As a young’n I was always fascinated by the idea that no two people in the world were exactly the same. I tried to think it through in my head – – certainly there could only be a finite number of individual features, and combinations of those features for all the people in the world! Certainly doppelgangers are running rampant in every country!
Of course I eventually learned about basic genetics and, well, science. And I now understand things about DNA, genes and the endless variety of features available to the human race. Thus, I was faced with quite a conundrum when compiling Do It Yourself Stitch People: Where do the customizations end or begin?
To begin to illustrate the logic of why Stitch People are customized the way they are, I want you to think of looking at a family photo – or any group photo for that matter. Think critically about this. What is it – really – that you notice about everyone in the photo? What makes each individual stand out?
It is this general line of thinking that I focus on when designing Stitch People. I believe the greatest way to customize an individual for a cross-stitch portrait is with their hair color, hair style, and clothing choices, as well as with their placement and position within the portrait.
Think about it! Grandpa’s distinct bald head, or your teenage niece’s moody black hair that hangs at a steep angle across her face are distinctive traits that can be easily incorporated into a Stitch People portrait. Cousin Jenny’s wild tie-dye shirts, or your son’s beloved soccer jersey should absolutely help distinguish them from the other members of the family! And what better way to tell a family’s story than to put Grandpa next to Grandma, little Johnny next to his favorite pal (the family dog), or Mom and Dad in the center of the portrait with their mini-me daughter and and son on either side?
Stitch People Faces
Due to the size of Stitch People characters – approximately 1″ x 3″ – the features that can fit onto a little stitch-face are few. I made the executive decision to keep things simple with Stitch People, using only eyes and a simple, smiling mouth to create the face of our Stitch People friends. Noses can be so unique that it would be impossible to create just the right one for every person. And with such limited space, any type of nose – whether cross-stitched or back-stitched – could make the face appear cluttered, messy and overwhelmed.
For the eyes, I typically keep the color black, despite the fact that most people have blue, green or brown eyes. But think of it this way – when looking at a photo of a group of people, can you distinguish what color everyone’s eyes are? Not really. Usually you see the mouth, a nose, and two dark-ish eye areas. I personally like the look of the black eyes. I think it looks the most well-balanced. I occasionally use a dark, emerald green, chocolate brown, or navy blue for colored eyes but I always use dark colors. When I’ve experimented with lighter colors, I find my little people look a little alien-like. And I’m going for Stitch People, not Stitch Aliens (although that’s a really fun idea!)
Stitch People Bodies
Stitch People bodies are all the same width (with respect to the various age groups.) This is on purpose. Size and weight can be a very sensitive topic for people and I find it best to leave it alone, (especially when a Stitch People portrait is a gift).
When someone’s personality can be captured in other ways – I think it’s best to not accentuate their size, be it vertical or horizontal. Now, some folks wear their thick, thin, tall or short on their sleeve! But we don’t always know if it’s something that is truly embraced, or simply played as being embraced to protect themselves from a truer, underlying emotion. Personally? Better just to leave it alone.
The Simple-Face / Simple-Body Philosophy
A face is a face and a body is a body. We all have ’em. And it’s not easy to change ’em. Some of us love what we got and some of us don’t. Because of that, I truly believe we don’t need to see every minor detail in a face or body to be able to recognize someone in a Stitch People portrait.
So yeah – we all have a face and a body. But what we don’t all have is a killer beard, or fire-engine red, curly hair, or a beloved AC-DC t-shirt, or a favorite, lime-green, vintage, A-Line skirt (that I can’t fit into right now but I’m working on it!!) These are the things that become us. These are the things we choose to adorn ourselves with. These are the little, custom details we can include in our Stitch People portraits to make them truly special and truly unique.
What’s your favorite clothing item, hairstyle or accessory you’ve seen or have included in a Stitch People portrait? Let us know in the comments below!!