Meet Jacob de Graaf of Modern Folk Embroidery

jacob de graafJacob de Graaf is the creative force behind Modern Folk Embroidery. A few years ago Jacob struggled to find a design he wanted to stitch so decided to take the leap and design his own charts. 

We are really excited to now be stocking  Modern Folk Embroidery charts at SewandSo. We caught up with Jacob de Graaf recently to find out more about him and where he gets inspiration for his beautiful designs.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Hi! I’m Jacob, and I’ve been selling patterns online as Modern Folk Embroidery for the past 7 years now. I grew up in the north of the Netherlands, surrounded by lakes, fields and forests. My mum was a real maker, always creating beautiful things – and it was from her that I learned many crafts, and the notion of creativity. I studied fine art in the Netherlands and ran a gallery for several years, after which I moved to the UK. For the past 12 years I’ve been living in the beautiful city of York, from where I run Modern Folk Embroidery!


 How did you first get into cross stitch?
Recently I found a really old booklet I made with my own hand-drawn patterns. I’d forgotten all about it, but I must’ve been about 12 when I made that. I always had an interest in crafts, but the drawing of the patterns really attracted me. Years later, after not doing any textile art for a long time, I started getting interested in historical fabrics. I started copying some things, and wanted to draw patterns out. I quickly moved on from historical designs to my own designs, as I wanted to add to the history of embroidery – not just copy it.
jacob de graaf studio
I’m stitching A Secret Sky here
Where do you get inspiration for your designs?
I love doing research. Inspiration comes from many things – not just antique textiles. One of my designs (Two Birds in One Tree) was inspired by a visit to the V&A, where I saw an Italian renaissance pillar with these gorgeous carvings. This, in a way, was the starting point of that design. Another example is my friend Caroline Lavelle’s band Secret Sky – they named their band after a quote by Rumi, which in turn inspired me to design the A Secret Sky Quaker sampler. Caroline’s band ( is definitely worth checking out, and makes for great stitching music!
Modern Folk Embroidery
Can you tell us anything exciting you have in the pipeline?
Oh there’s quite a few things that I’m planning indeed, one being a set of designs, and I’ve been working on a very, very large design also… but more on that in the new year!


What are you stitching at the moment?
I started a new Christmas design, which I will probably finish before Christmas 2018 as I’m doing a crochet blanket as a gift this year, plus several other crafty things. So I really should get my elf hat back on and start working!

Little Bird Quaker SamplerScandinavian Christmas Sampler

Can you tell us three fun facts about yourself? 
Fun facts… that’s a tough one, as I don’t know how much fun they are… but here we go:
1 – Besides being a designer, I’m also a composer / musician, and currently working on an album with a good friend of mine.
2 – Although I’m Dutch by birth, Frisian is my first language.
3 – I collect pottery, and there’s not a surface in our house where you won’t find some old jar, bowl or other object!

Head over to SewandSo to browse all of Jacob de Graaf’s designs and get ready to stitch his wonderful designs.

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About Nadine

Nadine dabbles in a wide range crafts. If it's pretty and she wants to make it, she'll learn the technique to do so. She is also never without a cup of tea in her hands.