Blackpool Embroiderers’ Guild is the local branch of a national organisation which has been running for over 100 years. Originally, the guild was aimed at teachers but for many years it has welcomed anyone who is interested in embroidery and other textile related arts and crafts, whatever their level of expertise.

I spoke to guild chairman, Seonaid Elliot, to find out what it’s all about:

What is Blackpool Embroiderers’ Guild?

The aims of the guild overall are to:

  • nurture an enjoyment of embroidery and enable anyone to participate at any level, whether they are young people learning to stitch, a professional artist, or someone who simply appreciates textiles;
  • change perceptions of the guild and embroidery by demonstrating how it is relevant to the 21st century;
  • be recognised as the national voice for embroidery in the UK.

How long has the Guild been running?

The Blackpool branch was founded in 1981. We celebrate our 35th Birthday in 2016 and our 25th Birthday coincided with the centenary of the National Guild. Like all local organisations over the years we have seen membership rise and fall and meetings being held in everything from pub function rooms to members’ homes.

However, the rise of interest in creativity in general and a growing fascination with embroidery and other textile crafts has seen a rise in membership in the last few years and we have found a home with the Blackpool Art Society’s studio on Wilkinson Avenue which provides us with an excellent base for both practical nights and visiting speakers.

What kinds of things do it members do?

The work that our members produce is as varied as they are. Some of our members have completed, or are about to complete, the City and Guilds qualification, while others are just beginning to explore the world of textiles.  This means that we have a great mix of people who want to know how to do things and those who can tell them!

In Blackpool we make sure that the programme is a mix of learning and inspiration. At one of our monthly meetings we concentrate on practical skills, using a programme developed by member Ann Christy. Last year we learned a different type of stitch each month, which was challenging for both newer members and those of us with more experience who had tended to stick to our favourite stitches and forgotten the others.

This year we are using that learning to tackle some of the many different embroidery techniques available to us. We have already covered crewel work, needle painting and shadow work and for the rest of this year we are focussing on the wide variety of raised or dimensional techniques that will provide texture to our future work.

The other meeting tends to involve an invited speaker. In the last few months we have had talks by Karen Casper (and our first sight of glow in the dark embroidery), and an introduction to colour theory by Marge Quinn, another of our more experienced members.

What have you been up to lately?

In addition to preparing for our exhibition in April, we have been linking into some of the other organisations in Blackpool. Tactile Textiles (TTs) have been developed with Empowerment, a local organisation which provides support to people living with dementia and their carers. In the later stages of dementia people can become very restless. The TTs provide a range of textured sensations which people can stroke, squeeze or fiddle with and they have been proven to be calming and soothing.

We are also in the second year of our Traveling Books. This is an idea that came from other branches in the guild and which we have adopted with enthusiasm. Each of the members involved chose a theme and set any parameters for the pieces to be included, worked the first piece of work and then passed it on to the next person in the group. The book travels round the whole group, changing hands each month, and in six or seven months the book comes back to the originator with a lovely variety of textile pieces in it.

Any interesting things in the pipeline?

We are currently involved with the Blackpool Treasure Trove and are working towards a pop-up museum piece which should be completed by the end of May.

And, of course, we have our exhibition in April which should give visitors a glimpse of the range of techniques and styles of textile work which our members enjoy. There will also be information on the Travelling Books, TTs and the progress on the Blackpool Treasure Trove project.

Blackpool Embroiderers’ Guild is open to anyone over 18 who has an interest in textiles, whatever their level of expertise. We are a very lively and informal group and warmly welcome new people to our meetings. You can ‘try before you buy’ and come to a couple of meetings before deciding whether you want to join us full time. Visitors are asked to make a contribution of £5.00 for a night when we have a speaker and £3.00 for one of our practical nights.

If you decide to join us, membership of the guild is currently £40.00 per year – £30.00 goes to the national organisation, £9.00 is kept by the branch and helps to pay for speakers and tutors and £1.00 supports the regional committee. We also have to become members of the Art Society which currently costs £25.00 (plus a £5.00 administration fee in the first year) which not only gives us access to the facilities at the studio but also means that we can join in all their activities too.

Follow us at www.seasidestitchers.blogspot.com or on Facebook or, for further information on any aspect of the Branch and our activities, please contact:

Seonaid – 01772 722057, [email protected]; or

Judith –  07500208027  [email protected]


The Guild have their Celebration of Stitch at Blackpool Central Library on Thurs 16 April, 1pm-4pm, Fri 17 April, 10am-4pm and Sat 18 April, 10-4pm with an exciting range of speakers, demonstrations, stalls and activities on offer.


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