Friday, February 6, 2015

Fiber Arts Friday: Embroidery with Melissa Griffiths

The first Friday of every month is Fiber Arts Friday! Join me as we expand our horizons beyond crochet to focus on other interesting fiber and needle arts. Enjoy the beautiful projects and learn something new along the way. Last month we looked at a specific type of embroidery called cross-stitch. Today we're going to take a look at some freehand embroidery. "Embroidery is the handicraft of decorating fabric or other materials with needle and thread or yarn. Embroidery may also incorporate other materials such as metal strips, pearls, beads, quills, and sequins."

My friend Melissa is intelligent, vivacious, and multi-talented. She is a journalist, and she recently won a GLAAD Media Award! She's here today to chat with us about her unique embroidery projects.

About Melissa
I've lived on the west coast my whole life, with a northward trend — Juneau, Alaska, has been home for the past 7 1/2 years and for the foreseeable future. 

I'm a journalist with a penchant for feature stories (I've written at least four feel-good stories about dogs in the last year, maybe more) and sharing personal tidbits (I wrote about my elopement and fielded congratulations from relative strangers for at least a month or so after). 

Also, I'm married — we eloped, as I mentioned — and I have a small dog named Beau. 
My interests, at least of late, include decorating our apartment in offensively bright colors, game nights, drawing and, of course, embroidery. 

How long have you been embroidering? How did you get started?
My first embroidery project was a square for a quilt for newly married friends. I wasn't ready to relive the sorority days and use puffy paint (Sara and I were in a sorority together at our alma mater Willamette University), so I decided I would embroider. I practiced very little before diving into the final project and looking back it's pretty amateurish, but it got me into the craft, so I won't look on it with too critical an eye.

For me, embroidery is painting with thread. I don't follow any patterns and I alternate between brightly colored, flat, stylized renderings and painterly portraits. I hand draw on the fabric with pencil and refine the drawing when I stitch (backstitch) the outline. Then, using different stitches (satin, long-short, mostly) I fill in the outline with color and create textures.

What advice do you have for folks who are interested in embroidery?
For those interested in taking up embroidery, I recommend it! It's a really inexpensive hobby (here in Juneau, embroidery floss costs less than 50¢ a skein, or you can buy the economy packs like I have, which inspired the bright, unnatural colors) and it keeps your hands busy while you drink mimosas with friends at craft brunches — you have craft brunches, right? There are tons of free patterns for people who prefer a structured approach, but each piece of fabric in the hoop is a blank canvas to create an amazing work of art for the free spirits of the craft world.

Here is some of Melissa's work... 

You can keep up with my illustrations and embroideries at or that plus a bunch of other stuff by following my instagram (@melissaleeanne). I take commissions as I have time. Email at Stitch on, babes.

If you'd like more information about embroidery, take a look at the website for The Embroiderer's Guild of America. Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful art with us today, Melissa! To all of you DGs out there... LITB ;)

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