We’ve been talking about friend and collaborator Anna Maria Horner all week, featuring a DIY A-line Tunic with her Little Flowers stencil, a Greek lunch in her honor, and a review of her new book, Anna Maria’s Needleworks Notebook, which we wrote about on Monday promising a giveaway later in the week. Details below on how to enter to win a copy of Anna Maria’s book, but first, a Q&A with the lady herself.


Anna Maria Horner’s Newest Book, Anna Maria’s Needleworks Notebook, is a beautiful addition to the library of anyone interested in embroidery, whether beginner or expert. We love all of Anna Maria’s work and feel a special kinship to her. So, while she is waiting patiently for the arrival of baby number 7, we took the opportunity to ask a few questions. Here’s what she had to say:

AC: You manage to balance a growing and impressive body of work with an equally growing and impressive family. We’re all looking for the secret to that work/life balance. Do you have any wisdom to pass along?

AMH: I like to joke that tackling what I try to tackle each day doesn’t come recommended, so I don’t know if you could consider any insight actual wisdom or just a recipe for a little chaos.  In all seriousness though, it is a happy chaos that I wouldn’t trade for anything.  I think so much of it boils down to personality.  I have learned that I am happiest when I am busy and I just make better work when I am happy.  My family and my work are very intertwined because of working from home but also because what I tend to be designing, making, teaching, or producing centers around the comforts of life: handwork, quilting, clothing, and so on.  So the very nature of the work marries itself to family life well.

The larger challenge is running the business that has to be in place to facilitate the creative work that I do- which is about half the time.  This all consists of lots of emails, phone calls, going over manufacturing contracts, planning time with my assistant, coordinating events and shows, etc.  With the children ranging in age from not-born-yet to 21, I have different expectations of each of them in terms of how they are able to handle letting their mom get some work done.  Most of them can be in my space when I work.  Then some days there are certain tasks where I need complete solitude and concentration, so I think teaching your kids some boundaries to respect is so important and really beneficial to them as individuals.  There is a bit of a payoff to there being a crowd of children… they tend to occupy each other quite well and do for one another very naturally.  It’s more work for one of the older ones to march upstairs and tell me that Roman (3) wants some juice than it is for them to just get Roman some juice. I guess, in general, teaching kindness and helpfulness in your kids will encourage a smoother home life whether you work full-time or not. That, in conjunction with not expecting too much of myself in certain circumstances, is what helps me most.  If I feel the household wilting without me, I try to switch to some work I can do in the midst and work in their space instead of my own.

AC: We think that so much of your brand is “you.” How would you describe your brand?

AMH: If I had to describe my brand on an aesthetic level I would say that it is modern, but with a charmed memory.  Everything that I make comes from someplace within me that has been stored for years, and it just gets changed and extracted with new experiences.  It’s as though  my design work is a contemporary reaction to images or sounds or smells that I’ve had in my mind since childhood. I guess in that sense it is very me. I like to think that I am in the inspiration business these days. I never realized the impact that making beautiful fabrics and other creative products would have on an individual’s actual desire to make. And that is huge to me. My goal with my brand is that my interpretation of very personal ideas and memories is similar enough to the experience of others that it remains very relatable.  I am really just the first step in someone else’s creative process and that feels like a privilege.

AC: What was the inspiration for writing Anna Maria’s Needleworks Notebook? It is written in such a warm, personal voice.

AMH: Thank you! Those kind words were exactly my goal! It was a book that I thought of self-publishing because I wanted to have a lot of control over how it felt in the end. (Though I am so glad I did not go that route, because I have no need to be in the publishing business right now.)  I wanted to touch on the basics of four main types of needlework, but offer anything-but-basic patterns and projects. I think the first goal with a new stitcher is to arm them with confidence, so I wanted the book to be very approachable. This informed me to make it unlike an encyclopedia of stitching (and those already exist anyway!). I think the second goal is to make projects for the stitching that are interesting enough to keep the stitcher inspired. This informed me to think of unique ways to integrate handwork in to every type of sewing and crafting. When I am shopping I am always drawn to clothing that looks (or is) handmade- so why not arm the stitcher with the confidence to do that themselves? A final goal I wanted for the book was for it to honor tradition and encourage ignoring the rules in equal doses and with equal enthusiasm. Both are very rewarding and beneficial to the creative process.

AC: This book addresses a number of embroidery techniques. Do you have a favorite?

AMH: I have a favorite that constantly changes depending on my mood- so I guess the real answer is they are all my favorites.

