As a machine embroiderer, do you still occasionally run into the stereotype, “oh, machine embroidery … that’s like, cute bears and stuff, right?”
Well, you can’t blame people, because a lot of the time, they’re right. But machine embroidery is not just one style or another. It’s simply a medium of art, used to express designs through machine embroidered stitches. That’s what it is.
What is can be… is anything.
One of the easiest ways to show that machine embroidery is making its mark in the world outside of teddy bears and cardigans is to see all the cool ways it’s used in the wider world of design, often in ways most people would never expect, or maybe just don’t notice. So what is machine embroidery?
It’s not what you think…
It can be splendiferous and steamy on old world garments, as part of the totally hot steampunk craze. Embroidery used to be the method of choice to dress up garments of old, so it’s not a surprise it’s coming back in a new form with this new style.
Even large retailers are finding cool ways of using light stitching to add new dimension to things.
Face it, this just wouldn’t be as cool if it was screenprinted.
Name-brand stores are using it to add a homemade charm with a new level of sophistication, especially to kids’ stuff. I think this quilt feels both handmade and posh, which is a pretty slick combination.
Machine embroidery is also making it’s mark oh high fashion. Christopher Kane’s runway collection of embroidered leather was originally hand-stitched, but for the stuff you can buy in boutiques, machine embroidery steps up to wonderful effect. I especially love this combination of pretty and punk.
If only I could figure out how to get away with wearing leather pants…
Some fashion goes for a more subtle note, with my favorite treatment of tone on tone embroidery. I think this is a fabulous effect and great when you don’t really want your embroidery to scream out loud.
The stitch direction embroidery allows is a perfect way to let your design show off quietly. It seems especially popular with clothes for guys, who don’t tend to favor a flouncy embroidered effect anyway.
Stitch direction itself is fast becoming a very popular way of adding dimension to things, used to fantastic effect on this coral pillow. You could hand embroider that, yes, but I think the precision of machine embroidery is what makes the detail so mesmerizing, and so convincing.
Once thought of only as a medium for an older generation, machine embroidery is bringing younger, fresher designs to contemporary fashion for all ages and styles. Once you start changing your expectation of what it’s for, you realize it can be anything.
Just because machine embroidery is turning toward new styles doesn’t mean it has to give up on more traditional ones. These boutique curtains from Anthropology are beautifully embroidered with a traditional design, but come across as fresh and contemporary when used with a new medium and seen by a new audience.
And of course… who could forget the skulls? Certainly not us…
Themes and styles once thought of as only worthy for tattoo ink and biker dens and finding their way into embroidery more and more. The classic mix of traditional and tough have great appeal to those looking for new designs without leaving the usual trappings of fashion or craft. Yes sir, you can have your skulls and embroider them too.
So next time someone tries to tell you machine embroidery is just flowers, or just for cardigans, or isn’t used anywhere cool these days… well.
Just have a look around. It’s not what you think.