Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Stitching for Self-Expression

I am one of five sisters and we are all crafty and creative in our own way. My sister Lynn (Francisco's mom) is a make-up artist and salesperson at Saks Fifth Avenue in Maryland but if she had her choice, she would paint for a living. She has a huge client following and can tell you anything about a particular cosmetic line. She dresses creatively, colorfully and fashionably.

Last Christmas, I gave her a copy of Colorful Stitchery. She was spending the month of January with her boys at my mother's house. She looked at the book and became intrigued. If you knew Lynn, you would be amazed she was even interested. When she was a kid, she was the only sister who never wanted to do anything crafty. The rest of us sewed, stitched, quilted, and cooked and she didn't. I think it was part of the rebellious side of her and that's just fine.

Lynn is really into fashion and she had been noticing all the embroidery on $750 jeans at Saks that she couldn't afford (yes, $750 - you read that right). So she decided to do it herself. I taught her the chain stitch and she just started to go to town. I called the house and she was still stitching. She was possessed. One simple stitch - that's it. These are pictures of some of the projects she has been working on since then. She purchased some beautiful Indian trims and combined them with her stitchery on jeans and jean jackets. They really are fabulous, aren't they?

So if you're chicken to try, take heart. Anyone, any age, can do this. Here's a little interview I did with her while she and Franny were here this past weekend stitching away:

The interview

KN: Why do you like to stitch?
LN: I've been painting sporadically for twenty years - giant, colorful canvases. But painting is too messy to set up for a couple of hours while working a full-time job. I can pick up my stitching at night for a couple of hours and do it while watching t.v. It makes me feel like I'm not wasting time. I'd like to try jewelry making and paint more but right now, stitching is filling my creative needs.

KN: Do you stitch at any other time?
LN: I bring my stitching to appointments and do it while I'm waiting for the oil to be changed in my car or at a doctor's office. It travels well - all in a little ziplock bag.

KN: Do you use any special tools?
LN: I have a huge color selection of floss that I keep in a tin box. I love color and I like to add new colors to my box. I only have one needle right now. I recently started using a metal thimble to help push the needle through the seams in the jeans. I use a needle threader because I have a hard time threading the thick floss through the needle.

KN: What is your favorite stitch?
LN: Hands down, chain stitch. It covers the fabric well with a thick line and it's easy to do. I use the floss just as it comes from the skein so it is really thick. My sister just taught me a bunch more stitches, so I'll probably start adding a few more to my designs. I have finally mastered french knots. I want to use them in thick groupings, maybe mixing different colors together. Because I don't know any of the rules, I think I can be more creative and artistic than someone who is trying to be neat and tidy.

KN: Where do you get your ideas for your designs?
LN: I look at my sister's book for motifs. I draw them on the jeans free-hand and then design as I go. I don't have a plan. On the borders and edges, I add a lot of swooping lines, blanket stitch and colorful trims.

KN: Has anything fun happened since you started stitching?
LN: Jeans are my favorite clothes to wear so I wear my stitched jeans everywhere. Just recently a friend has hired me to decorate her jean jacket. That's what I'm working on right now.

KN: Can you think of anywhere else you might want to add stitchery?
LN: When I get bored with decorating jeans, I might add some to dresses. I also want to make some decorated pillows and curtains.

The photo montage shows some of the motifs that Lynn has stitched onto her jeans. While she was here, she photocopied a bunch of pages from one of my exceptional design idea books called "Art Forms in Nature" by Ernst Haeckel. I can't wait to see what she comes up with next.


ChickenBetty said...

Style and color sense certainly run in the family! I love the doubled lacy cuffs on the jacket. And your sister is right, sometomes when you ignore the rules magic happens.

Anonymous said...

Great interview. You have definitely inspired me -- I stitches a bookmark last night!

Anonymous said...

Your sister's work on this denim jacket is beautiful! I have heard about your book through the blogs grapevine and I think it is time I have a look myself!

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I love your sister's style! She does great work, and it's fun to hear more about how she goes about things! (Thanks also for posting more detailed photos on the stitch-along blog!) I may have to find myself a denim jacket somewhere!

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