Not Your Grandma’s Embroidery

Free Form Embroidery on Recycled Fabric

Photo courtesy of Jacque Davis

People often think of hand embroidery as labor-intensive and old-fashioned. And it can be – if that’s what you want. But it doesn’t have to be. A great thing about embroidery is that you can do as much or as little as you like. You can add a handful of stitches to an existing item or you can create an original work of art or even an heirloom for future generations.

Embroidery is easy to learn.  Personally, I find it easiest to learn something new from a person who can teach me, but many people prefer to teach themselves.

Either way, the library’s Arts & Crafts Neighborhood can help!

Take a class:

High-Tops embellished with Embroidery

Photo courtesy of Nickee

Learn the basics of embroidery at the library’s free hands-on workshops taking place at Velma Paris Community Center.

Beginning Embroidery (taught by yours truly) will be offered on 3 different dates:

• Wednesday, February 4, 1:00-2:30 PM
• Wednesday, March 4, 1:00-2:30 PM
• Wednesday, April 1, 1:00-2:30 PM

Attend one, two or all three classes – whatever works for you. The classes are free, and materials are provided. Register by calling 862-1630.

Teach yourself:

The library’s Arts & Crafts Neighborhood has a great selection of books on all types of needlework and embroidery. There are lots of different types and styles of embroidery, and I love to browse through the stacks to find just the right book.  Embroidery books can be found in call numbers 745.45 to 746.45.  Here are some good books that cover all the basics:

And here are some books about using embroidery to add interest and design to existing items:

Or you can check out an embroidery kit from the library.  That way, you can try it out and see if you enjoy it before going out to buy your own materials! (But I’m sure you’ll enjoy it…)

Embroidery with Antler Button & Glass Seed Beads

Photo courtesy of Carrie Cahil Mulligan

If you are new to embroidery, I would suggest that you start small. Even if you learn just a couple of stitches, you will be able to embellish items, and that may be all you need. Some items you might embellish with embroidery are dish towels, scarves, mittens, hats, clothing, sheets, tablecloths, toss pillows.

And once you have a couple of stitches under your belt you may be ready to tackle some of the more complicated stitches and fancy knots without feeling intimidated. Also, after you have practiced a bit of embroidery, you might like to experiment with materials or techniques that are out of the ordinary, such as stitching with fine copper wire or stitching on paper.

3 Different Examples of Embroidery

Photos courtesy of Wendi Gratz and Fiona Bearclaw

A few things that I love about embroidery:

  • It is meditative. There is something wonderful about sitting down and quietly stitching. When my hands are busy, my mind is free…
  • A little goes a long way. You can add a little bit of embroidery to something and make it personal and unique.
  • It brings fond memories of my sweet grandma who taught me to embroider when I was a little girl (and got me started on the crafty path).
Birght-colored Embroidery Floss

Photo courtesy of Steven Depolo

Jill Mickel is a Public Services Specialist and a member of the Arts and Crafts team. Her passions are art and community, and she believes that art is for everyone! When she is not at the library or working in her studio, she can be found gardening, cooking, reading, or bird-watching.