If there’s one thing I consider myself close to an expert on, it’s subversive embroidery art. Now, as I prep to move out into my first apartment all by myself, I find myself wondering how I can incorporate my love of sassy sayings stitched onto fabric in my new domain.
Maybe you’ve never laid eyes on a bold and brassy embroidered art piece. If that’s so, let me introduce you to your new favorite thing. The art of needlepoint is a tale as old as time: people, mainly women, have been cross-stitching samplers since the 5th century BC. A craft that originated in China evolved into a deeply gendered craft that has history in almost every country known to man. What was once a sigil of obedience and docility has flowered into a very modern feminist pastime in the past 5 years. Wary crafters dusted off the once demeaning practice and realized how great it would be to make contemporary feminist propaganda out of tedious stitches in embroidery hoops. Thus, a new era of fun, quirky and socially conscious embroidery is born. Now you can find your favorite vulgar rap lyrics stitched in linen and shouldn’t be surprised to see a young woman with a Mohawk doting over an embroidery hoop.
These days an embroidered accent is a necessity in any vintage inspired or shabby chic home. If you’re looking for some quaint wall art that packs a biting punch, here are a few of my fave sellers. I’m the mega cheerleader of Michelle Gauthier’s work, especially her anatomically explicit Penis and Vagina cross-stitches. Complete with decorative matching frames, these matching sets are the perfect accessory to your first apartment with your significant other. I also love the works of StitchCulture on etsy, who embroiders your favorite blunt movie quotes onto hoops for you to decorate your walls with. She’s stocked hoops with references from Clueless to Parks and Recreation with anything you need to suit your love of kickass ladies in movies and tv. Etsy is a gold mine for any embroidery art your heart desires, from mid century modern to pastel pretty. You can even find artists willing to make custom pieces to suit anything you can dream up in your mind’s eye.
If you’re more of a DIY kind of dude, there are TONS of awesome options for getting into embroidery. I recommend Sublime Stitching, which provides beginner templates online and in some sewing stores. I’m also working on my own Haptic Lab Quilt at the moment, which combines needlepoint with hand quilting to create a quilt that depicts a map of your favorite city or an illustration of the constellations. Something I’m going to try in my new Brooklyn digs is a more subtle approach to wall art with a nod towards needlecrafts without any actual sewing work. By collecting a color palette of different fabrics and displaying them in different sized embroidery hoops on the wall you can create a cluster of easy but effective wall art.
Here are some items that are sure to fit in with your shabby chic/handcrafted style space and will complement any DIY embroidered look.
Take a nod from the appropriated history of embroidery and needlepoint and look around your home to see where you could add a little more craft.