Sometimes it is the most simple of sentiments that mean the most. Alexia Brown of Ruggles Made seems to understand this instinctively. Her handmade cross-stich designs are simple and sweet at first glance but as you spend a little more time with them, they take on a very personal meaning...like each one is speaking directly to you. Just a few words sincere words, full of heart. Enough to put a smile on anyone's face. Alexia talked to Thrill of the Chaise about her background, inspiration and who she would have perform at a dinner party with Tina Fey & Amy Poehler.
Tell us a bit about yourself. Have you always been interested in cross-stitch? I was raised in the Chicago area & have lived in the city for the past 7 years. My parents were both very creative; for a while my dad was a painter and photographer, and my mom taught music and is a talented seamstress. As a kid, I played the violin and piano, and read a lot, but I never sewed or knitted or did anything crafty. When I was 11, a nanny taught my little sister and me how to cross stitch our names onto a pillow case. I loved how all those neat little X’s together could create little flowers and hearts.
How did you get the idea to start to focus on this kind of art work? A few years ago I was looking for some sort of project that I could work on with my hands. After growing bored with crocheting, I picked up some needlework supplies and began re-learning cross stitch. I enjoyed playing around with it, creating designs, and found that I really loved making cross stitch that wasn’t very traditional. A couple years later, when I received a vintage cursive typewriter as a gift, I thought about how I could create wall hangings using it. I found that I could type onto fabric and the frame it in a little hoop. The wall hangings are so simple and small, but I think it’s so sweet.
What inspires your work? I like the idea of taking something as traditional and old-fashioned as cross stitch and needlepoint, or a vintage cursive typewriter font, and turning it into some more modern, simple, and unfussy. And I always try to create something that I would want to have myself; something I would hang on my own wall, or give to a loved one.
How do you come up with ideas for what you're going to make/say? To me, the little sayings or quotes I stitch or type are like journal entries. They are very simple, but very personal to me. I recently made a few wall hangings that said, “we are all in this together”. It had been a rough few days for me and I’d been feeling really sad, and then after talking to a friend I realized that we all have moments in our lives when we feel alone, but we’re really not. And to the customers that have purchases those wall hangings, “we are all in this together” might mean something completely different to them. And that makes me so happy that they can find their own meaning in something that means a lot to me.
What words would you use to describe your work? Simple, sweet, modern.
Can you explain your shop name, Ruggles Made? My middle name is Ruggles. It’s my mom’s last name. (It was also my nickname in high school.) When I was trying to think up a shop name, I wanted something that no one else would have and decided on Ruggles Made!
Where would you go in a time machine? All of my grandparents are gone, so I would love to be able to travel back to when they were alive so that I could talk to them more. Both of my grandfathers passed away before I was born, and I would give anything to be able to talk to them. There are so many stories that I want to hear and things I’d love to know.
If you were an ice cream, what flavor would you be? Mint Chocolate Chip because it’s delicious.
Who would you invite to your dream dinner party? Tina Fey and Amy Poehler (I think they travel as a pair), my grandparents, Jon Stewart, Vincent D’Onofrio, Louis CK ... and Otis Redding would be there to perform.
What is your favorite film? Virgin Suicides.
What's the last book you read? A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood.
And in the spirit of Valentine's Day, love is: whatever makes your heart swell.
Want to win this 'Most of my smiles' hoop?!
All you have to do to enter is click here! A winner will be chosen at random on Friday, February 15th and is open to international entries. Yay!
Love Alexia's work as much as I do? Looking for the perfect Valentine's Day gift? Get 15% off on at Ruggles Made by entering the code: RUGGLESMADE15 at the checkout! Go crazy, lovelies. Go crazy.