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.
Maybe you don’t have a green thumb and all your plants eventually wilt. You know what? That’s okay. Because thanks to the mushroom felt crafts by Close Call Studio, you can still have something life-like in your home. Amanda Adams, the illustrator and sculptor behind Close Call, creates playful plants and vegetables that are an eye-catching fusion of crafted nature with a piece of the real outdoors. She hand-sews and mounts small fungi, colorful blooms, and prickly cacti on a slice of hand-cut wood. The result is a unique homage to nature that brings the beauty of the outdoors inside—but no extra care required.
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.
I don’t have a car, so riding the local bike share is one of the ways I get around. But, I can guarantee that my rides are not nearly as whimsical as the bicycle embroidery by Walker Boyes of TrueFort. Called the Velo Series, it features hand-stitched bikes that are decorated with colorful blooms. They represent a fantasy, like something out of a movie—carefree weekend excursions to the farmer’s market that overflow with a bounty of fresh flowers.
Ezgi Pamir (previously) has recently created a denim jacket embroidery that’s a snapshot of contemporary pop culture. The large portrait adorns the back of the garment, and it features a woman wearing a floral crown with a bubble of one Instagram “Likes” next to her. As with Ezgi’s previous embroideries, she incorporates real objects—in this case, it’s a lovely selection of blooms.
If you’re looking for colorful embroidery to brighten your day, then look no further than Kelly Ryan. The Albany-based embroiderer creates vibrant hoop art that’s a happy collision of patterns and texture. Sometimes, Kelly is figurative with her work and embroiders plants. Most of the time, however, she stitches abstract imagery with nature-inspired shapes like leaves that are clad in the likes of magenta, cerulean, and lime green.
When it comes to hoop art, light-colored fabrics are a popular choice to embroider on. But, don’t overlook dark cloth. As Lindsay Swearingen demonstrates, it too can create beautiful pieces. Under the moniker Tusk and Cardinal, the Californian sews nature-inspired pieces that showcase, most notably, flowers and hands on a black background. The contrast makes her designs pop, and I love the tattoo aesthetic that she has in some of her pieces. The creatures, in particular, have the distinct feeling of blackwork-style body art.
Follow along with Lindsay’s hoop art on Instagram. And for her embroidered goods, head to the Tusk and Cardinal Etsy shop.
Becky of Fuzzy and Flora hasn’t even opened up shop yet, but I’m excited about her hoop art. It revolves around llamas and alpacas! I love alpacas, and I have more than a few figurines sitting on my shelf that pay tribute to this member of the camel family. Becky’s homage uses needle felting to depict their fluff and embroidery to showcase beautiful blooms that they carry on their backs. I love the combination of texture between the smooth thread and felting fibers. As the two opposites complement each other, they together create a visual feast for the eyes.