The world of embroidery began to change in the 1970s and 1980s as quilting and other forms of needlework grew in popularity. Erica moved with the times—and the marketand created designs that could adorn the home or the body.

Erica designed bargello custom-made boots, which she first wore on an episode of Erica in 1971 and showed in her book Needleplay, with the accompanying stitch pattern, in 1975 

Boots and photo courtesy of the Family of Erica Wilson

Published in 1989, Erica Wilson’s Bride’s Book: All the Special Things to Make for Your Engagement, Your Wedding, and Your First Year of Marriage included this photo of Erica’s daughter Vanessa and Vanessa’s husband Matthew Diserio. Featured for the dress were the additions of hand-made bow and buttonback detailingThe bow tie and cummerbund were bought ready-made, and Erica provided instructions for the colorful embroidery. 

Image from Erica Wilson, Erica Wilson’s Bride’s Book (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1989), 42; tie and cummerbund courtesy of the Family of Erica Wilson

An expert at marketing across media platforms, Erica wore this smocked dress, which she featured in her 1982 book Needlework to Wear and her book Erica Wilsons Smocking: All You Need to Know to Create Your Own Designs in This Traditional English Craft, published in 1983. She also wore it for a press interview about her GTR brand of wallpapers, which came out in 1983, and issued the dress as a Vogue pattern in the same year. 

Courtesy of the Family of Erica Wilson; Courtesy of Linda Eaton 

Erica created embroidered jewelry for her book Erica Wilson’s Needlework to Wear, published in 1982. She featured a wide variety of embroidery techniques and styles. The butterfly necklace was featured on the front cover of the book. Responding to changes in the craft and clothing markets, she added these smaller, wearable surfaces to her designs. 

Gift of the Family of Erica Wilson 2015.0047.037, 2015.0047.033, 2015.0047.038.001, and 2015.0047.035

This hat was designed by Erica and Vladi’s elder daughter, Jessica Kagan Cushman, when she was a teenager. It was meant “to look as though she had picked flowers and pushed them under the band, or as though they were growing all over the brim and cascading down from it.” The hat was featured in Erica’s book Needleplay in 1975.

Courtesy of the Family of Erica Wilson

Erica bought this appliqued skirt and bolero vest from Julie Schafler Dale, whose shop Julie: Artisans Gallery was near Erica’s on Madison Avenue and featured art to wear. Erica featured the hands at the waist and the face at the collar in her book More Needleplay, published in 1979. 

Gift of the Family of Erica Wilson 2015.0047.066 A-C

Erica placed a bold, colorful design on this bridge table cover, where she played on a card deck’s two-faced jack of clubs by doubling it. She featured it in More Needleplay, published in 1979. Her design was at home at bridge parties, once a staple of entertaining in the mid-twentieth century. 

Courtesy of the Family of Erica Wilson

Published in Fun with Crewel Embroidery in 1965, this large sentry was intended to guard the door of a child’s toy cupboard. It was worked with heavy rug wool on white burlap in stem, couching, cross, satin, herringbone, brick, laid work, and uncut Turkey work stitches, and it measured 17 inches by 40 inches finished. It appeared in Ladies Home Journal in September 1965, where it was also described as suitable for the cover of a child’s clothes closet or a wall hanging 

Courtesy of the Family of Erica Wilson

Made from clear acrylic, this chair was designed by Vladi with a bargello seat designed by Erica. On her television show, Erica likened bargello to eating peanuts“You can’t stop once you begin.” This chair was displayed in the shop on Madison Avenue. After Erica’s death, Vladi said that he wished they had pursued more projects that used their combined talents. 

Courtesy of the Family of Erica Wilson