Spotlight: Megan Eckman, Embroidery Artist and Designer
If you are looking for unique embroidery designs that go beyond the traditional hearts and flowers, Megan Eckman might be your designer. With an eye for quirky subject matter and a passion to make embroidery achievable for anyone willing to learn a few basic stitches, Megan’s modern embroidery patterns make bold color and design statements.
How did you get started designing embroidery? Always an artist, or was there a “moment”?
From an early age I was shoved into every art class in my city, and being artistic was just something I was told to be. Around age seven, my grandmother taught me embroidery. I turned out to be interested but quite rubbish at most of it. I was a whiz at rats’ nests though. My grandmother got so frustrated that we stopped our lessons, since she couldn’t handle untangling my messes anymore.
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I went off to art school and started my own art business selling prints of my pen and ink illustrations. Then I had a bit of a burnout and late one night, I turned back to embroidery, transforming one of my pen and ink drawings into an embroidery piece. I shared the piece online and my fans went wild for it. They all wanted to make one of their own.
The next day I started working out how to design embroidery kits. The kits quickly outsold my prints, because everyone much prefers to make a piece of art themselves. So over the next year I morphed my business over to embroidery kits entirely.
What is the most important takeaway you want readers to gain from your book, Everyday Embroidery for Modern Stitchers?
I made this book for people who are ready to take their embroidery beyond the hoop.
Honestly, I had never really learned to sew with a machine until I started writing this book. I had to teach myself everything. And that is an amazing experience to go through because then I’m right there with the reader, holding their hand as we discover how to sew on zippers and make boxed corners for a bag. I even insert places in the directions for the reader to stop and have a dance break because they just achieved something spectacular. I want the reader to finish the book and feel like they can do anything, that they’re no longer limited to the embroidery hoop.
In your opinion, what are the essential supplies a beginner embroiderer should invest in?
One of the reasons I love embroidery is because it takes so few supplies.
I recommend Sublime Stitching or COSMO embroidery floss in a handful of colors. Don’t worry about making a proper palette. Just pick colors that speak to you.
I also recommend size 4 embroidery needles because they have a larger eye. An embroidery hoop is a must and something around 6″ is great.
For fabric, I’m a sucker for canvas or a thick linen cotton. I love fabric that has a tight weave and is thick enough that you can’t see the floss through it. Canvas is so forgiving for beginners because if you pop your needle up in the wrong spot, you don’t leave a puncture mark as you can with thinner fabrics.
Which stitches do you think a beginner stitcher should start with and why?
In my kits, I teach 4 basic stitches. The reason I do this is because I want my fans to finish their embroidery without becoming frustrated. I teach the running stitch, the back stitch, the split stitch, and the satin stitch. The only “advanced” stitches that I teach on my How To page are the stem stitch, the chain stitch (the reversed/cheater way), and the French knot.
Anyone who has embroidered before knows these are all super basic stitches. But once you know the basics, you can go out and learn the fancy ones. I start things off simple because I want people to build up their confidence instead of becoming frustrated and giving up.
What do you do differently? What is your signature that makes your work stand out as yours?
Quite simply, I make bold kits. When I rebranded my company last August to PopLush Embroidery (previously Studio MME), my partner and I doubled-down on everything that our fans loved. We use bold thread colors, colored fabric, and bright kit papers.
Where other embroidery kit brands are Kraft paper packaging and pastel florals, we scream purple and orange. Our customers are tattooed librarians, roller derby girls and belly dancers, so our kits embody that boldness and confidence.
Do you think that creativity comes naturally to people, or do you think creativity is a skill that people can learn?
Creativity comes naturally to everyone. When people ask me when I started drawing, the better question is when did the other person stop?
Creativity is like any muscle; it develops best when used. Anyone can draw if they practice every day. And everyone can be creative if they simply allow themselves to play each day. That’s a wonderful thing to understand because it means that no matter how long you’ve been ‘uncreative,’ you can pick it up again. You simply have to take the step to start playing. That’s all that my business really is: playing.
Interview posted October 2020
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