Add something homemade to your child’s room with the help of local creator Meghan Thompson and her book Whimsical Felt Embroidery, out at the end of August. For anyone who has done a bit of sewing, sometimes it’s the idea of endless stitches or the fact that you seemingly have to hem everything(!) that makes the project seem too intimidating to begin. Felt embroidery can dissolve both of those problems, and with Thompson’s patterns, you can make the most charming and adorable pieces. A menagerie of animals, plants, friendly food, and even a Harry Potter cartoon exude cheer and good times in their simplicity. While I latched onto this for children’s rooms, some of the 30 designs in this book are perfect for around the house, at work: wherever you need a little more sunshine.
Thompson was kind enough to chat with us a bit, so before you give it a try on your own, find out more about some of her designs, her children, and how approachable felt embroidery can really be.
Could you talk a little bit about how you got into embroidery?
My journey with embroidery started on a whim. I was designing a gallery wall in my daughter’s nursery. I spent months collecting artwork for the wall, and when I put it all together, I realized something was missing: a unicorn. And in that instant, I knew I wanted to make it myself. I went to my local craft store with little more than a vision of an embroidered unicorn in my mind.
I’d never embroidered before. I felt completely overwhelmed and intimidated by the idea of embroidering the entire piece, so I decided to cut the unicorn from felt and save the embroidery work for the facial features and mane. The process was not without its mishaps, but the end result was the charming, whimsical piece I had envisioned. My husband encouraged me to open an Etsy shop, and from there I branched out using felt embroidery to create other whimsical-inspired pieces.
How old are your two kids? Can you tell me a little about their personalities?
I have two kids: Milo, my son, is 8, and my daughter, Olive, is 5. My kids are hilarious, bright, and creative but in different ways: Milo plays the piano and fills notebook after notebook with his own comic books. Olive loves dance and gymnastics and singing or rapping her own songs, some of which last 10 minutes or more! My kids were the original inspiration for my work. Watching them delight in whimsical things like fairies, elves, and talking animals reminded me of the magical worlds I loved so much as a kid. I put that love and whimsy into my work, and I have my kids to thank for that.
With the projects in your book, which ones are your two kids’ favorites and/or which ones do you think best fit them and why?
Milo’s favorite is Spaced Out because he loves space and wants to be an astronaut when he grows up. I knew he was going to love that design when I first sketched it out. He loves the placement of the planets on that piece and the way the embroidered black lines represent their orbits around the sun.
Olive loves Donut Worry, and she was a big help when we photographed that piece for the book. Her job, which she took very seriously, was to remove any sprinkle that wasn’t pink or blue. Her other favorite is the Ice Scream, You Scream design because the kids got to eat the ice cream used in the photo for that project. It’s no surprise to me that’s her favorite and why—my kids love their ice cream!
Which one best speaks to you, as a mom or otherwise?
You Are Loved tugs at my heartstrings the most. The photo of the finished project in the book even includes my daughter’s beloved pink bunny and her newborn footprints. The world can be such a dark place, and as a parent, I only have so much control over what happens to my children. They’ll suffer losses and heartache or battle moments of self-doubt, but I always want them to know that they are loved exactly as they are. I made You Are Loved with newborn parents in mind, knowing that the one message you want your child to know from the moment they take their first breath is that they are loved.
Do you have advice or words of encouragement for those who think these are super cute but are intimidated by the craftiness involved?
This book is for everyone but especially for those who are new to embroidery. If you’re like me when I was first starting out, embroidery feels intimidating. There are a lot of techniques, which is part of the beauty of embroidery—you’re never really done learning or perfecting it.
Felt embroidery, as I present it in the book, takes a lot of the pressure off. A lot of the patterns are quick, easy projects that require only a few basic stitches with the felt doing most of the “work” for you. Once you’re comfortable with those basic stitches, you can graduate to other more complex designs or start adding custom details of your own. I walk the reader through each of the stitches needed for the projects in the book, and if you need some extra help, YouTube is a great resource for embroidery how-to videos. And finally, I think it’s important to remember that it’s OK to start over when you make a mistake. I’m four years into my embroidery journey, and I still have to do that!