Jennifer Willis’s 2014 New Year’s resolution was to learn how to knit. “I bought needles, yarn and an educational DVD. I sucked at it and hated every dropped stitch—and there were a lot,” she admits with a laugh. “Pinterest inspired me to try hand embroidery. Pinterest was my inspiration and You Tube was my education.”
She caught on quickly—and then some. But one day fate made her up her game. Willis’s mom told a friend at church she could stitch the friend’s father’s signature. “I had never stitched handwriting before, but I wasn’t going to make my mom a liar,” she says. “After that I was hooked. Stitching handwriting is so personal and triggers such special memories for people. I’ve never met anyone else who does what I can do!”
Based in Blue Springs, she’s made a booming business out of her artwork. We caught up with Willis to find out more about Stitched on a Tuesday.
How do you mimic someone’s handwriting?
“The secret of my success is good, old-fashioned forgery. Kidding. I trace all my work with black carbon paper. It’s simple and very effective.”
This seems like a hyper-specific talent. Are you part of a group—or fly solo?
“I’m flying solo. I meet a lot of people whose mom or grandma would hand embroider, but it’s sort of a lost art now. There are embroiderers out there, but I haven’t seen anyone who stitches handwriting like I do.”
What has been a particularly challenging project? An example?
“Believe it or not, straight lines have always been my nemesis. I can hide a lot of ‘happy accidents’ in the scroll and loops of handwriting, but if a stitch is off or uneven on a straight line it sticks out like a sore thumb.”
Can people order things for the holidays?
“Absolutely! I stitch pretty much non-stop from August until December 19th (my twins’ birthday). I’m a one-woman show, and I can only stitch so fast, so spots fill up quickly. I do remind people that Mother’s Day and birthdays are other great occasions for these unique gifts. I am grateful that I discovered this talent and that I can share it with others.”
Where can folks find you?
“Find me on my Facebook page. All I need is a picture of what you would like stitched, and I can give a quote and time frame for a projected completion date almost immediately. I’m also able to stitch children’s drawings. These pieces make amazing grandparent gifts!”