Monday, April 24, 2017

Create What You Wish Existed, Embroidery Edition

Hello friends, I have been away from my sewing machine for a little bit. I have missed it, but I have been holding an embroidery hoop instead. I am sure you recall I designed some natural hair theme fabric for my daughter and myself. It was  my response to a negative comment about my daughter’s natural hair. A playmate with pin straight hair remarked that her curly ringlets when worn loose, looked “weird”. Her feelings were hurt that someone, a friend no less, would say a hurtful thing about a physical feature she loves and embraces.  

In that creative endeavor, I choose to remind her of how beautiful her/our hair is. As we continue to live, grow and craft she is expanding her skills and learning hand embroidery. While looking through my embroidery patterns she noted that none of the authors of the books illustrated people who look like her or me. She also noted that the designs I have made from these patterns do. I explained that I change the features, hair, and skin to look like I want because the designers didn't do it.

This lead to a discussion about whether people of color are excluded from designs on purpose, overlooked based on ignorance of the need, are not seen as a people who craft, or perceived as people unwilling to purchase designs. We had no definitive answers to these questions. (It is hard to explain issues of racism, institutional oppression, micro-aggression and cultural appropriation to an 8-year old without doing some emotional harm.) She did suggest I stop buying designs from people who don't think about us (smart girl!). She observed that the modifications are easy for me, so until now, I have not been troubled by it (not true, but I was rolling with it). "What about those who can't change the designs?" she asked, "What are they supposed to do?", "Will their embroidery never look like them?"

I have told you guys before that she thinks I can anything and encourages me to try. She suggested I make embroidery patterns that celebrates natural hair and sell them in my Etsy store! I had done much of the foundation work with the fabrics I printed, so we thought, why not?

My hopes with these designs are multiple:
  •        To create fun whimsical designs that celebrate the beauty of natural hair for women and girls who embrace or struggle to embrace, their hair texture.
  •   To provide racial diversity in available hand embroidery designs for all creative makers.
  •     To create a fun design that celebrates the beauty of natural hair for women and girls who appreciate natural hair, but do not wear it because it is not their natural hair texture.

    These designs are now available in my Etsy store as PDF digital downloads and printed linen fabric.

The downloads include a 7-page booklet that includes a stitch guide, pattern transfer methods and instructions for adding water color accents to your designs. 

The designs can be stitched by a beginner using one or two stitches. A more experienced stitcher can embellish the designs with more elaborate stitches. The patterns can also be used to try multiple stitches as a sampler.

The patterns are sold individually ($4), as a complete collection ($15), or pre-printed fabric ($8). 

Stitch a message to remind someone they are beautiful inside and out.

Glitter applique adds a fun, fresh and dramatic pop to the sunglasses.

This message comes in two fonts with both the Afro Diva and Afro Puff Diva.

 Mix things up with watercolor.

Or keep it plain with a pop of sparkle.

These were so fun to make. My daughter loves them all. Her favorite design is this one. She loves that it can be stitched on fabric to match anyone's skin tone.



   Her friend's
   Since sharing my daughter's story, I have gotten lots of feedback through email, Facebook, and Instagram.  Some of it has been encouragement and support, commiseration and consolation and news reports of people being ridiculed because of their hair and/or complexion. 

  There is a need for people to see positive representation of themselves in everyday life.  I feel it is important for girls and woman to see their natural selves shown with pride and fun. I made these for people with "weird" hair to remind them they are beautiful, always. I made these for those with pin straight hair, to remind them there is nothing "weird" about it. 
   The designs are now live in the Etsy shop and in my Craftsy Store! I hope you will buy and make them and have a blast doing it. I also hope you will share the link/image on social media. There is a someone who needs a reminder that they are beautiful, naturally.

   Happy Sewing,