Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Making embroidered gifts

Because I'm in school right now, I don't have a lot of time for crafts. When I saw an ad for embroidery supplies at Sublime Stitching in Bust Magazine last summer, I imagined it might fulfill my need for an easy creative outlet. I needed something that didn't take a lot of planning and that could be finished quickly, in order to receive maximum satisfaction for minimal effort.

After hemming and hawing about it for a few weeks, I decided to order all of the supplies I'd need, including needles, sharp scissors, a hoop and a floss (thread) palette, to see if my instincts were right. I also threw in some iron-on patterns, colourful tea towels and a baby bib for my baby nephew for good measure.

After the success of my first project, the bib below, I declared that I would give only embroidered gifts to my friends from that day forward.

It turns out that I know too many people to make that declaration a reality, but I'm still embroidering almost a year later. It's actually easier than I imagined possible, and it allows for creativity if you want to stretch. Just choosing and arranging patterns requires a certain amount of imagination, but if you want to move beyond Jenny Hart designs (I started out with the patterns available in her book Sublime Stitching), you can free-style, draw your own images with tailors chalk or look elsewhere for patterns; Craft recently drew my attention to the unique patterns in the new book Doodle Stitching by Aimee Ray.

Another thing that makes this hobby appealing is its portability. As with knitting, I can throw my projects in my purse when I head out to meet with fellow crafters. In fact, I think it's better than knitting because it appeals to me year-round. I only get the itch to knit in the fall and winter.

The last thing I want to emphasize is the adaptable nature of embroidery. So far I have embroidered tea towels (like the green towel in top photo), pillow cases, baby bibs and baby blankets, but I haven't even skimmed the surface. I have tentative plans to personalize my clothes, and one day I would like to take on bigger projects to frame. Jenny Hart and Aimee Ray both illustrate the range of possibilities that embroidery allows for: while encouraging and enabling beginners, their websites show us how far you can take the craft. Um, Dolly Parton anyone?


brie said...

I used to cross-stitch when I was in elementary school. And I became obsessed with embroidery thread. I have the Sublime Stitching starter kit, but I haven't had time to use it---which is embarrassing because I bought it about three years ago! Maybe I'll bring it with me when I visit in March.

Erin said...

Yay for embroidering! Thanks for turning me on to it. I haven't done much ages (though I did put the pattern on a tea towel of some super cute Frenchey stuff) but it's still there in the back of my mind.

chavacita said...

I am one of the lucky recipients of this great portable project in 2 ways!
1) I recieved pillow cases which I will be laying on today because I am home sick....They have 2 great sayings that I love reading when I roll over or wake up in the morning...'hopelessly so' and 'forever and ever'.

2)Because of the gift I was then turned on to how simple and effective this craft is. So I decided that I would do an embroidery project too and I did! I was on my way to the first Burning Man in South Africa last year and wanted to gift people with something thematic of the event. So I embroidered ~50 wrist cuffs with the word 'Ubuntu' which roughly means community in the Xhosa language (one of the main languages in SA).

Thanks Erin! And While I was there a couple got really excited about this project and was going to start embroidering words on clothing for their friends!

Gifting and now I'm seeing that Blogging are both ways to spread the love of crafting:) You ROCK!

Jen said...

Embroidery is calling my name! I even have the thread that I want to try with! My cross stitching renaissance is really going well...I find myself on the internet coveting samplers on a regular basis! However, embroidery is a whole different thing, and I'd love to try it! Much like my fondness for MSPaint, I feel like embroidery could yield some fun/funny results!

Will you guide me a bit sometime Erin? I have a hoop, thread, and will!

Erin said...

Brie and Jen, let us embroider together! I'll document your beginners steps for this here blog if you're willing.

Jen said...

I am very willing! This sounds perfect Erin!