A Subtle Notion

Contemporary embroidery art via Mr X Stitch

Steffie Dean, aka A Subtle Notion, is an embroidery artist from Longmont, Colorado.

A Subtle Notion - Goddess - Hand Embroidery

A Subtle Notion is just that, the small hint of an idea that grows and (hopefully) becomes something beautiful. As a girl my mom taught me to sew, and since college creating clothing has been my main hobby. Drafting patterns and creating outfits can be very time consuming so I started exploring slightly faster needle and thread crafts. In 2015 I started playing around with crochet and later cross-stitch, I finally settled on embroidery early 2017. I love the freedom of starting with a clean piece of fabric and turning ideas into tangible creations. My very first piece was a tiger moth, since I’ve always loved the colors and shapes of their wings. Eventually my work transitioned to the female form.

A Subtle Notion - Easy Change - Hand Embroidery

Most of my pieces are based off of photos I find on Instagram, with a few self portraits thrown in for good measure. I love portraying women who look like they feel empowered and strong. Recently I found a quote from Lena Horne that really captures the struggle I try to work through with my pieces – “The naked female body is treated so weirdly in society. It’s like people are constantly begging to see it, but once they do, someone’s a hoe.

A Subtle Notion - Cold Days - Hand Embroidery

This idea that nudity is intrinsically sexual and intended for a viewer has never resonated with me. I believe women should be comfortable and empowered in their own bodies. Nudity should not only be about pleasing a viewer or enticing a lover, it should be about feeling good in your own skin and accepting flaws as part of your unique self. I am drawn to images that show ladies “feeling themselves”. The dichotomy of sexuality and modesty is something I like to play with as well. The two ideas are not mutually exclusive and I aim to find the balance between appearing modest but still feeling sexy.”

A Subtle Notion - Meh - Hand Embroidery

Steffie’s work captures those moments of intimacy in a manner not dissimilar to Meghan Willis, but it’s clear she’s finding her own way. Each new piece on her Instagram takes a step into a personal space; a vignette of privacy, created with an elegant simplicity that borders on voyeurism.

A Subtle Notion - Catchng Breeze - Hand Embroidery

Where this journey will go remains to be seen, but you can follow her on Instagram and buy her pieces on Etsy. I’d get them before anyone else cottons on!


The Cutting (& Stitching) Edge is brought to you in association with PUSH: Stitchery,
the contemporary embroidered art book curated by Jamie Chalmers.
Featuring 30 textile-based artists from around the world, it’s a must have for needlework fans.
Click on the image to buy your copy from our Amazon store!

PUSH Stitchery - curated by Mr X Stitch!

Mr X

Jamie Chalmers, aka Mr X Stitch, aka the Kingpin of Contemporary Embroidery is the founder of the Mr X Stitch site, the world's longest running embroidery blog, the curator of PUSH Stitchery and the author of the Mr X Stitch Guide to Cross Stitch. He is also the founder of XStitch, the game-changing cross stitch design magazine which launched in Summer 2017.

Recent Posts