Knitting makes warm sweaters and sewing skills can turn fabric into clothes, bags and quilts. Crochet is pretty and practical. But what to do with your embroideries? Embroidery seems less 'practical' than knitting or sewing but it is a great way to add a unique touch to your home or clothes. Here are some ideas from my personal archive of things you can do with embroidery. But let me start by saying that embroidery doesn't have to have a practical goal as far as I'm concerned. The most important thing is that you enjoy embroidery as a relaxing activity. :)
1. Hang it on a wall
I know, this is probably the most obvious thing to do with your finished embroidery but it really adds something unique to your interior. Whether you've made a portrait of your cat, a favourite quote or a birth sampler, it's unlikely there is a piece anywhere in the world that's exactly like yours. Even if you've made it from a pattern.
You can group embroideries as if you are curating your own exhibition and include vintage finds, swapped or bought pieces and your own work. If you have a really large collection you can regularly change your 'gallery'. Take care not to place your stitched treasures in direct light to avoid fading.
2. Add embroidery to clothes
Embroidered clothing has been a dominate factor in fashion for a while now. Actually it's never been away as people have been using embroidery to embellish clothing for centuries! Embroidery gives garments a touch of luxury. True, most of the embroidery you see in fashion (especially on clothes from high street shops) is machine embroidered and mass produced but you can take your inspiration from the fashion industry and try your hand at hand embroidering your skirts, shirts, jackets or even your canvas sneakers!
Before you start you have to consider what style of embroidery suits the fabric of your garment. Dense stitching on a very thin fabric for example is not a good idea. Neither is attempting to stitch a delicate design to heavy weight fabrics like denim or canvas. I tried embroidering on a very fine corduroy dress. It wasn't easy but the result (see above) was quite good!
Medium weight cotton or linen clothing (without stretch) or light weight denim items are perfect for stitching on. A plain hoody can be made into a unique garment with just a touch (or a lot!) of embroidery. To my daughter's sweat pants I added a simple floral inspired monogram which wasn't hard to do at all. If you like a challenge and have some experience you can embroider on t-shirts or onesies too. Don't forget to use stabiliser to make fabric more firm and less stretchy. I embroidered my "Little Fawn" design on a simple linen skirt, turning an item bought on the high street into something unique!
3. Embellish household and everyday items with embroidery
Plain pillow cases, tea towels, hankies or even curtains (if the fabric is suitable) are perfect to embroider on! In the first half of the twentieth century this was such a common thing to do but it seems a bit forgotten nowadays. You can choose traditional designs and make 'his and hers' (or 'his and his' or 'hers and hers') pillowcases or perhaps you prefer a more contemporary design. I stitched a silhouette bear of my own design on a pillowcase and it's one of my favourite pillowcases!
If you are into quilting or sewing you can consider incorporating embroidery into your projects.
For a book project (Fat Quarters by Amanda Carestio) I combined cross stitched lettering with paper pieced hexagons to create a pillowcase and sheet set for toddlers.
And for a Secret Santa swap I made a gift bag with a cute Moomin embroidery on the front (pattern available at Sublime Stitching)
Personally I have a soft spot for Nordic, folkloristic designs. Karen Holmberg's book Stitched in Scandinavia and Clare Young's Scandinavian Needlecraft are great sources if you're interested in adding a Scandinavian touch to your wardrobe or home.
I hope that you feel inspired to stitch something new!
P.S. Until Saturday the 19th of November 2016 I give a 25% discount on all the patterns in my shop, just in case you want to embroider that cute doe on a skirt, stitch a cozy fox or make a sweet sampler for a nursery! Simply use code COZYFOX at check out. :)