Are there really any new ideas? Or have our mothers and grandmothers come up with all the designs for fiber arts? Hardly – this rich heritage of ideas continues to inspire women (and men) today. 

For our grandmothers and their mothers, skill at needle arts provided one of the few ways for women to compete – to illustrate their social graces and their skills in household management – all for the goal of finding and keeping a husband. A woman could display her art and accomplishments on items for everyday use. She could do so without “showing off”. Her skills could decorate her home – the sitting room, the parlor, the salon, or on her as clothing and accessories. Women and girls frequently made knitted, crocheted, or beadwork objects as gifts for their friends or lovers or husbands. This included clothing, beds covers, and personal objects. (picture of book with cross)

  • The many young girls and women who have done needle work, quilting, and beadwork over the centuries. Amish women, black women, any women with a creative bent.

  • Nature’s color palettes – sunsets, gardens, new leaves in the spring, and even rock outcroppings!

  • Other art - particularly Impressionists. And vintage jewelry.

  • The cabochons themselves guide me with my bead embroidery.

  • And last but not least – the yarn, unusual fabric, vintage fabric, ethnic fabric, hand-crafted fabric and vintage beads, polished stones, and interesting vintage cabochons.

Use quality materials and pick something you will enjoy doing. One of the hardest parts of any fiber art project is finishing it. If you do not enjoy the project, you probably will not finish it. If it is something you want to wear or give as a gift, you will finish it.

That said, don’t be afraid to experiment with new techniques, new materials, weird yarn, or vintage fabric.


Be proud of what you have created - wear it, decorate with it, and present it to others! 

Beadwork Humidor c. 1860
A gift for the husband
Beadwork Sampler c. 1840
framed for display in a parlor