AC: You have your hand in so many pots that it’s almost mind-boggling. How has your work changed since you first began making?

AMH: My first work out of college was a collection of clothing that I handmade myself. My work has taken many turns over the years but I think the single biggest change is that, for the most part, my creative process involves inspiring the same in others, rather than simply handing them a completely finished good.

AC: What are your biggest challenges as an artist? Designer?  Mother?

AMH: As an artist involving oneself in the mass manufacture of goods, there is always the comparison to that “other way” of being an artist….. as in a fine artist selling only original works. While that is romantic, the shorter reach can be frustrating. The challenge is to continue to work in that fine art, in a very focused and dedicated way, but to allow a graceful reach of my work to extend to more than just gallery goers.

As a designer, the challenge is ALWAYS that the goods arrive on store shelves exactly as they first arrived in my mind. Making sure that there are as few road blocks as possible in the realization of a collection keeps me on my toes.

As a mother, what isn’t a challenge? Giving my children an equal dose of independence and nurturing is the daily balance that we try to maintain here, I suppose. In regards to being a working mother, my greatest hope is that they view my work in a positive light and that my dedication to it (and them) will inspire them to think anything is possible in their own lives.

AC: Given that you have so much to offer – books, fabric, housewares, and more – what are your plans for the future? Perhaps to relax?

AMH: Oh that sounds nice!  And yes, I do plan to take a good bit of time with our new baby this summer. But beyond that, I am happy to continue following my notions of creating and sharing. I have tried to go about my business intuitively and only respond to new opportunities as they make sense and interest me. For instance that has been the beauty in working with Natalie and everyone at AC! A friendship blossomed into a collaboration and it was not something that I could have guessed or gone on the search for. It just happily arrived on my doorstep and soon in my heart.

AC: Early Bird or Night Owl?

AMH: Night Owl.

AC: What is most important to you as a business owner? As an artist?

AMH: As a business owner it’s important that the success return matches what I invest in terms of time and dedication. I could lead a very full life without work, so it has to be worth it. As an artist, it is important that I am being true to my own vision and that it remains entirely intact and unique among a sea of similarities in the industry.

AC: Whom in your industry do you most admire? And in life?

AMH: There is of course my friend Natalie; she always amazes me with her depth of focus. Specifically within the quilting & textiles industry I have such a love and respect for my friend Denyse Schimdt. She is the reason why so many have taken up the craft of patchwork and the whole industry owes her a debt. In life? My mama, Mary Lynn.

AC: Besides the obvious (and beautiful belly)… what are your plans for the next year?

AMH: Yes, if I could stop knitting for the baby I just might be able to get to some of my other plans!

I have lots to launch on the fabric horizon this year: next month I will be introducing my first collection of linen fabrics; in July I will re-introduce some favorite prints from my past Drawing Room & Garden Party collections in one collage of quilting cottons called HandDrawn Garden; in October I will be introducing Dowry which is all new and so lovely; also in October I will launch my first “basics” collection called True Colors which are more tonal prints in a spectrum range of 20 fabrics. The True Colors launch is a new concept with my partners at Free Spirit and the fabrics are designed to go with all of my collections and will stick around as in stock a lot longer than our regular collections.

I will also be rolling out some new projects, patterns, and kits in the Anna Maria Needleworks collection of goods which I’m thrilled about.  And, I will be continuing my work with Creativebug video workshops and my friends at Janome.


Much of Anna Maria’s work and inspiration comes from her upbringing and early introduction to art and handcrafts, which brought beauty into her family’s life.

We will be giving away a copy of Needleworks Notebook next Monday, March 25th.

*Leave a comment on how needlework has brightened your life (or how you would like to learn the craft and why) for a chance to win a copy of Anna Maria’s new book.

We will put the best stories in a hat, draw a name randomly, and announce a winner next Monday, March 25th, 2012.

No previous winners, employees, friends and family of Alabama Chanin are eligible for this giveaway.

It was such a delight to speak with Anna Maria Horner today. If you aren’t yet familiar with her work, please visit her website and shop the pieces from our Anna Maria Horner @ Alabama Chanin collaboration. We think you will find her as enchanting as we do.

**Thanks to everyone who shared memories of how needlework has inspired you (or how you would like to learn the craft and why). It was wonderful to hear each of your stories.

And the winner- from the draw of a hat- is Wendy.

Congratulations Wendy on winning our extra copy of Anna Maria’s Needlework Notebook.

We hope you find the stories below as compelling as we did. Happy Reading!


