DIY Inspiration: Modern Embroidery

DIY Inspiration: Modern Embroidery

If you’ve been following along on my Instagram, you may have caught that I was in London and Edinburgh last week. Do you bring a craft project when you’re on a trip? I find when I don’t, even if I have other things to keep my mind occupied, my hands are restless. And it gives me something to fidget with during nerve-wracking bits of a flight, like takeoff and landing. My go-to travel craft used to be knitting, but I haven’t knit anything in a long time, mostly because I have all the handmade knitwear I need and want right now. Plus, it tends to take up too much room in my bag. So, inspired by a new crop of modern embroidery artists, I tried out a new craft on my trip: embroidery.

Embroidery inspiration

There are a couple of embroidery artists whose work I really like, and who sell digital versions of their patterns online. The first is Lauren Holton, who runs the shop Lark Rising. Her plants and flowers are lovely, and even if you’re not into botanical motifs, she’s got you covered with abstract colorful swirls. Check out all of her patterns here.

Lark Rising embroidery patternLark Rising embroidery pattern

Another artist whose work I really like is Sarah K. Benning. Her plant parties and crystals are colorful and modern pieces of art.

Sarah K. Benning embroidery patternSarah K. Benning embroidery pattern

Sarah K. Benning embroidery pattern

She cycles her patterns in and out of availability, but they’re all “out of retirement” until the end of April, so grab the ones you want while you can.

Jenny Blair sells beautiful patterns and kits of animals and insects (though I wish more of her works were available as just patterns). This owl definitely caught my eye.
Owl embroidery
For gorgeous florals, try the shop HoffeltAndHooperCo. The saturated colors of the fabric really make the embroidery pop, don’t they?
Floral embroidery pattern

And for florals with an edge, Mallory Bailey has you covered with her shop EllucyStitches. This one is on the tame side, but I’d definitely go for some of the saltier language, myself.
EllucyStitches embroidery pattern
Have you ever done embroidery? I haven’t really, unless you count a little bit of cross-stitch. My Grandma Midge was an extremely avid and skilled cross-stitcher, and when I was 10 she taught me how. Here is my first piece (along with her Girl Scout knife):

cat cross-stitch

I think this “cat lady” pattern could be the starting point for a good companion piece.

When I was organizing my craft supplies, I found this little embroidery kit of Multnomah Falls that I picked up at a thrift store a couple of years ago. Compared to some of the above pieces, it’s pretty barebones. It literally came with only two or three colors of thread.

And I have to say, it doesn’t do the real Multnomah Falls justice:

Multnomah Falls photo by Blake Richard Verdoorn on Unsplash


It needs a lot more greenery and detail! So I’m making some additions to it, but it’s a good place to start. I didn’t make as much progress on it as I would’ve liked during the trip, but I’ve finished the bridge and added some trees that I sketched in:

Multnomah Falls embroidery

I’m using a bigger hoop than it came with, and expanding the scene a little, plus making it a lot more detailed and realistic. But since I’m new to embroidery, there has been a lot of trial and error, where I’ve done sections and torn it all out. Starting with a more detailed pattern definitely would have been easier!

I should also mention that I’ve been consulting the book Sublime Stitching, by the OG of modern embroidery, Jenny Hart. Her book and website are great resources for learning embroidery.

Once I get the hang of it, I think I’d like to tackle some more complicated pieces like the ones above. Are there any you’d like to give a go?

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2 thoughts on “DIY Inspiration: Modern Embroidery

  1. I really enjoyed reading and pondering through your post! I used to embroider a lot when I was in my late teens/early twenties (40 years ago now!) and then moved away from it but I have memories of loving it so much! I think kits are a great way to learn it even though it’s sort of a “paint by numbers” alike it’s also like a sampler that can introduce you to the different stitches, colours, balance etc. Once I had completed a kit (rather large – taking me months to finish) I went on a rampage with my jeans and skirts 🙂 I ordered the book you have recommended Sublime Stitching because honestly I could use a refresher! Thank you for taking the time to write this inspiring post. I miss it!

    1. Oh, that’s so sweet to hear, Kathleen! I bet you embroidered some cool stuff back when you were into it, and I hope you get into it again. I’m hoping to follow in your footsteps, and embroider a denim jacket once I learn some more stitches and really get the hang of it. It seems addictive and like a really good creative outlet. Happy stitching!

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