Pixel and Purls Sewing Workshops in Norwich 2022


It was love at first sight when Sara Davey tried her hand at embroidery.

“As an adult, I’ve always been very drawn to crafts,” she says. “I started with knitting and crocheting, a good fifteen years ago now.”

She started embroidering in 2017 when her step-day sadly passed away and she was looking for something to distract herself.

“I decided to learn a new trade,” she says. “I don’t know what drew me to embroidery, but I thought I’d give it a try and was immediately hooked and from there. It was just a really good coping mechanism to help get through grief, and of all the crafts I’ve tried, I’ve found it to be the most creative,” she says.

After completing ready-to-sew kits to master stitches, Sara began designing her own patterns and launched Pixels and Purls.

Some of Sara Davey’s Pixels and Purls Embroidery Designs
– Credit: Senise Bradley

Her colourful, easy-to-master, home-made kits are hugely popular with crafters – and she also runs workshops in Norwich to pass on her love of embroidery to others.

“When I was learning I was happy to do any kit, but I feel like crafting and embroidery is a bit like fashion – you really want it to represent your personality and who you are,” she said.

“I didn’t really find too many existing designs that were as modern as I wanted them to be and I was a bit frustrated that everything was a bit twee.

“So I thought good, I’ll try to design my own.”

Sara’s first creations were a portrait of artist Frida Kahlo, a sugar skull, a depiction of succulents and cacti, and a depiction of a sassy cactus, complete with a cheeky slogan.

One of Sara Davey's embroidery designs

One of Sara Davey’s embroidery designs
– Credit: Denise Bradley

“I like to either do modern takes on traditional flowers, and I like to add a bit of feminism into my designs, a bit of empowerment, and sometimes nice pop culture references just to keep it fresh.

“I started selling the embroideries at a local maker’s market as finished embroideries and they were very popular. I thought there was obviously a bit of a desire for a more modern approach to what was a fairly traditional craft and I kept going,” she says.

This then evolved into selling them as DIY kits for people to work from home.

“In the markets, everyone was always asking how do you make them? What do I need? And I was like, well, let me show you,” Sara says.

Sara Davey at work on one of her embroidery designs, Christmas Morning.

Sara Davey at work on one of her embroidery designs, Christmas Morning.
– Credit: Denise Bradley

Sara, who has a studio in North Norwich, goes to great lengths to ensure her kits are suitable for DIYers of all levels, from beginner to experienced.

“I work really hard to try to make them as easy to follow as possible,” she says. “Some of them are more in-depth than others, simply because they take longer to complete, but I absolutely spend hours writing instructions to make sure they’re transparent and not full of jargon. . My husband’s proof reads them all to make sure he can understand them – he is not a craftsman.

“I take at least a few weeks for each design,” she continues. “Depending on how complex it is, it will probably take me a good month to draw it on my iPad and sew it up, then write all the designs and put all the different elements together for the kit.”

They’re available to order online and really came into their own during the coronavirus lockdowns, when many of us turned to crafting as a way to disconnect and take time out for self-care.

Sara Davey at work on one of her embroidery designs, Christmas Morning.

Sara Davey at work on one of her embroidery designs, Christmas Morning.
– Credit: Denise Bradley

One of the trends Sara noticed was groups of friends buying the same kit and then meeting online for a stitch.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen more demand for my kits than during lockdown,” says Sara. “I have a very busy mind and find that if I pick up an embroidery while watching TV, it really helps me focus and distract me from anything that might be worrying me.

“I feel like every time something tough happens in the world, crafting gets a little boost. It’s so good for your mental health and it’s always been used that way. way, for example by being prescribed to soldiers with PTSD.

“There’s so much science behind the dopamine it gives you and how great it is for anxiety. I really think everyone should give it a try.

In November 2018, Sara held her first workshop. After a two-year hiatus due to Covid, in-person events have returned this year and Sara is running three Christmas-themed workshops at Artel in Norwich, starting in November.

“My favorite part of my business is teaching and facilitating workshops. They’re always so adorable and it’s always so cool and full of laughs.

“People come alone and make friends. I think it really takes the pressure off of socializing, because you have something to do so you don’t rely on constant conversation and if you’re a bit shy you can just join in when you feel comfortable and the rest of the time can focus on your embroidery.

“I think it’s also a really good icebreaker because you have something to say, as I always ask if anyone has done crafts before and then we all talk about it for about two hours” , she says.

One of Sara Davey's embroidery designs, Winter Wreath.

One of Sara Davey’s embroidery designs, Winter Wreath.
– Credit: Denise Bradley

Sara loves leading workshops at Artel.

“It’s an absolutely beautiful space, it’s got lots of plants and it’s bright,” she says.

Her Christmas workshops take place on November 17, December 8 and December 15. They last two and a half hours and each workshop focuses on a different festive design.

Suitable for complete beginners, the workshops are an ideal introduction if you fancy picking up a needle and thread for the first time. And they seem perfect if you’re looking for alternative ideas for a Christmas get-together with friends.

“It’s me plus up to 10 people. I always start with a 15 minute introduction to embroidery, so if you haven’t already, I’ll tell you exactly how to set up your embroidery,” says Sara. “You don’t need to know anything, I’ll show you how to use your needle and scissors and all the equipment, and then we’ll learn all the different stitches and techniques you need to use to create the design.

“They take a little longer than the two and a half hours to complete, so you can take the embroidery kit home and complete it at your own pace, using everything I taught you,” Sara explains.

And what are the designs?

One of Sara Davey's embroidery designs, Gingerbread House.

One of Sara Davey’s embroidery designs, Gingerbread House
– Credit: Denise Bradley

“One is my version of a Christmas wreath, obviously sewn, without foliage,” says Sara. “One is a gingerbread house, which is one of my favorite designs and a really great way to learn embroidery.

“And the other one is a brand new design, which isn’t finished yet, so people have kindly trusted me and booked the workshop without seeing the end result. But they’re cats in Christmas sweaters – I’m so excited!

To find out more about Sara’s embroidery kits and workshops, visit her website, pixelsandpurls.co.uk or follow her on Instagram @pixelsandpurls


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