Contrarium Chainstitch personalizes vintage style embroidery


An accounting graduate from Regis University, Stephanie McCourt knew her heart was in the arms of an entrepreneurial career. After eliminating debt as a problem, she launched her own vintage-style embroidery line, Contrarium Chainstitch, in June 2019.

In elementary school, McCourt discovered what she calls a “love story” for textiles. “My passion for handcrafted fabric items predates my desire to design and illustrate,” McCourt said. What’s more, Even as McCourt started sewing in 2015, she felt the urge to start her own business in something fundamentally different. In 2019, her inspiration to design and manifest new techniques came the day she received her chain stitch machine.

“There is no better way to learn than by doing. I’m definitely learning and honing my skills every day, ”said McCourt.

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McCourt’s found his passion in the field to create personalized and personal work for his clients. This stems from his intention to launch a vintage style embroidery line in the first place. Today, technology governs many of our day-to-day processes. Therefore, it can be difficult to find a way to conceive while still feeling connected. McCourt enjoys guiding his stitches by hand so that his clients have meaningful and lasting pieces.

“There is a certain charm to old-fashioned art. My 90 year old chain stitch machine is not computerized at all – it is hand operated via a crank under the table. I think it’s wonderful that these cast iron singing machines still work with original parts, ”said McCourt. “It creates a style of tailoring that is uniquely American. I like to combine this traditional method of embroidery with a modern design.

The contarium chain stitch, according to McCourt, translates from Latin as “the opposite.” McCourt can approach his business with his own attitude and aesthetic in mind, while avoiding the norm. “I hope that as my brand grows, it will continue to push the boundaries of chain stitch embroidery. The chain stitch is for everyone of course. However, the contrarium chain stitch is for trend-setters, those who don’t take any silly things and are subtly quirky. It’s a work in progress, ”said McCourt.

Photo by Stéphanie McCourt

McCourt interacts with his clients on a very open and communicative level. With her chain stitch machine, she can design almost anything a customer could dream of. Plus, while their website has custom jewelry, accessories, and patches, this is a basic offering. In the new year, McCourt hopes to take on specific projects. This includes denim jackets, large-scale banners, and anything wedding-related.

“I love local orders and can work with any budget to create a unique piece you’ll love! McCourt said.

Over the years, the Denver fashion scene has continually shown that it is a force to be reckoned with. People of all talents and backgrounds put their artistic skills to work for the community to face a creative challenge. According to McCourt, she likes that we are no longer seen as a “city of cows”.

Contrarium chain stitch alphabet

Photo by Kimberly Greenwell Photography

“I love how local mainstays like Rockmount Ranch keep Denver true to its Western roots. It’s nice to see the western style in town – it’s not just Nashville and Austin that should be having fun! I also like the local music scene. It tends to bring out a really inspired street style, ”McCourt said.

One goal McCourt sticks to is designing pieces that look like they came from Denver, without it being obvious. The versatility of local designers to create pieces suitable for all people, occasions, etc. influences its own design process.

I love that every Denver creative I know is passionate about keeping it local. Plus, foster strong professional relationships with each other, ”explained McCourt. “I feel like we’re all working to create pieces that inherently feel ‘Denver’. This spirit of collaboration inspires me to think about what it really means to make local art. It also inspires me to imagine what styles define our city.

Contrarium chain stitch dreams

Photo by Stéphanie McCourt

McCourt is currently doing a series on TikTok where she sews 50 unique patches in real time. To view the series, click on the link here. You can also stay up to date with all of McCourt’s projects on Instagram.


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