Photos by Isabel Epstein
Senior Isabel Epstein was initially introduced to cross stitching in seventh grade during her Family and Consumer Science class at Indian Hills Middle School. During class she followed her monogram-lettered pattern she designed, switching from pink to navy when necessary. Tuning out the rest of the world, Epstein watched stitch by stitch as her vision came to life. She was instantly hooked with the intricacy and attention to detail it required.
“I’m such a perfectionist and I’ve loved seeing the patterns come together so it is a really good project for me,” Epstein said.
But along with Vera Bradley and bedazzled jeans, Epstein left cross stitching behind in middle school until three years later when she saw cross stitches on Pinterest. A wave of nostalgia washed over her after finding her old projects, and she decided to pick it up again. She found herself at Michaels Arts and Crafts the next day buying her supplies: every color of string, needles, Aida cloths and wooden hoops that secure the cloth. Cross stitching became something Epstein did in her free time.
After a few months, Epstein could whip out a small cross stitch in about three hours and a large in six hours. Usually, she finishes them over the course of a few days by stitching daily for a few minutes. She used her personal Instagram to post her creations and was shocked by the support her friends and family gave.
“Everything she makes is so personal and unique,” Aidan Epstein, Isabel’s older sister said. “We were so impressed by the precision and details.”
The encouragement she received prompted her to make a business out of her cross stitching. In July, Epstein took her talents to Etsy, a website that allows people to create a small business and sell their products. Hers became known as Yellow Brick Stitchery. Epstein priced her personally-made patterns at $4 and the finished cross stitches start at $25. The price increases depending if it is a custom cross stitch.
Epstein makes a variety of cross stitches by using small and large hoops for different sizes. For the most part, her inspiration comes from TV characters and surfing Pinterest. Epstein is able to replicate floral designs, cursive, quotes and people onto a grid-like pattern which she can then follow. Even though Epstein has recreated many of her favorite shows, a favorite cross stitch lies in the middle of her house.
“She cross stitched our family onto a pillow that we put in the family room,” Aidan said. “People always see it when they walk in, and since it’s handmade it’s so cute.”
Epstein has also recreated characters from “Moana”, “Grey’s Anatomy”, “Lilo and Stitch”, and “Stranger Things.” On Etsy, she offers patterns for customers to make themselves as well as custom designs. They can be used to add a decoration on the wall, in a picture frame or to add a personal touch to a pillow. So far Epstein has made four sales, but according to her site statistics, she receives daily activity on her page.
Epstein uses her skill to earn money, but she mostly keeps it as a leisurely hobby. Her free time is limited due to being a part of IB program, cheer, National Honors Society and more. Schoolwork and activities take priority, but she always fits in cross stitching. Even if it’s 2 a.m. on a Tuesday, Epstein finds a time for her peace in her busy schedule.