I actively avoided embroidery for almost two decades. In my mind, it was linked to patriarchy, ideals I could never meet, and other old-timey hobbies I saw as a waste of time. My grandmother taught me how to embroider when I was little and I adorned every pillowcase and zip-up sweater I owned. I thought I was the coolest kid on the block, but my fellow middle-school students didn’t agree. I stopped sewing after I got picked on for having embroidered cats on my sweatshirt.
In high school, I read books on feminism and realized I didn’t want to be associated with things girls were "supposed" to do. I suddenly didn’t like flowers, I didn’t want to cook dinner for my family, and I certainly didn’t want to sew.
I firmly held onto these false beliefs of what a modern woman could and couldn’t enjoy until three years ago, when I got terribly bored. I mean really bored. So bored that I drove to a craft store because I wanted to embroider. All I found were the same patterns I had sewn with my grandmother. Yes, even those cats that started it all. There was no way I was sewing those things again. So I bought some thread and fabric and loudly proclaimed, “I’ll make my own design!”
Being an artist by trade, I turned one of my illustrations into a pattern. I stitched it up and shared it on Facebook, thinking it would make a few people smile. Instead, I was flooded with requests to make the pattern available.
That’s when I started my embroidery kit business, Studio MME. Now, three years later, it’s my full-time job. It’s allowed me to embrace the fact that it’s okay to like flowers, adore cooking, and sew cats while still being a feminist. I don’t lose any strength by spending a night stitching or drawing floral patterns. I even got married this year and carried a bouquet of tulips with a giant smile on my face, something I never imagined I would enjoy just a few years ago.
I’m so thankful that I got bored that day because it has allowed me to embrace a much richer identity as a woman. It has also shaped my professional life and allowed me to bring smiles to many others who also didn’t want to sew the same cats they stitched as children.
Megan Eckman designs approachable embroidery for modern stitchers as the head designer and owner of Studio MME (http://www.studiomme.com). Graduating with degrees in art and English, she turned her talents to helping others embrace their inner creativity through kits. Her whimsical embroidery kits are sold all over the country and in 2016 she partnered with DMC to create a custom line of embroidery kits for their Commonthread collection. She currently lives just outside Portland with her husband, Studio MME’s art director, and their cat, the CFO: Chief Feline Officer. And no, she can’t sew a French knot to save her life.
Photos courtesy Megan Eckman
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