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Just a Few of Bespoke Embroiderer Joan Cecil’s Favorite Things

Cecil turned to embroidery as a hobby 20 years ago. Now she runs a luxe hand-stitching atelier.
| |Photography by Elizabeth Lavin and Courtesy of Companies
Elizabeth Lavin

Growing up among women who were gifted with a needle and thread, Joan Cecil has always had an appreciation for textiles and embroidery. When her late husband passed away in 2001, she began monogramming gifts for friends and family as a way to stay busy. But it was through an introduction to renowned interior designer (and D Home Best 2022 winner) Emily Summers that her hobby gave way to a most unexpected career. Summers commissioned a few embroidery pieces on the spot, becoming Cecil’s very first client—a working relationship that has continued for nearly two decades. “Emily’s endorsement gave me the impetus to start an atelier,” Cecil says. A lifelong learner, Cecil’s ever-expanding repertoire includes plenty of machine work, but it’s for her intricate, layered, and bespoke handwork that she’s most sought out by a prestigious international clientele. As hands-on as the creation of her work is, she ultimately hopes the enjoyment of it is similarly tactile: “If someone is interested enough in what they see from a distance that they want to go touch it,” she says, “I know I’ve done my job.”

Favorite local restaurant: Cafe Madrid

Place more people should know about: Bonton Farms—urban farm/cafe/housing/jobs for South Dallas community

Favorite weekend activity: Reading historical novels

Favorite local maker: Lakewood Interiors Inc. for bespoke window coverings

Five favorite things in your home: 

  1. Window shades made by hand from mulberry tree bark on a small island off the coast of Japan
  2. A bronze sculpture of a cowboy sitting on a horse, reading a book
  3. A ceramic sculpture by Sergio Bustamante
  4. Tin figures of children playing, handmade in Cuernavaca
  5. An oil painting entitled “Two Old Friends at the Club in Waco.” 

Best budget-friendly find: Soup dumplings at Trader Joe’s

What can you not resist purchasing when you see one? Peonies 

What can a person never have too many of in their home? Friends and family

Best way to instantly change the feel of a room: A good attitude 

Favorite candle: NM Gold


Just a Few of Bespoke Embroiderer Joan Cecil’s Favorite Things

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Favorite book: The Witching Hour by Anne Rice

Favorite coffee table book: Distinctive Modern Interiors by Emily Summers

Piece of clothing or accessory you reach for more than any other: Cashmere wrap

One thing everyone should have in their closet: White blouse

Fashion piece you can’t live without: Black pants

Favorite host gift to give: A handkerchief embroidered with “merci beaucoup”

Best hosting hack: Sense of humor

You’re hosting a dinner party. What are you cooking? New Orleans seafood gumbo. My mother’s family was from New Orleans, and this was a specialty. Must be served on her hand-crocheted place mats and hand-embroidered napkins, made by her mother, to be really authentic.  

Go-to bottle of wine: Meiomi Pinot Noir

Favorite travel destination: Kyoto, Japan. I absolutely love the aesthetics in all things—interior furnishings, tea rituals, food presentation, flower arranging. The simplicity and attention to detail is unparalleled.

Work Samples from Joan Cecil

Favorite museum for textiles: Victoria and Albert Museum in London—it houses collections of textiles with embroidery and stitching from around the world from medieval times to the present. 

Last city you visited: Austin

How or where do you derive your inspiration: Travel, textiles, art, an antiques

Favorite movie or TV show: Yellowstone 

Favorite music: Blues/Bluegrass

Guilty pleasure: Bubba’s Fried Chicken

Last thing you bought on Amazon: Stitching tools

Instant mood booster: Wine

Best advice you’ve ever received? From my father: “That’s too much sugar for a dime.”


Jessica Otte

Jessica Otte

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Jessica Otte is the executive editor of D Home and D Weddings. In 2006, she helped launch D CEO as…