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Click to read 82 comments
    1. Juliann

      My great-grandmother started my needlework lessons when I was 5 years old-60 years ago. I was an avid cross-stitcher until I got a serious eye infection and I could not use bright lights or manage “close” work. I didn’t just sit in the dark. I knit tube socks and listened to audio books. I am thrilled that needlework is making a come back and that so many designers are out there again. Thanks. I am an enthused fan.

    2. Marie

      I embroider things for my husband and 2 little girls around the house all the time – napkins, pillow cases, little pieces of art in frames. We all love it! It makes little ordinary things very special and beautiful!
      I just taught about 12 kids how to embroider at my daughter’s school. I brought hoops and floss for all. I brought in a big white sheet cup into a dozen rough squares and had the kids draw or write a word or both on it before they embroidered. Then we turned them into little pillows – what they came up with I could have never planned – they are so creative! One little boy embroidered the word “play” and then brought in a favorite old S.F. Giants t-shirt that doesn’t fit him anymore, which we carefully cut so that it showed his favorite team name and logo on one side of the pillow and his embroidery on the other. He was so proud of his work – they all were!

  1. amisha

    No need to enter me in the giveaway- I already have the book! But I wanted to say thank you for this interview, which is a wonderful thing to read on this Friday morning, looking towards a weekend of creative time in the studio. Anna Maria is such an incredibly inspiring person, in her work and in the warmth and generosity of her spirit. One of the things that struck me in this interview was her comment: “I never realized the impact that making beautiful fabrics and other creative products would have on an individual’s actual desire to make.” And I realized that, yes– when I am feeling stuck, creatively, when I want to view work that will inspire me to make (whether it be a garment or a quilt or a piece of embroidery), it is AMH’s books and your books, Natalie, that I often turn to. Time spent with both of your work is energizing and inspiring. For that, thank you to you both, so so much, for both making beautiful things and for the way that you generously share your ideas, teach thoughtfully, and encourage others to find their own voice.

  2. Gabriela

    I have always loved Anna Maria Horner’s fabric! Especially the voile! I learned to sew and embroider and knit at the age of 7. Anna Maria Horner is such an inspiration! I am currently working on a bolero with the little folks stencil. Thank you so much!

  3. sacha

    I have loved AMH for many years- While I don’t usually do needlework, I have loved to decorate hems and create bigger designs for bags that I make. Thank you for this chance!

  4. emily

    i adore your work and your projects, but have only recently discovered your blog. thank you for this interview – i so enjoy peeking into the lives of artists and designers. and i definitely want to read this book – i have dabbled in embroidery over the years, but always feel like an impostor because i don’t *really* know what i’m doing. anna maria’s book sounds like a great resource.

  5. Megan M.

    I learned to cross stitch from my great-grandmother. She patiently taught me when I was spending days at her house with the chicken pox. That was in first grade and I have tackled many needle art projects since then. My grandma passed away a couple of years ago at age 104, but she was creating up to the end of her time with us. Some of my most treasured possessions are the quilts that she made, by hand, and the embroidered pillowcases that I got every year for Christmas. Each time I pick up a needle, whether it’s sewing, embroidery, or knitting, I am reminded of my great-grandma and I am happy.

  6. Lynn

    I chose work as a graphic designer as a way to marry my artistic skill with an income, but my heart sings when I do needlework in my spare time. Crafting something by hand that takes care and time centers me, calms me and nurtures the artist in me. It connects me to the memories I have of my maternal grandmother who spent many hours lovingly stitching things for our family. I wanted to be just like her and I guess in a way, I am.

  7. elsa

    Came here from Anna Maria’s blog ~ she is so inspiring what with her creativity and finding time to do what she does with all her children.
    I learned to sew at an early age and have been doing something ever since. I love the look of hand done things and I’m always amazed that one can take a piece of cloth and thread and turn out something beautiful ~ whether it be embroidery, needle point or hand sewing.
    Thanks so much for the lovely interview of Anna Maria and the generous giveaway!

    1. sheri ricker

      I love both Natalie and Anna Maria and have followed their blogs for years. I sew and have recently become interested in adding needlework to my pieces. I haven’t started yet but I think this book would be the grand jumping on board into this craft for me. Thank you for the opportunity to maybe win her book…Great post, by the way.

  8. Teresa

    I have been a fan of Anna Marie Horner’s work for a while. I do not do needle point at the moment but I am interested in learning.

  9. britt

    i have another of her books and enjoy flipping through it now and then. this new book looks intriguing as well. thanks so much for the interview. i love reading about designers!

