6 Secrets You Should Know From an Embroidery Pro
Embroidery has been love at first stitch for me. I picked it up 13 years ago and turned it from hobby to business shortly after my daughter was born. Each piece I make, whether it’s a commission for a client or a passion piece for myself has the same amount of love and care and work poured into it. I am constantly learning and growing as an artist and a business person and here are some of the things I’ve learned about this beautiful craft along my journey!
Embroidery is an affordable craft.
Like all art forms, there are ways to create art as inexpensively or as expensively as you’d like! When I started embroidery, I didn’t pay for a single piece of my materials. The thread and hoop came from a giveaway box outside my neighbor’s apartment door and my fabric was recycled T-shirts, jeans, sheets, and pillowcases. I know some artists who use luxe fabrics, ornate hoops, and frames and have invested tons of money into high-quality thread in every color imaginable. I’m somewhere in the middle. I’ve upgraded from my only using freebies days and now use a mix of recycled fabrics as well as the affordable cotton canvas I get from Walmart for a few bucks a yard. My hoops are utilitarian but just what I need. I will swear by the quality of DMC thread till the day I die and the best investment I ever made was in my lightbox that I use to transfer all my designs to the fabric. You can put a lot of money into embroidery or nearly nothing. But at its bare-bones core (thread, needles, hoop, fabric) you can get started by spending nothing at all to maybe five bucks when it’s all said and done. Not bad at all!
There are SO many different styles of embroidery!
I seriously couldn’t even start to name all the different styles of embroidery there are! There’s embroidery done solely with ribbons. Thread painting where the embroidery looks as fluid as if it was drawn or painted on the fabric rather than stitched. There are black work and white work embroidery that are very pattern-oriented. Mixed media embroidery where the embroidery is coupled with paint or beads and other notions. Each style is extraordinarily complex and inspiring in its own way! My personal style doesn’t really fit into any one category which leads me to one of my favorite parts of embroidery:
There are no rules to embroidery!
Seriously! Anything goes!! If someone said “embroider a circle”, there are about a million and five ways to stitch that circle. And NONE of them are wrong!! Ten different embroidery artists can have ten different ways to do one stitch! And that’s ok!
One of the most beautiful things about art is breaking rules and expectations with it! And I break rules with embroidery all the time. I couple delicate, floral wreaths with words like “fuck”. I do nude figure embroidery. I have broken the expectations that embroidery is a craft for the elderly or a pastime leftover from the Middle Ages.
There are so many different ways to learn embroidery!
I am a completely self-taught artist when it comes to embroidery. I knew how to sew patches onto my jackets and hoodies (cool emo/punk kid over here) and I quickly learned that basic embroidery stitches weren’t far off from the utilitarian stitches I was using for my patchwork. But because I was self-taught, my knowledge of stitches and styles were incredibly limited until a few years ago. Now I know there are TONS of ways to learn! Books, lessons, diagrams, video tutorials, patterns and more! As for what is the best way to learn, it really just depends on you and how you best absorb information. Diagrams and written directions are completely lost on me. I need to watch someone else do the stitch in question and copy their moves in order for me to truly understand the steps. YouTube tutorials have been essential for me and I’ve expanded my skillset so much using this method! You might also consider purchasing a pattern and instructions from an embroidery artist! Not only will you have a set of detailed instructions helping you through a beautiful embroidery pattern, but you’ll also be supporting an artist who is passionate about their craft!
Embroidery gives me a voice.
It’s no secret that art in all of its forms has been used to provoke thought, discussion, and change. Embroidery art is no different. I’ve been able to tell people I love them through my art. I’ve been able to remind friends to breathe, that they are lovely, that they are strong with my art. My art has been used to make people laugh, to comfort those who grieve, to celebrate new stages of life. My art has been used to celebrate the human body in its most honest and transparent form. I’ve unabashedly used my art to share my convictions against toxic masculinity, gender norms, and issuing reminders to punch every Nazi you see. I am only one person. But through my art, my voice spreads. It sparks discussions. It inspires. It reminds. It convicts. And what a fucking honor that is.
Embroidery is easy… and it’s hard.
Embroidery at its core is such an easy craft for anyone to begin! Can you thread a needle? Good! You’re ready to go! Because of it’s many, many different forms, levels of difficulty ranging from very simple to incredibly complex and the fact that there are literally no rules, it’s a hobby that can be enjoyed by all ages and all skill levels. But don’t let the ease of stepping into this art form fool you: it’s hard work. Hours and hours and hours spent to complete one piece. Calloused fingers from pulling thread through stubborn stitches and stabbing them with needles over and over again. Knots that won’t come out. French knots that took me ages to learn how to do and still don’t always come out right. The work that goes into learning and perfecting and creating this art is exactly why artists like myself and others who have turned their hobby to a business deserve to be appreciated and compensated fairly for their products. (Read more about the importance of appreciating artists here!)
I really hope this article was helpful and inspirational for you! Tell us about a craft or hobby you love OR that you’d love to hear more about!
Rebecca Lynn Craig is the owner of Thread Fox Handmade Goods and Emboudoir. Her passion for embroidery art is evident in her work and her pieces feature a variety of subjects and styles ranging from cheeky quotes, pop culture references, body and sex positivity and more. She is also dedicated to creating custom commissions for her clients for their own homes as well as gifts for any occasion. You can follow and purchase her work or request more information about custom pieces through the following links!
Thread Fox Handmade Goods