Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Favorite Shops: Drop Cloth Samplers

After my first embroidery class, we got a list of recommended websites from teacher and Home Ec co-owner Codi.  One of the websites is Drop Cloth by Rebecca Ringquist, who happens to be a long-time friend of Codi.  Rebecca learned how to embroider while taking a feminist art history class in college, and since then she has been both designing samplers she sells and using embroidery in her artistic works.

I checked out her blog (the one that focuses on samplers.  She has a separate one for her art.)  This led me to her Etsy shop, where I bought her famed Original Sampler.

This is still a work in progress (WIP).  That is one of the troubles with embroidery--it is incredibly easy to work on several projects at once, because you can always change the projects in your hoop and unthread your needles, moving on to the next thing.

And Rebecca came out with a really awesome next thing.  In December, she introduced a Stitch Sampler of the Month Club.  Every month on the 15th, she mails out a small sampler that focuses on a different stitch family.  Here are the ones I have completed so far.




I love the anticipation of waiting for the sampler, wondering what stitches I am going to work on this month.  I take it with me to my Saturday morning crafting at Home Ec, and everybody is curious about what I'm working on.  It has also given me a lot of practice and I've developed ways to refine my techniques.  For example, I realized that I was wrapping my thread around the needle one too many times for French knots, and they look much neater now.

I highly recommend the Stitch Sampler of the Month Club for people who have mastered the basic stitches (Chain, Blanket, Feather, Running, Cross Stitch, Backstitch, Satin, French Knot).  By the end of the year, you will have worked your way through any good stitch encyclopedia and Rebecca will give out instructions on how to make a wall-hanging or stitch-book from all the samplers.  Each sampler is small enough to complete in one month.  It gives the opportunity to try lots of stitches that look wonderful, but might have been too intimidating before.  If a year sounds like a long commitment, she also offers 6-month and 3-month subscriptions.  They also allow complete freedom for deciding what colors to use, or even adding your own unique touches.  The Flickr group shows the different ways that people have stitched Drop Cloth samplers, from the dense detail of the Paisley Sampler to a version of the Original Sampler done entirely in gray monochrome colors.

Over Memorial Day weekend, I treated my mother and mother-in-law to a private embroidery lesson at Home Ec, using Rebecca's Penmanship Sampler.  When they asked where they could go to buy more patterns, printed on the fabric, I realized that all of my answers were based on the Internet.  The embroidery sections of Michaels and Jo-Ann Fabrics are small to the point of being neglected.  When they do have patterns (mostly cross-stitch patterns), they are extremely old fashioned and occasionally creepy.  (I don't know what the embroidery section is like at Hobby Lobby because I refuse to shop there.)

The future of embroidery is on the internet, where independent business owners can sell patterns in a variety of styles, either printed on fabric or for PDF downloads.  Through their blogs, they can offer tutorials for people who are getting started or want to learn a new technique.  For example, Rebecca offers lessons on Creativebug, a website that offers video craft lessons for individual purchase or a monthly subscription.  (I just bought one for stitching heirloom napkins, and another on techniques for making patterns based on photographs.)

I also like the personal touch of going to the owners directly.  When I first started ordering patterns from Rebecca, she wrapped them in envelopes made of old wrapping paper and, noticing that I'm from Iowa City, included notes asking whether I had met Codi.  Now she has more uniform bags and labels, but the personal touch is still there.  She always takes the time to comment on my Sampler of the Month pictures.  I like knowing that I'm helping her grow her business.  From the looks of her Instagram page, she is working on a sequel to the Original Sampler--and you can bet that I will be one of the first people to buy it.


  1. There is a needlework shop in Amana with nice embroidery materials.

  2. Good to red your story Jorie..! Great effort with the help of Rebecca on this embroidery digitising project... Good job. Thanks. Keep it up..>!