  10. Julie

    Although I have made garments since I was a child, until a few years ago I avoided hand sewing at all costs. I was beginning to do more hand-finishing of machine-stitched garments when I stumbled onto the Alabama Studio Sewing + Design book. After 30 years of sewing I made and embellished my first completely hand-sewn garments and was hooked. Now I have multiple embroidery projects in progress that I carry with me everywhere I go.

  11. Kathleen Lester

    I would love to learn needlework so that I could incorporate it into my quilting; fresh styles that would help me overcome my fear of hand work in this setting :). Thank you so much for the chance, AMH is a favourite.

  12. Holly

    I would love to learn to do needlework! I recently began sewing due to being truly inspired by Anna Maria’s fabrics! Once I saw her fabrics it made me curious who the designer was that created them, which brought me to her blog! I want to learn to do so many things I have found on her blog! Her work is amazing! I would love to have the book and thank you for giving me the opportunity to try to win it! Thank you!

  13. Natalie, the Chickenblogger

    I am reminded why magazines don’t hold my interest like they used to: good blogs, like yours, can bring so much better content, more immediately, personably. It’s the morning rush, and I want more time to enjoy this post… so I will save it for later, but I want to thank you for what looks like a delightful read! Anna Maria, and her needlework, are always inspiring… which is why I am now craving time to read this post, and to bring out a needle and thread and create! Thank you!

  14. Christianne

    I decided I would like to learn to do hand-embroidery. I think it looks better than what a machine does, for less money too!

  15. Melissa

    Aww, AnnaMaria is such an inspiration, and reading this interview makes me even more eager to create a better balance between family and sewing. For me, needlework is a family trait. My paternal grandmother was a quilter/knitter/tatter/embroiderer (I know where I get my craft ADD from!), and it brightens my day to know that my hands are stitching in the way her hands stitched 60 years ago. She is long passed, but her spirit lives on through my quilting and my stitching. There is nothing brighter than feeling that connection through the generations. 🙂

    By the way, I am so excited for your collaboration because I never knew about Alabama Chanin until I heard about your collaboration last fall, and I’m in love with all that AMH and AC offer! 🙂

  16. Carlina Dupere

    I am a big fan of Anna Maria’s fabrics and books. I have always wanted to learn needlework. I often admire my friends grandmothers work and wish I had been able to be taught such skills from my grandmother and I would also like to hand that down to my daughter and if she chooses to have children them also. I love the beauty and texture needlework brings to a piece.

  17. Eleanor Wildstein

    I have AMH’s beautiful heart patchwork needlepoint pillow. I am enjoying completing it as an heirloom for my beautiful new granddaughter! Thank you for this, Anna Maria!

  18. Patti

    Memories of my childhood babysitter, Mrs. Rose, instructing me that the back should be as neat as the front, rerun through my mind as I stitch my Alabama Chanin pieces. I feel her nod of approval on my newest piece, neckline embroidered with the zigzag chain stitch, embellished with colorful French knots, chain, and straight stitches. Though the back is far from perfect, the front has a charming folksy/Nordic feel. Seeing so many beautiful embroidered pieces has inspired me to look through new eyes and wonder what I can embellish next.

  19. Carol

    I bought Anna Maria’s sewing book years ago….Loved the layouts and the way the book was designed to stay open and the easiness of reading the instructions……Made the bo peep skirts for my grandaughters….Had so much fun doing it!….I also love that all you creative woman are networking and creating such wonderful positive friendships…..My background is in painting and crafts…..and have always found that those who work with their hands in an artisan way….are so sharing and really “down to earth” people…….Any kind of needlework for me has always been meditative…..and gives me an inner comfort and peacefullness…….I love what Natalie , Anna Maria and others are doing for the sewing world by bringing their fresh creative vision to us…..

  20. Ellyn

    I love to embroider…. it’s so much fun to personalize little gifts with special embroidery that suits the recipient. Love Anna Maria’s work!

  21. Lori Berger

    I had the privilege of meeting Anna in Sacramento last summer. She inspires me with her talent, and her inner and outer beauty. I have not yet attempted needlework and would be very excited to embark on a new adventure with Anna’s book coaching me along the way.

  22. Nell Timmer

    I would love to have AMH’s new book. As a mother
    of four, her style of working really speaks to me.

    As for needlework, I am recalling when I was 13 and
    my aunt chose me to be godmother to her newborn son. Perhaps this might seem like a strange choice, but my parents had divorced the previous year and I think this was her subtle way of acknowledging the greater responsibility I was shouldering.

