Meet small business owner Anjori Halder, creator, and designer for House of Lilli, a business that does embroidery a little differently. Known for her free motion embroidery work created by free motion quilting on the HZL-F600 sewing machine, Anjori has begun making a name for herself in the sewing world. From beautiful full portrait designs to small motifs that bring her apparel to life, let’s learn about how Anjori discovered her skills in embroidery work, where she began, and where she plans to go!
It all started with a wedding invite in 2010. One day, after becoming a bridesmaid to her dear friend Veronique, Anjori needed a crinoline slip for a themed dress! In her “I want to DIY everything” phase of life, she decided to take it upon herself to create a slip with the help of some blogs and a machine off Craigslist. Even after “crudely” finishing her first piece of apparel, her journey in sewing had truly begun.
“I call it my therapy and use it constantly to de-stress. But I also use sewing to keep my mind sharp.”
While the journey was on and off, Anjori would find time to complete refashions and housewares in her downtime from her career as a software engineer and project manager. It wasn’t until she transitioned to a stay-at-home mom that Anjori truly began immersing herself in sewing. Finding the need to do something and gain a sense of accomplishment, she threw herself into the hobby. However, she would soon find out that sewing could be toxic after experiencing the push of social media on her work.
“That need to sew turned toxic, though. Social media and the idea that you had to be creating content all the time to grow followers, to, in turn, grow your business took a toll.”
This moment would change the direction in which Anjori was running her business. After learning about slow fashion and revaluating how she was running her business, Anjori decided it was time to do things differently. Slowing down her work, she began creating again for pure enjoyment and not just for the sake of creating.
Indie patterns and pattern testing brought the fun and creativity back to sewing for Anjori. She began by creating clothing for her daughter, honing her skills at a smaller scale, and was able to grow her confidence in garment creation. After sewing an Anarkali from a sari that her late mother had gifted her, Anjori’s confidence in garment creation for adults rose as well.
Inspired by those she was creating for, she focuses on how her creations will be used and enjoyed before sewing. Her favorite inspiration is her daughter, a strong-willed and goofy personality who had an obsession with construction vehicles! After her daughter requested a dress with a bulldozer on it, and Anjori had no luck finding one, she decided to test her skills in embroidery and make her one! Continuing to create for her daughter, Anjori focused on embroidering designs and sayings that would inspire her daughter in life.
House of Lilli showcases this with Anjori’s creations focused on positive & reaffirming messages. Her embroidered art shop concentrates on creating art with only a machine, thread, and her hands. Pulling from her heritage, she creates Indian garments, or garments with Indian motifs such as paisleys, peacocks, elephants, and tigers. Completed with free motion embroidery through the free motion quilting feature, you can see the pops of color and bright energy she pulls into her work. Described by friends as positive and always looking for the bright side, it’s no wonder she brings this into every project she creates, not letting mistakes in her projects hold her back.
“Mistakes are opportunities to learn and keep going or realize change is needed and pivot to something new.”
What’s our favorite part of her creative process? The unique use of free motion quilting as free motion embroidery! Gravitating toward embroidery work, even as a child, Anjori knew that adding images and designs would be the next step in going from homemade to handmade. Unfortunately, it was here where she hit a wall. Knowing that the cost of an embroidery machine could be high, she found herself at a standstill on what step to take next. It wasn’t until she stumbled upon creator Emma Giacalone on Instagram that she discovered the possibility of embroidering using free motion quilting.
A new door in creating had been opened, and Anjori walked right in! Finding a new way to bring her art to life, she was excited about how simple the process was to begin. All she started with was a sewing machine that could drop the feed dogs, thread, fabric, and a design. It would take time before she began using a darning foot, admitting to still skipping that step on some days!
Using the HZL-F600, she created her designs quickly and easily fill them in. Creating embroidery using the HZL-F600 is fun and different and has allowed Anjori the freedom of creation in embroidery while sticking to her budget. When asked about what she recommends for JUKI users out there who want to try their hand at free motion embroidery through free motion quilting, she advised having the following tools in your sewing kit:
- Embroidery hoop
- Stabilizer of some sort (washable or tear away)
- Open toe darning foot
- Heat erasable pen
While using a machine with ample throat space has been helpful, as well as her tools, she also advises to seek out training! After taking a sculptural embroidery class from Meredith Woolnough and learning new tricks and tips for her projects, she encourages others to invest in themselves and their hobbies.
“Never be afraid to invest in learning.”
While opening her small business has been a journey, she knows that planning and strategy are what build a business. As a small business owner, you are now the marketing manager, designer, producer, shipper, and so much more. Success can be different for everyone, so Anjori advises taking time to figure out what success is to you and not comparing yourself to other businesses. She also recommends getting to the nitty gritty and taking those “boring” business courses that can assist you in running yours!
Taking her own advice to heart, she’s recently taken a business course presented by Jan Ditchfield and has begun reworking her strategies and plan. So while we wait for the new and improved House of Lilli to rise, we’re so excited we were able to introduce her creations and technique!
Continuing her work in embroidery, Anjori hopes to keep instilling positive messages in her creations and sharing her work with others.
“Creating with my hands, whether it is sewing, painting, drawing, or knitting, is a treat for my soul. I find it relaxing and fun, with a sense of accomplishment when you complete a project. Of course, in the end, you usually end up with something nice to look at too.”
To learn more about Anjori and her journey in embroidery, follow along below for her social links!
Keep up with Anjori’s free motion embroidery work on her Instagram here!