New Hobby in a Stitch

Words of wisdom from embroidery artist Daniel Crawford.

Photo credit Crewel and Unusual

Crewel and Unusual

Embroidery is on the rise in popularity these days as people are stuck at home with ample amounts of time to explore new hobbies. An easy way to personalize something and renew old clothes, the trend echoes a rising popularity of upcycling clothing. It allows people to unplug from the hectic technological world of today and let some creativity take hold with a needle and thread.

Photo credit Daniel Crawford

Daniel Crawford

Daniel Crawford with Crewel and Unusual.

Take it from Daniel Crawford, an embroidery artist based in Richmond, who started his own business. “You’ve got to be creative. There’s a lot to decide from—different colors, fabrics and stitches,” he says. Crawford had originally come from a creative DIY background, as his mom used to make some of his own clothes as a kid using everything from space-themed fabric to puffy paint. Although he originally started out in the commercial embroidery industry, he soon wanted to branch out to something more creatively based. In 2012, he started Crewel and Unusual when he bought his first industrial embroidery machine. Crawford works on everything from pop-culture patches to custom embroidery for brand names local to Richmond.

For someone who wants to try it at home, embroidery is one of the least expensive hobbies. Embroidery by hand costs less than $10 to get started––an embroidery hoop, some threads, needles, and scissors being all the average person needs. Hand embroidery is a great starting point, but as Crawford says, “There are a lot of different machines out there, some more expensive than others, but you can sew and embroider with some of them. I’d recommend one of those.” 

The combination of intricate stitches and patterns may make a newbie hesitate. Crawford elaborates, “The trickiest thing is very small text—if someone’s used to print, and used to very fine text, in print it scales up and scales down easily, but instead in embroidery you work with the thread and width of the needle through the fabric. Little serifs and things like that are really difficult to work with.” However, with plenty of online tutorials, anyone can make a finished product with ease. It’s also a portable hobby. It can easily be stored in a purse (as long as it’s not too big of a project) and brought anywhere––a perfect pastime for traveling.

Between gifts for friends’ birthdays or holidays, the craft doesn’t have to be limited to things someone can wear either—you can also keep your finished work in an embroidery hoop to create thoughtful wall art. Crawford reflects, “I just enjoy making things or helping someone else have what I can make.”

Get Stitching

A list of resources for beginners.

Embroidery tutorial by YouTuber Chloe Wen:

Local supply stores in Virginia

Bonny’s Sewing and Fabric, Alexandria,

Fabric Hut, Norfolk,

The Scrappy Apple, Winchester,

Local embroidery artists

MoonAndThread, Virginia Beach,

David Crawford, Richmond,

Huger Memories,

The Embroidery Dad,

Shea Alexa Goitia, Northern Virginia,

Michael-Birch Pierce, Richmond,

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