There’s no denying the crossover that’s happening in the quilting, fabric, and embroidery worlds. From fabric designers like Lizzy House introducing embroidery patterns to complement their fabric lines (see her Castle Peeps and Outfoxed projects) to established embroidery designers like Natalie Lyman of Cinderberry Stitches now releasing fabric collections (we love her upcoming Woodland line!), it’s clear that today’s modern crafter is expanding the ways in which she wants to express herself and her craft.
That’s why the timing was perfect for artist and fabric designer Bari J. Ackerman, a longtime lover of hand embroidery and embroidery pattern designer (you can find her original designs in her shop), to launch her new site We Love French Knots. In Bari’s words, We Love French Knots is a site devoted to “modern embroidery”; and, by modern, she means a contemporary approach to embroidery with a strong nod to the rich history and legacy of hand embroidery. We wanted to learn more about We Love French Knots, as well as introduce the site to the Fat Quarterly community, so we sat down with Bari for a few quick questions.
What was your motivation for starting up a brand new embroidery website? What did you feel was missing in the blogosphere?
It wasn’t so much that I felt something was lacking in the blogosphere, but more that I love hand embroidery, and wanted to share it. We Love French Knots shares my vision of what I think people today are doing in embroidery.
Photo courtesy of Laura Bray
What’s your vision and goal for We Love French Knots?
The blog has tutorials and loads of inspiration and free patterns. (Editors’ note: the FQ team especially loves the free patterns by Nicole of Follow the White Bunny and Alyssa of Penguin & Fish. Check ‘em out!) I wanted to get people stitching. Clearly there is a big trend toward it already, but I sensed hesitation from a lot of people. I want people to know that they can do it. It’s not crazy complicated, and you don’t have to be perfect. I would love to see We Love French Knots turn into a e-magazine and then possibly see it in print. I have lots of ideas, and I think there is ton that I can do with it. I see embroidery just getting bigger and bigger.
Stitched by Aimee Ray
What do you think are the biggest misconceptions about hand embroidery?
I think that people have a misconception that it’s terribly difficult. It’s not. Also, I have heard “embroidery is a dying art.” Not so. I think it’s enjoying a renaissance.
Stitched by Alyssa Thomas of Penguin & Fish
Do you find that many sewists & quilters are afraid of hand embroidery? What advice would you give them?
Yes, I think that’s true. To those people, I’d say jump in. Don’t be afraid of making a mess or ruining floss, fabric etc. You can start over at any point. Start with less expensive materials.
Stitched by Cathy Gaubert
What are some ways that sewists & quilters might consider incorporating embroidery into other sewing projects (bags, quilts, etc.)?
I love seeing embroidery in quilts and other projects. You probably know that I love fabric collage using free motion quilting. I love adding bits of embroidery on top of that. I like to put it where you might not expect it.
Photo courtesy of Rebecca Ringquist
Do you have any favorites that you’ve made or seen made by others?
I’m crazy over so many pieces … I love the white on white by Karen Ruane. I adore how Natalie Lymer of Cinderberry Stitches includes embroidery in her quilts, and I’m over the moon about pretty much anything done by Anna Maria Horner.
Stitched by Karen Ruane
Who are some of the guests you’ve had over on We Love French Knots?
Sarah Jane, Natalie Lymer, Lynette Anderson, Verna Mosquera. So many! I’ve featured a new artist every Monday since late July when the blog officially started.
Alphabet Sampler by Alicia Paulson
Any sneak peeks of some fun things we can expect to come on We Love French Knots?
We have an interview with Anna Maria Horner coming up. It’s safe to say she’s my favorite designer. There will also be many more video tutorials, free projects and hopefully more giveaways.
Stitched by Natalie Lymer of Cinderberry Stitches
And there’s one more thing that you can expect to see in the near future. Fat Quarterly will be teaming up with We Love French Knots for an embroidery-themed Designer’s Challenge. Think you’ve got what it takes? Sharpen up those needles and stock up on your favorite floss, and stay tuned for more information coming soon!