Seven years ago, while I was nurturing a toddler, a newborn, and a personal life that felt like a fog, I was scrolling through pictures of fabric online late at night and dreaming of what I could make that would not require a sewing machine or lots of brainpower—something that would allow me to feel creative in little bits of time. Living in a small, century-old house in Bucks County, Pennsylvania gave me lots of charm but left me with very little storage space. I knew that my house could not handle me buying yards and yards of fabric without a plan to actually use (or store) it. And, while I had learned my way around a sewing machine from my mother, I was not a fan of actually having to use my sewing machine. So, my criteria for a creative project left me with whatever my hands and my imagination could create with the beautiful fabrics that enamored me.
My crafty dilemma led me to begin creating small fabric collages that would fit inside of an embroidery hoop. When I first started, each collage consisted of two or three fabrics. Once I created the collage and hooped it up, my time could be spent embroidering the fabric. This solved two problems: it allowed me to continue working with small pieces of my favorite fabrics, and I now had a handheld craft that I could work on in my spare time. Over time, I gradually added in more complex designs with fussy cut details, and I added embellishments like beads and sequins, along with a variety of threads and yarns.
After I had been creating collages and embroidering them, I decided to start sharing my process and creations on Instagram as @WildBoho. Early on, I would have people ask me what they were supposed to do with the finished hoops. Now, several years later, hoops are a recognized home accessory, and you can find mass-produced hoop art in craft and home decor stores!
“Everything stinks ‘till it’s finished.”
– Dr. Seuss
My Instagram world allows me to share and connect with other makers and also experience the sense of community that exists in the crafting world. I have found connections in the fabric realm with both designers and manufacturers that just could not exist before social media. This exposure also led to my connection with Lucky Spool Media and both of my Boho Embroidery books.
As a self-taught embroiderer, I was delighted to be tasked with writing a book that both encompassed my personal style and also taught someone from start to finish how to create their own personal form of fabric collage and embroidery art. I wanted to write a book that a complete beginner could pick up, read and then go off on their own and start stitching! I also wanted it to be accessible and intriguing to someone who already knew the basics of embroidery but wanted to incorporate modern fabrics and additional stitches. And so Boho Embroidery: Modern Projects from Traditional Stitches came about and was published in 2016.
My second book, Boho Embroidery: The Pattern Collection, builds on the skills learned in my first book but adds in more texture. I included patterns that work in texture in the form of felt, velvet, lace, yarns and specialty threads, beads and sequins. I love working with saturated color palettes, and I love it, even more, when I can add dimension to my embroidery projects. Creating this book helped me push myself to try new things and learn to be braver about the kinds of media I worked into my collages. The skills I developed, grew, and wrote about are the same skills a milliner or haberdasher or someone in the fashion industry might use to detail a gown, but they are scaled down and manageable in the perfect little world of a single hoop—a world that even a semi-overwhelmed mother of two can explore and develop.
Most fulfilling of all, I have had the exciting experience of seeing readers and students in my classes make this craft their own, using principles they have learned from me, to help bring out their own personal tastes and styles. Embroidery is truly an expressive medium and one that invites collaboration, conversation, and growth.