A graduate story by Machine Embroidery graduate, Cathy Howe

Graduate Story: Cathy Howe – Machine Embroidery

Cathy Howe recently completed our accredited Machine Embroidery Course (Skill Stage 2) and has already started on our Skill Stage 3 Machine Embroidery course. For Cathy Howe the course has given her a huge sense of fulfilment and has been a welcome distraction from her full time job. Take a look through her fabulous work and find out how the course has benefited her.

Cathy Howe

When I was at University I enjoyed doing a bit of Machine Sewing. I had also dabbled in a bit of free motion embroidery. Although I had some experience I decided to opt for the Skill Stage 2 course, after reading the guidance from the School of Stitched Textiles about which level to study. I had expected a lot of the course to be a bit of a refresh, but I was absolutely wrong!

My only movtivation for doing the course was to get better at my hobby. I wanted to develop my machine embroidery knowledge and have an interesting and fulfilling activity to do outside my job.

Cathy Howe Machine Embroidery Graduate

Why an accredited course?

I thought doing a formal course would help me stay motivated. Because the course is City & Guilds accredited I felt confident it would cover all the basics properly as well as covering a range of techniques I might not bother to learn if I just followed my own instincts.

I have a job that takes me all over the country (or I did before COVID19!) and I’m never in one place long enough to go to face to face classes.  Distance learning is really the only way I can access courses so I was delighted when I found out about the School of Stitched Textiles.

What have you learned?

I’ve learned that the single most important thing is to get started and to have a go.  The scariest bit of any project for me is just before I start. When all I can see is the endless ways for me to mess it up!  But every time I got stuck into a task I discovered something new.  I haven’t liked or enjoyed every single moment, but I’ve learned something in every single task.  Even if a piece doesn’t end up exactly as I’d imagined, there’s always been something good about it. Sometimes a happy accident makes a piece even better.

What’s next?

I’m already onto Skill Stage 3, and loving it too.  I have created work I would never have imagined, using techniques I’d never heard of in Skill Stage 2. I’ve still got so much more to learn and explore. I would absolutely recommend this course to others!

If you’re thinking of studying a course with School of Stitched Textiles I would recommend the following:

  • Accept that it will take time, and be willing to put the time aside to keep doing a bit because it all mounts up – even if it’s only a short time each day.
  • Be willing to fail – having a go is much more important that doing it perfectly, and ‘failing’ and investigating what went wrong and how to fix it brings faster and more intense learning than instant success ever does.
  • Go for it! Push yourself and dare to find out how far you can go.

Joan Harrison Bursary

Apply Now

Apply for a bursary to study one of our skill Stage 2 accredited courses for FREE!

Textile Talk

Listen To Our Podcast

For unmissable interviews with leading textile artists. 

Most Popular

Follow Us

Study With Us

Accredited Courses

Begin your stitch journey and unlock your full potential.

Distance Learning

Interested in studying with us? Register your interest for a course brochure!

Please see our Privacy Policy to see how we use your personal data.
Share the love...


  1. Hi Cathy
    It’s lovely to hear your experience – I think you have almost pushed me over the finishing line to make a decision to do this course. The main thing I’m nervous about is the arty research and design element as this isn’t something that I feel comfortable with – do you have any thoughts.
    Many thanks

    1. Hi Andrea thanks for your comment. Cathy may not see your lovely comment but she may be a member in our Facebook group, which is full of recent graduates and students. Feel free to join the group and ask your questions in the group. https://www.facebook.com/groups/sofst/

      I can confirm though that nearly ALL of our students worry about the research and design element. But we will teach you and give you lots of support – we break this down into lots of steps so you won’t be thrown into the deep end. If you have any more questions please feel free to ask or contact info@sofst.org. Many thanks and hope we ‘see’ you on Saturday, during enrolment. Sarah.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts

Join Our Stitch Community

Be Inspired! Get beautiful and exclusive interviews with leading textile artists straight into your inbox. 

    Your Basket
    Your basket is emptyEnrolment Portal