Want something soothing and creative to do? Make like an Austen heroine and reach for the embroidery needles.

Embroidery: just a fun by-product of lockdown, or a hobby for life? Like banana bread, virtual choirs and Strava, embroidery rocketed in popularity during the pandemic. Google reported a 100 per cent increase in searches for embroidery kits since the first lockdown began.

Embroidery is the therapy we didn’t know we needed. Looking to lower your daily screen-time and up your wellbeing? Each embroidery stitch is a step closer to feeling less frantic and more present. Sewing beats scrolling on Insta, zoning out on zoom or bingeing on news stories. While embroidery is often associated with traditional or twee tapestries, today’s designs have decidedly modern twists and are positively uplifting.

Back stitch, chain stitch, French knots, satin stitch; Double Dutch to you? Online video tutorials will guide you on your way. So, what are the embroidery sites to have on your radar? Among our favourites are the below five tapestry sites.

The Fabled Thread

As seen in Vogue and an Instagram hit, The Fabled Thread is coveted for its dazzling embroidery kits inspired by traditional folk art. Think jewel colours, jazzy montages and Bloomsbury shapes. Each kit comes in a pretty box and everyone loves it. While working 18-hour days as an investment banker, founder Eppie Thompson discovered the therapeutic, wellbeing benefits of sewing. ‘Some stories are written in ink. Ours are told in needle and thread,’ says Eppie. ‘These aren’t so much sewing kits, as heirlooms in the making.’ Her bestsellers include the Just So cushion kits featuring Rudyard Kipling’s stories. Word of warning: last time she released a batch of her hand-painted frames, they sold out in minutes. Follow on Instagram to be in the loop. Literally. (Do check out our guest edit with Eppie, coming soon).


For something a little bit different and a lot more delicate, look at this transparent embroidery kit sold by 55tree, a Chinese shop on Etsy. It’s like regular embroidery with a difference; the pattern is printed on a high-quality transparent mesh. It is described as a thin, lightly textured plastic and almost feels like press-n-seal plastic food wrap. It is not silk. Beginners can try it. While browsing, check out the 360-degree rotatable wooden frames that allow you to flip the stand. It easily shows the back of your work, pretty natty when you work on the more difficult stitches such as French knots.

Cotton Clara

If you are a needle novice or looking to gift a token sewing kit to a friend, look to Cotton Clara. First timers rate these small embroidery kits (and nifty online tutorials), some which can be completed in an hour. A world away from the dated and heavy embroidery of yesteryear are the tapestries emblazoned with slogans like ‘Yes She Can’ and ‘Dream Big’. Kits are either natural wood or are fabric. A recent collaboration with illustrator Jane Foster resulted in a Frida Kahlo design. Hoop Club is their monthly subscription service sending a new embroidery hoop kit every month. Each kit is designed by a different illustrator or embroidery designer and, over time, subscribers will learn the different embroidery techniques from chain stitch to cross stitch.

Oh Sew Bootiful

Will embroidery become the new colouring book of mindfulness? This is the not unreasonable ambition of the founder of OhSewBeautiful, an Etsy shop selling modern handmade embroidery kits and fabric needlework patterns. Embroidery is both addictive and meditative, and the end result longer lasting than a colouring page. If you can’t wait for the post, and have the threads and fabric at home, there is the option of buying and immediately downloading PDF embroidery patterns. Sew far, so good.

Hannah Bass Needlepoint

‘Just like in yoga, you turn your brain off and let the flow of the stitch take over,’ explains contemporary tapestry artist Hannah Bass who is best known for her bright map needlepoint cushions and alphabet wall hangings. A former interior designer, Hannah finds the simplicity of tapestry incredibly relaxing. ‘I love the hectic pace of London life and travelling around the world, but I’m also equally happy dreaming in the countryside stitching a tapestry in front of a murder mystery,’ says Hannah. ‘I love the old-fashioned principle of making something myself that is high quality, hand crafted and to be loved for many years.’

By Annabel Jack
March 2021

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Annabel Jack

Contributing Editor

Annabel is a regular contributor to The GWG, with a taste for finest in food, fashion and interiors.