Sharon Shetley of Threads in Bloom is going to share her Brazilian Embroidery Odyssey with us! Sharon is one of the “pioneers” when it comes to making Brazilian embroidery popular. Hers is a story of pursuing her passion for Brazilian Embroidery at a time when resources and instruction in the technique were scarce. Now, when supplies, books, kits, and instructions can be found with the click of a button, Sharon keeps her fingers in the Brazilian embroidery world by operating her own store dedicated to the technique. I hope you enjoy reading about her journey!
In January of 1980, I went into a fabric store; on a bulletin board of upcoming classes was this beautiful needlework, with dimension. Petal stood up, away from the fabric, with fine details to the design, the thread had a wonderful sheen. It was magnificent. I HAD to learn how to do this embroidery. What kind of needle art was this? It was Brazilian Embroidery, and I was addicted to it at that moment!
That was the beginning, and what an adventure I have had and am still having. There were very few colors of threads at the time, no books and no patterns. The instructor drew our design for class onto the fabric for us. I started my own notebook of instructions. After each class I wrote instructions and made drawings, so I wouldn’t forget how to do what I learned that night. Oh – I was certainly addicted! I could not get enough. Since there weren’t designs or patterns to purchase, I started drawing my own and writing the instructions for my own future use. That still wasn’t enough for me. The person who taught me ask me to help her teach so we could have Beginner and Advanced classes, so I started teaching.
In 1985, Threads in Bloom began to grow. Even then, I wanted more! So I contacted magazines to offer my designs and articles (at that time there had not been any magazine articles for Brazilian Embroidery ). On Christmas Eve, 1985, I received a call from McCall’s; they wanted use one of my designs. Finally, I was on my way!
I have had the pleasure of teaching for many years, including at our local Jr. College, in Washington and in Fargo ND, at an annual Stitcher’s Retreat I have attended for the past five years. I have been able to take part with some of my work on a Friendship Tapestry that is in Iceland, with contributing stitchers from every continent, all joined in friendship. Another piece of my work is shown on a quilt in Kleminsky, Ukraine; and yet another piece has traveled to Russia to show one of types of needlework we do here in the US.
Four years ago, I started my online store, Threads in Bloom. Threads in Bloom is a home and online business which occupies my evenings and weekends while I work full time in the medical field.
At this time (2010), I have had over 60 magazine articles published featuring my Brazilian Embroidery work, with another soon to be published. I presently offer complete Brazilian Embroidery kits in my online store, and I am fortunate to receive orders from all over the world.
Brazilian Embroidery, teaching, writing the magazine articles, designing and retailing supplies – all these have given me pleasure beyond words. As all stitchers know, our needle and thread can be our lifeline. It gets us through sorrow and tragedy, giving us pleasure every day.
I am pleased to have ‘met’ people from all over the world, becoming distant friends with many of them. One lady sent me a note that she thought of me while visiting a museum of purses in Holland, because of the needlework on the purses. I felt honored to be thought of when someone was on such a special vacation. The friendships have been one of greatest rewards of my journey. And, so I shall go on from here!
What is Brazilian Embroidery?
Brazilian embroidery is not limited in the stitches used, or to stitches that are “Brazilian.” The use of an array of stitches borrowed from many needle arts, combined with rayon twisted thread in various sizes, dealing fine growth was popularized in Brazil, and this is why this particular style of embroidery is called “Brazilian” embroidery.
Brazilian embroidery is very dimensional and often referred to as Dimensional embroidery.
Although the design can be any subject, the main focus of Brazilian embroidery is flowers and nature. The thread used in Brazilian embroidery is a Z-twisted rayon thread, which is different from standard embroidery floss which has an “S” twist. The rayon thread has a lovely sheen and comes in over 200 solid, shaded and variegated colors.
Most Brazilian embroidery is stitched on a poplin-type fabric. You may be familiar with ‘Trigger’ cloth. It has a fairly tight or closed thread. But Brazilian embroidery can be stitched on almost any fabric, from silk to sweat-shirt type fabric, to denim and batiste.
In Brazilian embroidery, we use Milliner needles. The eye of the needle is the same size as the shaft, which helps when pulling the needle through wraps of thread (bullions) or cast-on stitches. A bulging eye would make it very difficult.
Brazilian embroidery looks much more difficult than it is. You would already be familiar with many of the stitches used in the technique, like stem, couching, French knots, and buttonhole. Bullion knots that add dimension are merely stitches made by wrapping the rayon thread around the needle. Cast-on stitch is used in knitting; in Brazilian embroidery, we just use a different needle and thread. It is the placement of the bullions and cast-ons that create the flowers and other patterns or shapes.
I hope you will visit my on line store, Threads in Bloom, to see my designs and the beautiful color of threads, books, needles and various other necessary stitching toys!
It has been fun reminiscing and sharing my story with you and showing you some of my designs! I look forward to your visit!
Update: 2021 – Threads in Bloom has closed.