Sunday, May 11, 2014


       Some people name their sewing machines. I'm not one of those people. Sometimes sewing machines come with names.
       Meet Betty. I bought this Cornely L last year from Craigslist in California. The machine had belonged to the seller's mother, Betty. He told me about her career as a chainstitch embroiderer, embroidering everything from bowling shirts to patches for The Hell's Angels. He told me that Betty once tried to start a school for chainstitch embroidery and that someone had broken into her studio and stolen all of her new machines but left the Cornely L, which was the machine she used most often.

This is "Betty", a 1950's Cornely L chainstitch embroidery machine. The machine can do two and three thread cording as well as chainstitch and moss/chenille stitch.

       He was kind enough to send an example of Betty's work along with the machine; a patch set for the Little Counts motorcycle club. It's always amazing to see original chainstitch embroidered pieces. I can only hope that the artists who made these works were aware of the great skill they possessed.


Looking closely at this embroidery you can see the careful attention to the contour of the shapes that make up the image. I always say that each chainstitch embroider has a "hand" that is evident in their work, similar to that of a painter.

          The Cornely arrived safely from California. The seller had packed the machine carefully, going so far as to build a small wooden crate for it. I set it up and it still worked beautifully. After a couple of days I noticed something etched into the enamel...


Thursday, May 8, 2014

Monochromatic Skull

    This chainstitch embroidered skull was worked on white scrim felt which was then chainstitched to a piece of black scrim felt. It measures just 6" x 5 & 1/2" and would look killer on a vintage varsity jacket. It is currently for sale in my etsy shop.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

My Pal Kipp, A Portrait

When I was asked to donate a work of art to be auctioned off as part of a group show to raise money to help send a friend and local Indianapolis artist/celebrity, Kipp Normand, on a vacation to Paris, a chainstitch embroidered portrait seemed the perfect thing. I initially considered working the portrait in color but decided on shades of grey. I found a color photo of Kipp that had dramatic shadows and hand separated the light and dark values.

I work my embroideries dark to light. In this photo you can see the black and darkest grey. I used Madeira Burmilana, a wool/acrylic blend thread that has a soft matte finish.

I was striving to make this portrait look as realistic as possible, though not necessarily photo-realistic. One of my favorite painters is Chuck Close, a photo-realist painter who creates monumental portraits that from a distance look like photos but upon closer inspection often devolve into a beautiful field of color and texture. Obviously I am working on a much smaller scale but am always conscious of the textures that I can create with the machine. The flow and rhythm of the thread is to the chainstitch embroiderer what the brushstroke is to the painter with each embroiderer having their own "hand" or style.

My Pal Kipp, 2013, embroidered on the Singer 114w103

I was quite satisfied with the finished piece and felt that it was an honest likeness of Kipp. I was a bit sad to see it go but was delighted to have contributed to a well deserved vacation.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Catfish & Hops Outfit

     Recently an engaged couple in Austin, Texas wrote to request an outfit for the groom for their upcoming wedding. The groom is a craft beer enthusiast and goes by the nickname "Catfish" and the couple wanted these themes incorporated into the outfit. After working up several sketches they approved this design:

After some consideration they decided they only wanted the catfish above the pockets. I sent them fabric swatches and they chose a beautiful cream colored wool twill for the shirt and a grey twill for the pants and piping. The outfit came together quite nicely and they were very excited to receive it. I will share photos of the groom in the outfit after their early April wedding.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Custom Pet Portrait Pillows

I'm always looking for new ways to showcase the embroidery that I do which has led me to start making chainstitch embroidered pet portrait pillow shams. I am selling these on my etsy store for $100. You can find more information here:

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

More patches!

Here are some more chainstitch embroidered patches that I've made recently. The tiger is my personal favorite with Abe Lincoln a close second.