    To rise to this expectation, I made a cross-stitched sampler that I framed for my godson. I felt a great sense of pride in completing such a large handmade projects. It is nice to recall this as he is about to graduate from college!

  23. Carol

    I believe I got my love of hand sewing & embroidery from my Grandmother. I wish now I had paid closer attention to all she could teach me but still she instilled in me a love of the process & the great satisfaction that comes from making something by hand. I’ve learned a lot from Natialie’s books & I would love to see what Anna Maria’s new book has to offer.

  24. Carmen

    I recently started doing needlework again after the birth of my first Granddaughter. I realized how much I have missed it!

  25. Cindy Gray

    Anna Maria is an inspiration! I’m going to be a grandmother in June, a boy. I’m so happy about having a new baby to sew for!

    Needlework is my way to relax and be in the moment. If I try to meditate, I just go to sleep. So many things come to me while I’m stitching.

  26. Kristina

    My grandmother taught me needlepoint and embroidery over 40 years ago, and for most of that time I have had a stitching project going every day. I love making things for my home and making gifts for my friends and family. And I cannot describe how special it is to have my Grandmother’s needlework in my home — the memories these pieces keep alive for me. And this is the one hobby I can count on to help me unwind and do my best thinking.

    This book looks lovely.

  27. Margie

    I would love to have this book. As a young girl, I learned hand sewing and embroidery from my Granny. I am now re-learning it and am excited to find wonderful resources to help me. 🙂

  28. MzTallulah

    Thank you for teh lovely interview and the giveaway! I’m more of a knitter and a sewist, but I’d love to learn to embroider better because I love how it can help me personalize even more what I make for myself and my family.

  29. Felecia

    I love hand-stitching of all kind – embroidery, cross-stitch, sewing; each stitch becomes a prayer, a quiet record of time I have taken to think and create for someone. In a sense, creating/crafting becomes a second church.

  30. Beth Ellen

    Needlework is relaxing and portable. When I am traveling or can’t be at home sewing, or want to sit and listen, needlework is my choice. The meditative aspect of handwork cannot be denied. I strive to make my stitches all the same size, to have my work look beautifully uniform but still handmade. I forgive myself the occasional lapse in perfection, knowing that the process is as important to me as the product.

  31. Chris

    I used to do needlepoint and embroidery, but seem to have put it aside to concentrate on sewing, quilting and art quilts. I would love some fresh ideas. Handwork is very soothing. I admire AMH-really creative and innovative, not to mention productive!

  32. Jean S

    No need to enter me in the giveaway….I just wanted to express my appreciation to Natalie and Anna Marie for inspiring a new generation. Over the years, I’ve done crewel embroidery and some needlepoint. At this point, I’ve settled more fully into sewing, and I use handwork whenever I can, from basting to finishing. I find it meditative and rewarding.

  33. Ann

    My love of needlework comes directly from my grandmother, who didn’t sit down without something in her hands to embroider, sew, quilt, or crochet. I was drawn to the embroidery first and foremost, and remember the first time I gave my grandmother a gift of something homemade, a sampler with crooked stitches, tangled threads, and even a misspelling. When she passed away I found that sampler in her sewing basket, and now I have both the sewing basket and that sampler, still lying in the bottom where she left it.

    Over the years needlework has kept me busy, calmed me down, provided a way to be creative when my daily life wasn’t filling that need, and brought me joy. It is as good as meditation – can’t live without it!

    I am right now finishing panel 2 of an Alabama Chanin ribbon embroidered skirt, and enjoying the process as much as I will enjoy the final product.

  34. Wendy

    My daughter is two. I want her to learn that taking the time and energy to make something by hand, the slowing down, the working it out, has importance. I was a costume designer, but never learned hand stitching well, so we can learn together to put our hands to the fabric. I hope that maybe if there are difficult momma/daughter days ahead, we can find room to talk over stitches, over a pattern, if over nothing else.

  35. Zoe

    I love to see the network of textile artists connect and inspire each other and the whole craft community in the process!! So much to learn and love.

  36. Margaret

    One of my earliest memories is being with my grandmother, her teaching me how to crochet, and letting me sew on paper at her treddle sewing machine. Sewing and handwork have always been a big part of my life, my mother continuing my education with crewel work, and, being a child of the 70’s there were lots of hours spent embroidering blue jeans. One of my fondest memories is the prom dress I so wanted, which my family could not afford, and the surprise my mother gave me by sewing an exact copy of the dress! The last time my mother stayed with me before she died, we sat together at my dining room table making aprons together; she basted the pockets on, while I sewed seams. To this day I can’t remove her basting. So, many, many, happy bright moments of handwork in my life! Thanks for the great interview and chance to win Anna’s book!

