Stitch People Stars: Mykal Dunne
We're back with another fantastic Stitch People Star! Today we are learning a bit more about the beautiful Mykal Dunne. If you are a member of our Facebook Group, you will be VERY familiar with Mykal's work. She is one of the most incredibly talented people we've ever know and has taken the Stitch People patterns to a whole new level. She not only shares her amazing pieces as inspiration but she also gives us regular tutorials on all the fascinating little details she adds to her pieces. We've been wanting to learn more about Mykal for a long time and are so thrilled she agreed! Let's dive in.
Tell us a bit about yourself!
Hi! My name is Mykal (pronounced just like “Michael”) Dunne. I’m married to my Jr.High Sweetheart with five children ages 4-12. We have a lab named Molly, two cats, and a bearded dragon. I lived in the Houston area most of my life and moved to North Carolina in 2016. I was a dancer (mostly ballet) throughout my childhood and even off and on as an adult. I studied Interior Design in college but ultimately decided to stay home and homeschool my children. I love to bake, all kinds of art, crafting, sewing, party planning, decorating, dancing, furniture refinishing, antiquing, and cross stitching people!
How did you first come across the Stitch People book?
My friend made a stitch portrait of my children as a gift for me and I just knew I had to try it! She also introduced me to the Stitch People Community on Facebook. My mom taught me to cross stitch as a child, and I am into all sorts of art and crafting. So I was not only familiar with the process, but actually had supplies on hand!
What was your first Stitch People piece and how did it go?
My first Stitch People portrait was so much fun and I didn’t even have the book yet. I just sketched a pattern based off the stitch portrait I was gifted and a favorite photo of my daughter with her best friend when they were toddlers (now 12). I totally winged it and it came out stinking adorable, so I’m especially proud of it. I basically do each part of the process differently now so it’s really neat to see how I have grown as a stitcher over time.
What have you enjoyed about making the portraits?
I sometimes joke that I enjoy the design process more than the actual execution … and it may be true. I love to draw and design. Really my favorite part is being able to take a basic pattern of squares and use Xs of thread to create entirely unique caricatures of individuals that are not only distinguishable from one another, but recognizable by other people! I ask clients for a lot of specifics to personalize their portrait as much as possible. When someone thinks my portrait of them actually resembles them, I am deeply thrilled.
I also enjoy stitching therapeutically. The first family portrait I stitched was the family that adopted my niece. She lived with us for two and a half years and we had planned to adopt her. When it came about that she was to become their daughter, I created a stitch portrait for them to celebrate her adoption. I cried the entire week that I worked on it. It gave me an intentional time to pray through my feelings. I call it Stitch Therapy.
What’s been your favorite piece so far?
This is hard to answer. I have completed 21 Stitch People portraits in the 11 months since I began and they were all different and special.
This stitch is a favorite because it was my first large family, I was challenged to capture the woman’s fantastic hair, and I had full creative authority.
I love this commissioned piece. I have never met this family, but they are so cute!
For Mother’s Day I was hired by some friends to stitch a family portrait of their sister/daughter who is also my friend. Their piece features the mother, her four adopted children in their Easter outfits, and a heart for each of the Foster Children she has mothered who have moved on to other homes.
This portrait is of a dear family I have known since I was a teen! I used to babysit the kids, and now they are adults! I loved doing the sleeve tattoos on their son and the Mickey Ears on the daughter who has her dream job working at Disney World!
This is a piece my husband helped me design for his Aunt’s 60th Birthday. It features her wedding portrait, her family when her sons were younger, and her passion for music. She hung it in a prominent place in her home and sent me a note saying she would always treasure it.
Most recently I had the chance to stitch a young couple who has a small farm. I had been waiting to stitch chickens and I think they turned out darling!
Where is your favorite place to stitch?
My favorite place is in my living room and I sit here about 70% of the time when I stitch. I have this handy rolling drink cart from IKEA. My husband had the idea to flip the top tray so I could put a beverage dispenser on top. Little did I know that three years later it would have an Ottlite in its place! I occasionally will stitch in my bedroom, but more often I stitch in the car, at the park, or in a waiting room while my kids are in art and theater classes.
How have you developed your cross stitching skills?
Mostly trial and error. Being a part of the Stitch People Community on Facebook has been a great way to gather ideas, glean from other’s skills, and learn new techniques. I often have women contact me on Facebook with questions who are surprised at how willing I am to share techniques. I learned so, so much from trial and error and I am happy to help other people eliminate some frustration and wasted time! I follow a few Stitchers on Instagram that really inspire me and I often text with the friend that introduced me to Stitch People. Each new project gives me opportinuties to develop my skills.
For instance, when I did this wedding portrait, the customer had many requests. She is a fellow cross stitcher and she had many ideas for this project including, mimicking the couple’s pose from a photo, the bride’s hair and bouquet being French knots, and the use of tulle on the veil. She also requested the sweet phrase that the couple loves.
What advice would you give to people just starting their cross stitching journey?
Don’t be intimidated. Start small, maybe an individual person, and just get the basics of designing a pattern and transferring that to Aida (cloth). Use more floss! I began using 2 strands, now I use 3, but in 2018 I will be using 4 or more! It gives so much dimension to the work! Also, put the time in to planning. Make your sketch accurate, measure correctly for the stitching and the frame you intend to use. It’s worth the time and effort to design your people and lettering beforehand.
Where can we see more of your work?
Come check me out at Gypsy.Floss.Stitchery on Instagram (#gypsyfloss)! I also display my work and creative process on my personal Instagram profile, Novasmama, and you are welcome to follow my journey!
Thank you so much Mykal for sharing your process and beautiful work with us! If you have the Stitch People book and would like to see more of Mykal's AND other stitchers work, come join us on Facebook!