The immersion of feminism into craft is arguably the best thing that’s ever happened. Knit vaginas, crochet crop tops, and snarky embroidered decor are all becoming very popular in the world of women makers and consumers. Today, I’ll show you how to make your own feminist embroidery hoop to not only decorate your space with positive affirmations but also to teach you the basics of an age-old art.
Here’s What You’ll Need:
An embroidery hoop. The one I’m using for this project is 7inches, but you can change the size of the template to be bigger or smaller to accommodate for different sized hoops.
Fabric. Any woven fabric will work for this project. Traditionally embroidery is done on linen fabric, but a cotton woven would be fine too. I’ve been using vintage thrifted sheets for my projects lately, but make sure if you’re using recycled fabric that it’s not stretchy.
Scissors. We all got scissors.
A needle. I’m using an embroidery needle that is a bit larger and has a larger eye than a usual needle, but anything you’re comfortable with works.
Black embroidery floss. I used a bit less than half of the skin that usually costs less than a dollar at most craft stores. Yay leftovers!
Water soluble fabric pen. You can find these at craft stores and online. I danced around using these for a while, but let me tell you they really are the easiest and most efficient way to get a design on fabric. They’re the light of my life.
First, you’re gonna want to trace your design onto your fabric. This is why I like using light colored fabrics, but to each his own. I can usually get away with just laying the fabric over my template and I can see the design underneath, but if this doesn’t work try shining a light through from the back. Trace the design onto the fabric with the fabric marker.
People often think that embroidery floss is meant to be used in one thick strand. While this isn’t untrue, it’s mostly split up into one or a few of the six strands that makes up the big chunky floss. I like to cut off a piece about as long as my arm, and then split the strand in half (into 2 chunks of 3 strands). Put a little spit on the end of the strands to keep them intact, thread your needle, and tie a knot at the end.
This entire design is outlined in one stitch: the backstitch. One of my favorites for going over letters and simple designs, the backstitch is a simple way to get the hang of the embroidery basics. You’ll start by coming up from the back to the front of the fabric, pulling the thread tight so the knot you made presses against the back of the fabric.
Press your needle back into the fabric about an eighth of an inch away from where you came up originally. Instead of pulling the needle through to the back, you’re gonna save a little time and insert your needle back towards the top of the fabric again about an eighth of an inch away. Pull your needle through the fabric so the first stitch you made lays flat.
Take your needle and insert it at the end of the first visible stitch you made. It will feel kind of like you’re backtracking, which is the source of the name the “backstitch.” You will eventually have a straight line of stitches on the front, and a series of overlapping stitches on the back. Insert the point of the needle an eighth of an inch in front of where your floss comes up from the fabric, and pull so your second stitch remains flat. Repeat this process along the lines of the design until you have a continuous chain of small stitches. Looks great! You’re doing it! Yay!
This whole design took me approximately 3 episodes of Avatar: the Last Airbender to complete, so give or take an hour and a half of stitching. Once you’re finished, make a little knot on the back of your piece and snip your thread. Look at you! You made a thing!
Now you have a really cool embroidered piece in the middle of this big chunk of fabric. Here, I like to trim my fabric down to a circle that stretches out about an inch from the hoop around all sides. I prefer to put a small line of hot glue around the inside of the of the inner hoop and press the outside fabric on to it so it points in towards the backside of the piece. If you are opposed to burning your delicate fingers off, you should use a little tacky glue instead.
Wait for it to dry, hang it on a tack on the wall, and bam, you got it! You made this thing to be proud of!
Mary Rockcastle is a florist, illustrator, and craftswoman living in Rochester, New York. She’s the sole founder of Little Lamb Studios, and #1 biggest fan of all dogs.
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