnect with each stitch for mindfulness art

To embroider with fewer techniques, will also give you more freedom with regards to how you combine and overlap them. Be mindful of the direction you make your stitch, the thickness of thread and the colour you choose. To go even deeper you can match your breathing with the rhythm of your stitches.

Breathe in – stitch up – breathe out – stitch down

Relax with embroidery

Another one of Charles @_charleshenry_ relaxing with some embroidery in Graca, Lisbon

To be one with the embroidery process allows you to feel fully relaxed and present. Often times I forget about the time and let the stitches carry me away. If I embroider an architectural or street scene design, I may even let my thoughts wander off to the location of the design. It leads me to questions of “who walked this street?” or, “Who lived here?”.

All in all, it is a process of disconnection. Thus, if this is what you’re looking for then be sure to turn off any digital device that may interrupt you. We often don’t realise how much a single notification throws us off balance. Furthermore, if you’re going through a rough time with a lot of stress and anxiety, notifications can be very toxic.

Reduce stress and reach greater fulfilment

Stress and anxiety are two of the key problems that mindfulness practises tries to solve. What puts hand embroidery above that of more “trendy” mindfulness activities is the creative fulfilment that it brings. When you embroider a design that you love, you will not only receive the benefits of being more mindful. But you will also have a beautiful and unique artwork at the end of the road.

Learn embroidery with online courses

Click the image to be taken directly to Charles and Elin Academy and begin your mindful embroidery journey today!

Your embroidered art piece will continuously remind you of the journey of self care that you are on. Hence, the mere presence of the finished embroidery, will contribute to greater feelings of fulfilment and accomplishment. Thus, if you are reading this article because you are on the look for a practise that will help you to become more present and reduce stress and anxiety, then I hope you feel convinced to give hand embroidery a try!

We’ve got a series of online courses to get you started, as well as unique inspiring embroidery patterns. Along with each pdf pattern you will also receive a stitch guide and colour guide to help you through the process. Furthermore, we’ve got a series of free resources to make sure that you have everything you need.

Are you already an embroiderer?

I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences with hand embroidery as a creative mindfulness practise!


Comments (7)

  1. Lucinda 1 year ago

    Important and informative information about embroidery and mindfulness. I really appreciate your thoughts about the connection between using a limited number of different stitches and the ability to reach a meditative state. Too often the majority of us think we must strive for more and more complicated stitching rather than enjoying what we already know.

    • Author
      Elin 1 year ago

      Thank you Lucinda for your feedback and input! I think you couldn’t have said it better with regards to enjoying what we already know.It’s the same principle for most things; We must practise to find the pleasure and happiness in the present with what we already have and know or else we will always feel frustrated

  2. anita george 9 months ago

    It’s so lovely what you guys are doing.i am great lover of hand embroidery .embroidering buildings which hold a special place in your heart is a very unique and fantastic effort..I love to embroidery listening to old songs and I am so relaxed then.

    • Author
      Elin 9 months ago

      Thank you so much Anita! Really appreciate your support of our work and yes old songs as company is always a winner!


  1. […] there are many elements of the two art mediums that coincide. Especially with regards to the meditative movements and repetitions. In addition, many of our modern hand embroidery designs are more likened with 3D […]

  2. […] addition to the things mentioned above, it was the tactility of the fibers and meditative action of the repetitive stitches that got us […]

  3. […] last year I wrote an article about how hand embroidery should be considered a modern mindfulness practise. Because to embroider by hand allows you to be present, disconnect from stress around you and let […]

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