Sunday, January 4, 2015

Beginning Embroidery: Finding Help and Inspiration Online

Since I've started this journey of opening my own tiny business, I haven't had a lot in the way of technical help in real life. Most of my help has come from the internet. Without online resources, I don't think I would be where I am, or be able to go where I am hoping to go. 

When I first started two years ago, after coming home with a bag full of cotton linen, boxes of embroidery floss, wooden hoops and a head full of ideas, I wanted to dive in, full steam ahead. Unfortunately, I realized I didn't even know what to use to draw on a pattern. When my grandma taught me, she of course taught me the way she knew, except I didn't even know the names of the stitches I was making.

Embroidery detail on the table cloth.

I learned what I could from my grandmother on a two week vacation, but that was it. My embroidery is inspired by her, but there's not much she can do for me in the ways of technical support. We don't really call each other on the phone and she won't skype, so there's no way for her to show me how to make a certain stitch. I can only look at her tiny perfect stitches on the kitchen table cloth so many times, before I have to look elsewhere. 

Enter Google to the rescue. I have stayed up late into the night googling tips, reading blogs, pausing and starting videos on YouTube to make sure I understand how to do a stitch numerous times.  

In one of my searches, I thankfully landed on Sublime Stitching's website. I highly recommend it to any newbies. It has great tutorials, with easy to understand language and you can even buy kits and all sorts of supplies there. I can't vouch for the kits, since I already have most of my supplies, but I have seen them used by other people and they always praise them. 

I've also been fortunate enough to find Needle 'N Thread. They're a great technical site that explain stitches like no other, and introduce you to all sorts of different stitches. I keep it bookmarked whenever I want to try a new stitch. Just a month ago, I learned the rose stitch. It's one of my new favorites. 

Finally, Instagram has been my greatest source of inspiration and information. I have found a community of stitchers that inspire me to go above and beyond. It's been a hard learning process, since I, a perfectionist by nature, and a competitive one at that, want everything done right the first time. But embroidery isn't like that. Instead of comparing myself to others, I've learned to be inspired by them. I think that like any other forms of art, you can look to great artists for inspiration. But don't compare yourself to them. They all started in the same place you did. Only through hard work and dedication can you get to where they are. And most importantly, have something that motivates you. Don't just do it because, or because you want to make money out of it. Have something that inspires you. My favorite artists all do it because something moves them to stitch. You can check out some of my favorite artists here, here, here and here

Inspiring Instagram accounts

I'm glad I've been able to find such great resources to help me learn. Don't think that because there's no one around you that can teach you, you have to give up. With just a little bit of research, you can learn too. And of course, if there's anything you want to know, you can always drop me a line! I'll be glad to help. 

Thursday, January 1, 2015


I am a born procrastinator. If you don't believe me, I have had this blog since September, and I keep intending to write in it, but I never got around to it. So in the spirit of the new year and new resolutions/personal goals, I am officially christening this blog with a post.

First things first, I'm Jaz and I am the creator and maker of Jesami Designs. I make handmade embroidered hoop art, amongst other things. I started my tiny (and I mean tiny) business officially in August 2014, but I started embroidering in April 2013.

My paternal grandmother (Abuelita)

I first picked up a needle at the age of three, when my paternal grandmother, a retired seamstress, taught me to sew.I still remember sitting with her at the kitchen table sorting through her scraps of fabric so that my Barbies could have the fanciest dresses around. For the next two years, I was a tiny couture dress making machine. When I moved away, my hobby fell to the wayside. If I ever picked up a needle, it was to sew a button on, or fix a strap, or darn a sock, nothing like those early couture Barbie gowns.

My maternal grandmother (Madrina)

Fast forward to April 2013, when on a visit to Mexico, I decided to stay in with my maternal grandmother instead of going out because of my allergies. As I was sitting with her in the living room, talking, I was fascinated by her fingers working magic on a table cloth. Because it was Easter, she was diligently working on a likeness of the Pope St. John Paul II. The more I watched, the more I became fascinated, and the more my fingers twitched with the urge to pick up a needle and help. I couldn't help myself anymore and I blurted out, "Madrina, can you teach me?"  She thought I was kidding but I wasn't. I really wanted to learn. So, she got me a spare hoop, gave me one of her brand new linen napkins printed with a pattern, a spool of thread, a needle and she set me to work. 

It was excruciating work that first day. My fingers hurt, my back hurt, my eyes hurt, everything hurt, but I slowly saw something amazing take shape. It was like drawing or painting  but with thread. I was instantly hooked. 

Working on my first napkin

The rest of my vacation, I traveled with my hoop in my purse, ready for any downtime. I was determined to finish the napkin and show it off to both my grandmothers. When I finally finished it, I was proud of not only my work, but also that I learned a skill that both grandmothers taught me.

First ever finished napkin

Now whenever I pick up a needle and thread, I feel as if the thread is keeping me tethered to both of them. I put a little bit of their love into every stitch I make and I hope that with time, I can be as great as them.