Alison Holt | Machine Embroidery

Gear Threads Is The Mr X Stitch Machine Embroidery Column - Presented By Urban Threads!

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Machine embroidery artist Alison Holt has long been creating amazing work using freestyle machine embroidery. However, the project of hers I want to share with you today is not quite her normal work.

Instead, it is an especially inspiring collaboration between machine embroidery and fashion , two sides of design that don’t often come together.


Back in 2012, fashion designer Steven Tai approached Alison about a collaboration featuring the work of sci-fi illustrator Franco Brambrilla. Though this kind of collaboration was a departure from her normal work, the opportunity to work on the signature piece in an innovative designer’s latest collection was an opportunity she seized upon.

Using 66 colors and over 1,100,000 stitches in her signature freestyle machine embroidery style, Alison transformed the unique art of Brambrilla into this amazing stitched masterpiece that became a one-of-a-kind jumper in Tai’s collection. It’s so beautifully rendered, it can be tricky at first to even tell that it’s embroidery.

That is, until you look closer…


The process of creating not only a beautiful embroidered piece, but one that was suitable for wearing on the catwalk, was a unique challenge.

Alison worked in a heavier weight cotton thread and wool than she was accustomed to, in order to add perspective and create texture and variation in the foreground. Working with these heavier threads meant that the piece had to stitched from the back, then reversed to add finer detail in lighter weight thread.


Alison commented, “I was enjoying the process enormously. I have been commissioned many times but this was different, having a lot of creative input from Steven made the process more interesting. I could see why Steven had approached me, my style of work fitted his vision very well, what he hadn’t taken into account was the size of an average embroidery piece for me. This was about 10 times larger than anything I had ever worked on.”


The final piece was used in Steven Tai’s Autumn Winter 2013 collection to rave reviews, and it’s easy to see why.


If you want to learn more about this particular collaboration, you can find the whole story here, along with more photos and a short video of it on the catwalk. If you’d like to peek at the kind of stunning machine embroidery art Alison is usually up to, I recommend browsing the gallery on her website or by following her on Instagram.

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