  37. aliza patell ratnayaka

    I dabbled in sewing in college but came into my sewing ‘own’ after the kids were born. Having worked in the ready to wear industry I now cherish handmade. The happiness I feel at completing a project for myself or my family is truely wonderful. I have learned so much from Natalie’s books and would love to be able to be inspired by Anna Marie. thank you

  38. Dorothy Peterson

    Needlework is new to me, but I have been learning to sew and knit for the last decade. The more I make for my growing family, the more I crave the creative outlet. I would love to learn a new craft of needlework!

    Thank you for all your beauty and hard work, Anna Maria!

    Dorothy Peterson

  39. Melissa M

    I think I started doing crafty things all on my own, very young. I just started experimenting with everything! Would love to win this book!

  40. Amber

    I can still remember the sound of the hinges and the smell of the cabinet in which I discovered thrilling hidden treasure as a small child…. a three ring binder containing plastic sleeves with little pockets, each of which had different shades of embroidery floss carefully wound around little cardboard pieces. Bonanza!

  41. Cheryl

    I have been interested in needle work since I was a very young girl. My Aunt Marge used to do beautiful embroidery and I thought I would give it a twirl. I taught myself with the help of a very old embroidery book how to stitch. I used to draw a lot things that I wanted to embroidery, then coloring them in with thread brightened my world tremendously! The first thing I drew was a rose on my pillowcase and stitched it in yellow. It may not have been beautiful to the trained eye but when I awoke each morning and saw my rose I smiled. I have done ribbon work, bead weaving,crewel embroidery, crochet, and knitting along with machine and hand sewing. I was working on embellishing my crazy quilts and I thought I knew it all, then someone showed me Brazilian embroidery. Wow! A whole new avenue of stitching on my quilts opened up to me. I was thrilled to see what I could create with thread. I am still trying to master this and it is such a fun learning experience. Because of this, I am open to new ways of stitching and would love a chance to win Anna Maria Horner’s book.

  42. Alice

    My maternal grandmother died in 1992, but she was a gentle soul. She told me that when she was a little girl she would look through her mother’s embroidered table linens and ask why they never used them. Her mother said, “We’re saving them for good,” to which my grandmother replied, “Well, when IS good?” I now have several of those table linens and I use them a lot because I feel that every day is a good day to remember these women and marvel at their handiwork. After more than 100 years, these linens hold up better than anything “storebought” today. I would love to learn how to craft something for my children and grandchildren, and Anna Maria Horner’s book would be a good start.

  43. Ericka

    What a great interview. Thank you for posing the great questions and letting us learn more about AMH and your collaborations. A few years ago I did everything I could to avoid hand stitching of any sort, preferring my machine, even when when handwork should have been done. Over time I have learned the importance of hand sewing and grown to love it. I just finished my first AC top (without any embellishment, but hand stitching at the seams and neck). I have plans for much more hand sewing for garments and embellishments in the future. AMH’s new book would be great inspiration and help to push me further.

  44. Grace

    I’m sort of a needle work newb, although not entirely. I’ve been dewing, knitting and crochetting for years but I worked on cross stitch with my mother as a child. When I first moved to NYC I worked for a hand embroidery company based in India where I had the opportunity to travel and work with many inspiring designers. Now I am finding personal satisfaction in hand sewing garments in the Alabama Chanin mode and I am working to build my library of needle arts books. So far my favorite is the Readers Digest Complete Guide to Needlework. I would love to add Anna’s book to my growing collection!

  45. Linda Gerig

    I have really gotten into liking to do embroidery lately. A fun thing to do when I have a few minutes to relax. I just wish I was better at it. I truly love to do projects that you can pick up and work on for hours or just a few stolen minutes. Linda Gerig

  46. Mary

    I began embroidering when my father was diagnosed with terminal cancer. I made some little free-form stitches over pencil drawings, and showed them to my mom. She had one of those stamped pillow case sets. It was just two shades of blue, and just French knots and lazy daisies. I stitched and stitched and stitched for months. In the car, in front of the TV, talking to friends and family. I felt some control order life while I was stitching, and I desperately needed to feel that.

