If you’ve ever altered or made a garment from scratch, you can probably relate to the idea that spending time stitching these fibers seems to make the garment a little more personal, a little more powerful.
I love to explore how we can take the power of personalization and run with it—stitching our dreams and desires into our wardrobe through the use of embroidered talismans.
By stitching embroidered artwork full of personal symbolism into our garments, we’re reshaping our clothes into new forms—infusing them with the spirit of myth and storytelling through the threads that get drawn in and out, back and forth, through the fabric.
What is a Talisman?
The root of the word talisman means “to make sacred.” The beauty of the art of embroidery is that it allows you plenty of time to sit with the fabric and do just that—make it sacred. Time spent with threads in-hand, pushing them in and out of the fibers, allows a chance for meditation, an opportunity to infuse these fibers with your intentions.
Time spent with threads in-hand, pushing them in and out of the fibers, allows a chance for meditation, an opportunity to infuse these fibers with your intentions.
Embroidered embellishments on fibers have existed across the globe, basically since the needle was developed. Garments were adorned with thousands of hours of stitches, to imbue the fibers with protective qualities or as a form of devotion and worship to various divinities.
When we add these embellishments to previously-loved clothing and fabrics, our histories converge side-by-side with our futures. This relationship with making our clothes by hand has begun to disappear as we depend on the speed of industrialization—and all the new materials and concepts of worth and productivity that have emerged alongside it. By making talismanic clothing, we re-connect to the fibers that surround us.
Embroidery as Introspection
The rhythmic motions and repetitive processes of hand stitching help us to calm and center ourselves. Sitting with a piece of fabric, an image in mind, allows time for reflection on everything from the day’s events to plans for the future.
As the stitches take shape, we naturally experience a period of self-reflection, allowing us to process and make meaning out of our experiences by giving them time and space to be felt through and through—even the thoughts that seem to go directly against our desires and intentions.
By making talismanic clothing, we re-connect to the fibers that surround us.
Allow these feelings to come up into your consciousness. As the needle travels from above to below and back again, these periods of introspection will bring up shadows—inner voices you need to see to face.
This process can be cathartic, and it can also be frustrating—both reactions are signs of our own personal evolution. When we encourage healing opportunities and develop coping mechanisms within a creative experience, we can access the deeper potential for change we have within us. We’re able to choose what images we’d like to highlight, what visuals we’ll bring into the world.
Making Your Own Talisman
Wanna stitch your own personal talisman into your clothes? I didn’t get a degree in talisman-making, or study with any talisman masters, or have any other credentials for this process—just my own personal experience studying and working with symbols and images that have existed and been transformed throughout time. Lucky for us, all it takes to make a talisman is time, intention, and a few simple supplies! Here are the basics of my own process.
Go Beyond the Symbol
Here are some ideas to have in mind beyond the actual symbol you’ll be embroidering.
- How can you choose colors that “rhyme” visually with the symbol?
- Do you want this to be an intimate talisman, seen only by you? Consider the lining of a jacket or even your undergarments for placing your own secret symbols.
- Think about how the placement of the design can help to support your intention—for example, place a talisman designed for protection on the back neck (watching your back) or stitch something you might want to keep close to your heart onto the chest of a jacket.
Here are a few designs for stitching your own personal talisman into your clothing. For the sake of simplicity, these are all done in the chain stitch (instructions below), but you can use whatever stitch techniques you’d like.
I’m presenting the following ideas for creating your own talisman and including what they mean to me as a way to familiarize you with my process, but you can go ahead and write your own prescription!
Creative Acts as Personal Transformation
As you’re working with talismanic embroidery, you can allow your creative process to be a therapeutic experience. The tiny choices made, stitch by stitch, ripple out exponentially into all areas of life as you gain confidence in your greater decisions, as well as your expressions of self into the world.
There is so much beauty and opportunity for transformation when you turn an artistic process into a spiritual one. Experimentations allow room for opening up to new ways of thinking and being. Ritual becomes a portal in which the creative acts are turned into a sacred experience.
The physical transformation of fabric can reach you on an emotional, intellectual, and spiritual level.
If you turn your creative act into a ritual, you have an encounter with your deeper self. The physical transformation of fabric can reach you on an emotional, intellectual, and spiritual level. You’ll learn to self-soothe in ways that are kind to your body and mind. You give yourself opportunities to grow and transform in the material world as well.
May your exploration in the world of talismanic embroidery support the expansion of your creative energy AND your own personal evolution!
Want to dive deeper into the process of creating your own embroidered talisman? Pre-order my upcoming book, Mystical Stitches (releasing May 25th, 2021) or sign up for my email list to be the first to know when my online course, Magic Threads, is welcoming new students.