Not Your Grandma's Sampler - How To Put A Modern Twist On The Vintage Art Of Embroidery

The art of embroidery is making a jump back into popularity. Are you sitting on the fence between "let's give it a try" and "don't want my home filled with grandma's designs"? Well, it's time to hop off that fence and give it a try. You can give the centuries old art of embroidery a modern twist. These tips will lead the way.

The modern spin on embroidery is all about mixing things up. From colors to layouts to threads, the unexpected will give your embroidery pieces a fresh, contemporary feel.

Refresh the Design

If you Google "traditional embroidery designs", you'll find an abundance of floral sweetness. Try these ideas for modern design that takes the sweetness factor down several notches.

  • Bold Geometric Shapes - Simple shapes like squares, circles, and diamonds create clean, bold design. If you find happiness in balance and order, try a symmetrical design. If you're not going to feel perpetually uncomfortable if things are a bit out of line, try a pattern of randomly placed shapes. Both symmetrical and asymmetrical designs will be enhanced by varying the size of the shapes in your creation.
  • Vibrant Colors - Today's trending colors are vivid. Whatever color is your favorite, using a vibrant hue will modernize your piece. If you're feeling uncertain which color direction to pursue, there are two color rules that can help:
  1. Monochromatic Colors - This includes all of the tints of a single hue. Do you like purple? Then stick with a variety of purple tints in your color choice. Using a single hue can create a bold feeling.
  2. Complementary Colors - These are colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel: red and green, blue and orange, purple and yellow. Complementary colors naturally look good, and will feel right if used together in your stitching.

 Don't be afraid to abandon the color rules and choose what you think works. It's your creation. If you like it, do it. Whatever your method of choosing colors for your project, make sure they look good together before purchasing.

  • Mixed Threads - Another way to modernize by mixing things up is to use different types of thread and floss. There's an abundance of thread choices out there; get creative with them. Try combining floss and thread (which is typically used in embroidery machines). Use a combination of shiny and matte threads. Try varying the number of strands you use on different areas of your design. All of these options will help you create a piece with interesting textural qualities.
  • Jumbled Placement - Get adventurous with the placement of the figures in your design. Will you be stitching owls? Don't line them all up on a branch. Turn some on their heads, lay some on their sides, and lean some just a bit off kilter. Rather in a row, or placed all over your design space, jumbled objects create a fun, interesting, unexpected design.
  • Varied Stitches - Use a variety of stitches in your piece. It will significantly up the interest factor. Use stitches in unexpected ways, Instead of filling in a space with a satin stitch, try a curving chain stitch or a bunch of French knots. Don't be afraid to learn and use new stitches. It will not only create greater variety in your design, it will be more enjoyable to work on.
  • Catch Phrases - Did your grandma have a cute little sampler that said "Home Sweet Home"? Words have always had their place in embroidery, and that doesn't need to change. Just update what you have to say. Is there a phrase that is commonly used with your family or friends? Find a modern font and use that phrase to create a sampler that has personal meaning. You might even consider throwing in a hash tag.

Don't let the fear of outdated design keep you from giving embroidery a try. It's an art that has gone contemporary. Use these hints, click here for more info, and join the stitching revolution.