Best Job Ever: Jenny Hart, Embroidery Entrepreneur

Think embroidery’s something only grandma gets a kick out of? Then you haven’t met Jenny Hart, stitching’s savvy sweetheart. The Austin, Texas-based artist and owner of Sublime Stitching brings a modern, innovative touch to the ancient craft with her witty patterns, which range from ‘Meaty Treats’ to ‘Sexy Librarians’ to ‘Forest Friends.’ Read on to learn more about how she got started, download the ModCloth-exclusive pattern she created just for us, and check out her namesake dress! One look at her darling designs – and we swear, you’ll be hooked!

What made you decide to start your own business, Sublime Stitching?
I wanted to create the kind of embroidery company I wished existed. Learning how to embroider was a huge stumbling block – I felt most instructions were overly difficult, stuffy, and hard to decipher. The patterns for embroidery had become really out-of-date and not at all aimed at a new generation. You couldn’t get anything outside of bunnies, teddy bears, and barnyard animals.

So, I designed the kind of patterns I would want to stitch myself. I also started pre-assembling starter kits and bringing it all together the same way it came together for me. Sublime Stitching represents how I learned to embroider, the tools I use, and the things I like.

How did you get into embroidery in the first place?
I had the idea to experiment with it for my artwork. I wanted to create embroidery images I had never seen before: portraits, nudes, rock stars, pin-ups. Once I did, I became addicted with my first stitches. [Embroidery] was a new discovery for me, and I was so excited about it, I wanted to get other people excited about it, too.

Where do you get the inspiration for your patterns?
Once I released the first series of Sublime Stitching patterns, the response was so enormous, people started writing in with what they’d like to see me do next. This kind of relationship with my stitchers has always been important to me, and I really have fun with it. I’ve always loved to draw, but mixing it with embroidery really changes how I approach it. The embroidery itself can inspire the design, so it’s not always just a drawing, but pattern intended for stitching. So, a particular type of stitch might inspire a design.

Hart sketching embroidery patterns in her studio space.

I also love comic books and wanted to mix comic art and popular fine illustration into craft, so I began collaborating with artists I admire, whose work I wanted to see translated into embroidery and offer their work as patterns for stitchers to work with. I introduced an “Artist Series” of embroidery patterns and have collaborated with artists like Lisa Petrucci, Jim Woodring, Julie West, Michael Sieben, and other artists whose work you might never see as embroidery patterns.

Do you have any advice for ladies who want to make craft their living – any tips for success?
I do! I have a series of columns called “Crafting a Business” that I wrote for Venus. But something I heard the other day, which really resonated with me was, “It’s easy to see an opportunity, but to seize an opportunity takes incredible amounts of hard work.”

We love Sublime Stitching! Check out Jenny Hart’s namesake dress, and books Stitchable Stationery and Embroidered Effects.

You are a member of the Craft Mafia. How has working with a group of fellow craft-loving ladies helped – or hindered – your development as an artist and entrepreneur?
When we started the Austin Craft Mafia, we were overwhelmed by the interest people showed in starting Craft Mafias of their own. That’s why we launched the Craft Mafia network. For me, seeking out other like-minded entrepreneurs was a huge source of help and inspiration. Because it was so beneficial for us to work together in that way, we formed the Austin Craft Mafia. So, I can’t say it was a hindrance at all – it was an explosion of support! The purpose of our group was to provide mutual support in the form of conversation, enthusiasm, organizing, cross-promotion and resource-sharing. It worked!

What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?
Video-store clerk, around 1989. I lasted barely two weeks. But I have shrink-wrapping experience because of it!


About Sarah

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  1. Avatar
    Mary 11/16/2010 at 3:38 pm #

    I adore Jenny Hart and her wonderful stitching patterns! I started embroidering over the summer and I’m hooked!

  2. Avatar
    Laura V 11/16/2010 at 5:02 pm #

    How motivating! Another great case of how following your creative interests can lead to a full-time career!

  3. Avatar
    Desiree 11/16/2010 at 5:12 pm #

    Wow this stuff looks amazing and I love that coy look on her face in that first picture!

