An Interview with Fiber Artist Cynthia Treen of Cynthia Treen Studio

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For over 25 years, Cynthia Treen has designed and taught makers everywhere, in front of and behind the camera. From Martha Stewart Living magazine and TV, Cultivating Life (PBS 2008–2010), her books Last Minute Fabric Gifts (2006, Stewart Tabori and Chang) and The Wind in the Willows Felt Friends (2022, David And Charles), her line of threadfollower hand-stitching kits (2012–today), and finally, her growing community of maker friends on Patreon. Her ability to organize, illustrate, and distill projects makes them approachable and inspiring to makers of all experience levels, giving them a feeling of success and mastery.

Her heirloom-felt animal designs are both modern and nostalgic, reminding makers of days gone by while helping them slow down today.

QUOTE:

Whether you; ‘re a beginner or a seasoned stitcher, my kits and patterns are made for you. I love to learn myself, so I write and design for beginners, starting from the ground up with basic hand stitching techniques, helpful tips, and lots of detail to guide you step by step through the process. Makers often worry about mistakes, but I; ve always felt that ;

the mistake was an unfortunate word for the opportunity! If you enjoy making, never be discouraged. Embrace mistakes and know their potential. When I first tried spinning at a wool fair, the kindly instructor told me before I began that whatever I made on my first spin, I must save forever. As my skill increased, she said I might never create something more wild or beautiful, and she was right! I still have that lovely fiber and often think of her wise words. Experienced stitchers know this, but it bears repeating. My advice for beginners is to be kind to yourself. Take your time. Know mistakes for what they are, make adjustments, and move forward with enjoyment.

Experience has told me that first-time makers usually surprise themselves and are thrilled with their creations!

ABOUT WIND IN THE WILLOWS FELT FRIENDS:

Although youth is fleeting, childhood stories and wistful memories endure. Keneth Graham knew this as he wrote the classic adventures that became Wind in the Willows, and Cynthia Treen also knows it. Her charming felt animal designs are classics in the making, with their stories waiting to be imagined. Cynthia’s passion for teaching and drafting comes through in her detailed instructions and illustrations, perfect for guiding beginners and advanced makers alike. Time will slow down as you ramble through the pages within. Let your imagination wander with Ratty, Mole, and their friends as you stitch new adventures into life.

project from Cynthia Treen Studio - threadfollower

Visit her Etsy shop at threadfollower.com, Instagram @cynthia.treen, or her threadfollower youtube channel. You can also join her growing community of friends on Patreon for exclusive monthly projects. On Patreon, supporters can access her monthly projects, patterns, and video tutorials library.  

Tell us how you got started as a fiber artist. 

I have been stitching and working with fiber for as long as I can remember, and I can’t imagine life without it. I began sewing to decorate my childhood dollhouse and make my stuffed animals. Not much has changed, but I can now share it with a broader audience and get new makers started on their creative journeys!

WHEN WAS CYNTHIA TREEN STUDIO BORN, AND WHAT IS ITS MISSION?

It began with my passion for world textiles. Cynthia Treen Studio and the name Threadfollower; were conceived with the idea that I would design a product line inspired by textiles and my travels, following the threads where they led me. After some glorious traveling, I realized that more than research and design, I wanted to share the craft of stitching with people of all ages, and my DIY kit line was born in the spring of 2011. I still love and collect textiles when traveling, but I do it for enjoyment and inspiration. 

My mission is simple: Bring relaxation, joy, sweetness, and creative mastery into the world through sewing. Slowing down and being in the moment helps us appreciate everything around us. Although there are many outlets to do this, sewing is my way, and every joyful maker story I receive affirms my mission. 

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PROJECT?

The one in progress! Design and creative problem-solving drive me, so the newest project is usually where my heart is. 

cynthia treen handmade project

IF YOU COULD HAVE YOUR FIBER ART INSTALLED ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD, WHERE WOULD YOU?

I love design museums! The first that comes to mind is the Couper Hewitt Museum in NY. It has been one of my favorites since my first visit, but other design museums like the MAK in Vienna would also be a treat! I am sure many others would be equally wonderful, but I must travel more to discover them! 

WHAT IS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE WITH WORKING WITH FIBER ART?

The pace of creating new designs. I wish I could make patterns faster, but it is a slow process to illustrate them to a level I’m happy with. Because I want them to be accessible to all stories, I am very detail-oriented and thorough. That said, it is well worth the effort when a beginner tells me they can’t believe what they made on their first try or when a seasoned stitcher lets me know they learned so many new things from one of my tutorials. 

What are your favorite tools that you use in your work?

Fiskars RazorEdge Micro-tip easy Action scissors – 5-inch

These are just the right size for small projects and provide much more control when cutting than scissors with finger loops. The handle design brings your hand closer to work for accuracy cutting, and the spring-loaded action is easy on your hands. 

Little House pins

Each glass jar contains 100 pins and closes with an adorable cork stopper. The pins are 27mm long x 0.5mm thick OR… if a metric is not your measurement of choice, the pin shaft (before the glass head) is 1 inch long. The Little House brand is widely known. Throughout Japan for fashioning extraordinary sewing notions, these pins are no exception!  They refine, smooth, and beautifully glide through felt and woven fabrics. They are also the perfect length for miniature felt animals! 

Tulip needles

These lovely Tulip embroidery needles are made to exacting standards in Hiroshima, Japan. They’re sharp, strong, and thin. They are perfect for hand-sewists seeking high-quality tools.

The needles are polished with lengthwise striations (invisible to the eye) that reduce drag and make for a fabulously smooth sewing experience. They have large, easy-to-thread eyes, polished

to remove pesky burs (burs inside the eye can weaken and break thread).

Stuffing fork:

Japanese Screw Punch

This fantastic punch is a dream to use, and no mallet is necessary! It has a built-in screw function to spin the punch end as you push down, making cutting perfect holes a breeze! You may not think you need one, but I assure you, once you have one, you’ll feel compelled to punch holes. FYI, if you need a project for visiting children (five is a great age to start!) I set kids (too young to sew) up with a BIG cutting board and felt scraps; they are safely amused for hours on end!

Do you have any news you would like to share with our readers?

Cynthia Treen Patreon page

Let makers know more about my Patreon. In our donation-based community, everyone is welcome. Supporters share donations that work for them and can cancel at any time (and are, of course, always welcome back any time!). Unlike most Patreon artists, I do not have tiers of support; instead, everyone has full access to my library of Patreon projects (over three and a half years or monthly patterns and tutorials! )

I am deeply grateful to my Patreon friends for their support, and I love exploring the creative process with them! This is my testing ground, where new ideas develop and more can be shared than on Etsy. Some designs will remain exclusive to Patreon, and others will go on to become kits and PDF patterns in my shop, but this group gets the first! Hope to see you there!

Find all my links in my link tree…

https://linktr.ee/threadfollower

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