Sunday, July 11, 2010

Embroidery Find of the Week: Floral Patterns from Polka and Bloom!

Polkaandbloom on Etsy sells unique and pretty embroidery patterns, all original designs and totally cute.

(In case you hadn't noticed, I like things that can be described as cute.)

The pattern shown here is called "Floral Vignette" and is perfect for a hoop mounted sampler.

She also sells embroidery instruction books, including one for left-handed stitchers.

She's in England, but most of her products are PDFs, so no worries about shipping!

Happy stitching!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Embroidery Crush: Mely's Baby

Embroidery Crush: Mely's Baby

In my almost five years selling on Etsy, I've had the pleasure to find many fabulous embroidery enthusiasts around the country. One of my favorites is "Mely's Baby", aka Rebecca from Florida, and her fabulous vintage style embroidery. I plan to feature many of my "crushes" here, and I asked "Mely's Baby" to be the first. Read on for the interview!

Rebecca (seen here with her daughter) uses vintage designs to create her charming pieces. I'm especially drawn to her excellent sense of color-- she chooses the prettiest hues for her work!

Although Rebecca learned to stitch at a young age, embroidering baby onesies for her daughter motivated her to take up the craft seriously. Check out this gorgeous tablecloth she stitched as a custom order (and see more in her Flickr photostream):

family tree tablecloth

If you've ever stitched, you know how much time goes into something of that size and detail.

In addition to her custom work, "Mely's Baby" on Etsy features super cute vintage style tea towels, pillows, and framed art, among other vintage inspired pieces. Notice how the colors on the teapot and cup coordinate in this tea towel? (My teapot-collecting mom would love this.)

I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Rebecca and her work a little better, and I hope you do as well!

Q: You use a lot of vintage embroidery patterns--
How did you first discover vintage embroidery patterns and what drew you to them?
A: I love all things vintage...I wear vintage, collect vintage, decorate with to use vintage embroidery patterns just seems natural. I love using other designs (that were never even intended for embroidery), but there's just something so special and nostalgic about the vintage designs...kind of like vintage stuff in general. I've always seen vintage embroidery patterns out there, but I never had the desire (initially) to embroider them in the way that they were intended (tea towels, aprons, table linens). It wasn't until I was in a book store and saw and bought an embroidery kit by Jenny Hart of Sublime Stitching that I thought of using those designs on baby onesies for my daughter. I thought it was such a great way to incorporate my love of vintage as well as my laziness of being able to keep her in a onesie all day (but look so darn cute in it)...and at the same time it gave me a creative and soothing outlet.

Q: Many women today either never learn about or eventually stop working with traditional hand-crafts. When and how did you learn to embroider, and what has motivated you to stay with it?
A: My mom has always been very artistic and crafty (she was a home economics teacher). She taught me how to cross-stitch when I was a young girl, so I've been familiar with a needle and thread for a long time now and have always "taken" to it. But I never learned the art of embroidery....again, it was Jenny Hart's kit that taught me the various embroidery stitches and I was hooked!! Embroidering something is so fantastic to me. I love seeing a design come to life in a relatively short amount of time. If I need a new kitchen towel or some new art for the home or a gift for a friend...I can embroider something up quite quickly for very little cost but it always brings "oohs and ahs" because it's so personal. And the act of embroidering something I find so relaxing, so calming.

Q: I've noticed that you like to use patterns more than once (like this awesome peacock --, but you rarely use the exact same color scheme twice and even vary your stitches. How do you choose your color schemes and stitches? Do you sit down and plan it all out beforehand or just go where the "embroidery muse" leads you?
First...thank you about the's such a gorgeous design that it's a pleasure to "bring to life"! That's why I repeat a lot of the patterns...there are some that I just never get tired of embroidering. But I do change the color scheme to keep it interesting for myself and for customers. I don't plan too is very much a where the "embroidery muse" leads me kind of situation. I love getting out my box of embroidery thread and putting color schemes together. But there are some color schemes that I will repeat if I think they go together nicely...especially if the design is a bit more complicated. As for stitches, I have found that the longer I am doing this, the more I am beginning to experiment with other stitches...I'm feeling more confident with my ability. But there are still some stitches I haven't worked with yet and there are some that I have tried and just don't enjoy I don't use them!

Q: What tips, tricks, or advice would you share with novice (or your fellow experienced) embroiderers?
A: Embroider what you like. If you don't like what you are embroidering, it's just not going to turn out well and it won't be enjoyable. And I mean that not only in the design that you choose, but also what the actual item is that you are embroidering...some fabrics are just tough to embroider on.

Q: If you could teach anyone else to embroider, who would you choose? (I'd like to see the First Lady take it up myself... She'd start a revolution!)
A: The First Lady would be great, I agree!!
This will sound a bit hokey, but I look forward to teaching my daughter, Stella. She is six and loves watching me embroider and is always my biggest cheerleader every time I create something. She even helps me decide on designs and makes drawings for me to embroider. She has embroidered with stitching cards but I think she is ready for "real" embroidery with a blunt needle. She's very enthusiastic about learning!

Q: When selecting a pattern or design to embroider, what do you look for? Do you have any particular favorites in the world of embroidery pattern designers/companies?
A: I choose patterns based on what appeals to me. Maybe it's something that I like for my own home or that I think would just look amazing all embroidered up. I buy authentic vintage patterns on ebay or through And the hooplove group on flickr is also a great resource for finding vintage patterns. I try to be careful about copyright issues, but as I really love vintage, that's usually not a problem. I also love Jenny Hart's designs, but I am not currently licensed to sell items with her designs (but I'm working on it!), so those designs I use for my own personal use. Stella makes designs for me embroider and I have even created my own embroidery designs! You will not normally see any of my own designs embroidered for sale in my shop...that is strictly when someone requests something in particular. For example, lately I have been doing hand-embroidered family trees (see above!)...that requires me to come up with some of my own design work which has been a new added (but fun) element to this whole venture!

Q: I'm often asked how I have time to embroider so much-- You've sold more than 300 items on Etsy since 2006, almost all of them hand-embroidered pieces (WOW!), so you must hear the same question! So... How do you find time to embroider so much?
A: I am amazed at how much I've embroidered over the years. I think my husband is just relieved that there was someplace like Etsy that allowed me to sell my items and indulge my passion or else our home would be completely overrun with embroidered items (not that that is a bad thing, mind you!). I started my shop on Etsy after Stella was born and I have been a stay-at-home mom. So when she was a baby, I would have time here and there to embroider. Now while my daughter is in school, I have the time to make it my part-time job. Not only do I create things for my shop, but I do a lot of custom work locally.

Q: Embroidery is...
personal. I spend a lot of time hand creating that item that eventually ends up in someone else's home. Maybe that person will never know or understand, but a little piece of me goes into each item I create. And I love each and every piece I embroider. Maybe it won't end up as a family heirloom (although that would be fine by me if that IS the case!), but I hope that each time they use my tea towel or wrap their baby in a my baby blanket, it at least brings a smile to their face.

Friday, July 2, 2010

I made that!

Check out this blog, by Michele Waite -- a wedding photographer in Seattle.

You can see photos of handkerchiefs hand-embroidered by me in the set for Beth and Joe's wedding here.

Her photography is gorgeous.

I love working on pieces for weddings. The thought that something I made is a part of one of the most important days of a girl's life... well, I don't want to sound like a dork and say it makes me cry, but it does!