Jhy McLean – Embroidery

Personal style means a lot to fashion student Jhy McLean.

Personal style means a lot to fashion student Jhy McLean. Getting dressed in the morning “can be a bit of an ordeal”, he laughs, and sometimes ends with a mess of discarded clothes on the bed.

“I’ve always been into fashion and styling and dressing myself from a young age,” Jhy says. “I’m pretty big into following the latest trends.”


Jhy says;

Right now, this dedication means driving two hours a day from his parents’ place to a TAFE campus to study fashion design. Jhy’s plans for a nearby sharehouse were put on hold during state lockdowns, but even this longer trek is worth it, he reckons. “Definitely the end goal is to be a fashion designer, under my own name,” he says. “Keep going with that and create what I like.”

Jhy is only just starting out, but already knows that his embroidery machine is going to play a big part in his look, he says. “It’s giving me the independence to do what I want to do, how I want to embroider it, where I want to embroider it. I can just be truly creative.”


Jhy’s first machine embroidery experiments – a batch of t-shirts for himself and some mates – were one-of-a-kind. It’s a theme he’s leaning into with his current projects, personalising jackets, towels and accessories with lettering and designs. “If you personalise something, it’s uniquely yours,” Jhy says. “There’s definitely satisfaction in that.”

For Jhy, this means monogramming his name and initials, and embellishing store-bought items with embroidery designs. It can also be something as simple (and satisfying) as picking the perfect colour threads to stitch on a favourite black tote bag. “You can really show off your colours, and just really make it you,” Jhy explains. “No-one’s going to be walking around with that exact same item. That’s a one-off. That’s what I like to be able to create – one-off pieces that are unique.”

create one-off pieces that are unique

“I like being able to create one-off pieces that are unique.”

As for that planned sharehouse, Jhy and his future housemates will have no problems working out who’s left their towel on the floor. “I’ll be making personalised ones for my other housemates so we don’t run into any conflicts,” he laughs.


Jhy grew up around machine embroidery. His mum, Sam, is a designer with her own kidswear label – Oopsidaisi – and also creates and sells downloadable embroidery designs on Etsy. On top of childhood sewing classes and projects, Jhy remembers being in charge of changing colours on her machine.

“I’ve always been watching my mum do machine embroidery,” he says. “Growing up, it was usually my job to listen out for when to rethread the machine. I’d get that going and restarted for her, so that her jobs could keep flowing on while she was out during the day.”

He also remembers a lot of traipsing around fabric shops. And having to drive to his mum’s long-time machine dealer for servicing and accessories. (“It’s the relationship she has withthem,” Jhy explains.)

think it then stitch it


Right now, Jhy literally has an in-house digitiser for his embroidery designs. Meaning he can find an image, get his mum to translate it into a stitch-ready file, put it on a USB stick, pop it in his machine, and stitch it out. Or he can choose built-in designs and lettering from his machine. Or download ready-made files, like the ones from his mum’s business.

The process is pretty quick, and there’s no real way to go wrong, Jhy says. “The sky’s your limit, really. You’re solely bound by the size of your hoop. That’s the only restraint that you have.

“Whatever your mind can come up with, whatever you’re inspired by that day, you can effectively find a file similar to that on the internet and buy it, or you can find a digitiser to create that for you, and you can create whatever you please.”

Handmade is one-of-a-kind and you cannot find one thing identical to another.

“Handmade is one-of-a-kind and you cannot find one thing identical to another.”


So what is all this sewing doing to her mental state? Alusha has some ideas. “I In terms of hobby-making – and his future fashion empire – Jhy’s favourite thing about machine embroidery is its true do-it-yourself nature. “It’s allowing me to do everything in-house and not have to be reliant on anyone else,” he explains. “I just love how autonomous it is.”

There may not be too many 21-year-old guys who list machine embroidery alongside skating and body-boarding on their top hobbies list. But Jhy says those closest to him have always understood his passion for making.

“All my friends are really supportive of me, and my family as well. Everyone knows that I’m just going for it, and everyone knows that this has always been me. I’ve always been creative. I’ve always been independent. I’ve always been into fashion. Everyone just knew that that was going to be for me, one day.”

time to focus on making


While Jhy’s machine embroidery is about big ideas, he notso-secretly loves getting the details right, too. Hooping the fabric, adjusting the tension, choosing the right stabiliser. There’s something really satisfying about all the steps that
help a project come together, he says. “I’m a Virgo, so I’m just a perfectionist at heart, and I just can’t let anything small slip,” Jhy laughs. “Even if it’s slightly off, it will just eat me up! I’m just really particular.”

Brother Innov-IS NV800E Embroidery Only Machine


Jhy says;


Jhy knows his way around an embroidery machine, but he still loves the “easy to use” interface on Brother machines. It’s almost like the machine doesn’t let you make a mistake, he says. “It tells you before you create an error,” Jhy explains. “One time I didn’t put the foot down, and the machine told me that, ‘Hey, you can’t start embroidering right now. You’ve got to put your foot down first!’”

He’s also a fan of features that make his embroidery time quick and easy, like an advanced needle threading system, and an LCD touch screen that – among other things – previews final designs, and counts down the time to switching colour threads.

With a library of built-in designs and fonts, getting started is simple, Jhy says: “It’s really easy to get straight into it.”

Discover more here. Or talk to your local dealer to find out if the Innov-is NV800E Embroidery Only Machine is a good fit for you.