I met Cheryl at TNNA in Long Beach where she was showing off her delightful purse at Sharon G’s booth. I was very impressed. Looking at her website is even more impressive.
The gallery on the site is full of wonderful pictures of finished needlepoint of all kinds. I must have seen a dozen or more pieces I wish I had time to stitch. I am so delighted to have her as our interview subject this month.
1. How did you start finishing needlepoint?
Born in Southern California, I began learning needlearts from my mother, Echo, and grandmothers, Lucy & Rosa, at an early age. I still have the pleated skirt sewn by hand for my grandmother Lucy’s porcelain doll as my first project.
My interests expanded to include all forms of “handy-work.” With the encouragement of my mother, I began weaving when I was in my teens. I was not satisfied to merely copy traditional patterns but ventured into design. I began with an idea that I sketched & painted. I loved selecting different fibers & colors. In 1972, my unique tapestry weaving was first displayed in a formal exhibit at Cal-Tech in Pasadena. Weaving innovative small tapestries, utilizing double weave structural techniques, became the keynote of my designs.
As an avid stitcher, I’ve always been interested in the technique of finely finished items, I began finishing pieces for family & friends several years ago by taking classes from notable finishing professionals. Among my instructors: Marcia Brown, CA Wells, Anna
Marie Winter and many other needle-art designers. My professional finishing career began in 2002 when I started Cheryl’s Needlework Finishing.
2. What do you like about finishing needlepoint?
Seeing the diversity of completed needlepoint is absolutely my favorite thing! I love the combination of style & art. I enjoy finishing a piece that is obviously lovingly stitched.
As happens with most finishers, the completed needlepoint pieces come through shops. I don’t have the luxury of discussing finishing with the customer. I’m dependent on the shop owner or manager to tell me what style preferences a customer might wish. I feel each finished piece, no matter the size, is an accomplishment. I’m passionate about finishing and I take great care to find the exact fabrics/trim to compliment each piece.
3. What things can stitchers do to make your job easier?
I don’t have many complaints but if you insist, a few reminders follow:
- Try to avoid the Continental or Tent stitches.
- Tie off all ends.
- Use “zig” permanent fabric markers not ink pen or pencil to
draw an outline on the canvas.
- Chocolate & cigarette ash is hard to remove — try to keep
your hands clean.
- Watch the thread tension to lessen canvas distortion.
- Ultimately, be very specific about what you want the finisher to do.
4. At TNNA I saw those wonderful purses you are making that use
interchangeable needlepoint from Sharon G, can you tell me more about them?
Yes, I make a couple of exclusive designs of “Hanki-Panki” purses for Sharon Garmize. They are oval & triangular and allow Sharon G’s MB series of needlepoint designs to sit on the flap of the purse as a clasp. Each MB needlepoint is interchangeable, thus changing the look of the purse at a whim. Sharon G has named our collaborative effort the “Clasp Act” Each evening bag is made in a choice of black, ivory or deep red Ultrasuede.
5. What’s the most interesting or unusual item you have finished?
This is a difficult question. Each piece is treasured and treated to a “spa-like” experience from blocking & sizing to the final touch of adding embellishments like cording, ribbons, beads or tassels.
A small oval design was made into a pendant necklace with the liberal use of beads including a funky beaded tassel. A small 6×6 piece was finished into a custom made silk covered scrapbook with a matching moire lining.
6. What trends do you see emerging in the needlepoint market?
More designers are creating a extensive array of wearables. Purses, Totes, Sandals and other wear-able “art” are the most exciting. Small canvases seem to be very popular as they are easily & quickly stitched. Beads are “in.” The innovative new fibers are exciting &
fun to use.
7. What new ideas for finishing are you coming up with?
I love beautiful things. I strive for innovation and style. If it appeals to me then I think it may find some broad appeal. Also, as a practical woman, the purses always have a pocket and a little something extra. It might be a beaded zipper pull or a pocket with
contrasting piping on the edge.
I currently have 2 designs in my line of custom-made purses, named “Hanki-Panki.” The purses are a reflection of my own desire for the perfect little evening bag. These little bags are contemporary shaped purses that can be used as a clutch or with the chain strap. These purses include; a monogram or phrase on the inside pocket in any color, a fine handkerchief. They are available through your local needlework shops.
8. What kind of things should people look for in needlepoint which is going to be finished into something like a purse?
Be sure the design will yield an appropriate handbag size. If the design is too small it can be inset into the face of a purse or tote.
Think through all of the external & internal options you’d prefer. Request all of the features that you desire in the completed purse, including; gusset width, handles or strap size/color, lining, pocket(s) or a magnetic snap. The most common forgotten information is how the inside of the purse should look and the features desired.
9. Do you stitch? If so, what things do you like about needlepoint?
I love to cross-stitch, needlepoint, quilt, knit, crochet and sew clothing. I am an avid stitcher and member of my local ANG chapter.
When I needlepoint, the different textures of traditional fibers and new threads and the interplay of the different colors & stitches is a source of both fun and relaxation. Evenings are my special time to unwind and stitch something for myself.