DIY embroidery kits are all the buzz in the creative community but how do you go about crafting a new product like this for your business? We turned to the expert herself, Spoonflower Small Business Grant recipient and embroidery artist Megan Eckman to share the top five things she’s learned over the years while crafting her own DIY embroidery kit business.
Megan: Seven years ago, I walked into a craft store and looked in horror at the iron-on embroidery patterns on the shelf. I’d stitched all of them as a small child with my grandmother and there was no way I was sewing day-of-the-week laundry cats again. I didn’t think they were cool when I was seven and sewing them onto my zip-up hoodies, and they hadn’t gotten any cooler with age. Grumbling about kitsch things, I went home and made my own design, creating the image as I stitched. I posted a picture of the finished embroidery to Facebook and almost immediately everyone was asking me if they could also sew the design.
The response shocked me, and over the next few months, I completely overhauled my illustration business into an embroidery kit business, PopLush Embroidery (formerly Studio MME). I hustled it and hit the craft fairs, traveling with my booth. I pitched wholesale shops left, right, and center. I even landed a book deal with a large publisher. But I couldn’t have done any of that without the help of Spoonflower. If they weren’t around, I’d have printed the designs on my inkjet for about one month and then called it quits. Instead, I’m helping people all over the world discover the joy of embroidery through my kits.
Now that embroidery and cross stitch are the hottest craft, creating great kits is essential to staying in the game. That’s why I wanted to share my top five tips for anyone looking to get into the already-packed industry.
1. Digitize your Drawings
All of my designs start as drawings in my sketchbook. The best ones get scanned and brought into Adobe Illustrator, where I expand on the idea and create the actual design. I draw the final design with the brush tool, setting the brush size to a width that is thin enough to be stitched over completely but not so skinny that it’s hard to see on the fabric. Finding the right width for your brush takes some testing and will also depend on how many strands you suggest people use while sewing. To make it easier for the embroiderer, I created a set of color swatches that match the thread colors I put in my kits.
2. Create a Canvas as Large as Your Fabric
I create all of my yardage in Illustrator by filling up a 54” x 36” artboard, the same size as a yard of Linen Cotton Canvas. This way I can fill each yard to its fullest and order a variety of designs at once. I also make use of the extra space along the edges of the fabric by printing fun extras for my customers like bookmarks.
3. Think Like a Beginner
When it comes to making kits, nothing should be omitted because you think it’s too simple or obvious. I once had a frustrated customer email me because I hadn’t told her how to open her embroidery hoop. So think like a total beginner and provide all the information you can. Consider multiple formats for your instructions as well, since some people learn best by watching videos, while others prefer reading.
4. Test Everything
Order a Fabric Sample Pack from Spoonflower to feel all of their fabrics and see how the colors print. Try sewing through each of them with the needle you’ve chosen to include in your kits. Check if you can see through the fabric when you have thread behind it. Test out how it washes and dries. See how it folds and wrinkles. The fabric is the base of any embroidery kit so it’s your biggest decision to make.
5. Ask for Help
This tip goes along with the last few, but it’s worth saying again. Have a few crafty friends test out your kits, but also have some novices try. See what questions they have about your kit. Ask if anything made them hesitant or unsure. Look over their finished piece and see how well they were able to execute the project with your instructions. When you’re a maker, you have years of experience and the courage to wing certain things. A novice won’t have this mindset, being fearful to screw something up, so make sure your kit offers all the encouragement and ease it can. You want your customer to fall in love with your craft, not quit in frustration.
Spoonflower has allowed me to create an embroidery kit business that helps thousands of people every year become confident crafters. They can do the same for your business too if you take the time to test everything and utilize their amazing service to its fullest potential. So let yourself play, be efficient in your ordering, and then wait impatiently for the fabric to arrive at your door.
Take your business from dream to reality with the Small Business Grant!
About the Guest Author