If you’ve ever tried embroidery, you know how methodical the practice is. It teaches patience; you’ve got to take it stitch by stitch, because there’s no great shortcuts when it comes to embroidering by hand. Embracing this fact is Slow Stitch Sophie, a Vancouver-based crafter who wowed me last year with her “fields” of beautiful floral embroideries. Since then, she’s continued her practice of creating intricate compositions that resemble sun-soaked landscapes.
When I first came upon the embroideries of Lauren Singleton, aka YesStitchYes, my immediate thought was, “They look painterly!” Her style, with elongated leaves and petals, remind me of graceful brush strokes rather than lines poked with a needle. Paired with script-style text, this hoop art has a breezy, carefree style to it—one I don’t often see in embroidery.
In Philadelphia, there’s an exhibition at the Paradigm Gallery on embroidery and contemporary fabric work that’s a must see. Called Stitched: Part II, it features 16 artists who make use of these techniques in a variety of ways. Their individual imagery differs, but they are all constructed (in part) with a needle and thread.
Bralettes are en vogue, and I am here for it. One of my favorite iterations of this trend is the embroidered bralette, which combines intricate stitching with delicate, sheer fabrics. Emily Parkinson of Birds & Beestings has an illustrative take on this type of intimate. She stitches entire scenes that extend across the chest. Her small but striking collection features embroidered prickly cacti (previously), spotted fungi, jade snakes, and the art of Henri Rousseau.
Danielle Clough goes beyond the embroidery hoop to create colorful stitches in unusual places. Using vintage rackets as her frame, she fills their plastic grids with flowers and succulents. They seemingly float on top of it, but are secured by a combination of stitches, knots, and needles.
You can’t understate the importance of color—especially in art. It wields its power in all sorts of ways, from setting the mood to giving us important visual clues. Over the next several weeks, I’ll share a selection of illustration, paper craft, and embroidery that overwhelmingly uses one hue in its composition. Called The Color Series, first up are blue illustrations.
Embroiderer Sam Eldridge stitches jungles, gardens, and floral bouquets on thrifted garments. The colorful creations breath new life into these second-hand pieces and give them a fresh feel by transforming them into one of a kind pieces. Her embroidered clothing follows a long tradition of repairing a garment rather than outright disposal. Long ago, before the atomization of the Industrial Revolution, people would mend their clothing over and over again, because each piece was so expensive to make in the first place. That’s not really a concern today, of course, but Sam is engaging in the same idea—create a new twist on something old and extend its life for the wearer.
Embroidering on tulle seems like a challenge. It’s more delicate than your traditional cotton—making it less forgiving than other fabrics. But when done well, the effect is mesmerizing. We’ve seen how tulle and flowers can frame the world in beautiful bouquets. And with work of Katerina Marchenko, the hoop is like an aquarium; her colorful fish embroidery seemingly floats on the gauzy surface. Confined to their circular frame, it’s like an old fashioned fish bowl. Katerina stitches more than fish, however, bringing whales into the mix. But don’t worry about them—they are later freed from the hoop and adorn her stylish clothing.
Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve shared inspiring illustrators and some of the best sketchbooks to follow on Instagram. Continuing this tour of my favorite feeds, here are 11 embroidery artists who fill my timeline with beautiful stitching.
The chosen embroiderers will make you a better stitcher by following them. From beautiful interior scenes to abstract beading, they both inspire and showcase techniques that you’ll want to try. And, if you’re looking for more specific advice, Elizabeth Pawle sometimes does a Q & A in her posts.
Whether you realize it or not, collaboration is inherent in embroidery. To begin, an embroidery artist will create a design and make it into a pattern for others to complete as they wish. Color choices, for instance, can change based on the whims of that particular stitcher. Libby Moore of Thread Folk takes this collaboration idea a step further with her modern embroidery patterns. In her charming Artist Series, she translates an illustrator’s work into something that anyone can complete with a needle and thread.