Evolving Peony with Hand Stitch

Martha Myers is a wonderful customer and Sew Kansas participant. She writes about many of her projects on her own blog. She made this amazing variation of a Peony Vest so we asked her to share the story as our guest blogger for this post. Enjoy and prepare to be inspired!


I have always enjoyed hand-stitch. I like the feel of it as my hands work with needle, thread, and fabric. I like the look of it with its inconsistencies and subtle textures. Also I prefer to sew with solid colors. I am attracted to the simplicity and of course the opportunity for added hand-stitch.

The use of hand-stitch allows me to view each of my garments as work-in-progress. I wear them all, but frequently go back and make changes, often with hand-stitch.

​My denim Peony Vest is an example of a more deliberate use of hand-stitch, this time using the seed stitch. I was inspired by Susan Brubaker Knapp's use of seed stitch in her small art quilts, as well as her application to a thrifted RTW vest.

*Note pattern modifications: Martha used two Left Fronts for a symmetrical shape. She added a 2 1/2" finished stand collar and a patch pocket on the right front.

I completed the vest and began to wear it without any embellishment. I love the Peony shape and denim goes with everything.

Then I started to add creatures to it, using the seed stitch to create negative space. I travel quite a bit to see family and so this was a perfect garment to take with me. I could wear it. I could stitch it. It is still incomplete yet available as a good layering piece.

My first creature was an elephant. I have long been attracted to elephants and have created Indian-style embroidery designs with vivid colors and various embroidery stitches. But for the vest, I wanted more simplicity. My goal was to see if I could create my design with just one stitch - the seed stitch. My goal was to keep the stitches fairly consistent but scattered. Of course if you look closely you see that my stitch length and stitch placement is inconsistent. I like that. 

I enjoy sketching. Primitive animal shapes lend themselves to my style of sketching. So my next creature was the bird on the lower front of the vest. I looked at images online as well as those on curtains in my daughter's kitchen. And then I sketched until I liked the bird images I could produce.

The other creatures have been similarly inspired by online images, as well images in advertising, or even coloring books. I imperfectly copy it into my sketch book. Then I copy it again. Soon it is mine. 

"Start copying what you love. Copy, copy, copy, copy. At the end of the copy, you will find yourself." -Yohju Yamamoto, Fashion Designer.

-Martha Myers, guest blogger.

To see more of Martha's projects, visit her blog at http://nowsewing.blogspot.com.

To make your own version of this artistic, playful vest, shop our selection of Denims and Embroidery Floss. The Peony Vest pattern is available (download only) here