(Left) Boy's small diamond monogram. (Right) Pastel rainbow vintage script on girl's crewneck sweater. Photos by Morgan Barkas.

Need a wardrobe refresh? Vintage-style monogramming and embroidery for the modern family

Next to the crisp taste of iced tea and the puckered fabric of seersucker, a monogram is the heart of Southern style. Like Reese Witherspoon’s mentality—”If it’s not moving, monogram it”—stitching initials onto anything stationary is customary of Southern culture. But the style of Butterfly Sisters is anything but typical. The sister-duo team of Morgan Barkas and Mackenzie May have built their brand on their ability to pull from past influences in order to create finish products that feel as classic as they are contemporary.

“You can take any item and give it your personal touch,” says Barkas. “There are so many embroidery options out there that you can really play with and give a plain item just a little spark and flair.”

For Butterfly Sisters, thinking “vintage” and looking to the past for inspiration is key for a modern design.

“I usually do a vintage-style font, like a bean stitch,” explains Barkas. “I like the look of more vintage embroidery. For monograms, I like the same thing. The vine monogram font is one of my favorites, and there’s one vintage vine font that’s more like a hand-embroidery style of stitching that I especially like.”

As with any monogram, placement and layout is another way to give a tired design a refreshing look.

“It depends on the type of clothing item,” says Barkas. “And that’s the beauty of it: you can play around. I love putting embroidery on a collared item—a simple monogram or a vintage-stitched name on the collar. On sweaters, I love to put it on the pocket.”

A vintage style embroidery monogram with strawberries and a unicorn.

Scrolling through Butterfly Sisters’ Instagram page, you can spot the personal touches of each design, from an embroidered rainbow unicorn to a swirl of strawberries.

“I’m currently making something for someone who told me exactly what their little girls love: unicorns and ducks,” says Barkas. “So I’ve been able to create a design that not only the mom will enjoy putting on her child, but that the kids will enjoy as well. I think it makes them light up to see some of their favorite things on their clothing items.”

But children’s names embroidered on crewneck sweaters and hair bows are not all you’ll see from Butterfly Sisters. Adults can have a little fun and flair, too.

“I did some adult sweatshirts with the two-tone font on them,” says Barkas. “It takes the plain item to the next level just to add your personal touch and make it fresh and new.”

And of course, monogramming isn’t only for women and children. Barkas knows a thing or two about making a monogram masculine.

“For my brother-in-law, he loves to wear embroidered socks,” says Barkas, who embroidered a diamond-shaped design onto a pair of dress socks. “It’s a way to make their outfits a little more fun and just having that little peep when they sit down. I love a monogram on a dress shirt for a man on the cuff or on the pocket; I think that’s so classic and timeless.”