How a traditional craft became a Gen-Z statement

In this, Gen Z are particularly enthusiastic. When @er.embroidery (185.5K followers) embroidered a moon and stars over a mushroom on TikTok, it was viewed nine million times. Repair consultant Tessa Solomons celebrates wear and tear by decorating small holes and stains. “[Visible mending and darning] are ways of showing that you’ve got a connection with your clothes,” she tells the BBC. “You’re stepping outside consumer culture, and identifying yourself as somebody with a relationship with their clothes and that you’re prepared to invest in that ongoing relationship. And it’s fun to take something that was mass produced and bring your own personality to that.”

Step by step guide

For the novice, choosing a motif to embroider is the first step. Solomons peppers her commissions with tiny characters. Her inspiration? The natural world. “The designs of nature are just amazing; tiny sea creatures that are the most incredible colours, for example,” she says. “For me, creating little creatures puts us back in touch with the genius of nature.” There is an added element to her designs: “I like things with eyes, looking out at you, because eyes invite people to look back. A lot of my work is created to start conversations about repair, and something that looks a bit unusual can do that.”

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Next, choose the item that you want to embroider. For beginners, woven rather than knitted fabrics are easiest. “A woven fabric doesn’t have so much stretch,” explains Solomons. Sweatshirts, T-shirts and, in particular, denim allow you to work your design without the fabric moving too much. “With embroidery, you’re adding weight on to the fabric,” says Solomons. “Move on to finer textures when you’ve had more practice,” Chunky knitwear is great. “If it’s fine, you have to be delicate. Ironically, high-street knitwear, often made with synthetics, are easier to work with.” It’s a win-win: customising synthetic knitwear means it’s less likely to be thrown into landfill. 

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