On My Hoop - October: A League of Their Own Patch

Just a little peek at my current embroidery project! This is the first patch I've ever made, so I'm excited to see how it turns out. I try to have a main bookmaking project to work on and then a smaller embroidery piece for those times when I want something a little less involved.

Embroidery is a nice way to fill lazy evenings, the down time between bigger projects, or the distance during car rides. A stitch here, a stitch there, and then magically you're done! 

Since I already have a little growing list of pieces to stitch next, I thought it would be fun to share "what's on my hoop" each month. It's pretty obvious from these what it's going to be like finished, but it's still exciting!

On My Desk: Endless Tea and Hand Embroidery

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Embroidery Thread

I remember browsing vintage shops when I was young and being drawn to everything floral and anything with embroidered details. Bonus points if the two were combined. I would meander up and down aisles of overstuffed bookshelves, wander through racks of outdated dresses, and admire every little petal on the plethora of dainty porcelain teacups.

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Flash forward 15 years and nothing much has changed: I was born and raised to live a secondhand lifestyle. I could spend hours slowly flipping through old books (a habit that may drive Mr. Kitty Cat Stevens to insanity) and purposefully breathing deeper than normal to take in their musty bouquet. I've bonded with little old ladies at the flea market over delicate hand stitched details that are decades old. 

handmade tea mug

Handmade mug by Julia Walther

Sometimes I don't realize how much of my work can be dissected into minutiae and traced back through my life. When I think about the current piece I'm working on— a floral inspired and female empowering hand embroidery for a midwifery office, something just clicks. It's like a huge "duh" moment and it just feels so right. Like I'm exactly where I need to be. Like my entire life has led to this.

Embroidery floss

OF COURSE I would be sitting on a vintage sofa, drinking endless cups of tea, and stitching a pair of ovaries. Is there even another choice?? There is so much I want to learn, and do, and make happen. I know that having goals is important. But right now, I feel so content just taking everything one tiny stitch at a time, somehow certain that I'll end up where I need to be.

Discovering bookmaking in college was definitely a blessing for me. My love of sewing paper together to create a 3d form only intensified my love of all stitching. I pursued embroidery because of bookmaking. And because of embroidery, I finally decided to learn to use a sewing machine (to alter my vintage dresses, of course).

tea infuser

I never expected all of my passions to become so deeply intertwined. Books, paper, poetry. Florals, needle and thread. If I can one day make a living by the pages I fold and the thread I stitch, then I'm not sure there's much more I could ask for (besides a tiny cottage on the beach and a few more cats).

So, that's the end goal, in a nutshell. And while I'm on the journey to it, I often find myself sipping a cup of tea, with my grandmother's handmade quilt on my lap and a cat asleep beside me, as I realize how happy I am to be living a quiet life— one stitch at a time.

Embroidered ovaries

On My Desk: Hand Embroidered Paper Details

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Today I'm excited to share a really special project I'm working on. I've been creating an extremely detailed custom book and I thought it'd be fun to give y'all a peek behind the scenes with some progress shots. 

The final pieces will be a book of poems/song lyrics bound "accordion" style. This means that all the pages are connected end to end and the owner will have the option of either reading it as a normal book or using it as an art piece by opening it up for display. So if you literally imagine an accordion- the covers would be like the keyboard/woodboxes and all these pages will expand and connect like the bellows. 

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But don't worry your head off about the construction- let's focus on all the embroidery going on instead! My client wanted to create a gift for a songwriting friend. So she provided me with the lyrics to be made into a book and then I went to work. 

And by work I obviously mean lots of planning and obsessing over details. My concept behind this book was to create lots of intricate layers. The writer's poems + lyrics are very vulnerable and telling so I wanted layers of pattern, colors, words, and stitching to draw the reader in and move them along throughout the collection. The end goal was to create something that you can look at several times and find a new detail that you didn't notice before (the way you can fall in love with a different part of a song you've heard a million times).

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I chose vintage inspired floral papers to embroider on for the bottom layer, which you see here. The second layer is a translucent vellum that the lyrics are printed on. Once the layers are attached, you get a dreamy effect of hand embroidered vines and words peeking out from under the lyrics. It's a lot of fun to look at in person. 

Since I knew the embroidery would be covered up, I wanted to get some really detailed shots for my portfolio. (And can we just talk about the word "portfolio" for a second? It  always makes me feel so weird. . . like overconfident or a corporate executive giving a boring report, ugh. Don't get me wrong, I'm excited to have a gallery of my embroidery and handmade books when I re-do my website, but at the same time it still evokes weird feelings. . . )

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All of the embroidered words are lyrics I hand lettered and then stitched. I included a time lapse GIF above of the process because it's always fun to see the evolution of an idea!

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After all the embroidery was done, i used my sewing machine to attach the two layers. My desk then turned into a disaster area of string and paper that Olive was more than happy to frolic all over. The next step is to attach all the pages into a seven foot accordion and then give it some covers to live between! (And then more photographing and then shipping it off— but one step at a time!) 

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I an honestly say that this will probably be one of the most beautiful books I've made yet. I'm also learning a ton along the way so it's been a rewarding and challenging experience. Yay for new things! I'm looking forward to wrapping this project up and making even more books. I have a lot of ideas floating around that I can't wait to get working on, so stay tuned for loads more books and handmade goodness!