It seems that, once again, needlepoint is being hailed as something essential in all things preppy. There’s an article in Town & Country On-line with 12 products, all ready-made needlepoint, that exemplify preppy style.
While I love much that is preppy, and I’d even describe my style as being “bohemian prep,” I do worry that articles like this do two things.
First, it tends to categorize needlepoint as something of interest only to a specialized group of people. This limits needlepoint. There is a particular set of design influences that make preppy style. Some ideas you might associate with this are:New England, sailing, Ivy League, prep school, or upper class. If needlepoint is for “those” kind of people, where does it leave someone who is an artist from California? Or someone who loves thread and yarn of all kinds but is heavily into the gaming world? In addition preppy tends to be associated with a conservative, traditional style. What if you are more punk than preppy?
Needlepoint can work for all these people, it isn’t hard to do. But looking around I see too many designs that are traditional and conservative instead of edgy. While there is an intense subversive cross stitch movement, who is making subversive needlepoint designs? Who does designs you’d find at a Renegade Craft Fair or in a magazine for urban-farming home schoolers?
If we pigeon-hole needlepoint as being for one kind of people, we risk cutting off all these others who could add to our art.
Second, they discourage people from making these items. This is true even though many of the items are incredibly easy to make. Here’s some cases in point. You can get huge collections of flip-flop canvases in many styles form several designers, including Voila.
Needlepoint belts are hugely popular and so many designers make them, I hesitate to start naming them. Not only can you find hand-painted canvases for belts, there are many easy ways to make one yourself. Search for belt on this blog and you’ll find lots of information (or just click the link).
The Elizabeth Turner Collection makes a wonderful, elegant flask that can be embellished with needlepoint. And many companies make charming dog collars, and you can do this easily yourself.
The key fob is easy to make. There are plenty of instructions on the Web for this style, just substitute needlepoint for leather, webbing, or fabric.
There are plenty of classic preppy style pictures out there, needlepoint Madras plaid items, and even plaids you can stitch yourself. Sorority and fraternities and college-themed canvases are growing markets. And that icon of preppy style, Lily Pulitzer, has many canvases inspired by her clothes.
However the hats and needlepointed clothes in the article can’t be duplicated easily. These use very small stitches, 24/inch or so. To stitch on fabric you need waste canvas in the desired mesh and a very steady hand. Waste canvas only goes up to 18-mesh, so your designs will be larger.
Needlepoint can always be made to suit your style, no matter what it might be. For example if your style is biker chick, why not a skull key fob? If it’s mod retro rocker why not make a pair of Pucci-style sandals? If you stitch yourself, the needlepoint isn’t limited to what will sell to many people — it becomes what appeals to you.
I want to know what style of design do you wish was out there, just use the contact form to tell me.
So get out there and express yourself with stitching.
About Janet M Perry
Janet Perry is the Internet's leading authority on needlepoint. She designs, teaches and writes, getting raves from her fans for her innovative techniques, extensive knowledge and generous teaching style. A leading writer of stitch guides, she blogs here and lives on an island in the northeast corner of the SF Bay with her family
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