Theresa Wensing creates embroidery designs using a calm, pastel color palette to create works of art that are bold and sometimes not ladylike. Her patterns are designed to show people that embroidery is not difficult – in fact the stitching process can be enjoyable and meditative. She doesn’t plan her pieces ahead of time, she waits for the inspiration and gets to work!
How did you get started designing embroidery patterns? Always an artist, or was there a “moment”
I always had the feeling that I am very creative. I had not found a medium in which I could express this creativity in the long term and with real passion. The first lockdown came. That was my moment when I realized I had to do something so that I wouldn’t go stir-crazy. That’s how I got into embroidery.
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What do you do differently? What is your signature that makes your work stand out as yours?
Through the combination of coarse language and delicate pastel tones, I create kind of a contrast that makes my work stand out. I take this old, traditional craft, which was particularly associated with “good housewives” and mixed it with something very bold, not ladylike.
What is the most important takeaway you want readers to gain from your new book, Creative Embroidery and Beyond?
My main goal is to show readers that embroidery is not that difficult. In fact, it is very easy to learn. The process itself is so enjoyable and almost meditative!
When it comes to creating a new embroidery design, are you more of a planner or an improviser?
Definitely a improviser. I am all or nothing. The creativity flows and I draw, or it doesn’t and I don’t draw or plan anything.
Where do you find your inspiration for your designs?
I find inspiration from Pinterest, other artists, nature or daily life. It’s a wild mix.
What are the indispensable tools and materials for your embroidery projects? How do they improve your work?
I am always going for the high quality, especially when it comes to floss, embroidery hoops and fabric. It’s so much easier to work with high quality supplies and the results are better!
What is your favorite tip for organizing your stash of creative supplies?
I really love my perforated plates from IKEA.
Do you use a sketchbook or journal? How does that help your work develop?
I don’t have a sketchbook, I draw everything digitally.
How do you make time for creating? Do you try to create daily?
I don’t create or draw daily. As I said: either it flows or it doesn’t. I always make sure to plan “me-time” on weekends. And I use this time especially for creative projects and embroidery when I feel like it!
What plays in the background while you work? Silence? Music, audiobooks, podcasts, movies? If so, what kind?
Music or my favorite series at the time. Sometimes I enjoy embroidering without any noises/distraction in the background. I can do it for hours. My mind is so focused. It can be a meditative experience.
How often do you start a new project? Do you work actively on more than one project at a time?
When I work on my own pattern, I usually only work on one project at a time. However, when I do collaborations (such as for books or online courses), I also work on multiple projects simultaneously.
Can you tell us about the inspiration and process of one of your works? How does a new work come about?
When I get an idea, I immediately sit down at my iPad or at least write it down right away. As soon as I have the time, I start to draw. If the result does not satisfy me, I put the sketch aside for a while. Usually, at some point, a flash of inspiration comes to me on how to improve the sketch. Then I continue drawing. It’s normally not just one session. It takes some time and several attempts.
Which part of the embroidery design process is your favorite? Which part is a challenge for you?
I love the process of drawing (at least when I feel creative), stitching (it’s like meditation) and taking/editing photos. I don’t like taking videos. Normally when I embroider by myself it’s very relaxing. When I have to film the process, it feels kinda stressful. That’s also why I don’t like marketing and social media too much. There is a constant pressure to share everything I do.
Do you feel that you chose your “passion,” or did it choose you?
It feels like I came across embroidery more or less randomly. I wasn’t actively searching for a passion. So, I would say the passion somehow chose me more than I chose it.
What do you learn about who you are through your creative endeavors?
I have learned that everyone can be creative, you just have to find the right medium for yourself. And in the end, it’s more about enjoying the process than the end result. Don’t create to achieve perfection. Create because creating brings you joy.
What (or who) has been your biggest inspiration in keeping your creative energy going?
I think it’s all about balance. I don’t force myself to be creative. I allow myself breaks – from drawing and especially from social media.
Where can people find your patterns?
My patterns are in my Etsy shop. I hope they learn how modern and fun embroidery can be. Also I want to show people that embroidery is not difficult. With the right instructions, you can learn the stitches very quickly. You may have found a short DIY project, or a whole new creative hobby that you can enjoy for a long time!
Interview posted May 2023
Browse through more hand embroidery projects and inspiration on Create Whimsy.