I first fell in love with Alyssa's adorable embroidery designs several years ago. It's easy to see why. Her charming animal illustrations are really hard to resist. Alyssa is an accomplished illustrator and designer. Her designs can be found on fabric and she even has her own children's book, No Monsters Here. Alyssa also designs whimsical plushies which you'll love shopping for on her website.
Enjoy reading more about her in her own words. Also, be sure to visit her blog and thank her for the adorable free pattern you'll find at the end of this post.
Bari: When did you first start embroidering? Are you self taught or did someone teach you?
Bari: When did you start your embroidery business? Can you tell us the story behind how you got started?
Alyssa: After a childhood of making art, I went to the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and graduated with a graphic design degree. A few years later I ended up as an illustrator for the greeting card and stationery industry. It was there that I fell back in love with drawing and painting after "pushing pixels" on the computer. I loved getting to come to work and paint little characters all day long. I also made my first children's book, No Monster Here during that time. On the side I started sewing plush toys which kicked off the start of Penguin & Fish. To me it's exciting to figure out how to construct a 3 dimensional toy object from 2 dimensional fabric. It's a fun challenge that never gets old.
I slowly adding embroidery patterns to my product line in 2009. I wasn't drawing as much as I wanted to by making toys. Then I remembered how much I loved to embroider when I was younger. Making embroidery patterns allowed me to draw more while still being crafty and hands-on. Another reason I'm really excited to be making embroidery patterns is that I think it's a great beginning craft for people. I love when the self-proclaimed "non-creative" person attempts to embroider. After they get through a few stitches it's like a lightbulb goes off in their head. They CAN make things and they CAN be creative. I believe that everyone is creative, and if embroidery can help someone realize that, then it's a business I'm happy to be in.
Bari: What inspires your designs?
Alyssa: Animals. I can't stop drawing animals!
Bari: Do you have a favorite stitch?
Alyssa: I think my favorite stitch may be the good ole backstitch. I love the sweet little string of "beads" it makes. It gives that extra embroidered feel to an outline.
Bari: Do you have favorite materials/tools to work with?
Alyssa: I'm a big fan of my "The Fine Line" Water Erasable Marking Pen by Collins. I like that I can update a pattern or sketch directly onto fabric and when I'm finished stitching I can just dab some water on the fabric to get rid of all my lines.
Bari: Do you recommend any embroidery books?
Alyssa: "The Embroidery Stitch Bible" comes in handy from time to time. I also really love searching for vintage embroidery books.
Bari: Where do you do your embroidery work? Do you have a certain time of day for stitching?
Alyssa: Mostly I embroider at my small work desk so I can watch TV shows on the computer. Snippets of thread get all over my keyboard and there's not really room to spread out all my skeins, spools, needles, scissors, patterns, etc. I wouldn't recommend it. But alas, that's the life of a Netflix and Hulu addict.
Bari: Do you teach embroidery anywhere?
Alyssa: I may be teaching a class or two before the end of the year. Everything is still in the works right now. I definitely want to teach a lot more. It's one of my goals for 2012.
Bari: Can you tell us about your new fabric line or any other upcoming projects you are involved in?
Alyssa: My first fabric line, Safari Sweet will be in stores in September. I'm super excited! It's 100% GOTS certified organic cotton by Clothworks Textiles and includes quilting weight and flannel fabrics. There is also a group of organic solids that coordinate with the collection. I can't wait until I get the bolts in the mail and can start playing with all the fabric! My second fabric line is in production and I'm currently working on my third. I also have some new products in store for the new year and a secret project or two that I can't share quite yet. I'm so happy to be making things!
Alyssa has been kind enough to provide readers with this adorable free squirrel pattern...
Thank you SO much, Alyssa!
HAPPY STITCHING, ALL!
Download the pattern by clicking here: Download Baby squirrel_embroidery_copyright penguin and fish_lowres