Our newest Challenge

Make Do & Mend

Deadline to Submit – January 15, 2019


El Anatsui, Earth’s Skin, 2007

For this Stitch-at-Home Challenge, consider your relationship with use and reuse. We’d like you to mend, reclaim, repurpose, assemble, thrift, and blend.

On a personal level, how do you value the garments and items you own? As consumers, we are heavily influenced by the ‘fast fashion’[1] industry, which overshadows and devalues handworkers. On average, we bought 60% more clothing in 2014 than in 2000, and kept those garments half as long.[2] The EPA estimates that 12.8 million pounds of textiles were discarded in 2013[3], and the fashion industry is the second highest polluter, right behind oil. It would seem we don’t value our belongings all that much, nor do we care how they’re made. Would you agree? How do we answer to our waste?

Trends in reuse and recycling abound; countries are banning single-use plastic bags and straws left and right. Adaptive Reuse is an environmentally friendly and culturally trendy form of architecture (take the Tate Modern, London, for example), giving the dilapidated new life. What do these ideas bring to mind for you? What experiences prompt ideas of repurposing?

Like the informational pamphlet, Make Do and Mend, released by the British Ministry of Information during the resource scarcity of World War II, consider how to salvage, darn, and make new.

[1] BBC, “Fast fashion: Inside the fight to end the silence on waste”, July 31, 2018, link.
[2] World Resources Institute, “The Apparel Industry’s Environmental Impact in 6 Graphics.” July 5, 2017, link.
[3] National Resources Defense Council, “Wasted: How America Is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill,” August, 2012, link.

Check out our Inspiration Page for guidance and ideas!

Rules Document

Video Series Part 1: Patch Tutorial


Deadline to Submit – August 15, 2018

Bur·lesque, noun: An absurd or comically exaggerated imitation of something, especially in a literary or dramatic work; a parody.

Kreinik, maker of sparkly, metallic threads, inspired this theme and they have graciously donated threads for all of you to use on your Challenge pieces.

This Stitch-at-Home Challenge is intended to pull out the whimsical, the subversive, and the exaggerated parts of ourselves and our world. Throughout time, people have been responding to experiences that bump up against their sensibilities, that provoke a feeling of ridiculousness, frustration, or celebration. How do we reframe, exaggerate, or explode these feelings? Where do we find outrageous joy? Just like these Kreinik threads, we create contrast and we react boldly.

Contemporary and historical precedents are varied, fascinating, and provocative. We hope you’ll look at our inspiration page for ideas and entertain us.

Let’s have a ball!

Visit our Inspiration Page for more details on this challenge.


Video Series Part 1: The Threading of the Needles

Video Series Part 2: Couching

Video Series Part 3: Needle Weaving

Video Series Part 4: Trellis Stitch

Video Series Part 5: French Knots and Bullion Knots

The View from My Window

Deadline to Submit – April 13, 2018

Each of us have our own view on the world, our own perspectives, both literally and figuratively. For this challenge the theme is simple. When you look out your window, what do you see? Show us the view from your window.                                                                                                                                                             

Your view may change with the seasons, with the weather, or you may see it differently depending on your mood. Do you have a view of nature? Something calming, peaceful and reflective? Perhaps you have a city view, with people and traffic rushing by. If you travel for work, your view might be out a hotel window or an Uber car. Think of your window as a frame on your world. We want to see what you see! 

Visit our Inspiration Page for more details on this challenge.


Mixed-media Self-portrait

Deadline to Submit – January 17, 2018

The history of self-portraits is long and varied. From Leonardo da Vinci’s likeness in red chalk, to court painters such as Velázquez painting their own image into commissioned portraits of others, to Janine Antoni’s busts made of chocolate and soap, each artist has devised their own unique way to depict themselves. Only, often it is not just a likeness that is depicted, but a state of mind, of how one sees oneself, or of how one is imagined to be seen by others. A self-portrait is more than a portrait of the self, it can be a portrait of one’s relationships, and one’s place in the world. It may represent your best self, or your worst self. How you are, or how you wish to be.

For this Challenge, we want you to create a self-portrait. Show us who you are and how you fit into this world. For an extra challenge, not only do we want you to create a self-portrait but we ask to see a mixed-media self-portrait. Embroidery on paper or a photograph? Crewelwork collage? Stumpwork and ceramic sculpture? We can’t wait to see what you come up with.

Frida Kahlo said, “I paint self-portraits because I am so often alone, because I am the person I know best.” Yet, perhaps, if we all were to look upon each other’s self-portraits, we would realize that we are not alone, and how much it is that we have in common with others.

Visit our Inspiration Page to learn how to enter and more about the history of self-portraits.


Tips for Photographing Your Work

You may submit your original work to be displayed in our challenge exhibition, or you can send us a photograph. If you plan on sending a photograph, please read these tips for photographing your work. We will display the photo of your piece in our exhibition and we want to show off your creation as well as we can! Prepare your piece for photographing.  If your work has folds or wrinkles, you may want to carefully iron or steam the piece. Have a close look for stray threads. You can cut these off or gently remove them with tape. Photograph before you frame.  If possible, photograph your piece before you frame it. It is hard to take a good photograph through glass after the piece has been framed. Use natural light. Try taking your piece outside on a cloudy day to photograph it. This will minimize shadows in the photo and help you to get the truest colors. Think about the background.  Set your piece on a large blank piece of paper or hang a sheet behind it to create a clean backdrop. You don’t want the viewer to be distracted by the surroundings. Your work is the main event! Take a photo of the whole piece plus some detail shots. Try to take one overall photo of the piece so the viewer can get a sense of the whole picture. Make sure to leave a border around the piece to ensure the edges of your piece aren’t cut off in the photograph. It can always be cropped a little smaller later. Then take some detail shots, everyone likes to see stitching up close! If your piece is 3-d, take photos of the different sides of the piece as well as some detail shots. Make sure to take a high resolution photo.  Most digital cameras have the ability to take photos at different resolutions. Make sure to set your camera to a high resolution in order to take the best quality photo.