  47. brooke

    I am no needlework wizard but find several times a day to sit down with it. When I am observing my children’s lesson work, we are homeschoolers, I pick up my needle and start stitching. I find it relaxes ALL of us. Also I appreciate Anna Maria’s observations on big families I find my children help one another when need (and need not) be. Thanks for the giveaway!

  48. Erin

    Needle works have brightened my life in that I have been able to teach my daughter the basics of embroidery- It’s such a special way to spend time together- when we sit down, each with our own projects, we wind up connecting in a way that the busyness of day to day life doesn’t allow. Love Anna Maria’s work!

  49. Ivana Tvrdonova

    Thank you for this lovely interview. I´ve been Anna Mariaś fan for long time, her fabrics are always on my wish list for birthday or christmas, and even though they are expensive here in the midle of Europe, they worth it. As a mother of two small kiddoes I´m amazed how does she tuckle her big family and business like this, it is a great inspiration for me, especially in these days when I´m not able to force myself into anything creative because of tiredness. I´ve red some coments above and everyone says needlework is super relaxing, i´m definetely going to try it!!

  50. Sharon

    Needlework is the thread that connects me to the matriarchs in my family and beyond. For me it is a meditative practice that can go anywhere with me

  51. Penelope

    My grandmother raised me, & having been a milliner back in the years between the wars, she was a constant source of creative inspiration. I remember with especial fondness her teaching an 8-year-old me how to hand-stitch leather gloves.
    My other grandmother was a court dressmaker, so I guess it’s no surprise I have ended up in costume design, but still I love hand embellishing pieces for myself & family – it makes them special, & separates them from the pieces I produce for work. The handwork is where the magic lies.

  52. Jenni

    I want to teach my kids to embroider. I have few skills in this arena, but if I get a little more polished, I will feel confident passing my knowledge onto them. What a cathartic way to spend an afternoon!

  53. Sarah

    I teach needlework to elementary and middle school students, and I am always impressed by their eagerness. I can see a new generation of stitchers emerging!

  54. Rhonda C

    I grew up in a family of four generations of needleworkers. Now, at age 44, I’m joining the bunch, inspired by Anna Maria!

  55. Melissa

    I’ve read both of Natalie Chanin’s books. They were so beautiful to just look at. My favorite pieces were the corset and the skirt. Those alone inspire me to learn needlework. I love Anna Maria’s fabric designs as well.

  56. kirsty higgins

    hello, i would love a copy of AMH’s new book, i love needlework but i confess i’m not very good at it. it would be fantastic to learn how to do it well by someone who does it so fabulously! thanks so much,


  57. Melissa

    A neighbor taught me to cross stitch when I was 10 years old. At 49 years old it has been one of the best gifts to my life. My needlework is my story. Stitched up in each piece is a reminder of what was happening in my life at the time I stitched this or that piece. I love the little X and can’t imagine my life without it!

  58. Melanie G.

    Needlework has passed through generations of women in my family. It provides me such a wonderful opportunity to escape, focus, and create. Would love to win the book–can anyone ever have too many books that inspire and instruct?

  59. Tami

    I love how different arts & crafts lend themselves to one another. It is all the same creativity in the end. I am a knitter but would love to learn some other needle work. Anna Maria’s book sounds like a great place to start!

  60. Tanja

    I grew up surrounded by furniture made by my dad, and crocheted lace and embroidered bedspreads made by my grandmothers. I was always admiring their work and learned as much from them as I possibly could. Because of my appreciation for handmade household items and because I can’t stand to buy sweatshop made products, I feel driven to make as much as I possible my can for my family. When I don’t have time, I buy vintage or etsy. It makes such a big difference to be surrounded by beautiful objects with history and meaning than to be surrounded by cheap goods whose production made life difficult for someone else. Thank you for the lovely interview and giveaway – your company and your blog inspire me every day.

  61. Claudia

    Needlework has become a natural extension of my interest in art and craft, and I use it in both. I’m also inclined to constantly seek out more and more sources of instruction and inspiration. This obviously fits the bill. Thanks for the opportunity as well as the interview.

  62. Nina

    For me needlework (and textiles and sewing in general) is a link to past generations of my family.

    My great-grandparents on one side were skilled craftspeople, and although we sadly have no examples of his work and only a few precious pieces of hers, the *act* of stitching feels like a connection to them. (I doubt they’d be impressed by my amateurish stitchery, mind you!)

