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Let Me Introduce You to ... Helen Bartel

Needlework has been a part of my life since a very early age, probably around age 6, when I accompanied my mother to her ladies’ sewing circle. I started out with basic running stitch embroidery and moved on to sewing doll clothes for my Barbie. That meant neatly turned hems and tidy seams.


Being exceedingly slender in my youth, I took up sewing with my mother’s Singer treadle machine in my early teens, to construct garments that actually fit.

DSC01792 Jan 27, 2021.JPG

At age 16, I purchased my first sewing machine, an electric Kenmore, which served me quite well for more than 35 years, sewing many garments for myself and my siblings, from casual clothes to wedding gowns. During those years I did some surface embroidery, including stamped cross stitch.

As a young adult, I taught myself to knit and crochet. My mother did both but was unable to work to a written pattern, and being a lefty had its own challenges.

I have probably been cross stitching and doing hardanger embroidery for about 20 years now. One of my earliest projects was a design from the Cross Stitch & Country Crafts magazine consisting of 9 squares with a floral border. It was stitched on 22 count hardanger fabric and four of these squares had hardanger heart motifs in them. 

I remember doing some of the cross stitch in my breaks at work and my coworkers wondering what would happen, if, after all that cross stitch, I were to make a mistake in cutting when doing the hardanger. It turned out very well and I have stitched quite a lot of hardanger and counted cross stitch over the years, many of the items being gifts. My coworkers over the 30+ years of my nursing career have been used to seeing me with one project or another, be it knitting, crochet or embroidery. My hands need to stay busy.

I have also dabbled a little into quilting and now own a quilting and embroidery Bernina sewing machine. I had heard about the Winnipeg Embroiderers’ Guild over the years and finally made contact in 2009 and hope to be a member for many years.

Terracotta Tile Cushion 2010
My Travel Tray 2021

Over the years, I had not done my own designing but had frequently changed/combined designs and altered colourways to suit the recipient of the gift. Shortly after joining the WEG, I became involved with a seminar fundraising project and that spurred me to try my hand at designing, encouraged by my fellow WEG members.

I have many more ideas for projects and, like most crafters, there is never enough time for all the projects in my stash, or ideas in my head. My motto is “Recipes and patterns are only guidelines!” Don’t be afraid to make your project your own.

Lady Slipper Stumpwork

In recent years, I have tried my hand at goldwork, canvas work, stumpwork, beadwork and

While I still really enjoy cross stitch, threadpainting and stumpwork are fast becoming favourites. So my stash is growing and branching out! And there is so much more to learn!

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