  4. Avatar
    Roxanne 11/16/2010 at 5:45 pm #

    So inspirational! I hope that I can become as successful as she is one day.

  5. Avatar
    Jen 11/16/2010 at 6:15 pm #

    I LOVE Jenny Hart’s work and I was so excited to see her interview. She inspires me in my own work!

  6. Avatar
    candacejean 11/16/2010 at 6:17 pm #

    I first found Jenny’s work in a Juxtapoz magazine, I think it was… one of her cute advertisements. Months and months later I was thrilled to find a sponsor pack she donated to a local craft show I participated in. Her work is wonderful!! Thank you for this interview!

  7. Avatar
    Ann 11/16/2010 at 10:08 pm #

    As a longtime Jenny Hart and ModCloth fan, this collab is a dream come true! Fantastic interview

  8. Avatar
    Mandy 11/17/2010 at 3:35 am #

    I really want to try this! I’m so glad I found this she makes it look like so much fun I definitely want to get one of her cute kits! =]

  9. Avatar
    Katharine Ellis Tapley 11/17/2010 at 7:21 am #

    This is so cool. I mean, she’s so cool and so is her work.

    You know, I used to do a lot of embroidery when I was a kid and I stopped for some reason. I think I may take it up again.

  10. Avatar
    Angela (ModCloth) 11/17/2010 at 1:23 pm #

    I’ve always wanted to do embroidery ever since my friend discovered Jenny Hart. And how cool is it that she designed these awesome patterns for this interview. Love the Winston! So cute!!

  11. Avatar
    T!ffany 11/17/2010 at 6:24 pm #

    So cute. I admire your creativity.

  12. Avatar
    karrie 11/17/2010 at 8:51 pm #

    I adore Jenny!! She is responsible for all the adorable custom onesies my soon to be son is going to be rocking. Sublime stitching inspired me to create them all. I knew nothing before her! ♥ that girl and her work!!

  13. Avatar
    C 11/18/2010 at 10:17 am #

    She is awesome and so is her site! I just placed an order! I’m going to try to practice a bit and then make a custom pillow for my friend for Xmas! I can’t wait!

  14. Avatar
    Vixie 11/20/2010 at 6:38 am #

    Wow, this is really inspiring! I haven’t tried embroidery yet, but I can’t wait to try! Thank you!

  15. Avatar
    Becky 11/27/2010 at 8:58 pm #

    Jenny and ModCloth = Collaboration of the Decade!! Awesome interview. I loves Jenny too.

  16. Avatar
    alicia 11/29/2010 at 7:15 am #

    i love jenny designs she inspires me i have started just for a few months and i love all she do

  17. Avatar
    @tishushu 12/06/2010 at 11:30 am #

    awe to the some! i have been following Jenny Hart’s work for many years now, and i love it! Kudos, ModCloth for this entry!

  18. Avatar
    Regina 12/11/2010 at 3:07 pm #

    I love embroidery, and works by Jenny Hart is special.
    Thanks for sharing!

  19. Avatar
    uhren online shop 12/17/2010 at 9:57 pm #

    I am very grateful to you for the information. I have used it.

  20. Avatar
    Marlene 02/05/2011 at 9:10 pm #

    Hello , Thank you so much for your free patterns , this will be the first time in 40 years I have done this work so was wondering how to start again and then I found you

  21. Avatar
    Katy 03/08/2012 at 9:33 pm #

    I am always so inspired to start embroidery and do my own patterns when I see Jenny and so many others work. I love the interview, thank you for sharing! 🙂

  22. Avatar
    Teginder Ravi 02/02/2014 at 11:40 pm #

    I think my biggest dilemma when doing machine embroidery is choosing which stabilizer to use with which fabric/design, as the more stitches the more stabilizer I have been told. Often times when I try to embroider a quilt block, using quilters cotton, the design seems too stitch intensive for the fabric and I get puckers around the fabric when the fabric is released from the hoop. I have ironed a light stabilizer in the back of the fabric, and used a medium-heavy weight tear away stabilizer, but still get the puckers. Any suggestions??

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