    On the other side, my grandmother and her mother before her both travelled the world as diplomats’ wives and bought beautiful textiles and particularly embroidery work wherever they went. All of those collected pieces have been lovingly preserved and my grandmother is now handing them down to us bit by bit as gifts – I never met my great-grandmother but I can tell you that she had the most exquisite taste!

    Last year my boyfriend’s great aunt passed away, and when we travelled to her remote home town in Scotland for the funeral, all the relatives and friends were taking souvenirs from her house. I’d admired them as soon as I saw them, but nobody seemed to want the two floral embroideries from the parlour wall, so we brought them home – we’re not sure if they were done by the great aunt or by her mother (my boyfriend’s great-grandmother), but it’s lovely to have them in our home.

  63. Anna

    My mom taught me to sew years ago when I was young. At the time I didn’t have the patience for it. I would ask if my Mom would finish my project for me and in return I would start supper. I always dabbled with sewing, knitting, and any other crafty thing, but began some hand embroidery again while in culinary school. Now as a mommy, I find handwork easiest to do while watching my child play.

  64. Elizabeth Smillie

    My grandma taught me how to hand sew a nine patch when I was small, and now that I’m sewing for my own little family and business, I’m thankful for her taking the time each day!

  65. Sue Kristiansen

    I have been doing embroidery since elementary school, when my first sampler won a prize in the county fair. I’ve embroidered jeans, samplers, and now i’m adding embroidery to silk paintings. I love finding new ways to add hand embellishment, and I’d love to read this book. Thanks!

  66. Carly R.

    How inspiring you are!! I learned how to sew and embroider as a child, but only recently have picked it back up. I decided this past Christmas to make my family stockings. I made simple (rustic) ones from felt and appliqued different motifs that we associated with each. – tractors, cameras, ballerina shooters, etc. i found it to be so relaxing and fun to see if each person could not only pick theirs out, but each others as well. I would love to get your book to learn more and perfect this craft. Thank you!

  67. Denise

    Needlework has been part of my life for over 45 years (scary thinking about it that way), As a young girl I embroidered towels, aprons and pictures for my grandmothers. As a teenager I embroidered jeans for myself, shirts for my brother and boyfriends. I’ve played with needlework on and off between teen years and now. In the last few years I find myself drawn to needle and thread. I love the feeling of pulling the needle and thread through fabric; it doesn’t matter if it’s free form embroidery or something more organized. Each thing I embroider is special to me.

  68. lorna

    There is such tradition in the art or needlework. I love that Anna Maria is re-introducing the art to so many. The book looks lovely.

  69. Heather

    I’m a huge fan of both your work and of Anna Maria’s, so it’s been such a treat for me to see your collaboration. I’ve done a bit of handwork, but am itching to learn more and I think Anna’s book would be a great source of education, as well as inspiration. Thanks so much for the chance to win!

  70. Amy

    Funny, this post has come up as i’ve been thinking of my mother and memories of her handwork in the last days!
    I grew up with a mother who sewed, all the time, beautiful hand smocked dresses, all kinds of dresses, for us three girls. i have many memories of standing on the old wooden kitchen table, dresses being fitted on me, hardly daring to breathe for fear of pins! I learned to stitch at that table as now my three little ones learn their stitches there too. Many years later(another costume designer here, though not for many years now) and family spread over 3 continents. I find myself picking up the needle again more and more as a way to express my love and gratitude to those i love who live far away. I stitch pieces of cloth, patterned and textured, thrifted pieces of embroidery, joined with my free form embroidery to make pieces for their kitchen tables. I find it brings calm and clarity and when yet another glass of water is knocked over and a toddler discover the blank canvas of a wall with crayon in hand, is not such a big deal, with a needle in my hand! I loved reading this interview and have often wondered how Anna Marie does it with almost 7, when i stubble through the chaos of only 3! Two of my favourite designers for very different reasons, what a wonderful collaboration!

  71. Terry B

    Oh My! I am at work right now (it is a bit slow) and I finally read the Alabama Studio Sewing + Design book that I purchased last week. OMG!!! I want to run to the store and purchase all the supplies I need so that I can go home and embroider and cut and sew to my hearts content! Maria’s book looks like an ideal companion piece to the Alabama book. I am quite a novice at both embroidery and sewing, so I need all the inspiration I can get.

  72. velma

    stitching has come back into my hands as part of my artwork, not just patching the kids jeans or sewing a button or even earlier providing myself with skirts and dresses. stitching now travels through my fingers onto and into paper and books, the fibers are often spun by my fingers, and they, those stitches, run amok in my dreams and on the landscape of my heart.

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