I have wanted to create a collection of Ft. Lonesome embroidery patterns with my friend Kathie Sever for years. She and I go way back to the earliest days of starting our own businesses in Austin, Texas in 2000.
If you've been with Sublime Stitching for a while, you probably know that before moving to Los Angeles, I started out in Austin where I lived for eleven years.
That's why this collab is extra special to me...
Jacket embroidered by Amy Byrne with Ft. Lonesome patterns
If you're not familiar with chain stitching, it's kind of the cool cousin to hand embroidery and digitized embroidery. You've seen it emblazoned spectacularly on fancy western wear or at the very least, as your own name stitched across a hat with a set of Mickey ears. Worked neither entirely by machine nor alone by hand, chain stitching is an art all unto itself.
Since you probably don't have a chain stitching machine at home, I thought Ft. Lonesome's designs would be perfect to offer as designs for hand embroidery!
Chainstitch work requires incredible skill and patience to execute successfully. The machines (which in the USA are almost exclusively antiques) can be finicky and require a lot of technical TLC. You also have to be able to use your non-dominant hand to move the fabric to create graceful lines, while your other hand works a multi-direction needle. I compare it to the confused feeling of patting your head and rubbing your tummy. But I can do that. I can't, however, work a chainstitch machine at all. I know, because I used to own one. (More on that later.)
Kathie Sever is a master seamstress. When I first met her, she was making offbeat, but meticulously-made western wear. The clothing didn't have the embroidery treatment yet, but the details alone were eye-catching: pearl snap buttons, patterned piping, unusual fabrics, ruffled sleeves...the detail and quality of her work is jaw-dropping.
So, I asked her to make a shirt as a project example for me to embroider in my book Embroidered Effects (Chronicle Books):
Do you see how beautifully made this shirt is? (I still have it, by the way.)
So when Kathie made the move into embroidery, specifically, chainstitch embroidery, it was the next glorious, logical step.
And, it was a lucky thing I couldn't get the hang of the chainstitch machine I'd hunted down in Waco, Texas. I was really interested in adding chainstitching to my embroidery repertoire, but I quickly bowed and backed away slowly, knowing I was beholden to hand embroidery alone, and that chainstitch work was a separate artform I was not prepared to devote myself to.
So I made sure when someone bought my machine that it went to a good home. Wouldn't you know it, Kathie called me one day: "You still got that chainstitching machine?"
And to work she went...
Wanna embroider something now? I thought so...
Check this out! I made a special guide for you! (The picture above is just part of the guide, it's not the whole thing.) I've created a special Stitch Atlas™ for the sunset design. My Stitch Atlas™ is included in the PDF version, which is a unique visual method that explains where to use:
- Sublime Floss thread colors by number
- specific types of stitches
- thickness or thinness of your floss
- the direction of your stitches
- and more!
Tutorial: The Easiest Chainstitch
History: Embroidered Suits Are Making a Comeback (Billboard)