My name is Rachel Alveston. I’m a self taught embroidery artist from Wirral, UK and I specialise in hand embroidered portraiture.

I have always loved fabric and thread. I enjoyed arts and crafts as a child and as a teenager, I elected to take Art and Textiles as my chosen subjects in high school and sixth form. After I left school, I experimented with selling my artistic creations online, along with working a full time job, but I was yet to discover embroidery.

Then 2014 comes along, and it leaves me, and everyone I know, utterly devastated. Lyam, my sister’s boyfriend, my band mate and one of my closest friends, passes away unexpectedly, from a spontaneous bleed on the brain, caused by a high grade brain tumour. He was 26 years old.

I suffer with anxiety and depression and after Lyam’s passing, I was drawn into an especially dark place. However, this forced me to admit that I had a problem and that I needed help. I visited my doctor, who put me on medication and referred me to a councillor. During one of my counselling sessions, my councillor told me that working with my hands was a good way to keep myself ‘in the moment’ and keep the flashbacks and bad thoughts in check.

This is where embroidery entered my life.

I collect patches and thought it may be interesting to make some for myself. I bought a hoop, some floss and some fabric and just gave it a go. No instructions. No rules. The first few patches I made were terrible. I mean, just awful. It took a lot of experimentation and months of solid practice to get to a standard I was happy with. That said, the development period, where I found my process, was extremely therapeutic. I believe it helped me greatly in getting to a better state of mind; along with the support of my friends and family, of course. Before I knew it, my patches were gaining new admirers everyday. All I wanted to do is stitch. I felt I had found my calling.

In September 2015, I was forced to quit my day job after being diagnosed with a myriad of illnesses, including Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue. I decided to focus on embroidery and work for myself full time. That brings me to where I am now. It’s tough, but I’m getting by, doing what I love, and for that, I’m grateful. Even though the journey that has led me to this point has been extremely painful, I’m still grateful.