“This Ain’t Your Gramma’s Embroidery”

by Andrea on September 1, 2011

In yesterday’s post, Mo was wearing an embroidered rainbow 1 shirt for his party.  How the story of this shirt came to be, actually started about 20 years ago.

I learned how to embroider at the age of 12…ish… give or take a few years.  My teacher was quite the unlikely candidate – my uncle, Tio Manel.  I remember this lesson vividly as if it were yesterday.  I was in Portugal for the Summer, and one day found myself playing with my cousin and her friend.  We must have been bored because even though it was gorgeous and sunny outside, I remember sitting around their kitchen table learning how to embroider with my uncle.

I’ve never asked my uncle or cousin about this, and don’t know if my uncle has mad embroidery skills or if he just knew enough to keep three little girls busy for an hour.  Either way it was awesome, and the end product of that lesson was a pink embroidered elephant.

Fast forward 20 years with very little embroidery ensuing in between, and I come across Made by Joel’s multiple embroidery posts.  His shirts and designs are whimsical and make perfect gifts.  I decided to dust off my 2o year old skills and see what I could whip up for Mo’s birthday shirt.

In case this comes as a shock, embroidery is CHEAP.  I’m not kidding.  A wooden embroidery hoop costs $1, and embroidery floss can be as cheap as $0.25.  I decided to use seven colors for Mo’s shirt and excluding the price of his shirt, it was under $3.  Hours of crafting joy for the cost of a latte.  Yes, please!

Onto Mo’s shirt ‘pattern’. This is embarrassingly simple, but just in case it helps anyone, here I go.  Center the wooden hoop where you want your design to be and fasten it to the fabric.  The smaller hoop goes on the backside of the fabric, and the two hoops hold the shirt nice and taut.  I then cut out a paper circle and pinned it to the shirt.  Using a running stitch, I embroidered along the paper circle with my red floss.  I then removed the paper, and free handed the remaining five circles, trying to be as consistent as possible.

You can clearly see the imperfections in the photo, but I liked it that way.  For the “1” inside the circle, I used a chain stitch.  Purlbee has a pretty tutorial on how to make this simple stitch.  This was also done free hand.

If you end up getting into embroidery (which I’m about to as I’m already plotting all of the embroidered gifts I’ll be giving people this year!), be sure to check out Sublime Stitching.  Their tagline is ‘This ain’t your gramma’s embroidery!”  Ha!  Their patterns are awesomely hilarious and really open your mind to all of the possibilities.  A few of my favorites are Camp Out, Vintage Lamps, Sexy Librarians, and Bon Voyage:

Happy stitching!


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