Monday, August 20, 2012

Starting an apron dress

dress I've started work on an viking apron dress! I finished sewing it last week and had some time this weekend to get started on the embellishments. The sewing went well and all more gores are pretty and lay flat, so I was very pleased. It seems that completing a dress is only the first step, since there is lots of decoration to do. I started work on the embroidery, since that should go fairly quickly.

I follow a lot of blogs of people I don't know who do nifty things, and I have been particularly inspired by Ari's embroidery. I have a box of worn out silk shirts that I use for scrap on projects and wanted to use it for applique. I didn't want to use wonder under for the applique though, since it would make the silk too stiff and weird. So I took a leap of faith and tried Ari's techniques. I think most of her stuff is wool, so I may regret using fiddly silk, but hey - it's "free" stash fabric, so I may as well give it a try.

First step is getting the fabrics sewn together and the pattern transferred. I traced the pattern on some tissue paper and then put the dress + silk + tissue paper in an embroidery hoop on the sewing machine. The hoop kept the silk from slinking around and gave me some maneuvering control. Spirals on a completed dress on a straight stitch is probably the path to madness, so I've got an embroidery/quilter's foot on the machine to do the work free hand. Below is a picture of the set up. It worked pretty well and my only complaint was that the hoop should have been a bit bigger for better maneuvering (but there's a trade off for fabric tension with that slinky silk). My 4-year old was fascinated by the process, so I got some "helping", which resulted in some wiggly lines, but that is fixed later. machine Here is the result off the machine. Silk is sewn down and pattern sewn in. Don't worry, it gets prettier with more stuff on it. work1 Trimmed away the excess fabric and loaded it up into a hoop. Now we are ready for embroidery time! work2 My first concern was anchoring down the edges before the silk totally shredded and getting the edge decoration done. I really liked Ari's anchored chain stitch approach for strength + decoration, so I gave it a shot. It took a few stitches to get the rhythm right, but I like the way it turned out and it seems to be holding up. In my zeal to anchor the silk firmly, I think that I used stitches that were just too small for the anchored stitched. I probably should have made them twice as long, but I was so worried about a strong anchor, shredding silk, and edge coverage that I was perhaps a bit too enthusiastic. There are a few little silk shreds poking through, but not as bad as I had worried. Of course the whole silk background may disintegrate after washing, but I will still have some nice surface embroidery, and that's how experiments go. outline Next is filling in some of the pattern. I worked the spirals in stem stitch and the inner circle in chain stitch. I'm still working on my stem stitch technique, but it is improving and I think that it will hold up. As I'm stitching, I am also pulling out any stray wiggles from the sewing machine thread. This keeps things looking tidy and keeps too much fuzz. work3 So far, I really like it. The embroidery over silk lends an almost quilted quality that gives it some depth and shine. It's actually nicer than I expected. Next up is the gray fill for the outer and inner circle designs.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

More rose progress

I've finished most of the stitching for the rose! Hooray! I'm very pleased with how it's turning out :) rose2

My current obstacle is that I forgot to buy yellow wool for the center. I didn't even realize it until I finished the outline and was at the "what next"thought. Oh well, I will have to make a trip to the thread store. It's not really a problem if it gives me an excuse to go to the thread store.

One medieval aesthetic that has been a bit hard for me to embrace is outlining in festive colors. My natural instinct is to just always outline in black. I have seen so much beautiful embroidery work with contrasting and festively colored outlines, that I decided to grow as a person - I used white for the outline. I really like the results, it adds to the harmony of the piece. For perspective here is the rose stitched, just before the outline is added. You can see a little bit of the black drawing through, which gives you and idea of how a black outline would have looked - I like the white much better. rose1