A stitch in time: the very modern world of the Instagram sewing circle

Playboy center folds, hip-hop lyrics and sports logos: embroidery is being embraced by the fashion industry and no subject is off limits

It’s not often that hip-hop lyrics and octogenarian needle-and-thread experts are united by a fashion trend, but in the delightful world of modern embroidery such contrasts are celebrated.

Embroidery is having quite a moment in fashion – and on Instagram – right now, with a growing number of artists and designers posting pictures of their delicate work on social media. The techniques they use tend to be traditional – with embroidery hoops and crewel needles a common feature – but the subject matter is often anything but.

James Merry, for one, decorates sports logos with intricate floral embroidery, which he says “is about finding some way for extremely opposite things to exist side by side – urban vs rural, machine vs handmade, human vs plant. I’m fixated on that peculiar place where the overlap occurs, and the moment when one thing transforms into another.” His work has a post-apocalyptic feel to it “which wasn’t intended at first,” he says, “but I kind of loved that result. It’s like the urban sportswear landscape has been destroyed and nature has come to claim it back, growing up through all the cracks.”