I’ve been trying out some embroidery. It’s been a really long time since I’ve embroidered anything. It was so nice - really involving and relaxing. The embroidery hoops I have were actually found by my Dad in a cupboard, and were my very own childhood ones.
The first thing I attempted was this sewing machine. I sketched it out with a dressmaker’s pencil (tailor’s chalk in pencil form). It has a brush at one end which you can use as an eraser. The sewing machine is based on my own Singer Tradition 2250.
It’s just a simple running stitch for the machine, and chain stitch for the two dials. I did several layers of satin stitch for the thread spool.
The fabric I used is a cotton twill left over from my Kelly skirt.
Next, I didn’t sketch out an outline but just free-styled. I stitched different size daisies using a lazy daisy stitch. For the centres of the flowers I used french knots.
I want to make a garment with embroidery on it, so it’s been good to do these test pieces. It’s very enjoyable and I like that it’s very portable too. I did these in the park on a lovely sunny afternoon.
I might put the sewing machine one in a picture frame without glass. (It’s very tactile.) For the daisies one I think I’m going to make it into a patch pocket for a bag.
I borrowed a couple of books from my local library:
I like how embroidery can be used to personalise items - a tangible mark of the human touch.
It’s really difficult to find printed fabric where the design has large areas of negative space in a woven fabric, so when I came across this fabric in a jersey - I was really pleased. It’s from a small fabric shop in Tooting. It cost £2.75 for a metre and I bought the last two metres of it.
So you can imagine how demoralised I felt when I realised that I’d cut one of the front pieces wrongly. I don’t normally cut on a single layer, but this fabric is quite light and got quite distorted in the wash. It wouldn’t fold properly for me to figure out a straight grain, so I opted to cut on a single layer & forgot to lay one pattern piece face down & one face up. So, I ended up with two identical pieces instead of mirror images. There wasn’t enough fabric to re-cut & I’d already bought the last of it.
I could either start over with new fabric, use a contrast plain blue for the front or…
I folded everything up and decided to sleep on it.
The next day, I wondered if I could make a long top instead of a dress. I checked to see if I could use one of the lower dress pieces & re-cut it as a shorter top, and I could. So, that’s what I ended up doing.
The overall adjustments I made were:
The lines of this design are really lovely. I think it would be really flattering on many body shapes. The gathering adds fullness and curves if you have a small bust. It is an empire but it still defines the waist with the twist detail.
I should point out that the upper bodice piece should have been cut on the fold - I mistakenly added a seam allowance to that edge & ended up cutting it as two pieces. oops.
Normally Burdastyle magazines only have written instructions, but this issue had some illustrations for the twist detail, which I found helpful.
I traced some small pattern pieces in tissue paper, to help me work out where everything fits. The ‘twists’ are pulled up through slots in the upper bodice piece, and then sewn to the lower bodice pieces.
The shoulder seams are stabilised with ribbon.
As I had cut the ties for a below the knee dress - they’re a bit long for a top. But it makes a lovely Big Back Bow.
As with all my previous makes, this top is sewn on an ordinary sewing machine - using a ball point needle and the most shallow zig zag stitch.
This top turned out really pretty. It looks very flattering. It’s comfortable too.
I had in mind to make a casual skirt with a green & white combination. I found a nice green twill which would be great for it. The colour is more a blue-green than a yellow-green. (It doesn’t photograph accurately - it’s a jewel blue-green.) I downloaded the pdf of the Kelly skirt, and I have to admit to being a bit disappointed that the pattern pieces are just rectangles. But, it is aimed at beginners and the instructions are very clear - so it’s not at all intimidating.
The adjustments I made were:
I had quite a few problems with the waistband. I wasn’t too sure about the rectangle waistband, which is designed to sit at the high waist. I much prefer curved waistbands which sits lower.
I somehow ended up with a waistband that was much shorter than the main skirt. I had to attach additional fabric at the ends. I went back & checked that I added the right amount every where, so I’m not sure what happened. The waistband still has a bit too much ease and gapes a bit. I reduced the height of the waistband too, and this helped to reduce some of the gaping.
The further adjustments were:
The skirt does look nice with with the pleats, which gives it shaping. I like how the pleats looks at the back.
I spent some time looking at buttons in my local shop and when I found these flower buttons - I thought it looked perfect for this skirt. I really like green and white combinations. It makes me think of English summers - green lawn and scattered daisies; lawn tennis courts with their white chalk lines.
This will be a great everyday skirt.
I have this old children’s separates pattern, which I bought many years ago to use as the starting point for a series of paintings. I didn’t expect to sew it, as I wasn’t sewing back then - so I’m really glad I kept it.
I used the cotton jersey left over from making my Scarlet Plantain. The technique is exactly the same as for making the Plantain. Sewing to a small scale can be a bit fiddly, but it’s also quick. I normally sew in short spaces of time, so although this could have been made in a sitting, I carried on with sewing at intervals.
I have lots of things like pretty ribbons, hearts and buttons that would have been great for embellishing this t-shirt - but I didn’t have anything suitable for a little boy. So I bought a pack of embroidered motifs which have a summer holiday theme. Very cute. They just iron on with a hot iron.
There are a few designs to this pattern, so it will probably get used again.
I know that people say that making clothes for children doesn’t seem worth the time or effort because they grow out of them very quickly, but there is something nice about gifting a garment to someone’s child, that you’ve made.
I didn’t realise I would enjoy making a simple t-shirt, but it felt great to make myself something that is a basic wardrobe piece.
This is only the second time I’ve made something in a jersey. I made it using an ordinary sewing machine. I used the most shallow zig-zag stitch that would still allow the fabric to stretch.
The adjustments I made were:
I stabilised the shoulder seams with some organza ribbon. The sleeves are inserted in ‘on the flat’, so there is no easing in, making it very simple.
The instructions were very clear and the tone supportive. I want to try more patterns from Deer & Doe.
This Plantain is very comfortable & jersey is very forgiving when it comes to fit. I’d like to make more of these.