Interview: Meet Faby Reilly

We chat to Faby Reilly about how she became a cross stitch designer

Faby Reilly Cross Stitch Designer

Cross stitch design pro Faby Reilly hand draws her design on a graphic tablet before putting it into cross stitching software. She then adds backstitch, beads, special stitches & shading

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Tell us how you started cross stitching

When I was seven my mum taught me traditional embroidery, stitching napkin holders during family summer holidays. My mum then taught me to sew and by the age of 14 I had made an entire wardrobe for my favourite doll. I then proceeded onto full-sized clothes. It was only in my late twenties that I got into cross stitching, and, ironically, introduced my mum to it!

How did you get into the cross stitching business?

Quite by accident actually! It all started in 2008, just over 10 years ago – I was recovering from a severe burn out and cross stitching was helping me to recover. As I started to feel better, I felt like trying my hand at creating my own design and offered it for free on my blog. The response I got was utterly amazing – more than 90 requests for my pattern! It helped that it was a free pattern, of course, but this figure encouraged me to keep designing. Before I knew it, I was selling my designs and on the road to a totally new and immensely rewarding career!

Favourite commissions?

All of them! I love my job! But if I had to pick one, I would choose the ‘Sparkly Owl’ I designed for The World of Cross Stitching issue 272. I loved the fun I had with the owl’s eyes and feathers, blinging him up with beads and working magic into his eyes – they sparkle by day with scattered silver stitches, while by night, they light up with twirls of glow-in-the-dark thread. 

Owl Cross Stitch Pattern
Natural style: Faby loves designing nature subjects

What’s your design style?

I would say ‘stylish and elegant’. My favourite fabric is linen because it’s the perfect foundation for my designs – it’s fine, beautifully textured and it catches the light really nicely. The designs themselves often feature a careful balance of beads and sequins, as well as special stitches and gold or silver thread. All this is to create texture and bring life into the design.

My favourite subject to design is most definitely nature. I find it so perfect, even in its imperfections! I don’t do cute very well – I love to depict what wows me. Nature wows me, from weeds to animals!

What do you enjoy most about being a cross stitch designer?

The absolute best part of my job is when I receive a message from one of my stitchers telling me what’s become of my design and how much pleasure it’s brought them and those around them. I love to hear the stories behind each stitched pattern and, most of all, I love to hear the pride that always transpires in these messages. It means the world to me.

Any downsides?

Yes. Finding out that my designs are being infringed, often on a mass scale. I put a bit of my heart and soul in each design, and it hurts that they are sometimes treated with such disrespect.

Wisteria Biscornu Faby Reilly Designs
Faby enjoys embellishing her designs to add texture and sparkle

How do you create your designs?

I draw them first. A hand sketch on my graphic tablet, which I then feed into my cross-stitch software. I then work the backstitch based on my sketch, make it work, apply changes, balance the composition, add beads, sequins and special stitches. Only then do I work on the shading. I then leave the design for a couple of days, come back to it with a clear head, and apply final tweaks to it before the model stitching stage to test run it.

Favourite subjects? Worst subjects?

Favourite subjects? Nature. Most definitely! I find it so perfect, even in its imperfections! Nature is just amazing, and I love to depict even the simplest of wild flowers, because they’re just as wonderful as the most extravagant cultivated flowers. I don’t do cute very well – I love to depict what wows me. Nature wows me, from weeds to flamboyant animals.

Worst subject? Faces. I’m never happy with how my faces look. Don’t ask me to design a pretty lady, haha. It won’t happen.

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Discover more of Faby’s beautiful designs on her website – www.fabyreilly.com