Friday, August 2, 2013

Yeah I did the embroidery by hand, because I don't like machine embroidery (period)!

***Disclaimer: My above stated aversion to machine embroidery was a bit aggressive, I was feeling a little heated and for that I apologize.***

As I said in a previous post I am working on a new a-line skirt for the competition on SewMamaSew. I told a woman at a fabric store that I was embroidering the hem and then I showed her.  I pulled out what I was working on and she exclaimed, "Oh you're embroidering by hand! Well thats not very practical, what could you sell it for?"

Ok I'm sorry, sometimes its not about what I could "sell it for" because I'm not making it to sell.  I making it for myself to enrich my wardrobe and display my creative side.  Maybe that's something that happens when you own a business, even one creatively based, you stop seeing art and start seeing dollar signs.  I don't usually like to knock the way another cat swings, but I am really tired of having my passion quantified for the dollar value.

One more rant/tangent.  I do not really like machine embroidery.  I think that it looks grannyish and very unhip. I know this is coming from a girl who thinks sewing is a rip roaring good night, but still, I hate it. I think that it looks flat and well machine made, I know obviously, but I think it lacks the artistry of hand embroidery.  I know that I am ranting but I was honestly a little but offended.

Ok, I'm cool now, I'll tell you how I'm doing it.  I started with a floral silhouette and used graphite to transfer it to my fabric.  There are transfer papers you can use to transfer your images to your fabric but, I didn't have any so I had to be creative/ I was too lazy to drive out to get some.  I took a pencil, I used a 9H because I find that the softer pencil makes it easier to shade the whole back of the image.

I drew out the outline of my pattern piece onto my fabric, but I didn't cut it out on the line yet,  I am going to wait till it's all embroidered and pretty.  Turning the image with the right side facing up I placed it there I wanted it just off center front.  I then took the same 9H pencil and traced the image which transferred the image to the fabric.

I used the corner and side edge of the paper and lined them up with a line I drew down center front of the pattern piece and a cross hatch to match where the corner should hit.  I made these marks because I wanted to transfer my design to both sides of center front and I want it to be symmetrical.  I did have to go back in after my transfer and redraw some of my lines that transferred too faintly.

In order to transfer the mirror image I flipped over the paper with the right side now facing down.  I matched the center line and the hatch mark with the proper corner and edge of the page.  Though I can't see the face of the image the lines I traced the first time are raised on the back of the paper.  I then retraced those lines and because I used a pencil on the front side by retracing those lines I transferred a mirrored version of the image.

Voila symmetrical mirror image pattern transfer.

Now for the embroidery itself. If you are looking for some really great stitch tutorials, I suggest Sublime Stitching's tutorials.  *Side note: They also sell some really great embroidery patterns.  They do paper patterns as well as PDFs*

I wanted my embroidery to use lots of different stitches and techniques so I taught myself a few different ones.  I also liked the effect of combining different colors of floss to create more dimensionality.

Here is a close up of one of my process shots.

My pattern was a little bit bigger than my hoop so I had to move it to complete my whole piece.  So here is the first half:

Now I just have to repeat this pattern on the opposite side to complete my skirt.  Once I get that done I'll post my finished skirt.  Stay tuned!


  1. Your hand embroidery is an inspiration! I decided a while ago that I wanted to pretty up my hand-made clothes, and I'm just starting on that journey. This post, with your beautiful work, has stiffened my resolve that I *will* be using embroidery to embellish my makes!

    Thank you!

    1. Thank you so much. I kind of fell into it, but I am obsessed with it now. I've never been an embroiderer before but I just think it is so lovely. I look forward to see your future embroidered makes!

  2. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous. I don't like machine embroidery either. :) (And yes, I'm reading your back posts -- so glad I found you soon enough to do that, before there were YEARS to catch up on! :D)

    1. Thank you Susan, I'm glad you found me too. Hopefully someday there will be YEARS for someone to catch up on!