Is needlepoint making a comeback in Birmingham? I had to try it for myself

Read on to learn more about this Birmingham embroiderer. Photo via Mend on Facebook

What do banana bread, tie-dye, whipped coffee and embroidery have in common? They’re all some of the hottest quarantine trends of 2020. With more time at home, people are getting creative with ways to pass the days here in Birmingham. I tried out one said trend—read on to see how it ended up! Plus, find other Magic City residents who are old pros.

Embroidery, Cross-Stitching, Needlepoint, Oh My!

Presenting: my masterpiece. Just don’t look too close. Photo via Beth Cunningham for Bham Now

My grandmother’s house was filled with sweet sayings and beautiful artwork hand-stitched and framed on her walls. At Christmastime, she brought out the seasonal ones—little nativity scenes, elves marching along in a line, etc.

She and her friends would give them to one another as gifts on birthdays, housewarmings, weddings, births— pretty much any occasion. I know that sight was common in Southern grandmothers’ homes and recognizable for many of us. However, it never seemed like a skill I would need.

A few weeks into quarantine I had officially run out of hobbies. I had seen a ton of people on social media picking up cross-stitching and embroidery, and I thought that would be a wonderful new challenge. Turns out, there are plenty of people in Birmingham who are anything but new to the stitching game.

The Basics

I would go into detail about the difference between embroidery, needlepoint, cross-stitching, etc. if I had any idea. I’ll save you my incorrect information and just say that there are a ton of different stitches you can use to make this artwork.

Personally, I tried cross-stitching. This method involves making an X over tiny little squares in different colors until you have a photo. I used a pattern, so it reminded me of paint-by-numbers, only with a needle and thread.

You can put a lot more work and artistry into it, but I do not yet have that skill. Sew-by-numbers it is! Here’s what you need to get started, no matter what stitch you choose:

  • Fabric (generally white)
  • Needle
  • Colored thread
  • A pattern (highly recommended, especially for beginners)
  • Other materials can make it much easier, but they’re not strictly required.

Where to Buy + Support Local

You all know by now we love to #SupportLocal here at Bham Now. Sure, you could probably order your materials from some giant online company, but we encourage buying from Birmingham small business owners whenever possible.

Tamara Harper of Smallwoods Studios is an embroidery master and Birmingham resident. Her online shop has custom embroidery commissions, starter kits, the cutest patterns and a whole lot more. Shop the Smallwoods here!

She also has a Youtube channel with all kinds of free tutorials to take you from amateur to expert in… well probably a long time, but it’s really helpful. Tamara truly starts at the beginning, with a video showing you how to thread a needle.

Do you love supporting local as much as we do? Check out our database that has almost 500 local businesses, including restaurants, breweries, retail and more.

3 Birmingham Artists Who Will Inspire You to Get Started

These Magic City locals put the “on point” in “needlepoint.” Seriously, this artistic ability is truly a talent.

Leanna Leithauser Lesley of Needlepoint Faces

Leanna beautiful describes what she does as “painting canvas with yarn.” Once you see the detail on her Needlepoint Faces, I think you’ll agree. Read more about Leanna here.

Martha Ellen of Mend

Swipe through these photos ^ to see how Martha can turn a photo into artwork that will be cherished forever. This seamstress does clothing repair as well, but one look through her Instagram will have ready to start stitching.

Tamara Harper of The Smallwoods

I mentioned Tamara’s shop above, but her skill is far beyond saleswoman. Her needlepoint skill has earned her recognition in Country Living, Martha Stewart Weddings and more.

Know of any magicians with a needle that we missed? Planning to try this out for yourself? Let us know on social @BhamNow.

  • A Birmingham transplant who can usually be found hitting a new hiking trail or restaurant opening when she's not writing stories and snapping photos for Bham Now.