When I stitched a house portrait for my sister as a Christmas present last year, I wish I had known about Theresa’s incredible house embroidery book. The Monsters Lounge is one of those places where you get lost in wonder and awe looking at all the marvelous ways to do house embroidery. I have seen quite a bit of architectural embroidery but Theresa’s approach to embroidering homes is unique and also very elaborate. So, I just had to ask her some questions, and luckily she said yes. Here is the interview with The Monsters Lounge!
Hi Theresa, I’m glad to have you here! Could you give us a short introduction, so my readers know who you are?
Hi Anne! My name is Theresa of The Monsters Lounge Embroidery. If you’re an embroidery fan, you may not know me but may have seen one of my embroidered house creations floating about Instagram, Pinterest or Facebook.
How did you find your way to embroidery and when did you decide to create The Monsters Lounge?
I actually found embroidery due to my complete lack of skill in another fiber art, knitting! Although I love to knit, the time it takes and the way my mistakes were so obvious started to push me to look for other crafts to experiment with. I landed on embroidery due to its adaptability and beauty.
House embroidery is such a specific topic – is there a story behind specializing in it?
Well, once upon a time, a magical gnome visited upon me at night and whispered into my ear “house embroidery”. Just kidding.
No, actually it’s a very boring story. I had been creating custom name hoops for a while. Each with delicate flowers and text.
My sister at this time had just been released from parenthood as her children went off to college and decided to move across the country (not to escape her kids, just because she had always wanted to). She had lived in the house she was leaving for almost all of her adult life, so as a leaving present, I stitched a portrait of her home.
As I posted images of the portrait, other clients of mine started to request their own homes and it sort of went from there!
Can you tell us a bit about the process that goes into designing your embroidery pieces?
Well you can see my exact process in my book Hand-Stitched House!
Basically I take inspiration from images of a home and make sure to consider any elements that are important to the client such as flowers, a phrase, a bird. From that point I get my initial thoughts and pattern down on drafting paper and try to adjust any areas that may need to be adapted to make it easier to embroider (bushes in front of windows are the bain of my existence).
Finally, I gather all my supplies and just start stitching. Although I recommend planning big projects like this as much as possible, I find that they really start to shine when I stray from the path and add stitches or techniques that I think will be fun or just call to be added.
What challenges and positive experiences have you encountered by creating custom embroidery pieces?
Lucky for me the challenges of creating custom embroidery pieces have also been the positives!
When you don’t have a pattern or even an idea of how something will look in embroidered form, it can be a little daunting. What this pushes you to do however is think outside of the box, push your limits and above all learn new skills. Each piece you make you get better, more patient and more confident!
You wrote a book about house embroidery. Can you tell us a bit about it?
I’d love to! Hand-Stitched House: the guide to designing and embroidering a portrait of your home came at a time when I was working almost full time in my day job and then spending all of my free time working on embroidery. This was fun for a while but soon the pressure started to build and I found I was burnt out and worse, getting tired of embroidery!
My solution was to take a little break but I didn’t want to quit embroidery altogether. Enough people had contacted me about how they could replicate this or that effect in their own projects. It seemed the perfect time to tell them exactly what they wanted to know. And so my little book was born! The book basically covers everything you need to know in order to design and stitch an embroidered house portrait of your own. It goes deep into the planning process and has pages upon pages of different techniques that you can add to your project to create a stunning piece. As I mentioned before, making custom pieces can be difficult when you’re used to following a pattern and don’t have a roadmap. This book gives you the direction, and hopefully the inspiration you need to start designing your own pieces!
Edit from Anne of Pumora: I have bought this “little book” and it has over 200 pages of incredibly good instructions. I highly recommend it if you are interested in house embroidery!
Many embroidery people are struggling with storing their embroidery threads. What’s your system – or non-system?
Haha! Non-system sounds about right. I have an Ikea drawer set that I “store” all of my thread in. Within those drawers is a world of colorful chaos!
What is your favorite part of the embroidery process from start to finish and which do you like the least?
I think each part of the process has its ups and downs. The beginning is very exciting and full of potential. The middle is usually full of surprises and challenges. And at the end, you get to see something beautiful that you have created with your own two hands!
Which embroidery project was the most challenging one you have ever done?
That is and I’m convinced shall always remain, the Carousel project I made for an old friend of mine. Not only did I have to stitch tiny horses but I also had to somehow convey a windowless building which emanated a golden glow. This was also the first project that viciously taught me to always test the color fastness of my thread. If you have the Hand-Stitched House book, you’ll hear all about that very traumatic experience.
There are so many embroidery techniques and materials out there. What would you love to try out one day that you haven’t done yet?
It may be because I add so much detail and variety to my own work, but I’ve always wanted to try blackwork. It appeals to me because of its apparent simplicity (although I imagine blackwork embroiderers would have a thing or two to say against that!).
It seems like it would be a calming and peaceful way to spend a few hours. Other than that, I’ve wanted to explore working in goldwork. I’m a big fan of the goldworker – Georgina Bellamy of That Embroidery Girl.
What piece of advice would you give to your younger self who has just started embroidering that you wish you had known back then?
Absolutely nothing! She’s about to go on a wonderful journey that is going to teach her so much about her own abilities, give her confidence that she didn’t think she’d ever have and be introduced to some of the most beautiful sights she could ever imagine.
Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions! Where can we find you to see more of The Monsters Lounge embroidery?
Thanks Anne! I’d love for you to visit me over on Instagram. Just search for @the_monsters_lounge or you can find me on my website www.themonsterslounge.com. You can also find physical copies of the Hand-Stitched House book at www.stitchpeople.com.
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