A very special moment with Nelson Mandela looking at one of my books “Quilts and Quilting in South Africa” at my home in Orchards, Johannesburg on the 1st August 1992.
I was hosting an Embroidery and Quilting Exhibition of the work created by a group of teachers I had trained and their students’ work. It was late afternoon on the Saturday and Madiba was taking a stroll in Orchards. One of my special embroidery friends greeted him and he asked if he could come and see the work. He spent more than an hour and a half chatting to the students and teachers. We spoke at length about the storehouse of talent in South Africa and he was very excited about the idea of building bridges within South Africa and internationally by encouraging the creative arts. I explained that many women could embroider and quilt at home while their children were small and sell their handwork at markets, to the fashion industry and interior design shops. The scope was and continues to be huge. My journey with the needle over the past 20 years has taken me to many countries where I have worked with all nationalities. I meet up with my daughter and embroidery partner Nikki who is based in Hong Hong at the moment. We teach worldwide, swop anecdotes and celebrate our rainbow nation with the students while they stitch. May the thread that binds us continue to build the bridges of a true democracy!
Les Designs has been active for more than 25 years. Les Designs produces kits, books and textured threads covering a range of skills from appliqué and patchwork to three-dimensional hand embroidery. Over the years Lesley and Nikki have extended their range of stitching skills from machine to handwork. They share a passion for freestyle embroidery and have developed unique approaches to the delivery of their the craft.
One of the many exciting aspects of the range of products from Les Designs is three-dimensional, free-style hand embroidery, experimenting with texture using creative threads. Mixing the media allows a freedom of expression and the many techniques incorporated are: appliqué, barbola, beads, crewel stitches, felt work, photo-transfer, ribbon work, stumpwork, textured threads, traditional embroidery, trapunto quilting and interpretation of inspiration.
Many different types of stitches appear in the books and kits. To mention but a few: cast-on buttonhole, drizzle stitch with beads, parma stitch, picot, raised chain, etc. The needlework offers simple designs for beginners, which incorporate flora and fauna, and more advanced designs with many different techniques and varied themes.
Just stitch with Les Designs!