Embroidered Gowns as Inspiration at the SAG Awards

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I love the Hollywood award season. I don’t particularly care who wins, however I love the fashions.  And today absolutely delighted me.  I am so happy to see how much embroidery was on the red carpet, and what lessons we can learn from the styles worn.

Lesson 1 – Keep It Simple

If you have a look at the stunning gowns worn by Annalise Basso (designer unknown), and Sophia Bush (Marchesa), you will see beautiful gowns, with a small embroidery feature.

Annalise’s dress is highlighted with a bird at the waist, highlighting her gorgeous figure, and adding just the smallest touch of sparkle to the gown.

Sophia’s dress is stunning with a structured strapless dress with a billowy waist feature. The waist feature, displays a beautiful embroidered floral spray of 3d flowers and stems/leaves in both embroidery and beading.

What we can learn from this is that we can add features and sparkle to an outfit with just the smallest piece of embroidery. Look for smaller designs that you can stitch out and embellish with beading or crystals.

Lesson 2 – The All-over Pattern

This one is much more difficult to achieve as the home embroider, however for a special occasion, such as a wedding or formal dress, you cannot go past the beautiful all over embroidery pattern dresses worn on the red carpet today. From Claire Foy – beautiful in a Valentino with an embroidered sheer overlay, to Julia Louis-Dreyfus (one of my favourite actresses) wearing a Lela Rose black dress with dramatic leaves stitched all over, or Gina Rodriguez in an unknown designer dress made from beautiful embroidered fabric, these dresses are all stunning.

The best of the all over pattern for me however was the Roberto Cavalli dress worn by Emily Blunt. This was for me the standout of the night, a gorgeous maxi dress made of embellished panels.  The colours used in this nude gown, showing soft greens, blue and pinks highlight the delicate nature of the gown, and for me it was the absolute winner.

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I am inspired by these amazing gowns to create some fabric of my own, and I am adding this to my to do list for this year.

Lesson 3 – Use embroidery to create a “picture” across the frock

Emma Stone wore a fantastic Alexander McQueen dress tonight, featuring a half lace bodice, whilst the rest of the dress was black fabric, embellished with beautiful embroidered water lilies. You can immediately see that the water lilies have been strategically placed to highlight the dress.

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This style was seen again with Cara Buono in a Red and Pink dress by an unknown designer, with embroidery across the bodice, leading down to the skirt of the dress. The embroidery in this dress is used to bring both parts of the outfit together, and is further highlighted with crystal beads.

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Thandie Newton has taken this style to the extreme, in a Schiaparelli dress featuring a story like panel around the bottom of the skirt, showing horses, a ferris wheel, and becomes less intense as the skirt comes up to the waist and bodice thinning out to birds. Whilst this dress is not strictly embroidery, I love the idea of this frock.

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I love these particular styles, and hope you are as inspired as I was to see these stars on the red carpet. The next time you are considering embroidering clothing, think of how you can feature some embroidery to make your outfit extra special.

Until next time, have a Stitchin’ Day. Julie.

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Thankful Thursday – Week 11

It’s the second to last design, and it’s HERE.

Expect Nothing and Appreciate Everything.

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Remember that the designs are only available for two weeks HERE, so grab yours today.

Until next time, have a Stitchin’ Day.  Julie.

How do you un-thread your

I truly need to begin this post with a disclaimer.  This (as most blog posts are), is my own personal opinion, based on impartial research that I have conducted.

How you un-thread says a lot about you. If you are over 25, you will probably pull the spool off the machine, and drag the thread out of your machine backwards.  If you are newer to sewing and stitching, you will probably have been taught to snip the thread at the top of the feed pass, and pull the excess threads through the needle.

The pull excess thread through the needle movement appeared over 7 years ago, and like all good urban legends, I am having a lot of trouble finding a source of expertise. I have checked into all of the major brands of sewing machine manuals – using the most up-to-date models, and I can find no reference to this being a recommended practice (I am more than happy to be wrong here if someone has a manual with this written).  I have found a lot of anecdotal  evidence on the user group sphere, of people quoting “a friend of mine”, or “my friends mechanic”.

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The basic premise of pulling the thread through the needle is that it is the path the thread is naturally attempting to take, and it doesn’t go against your tension, and avoids any “extra” fluff gumming up the machine.

However, as a person who cleans their machine monthly (at least), uses high quality threads (one of the joys of polyester is the strength and lack of fluff and breakage), I don’t necessarily see a lot of value in this practice.

One sewing machine brand that I have spoken with has told me that this practice has been introduced by mechanics to attempt to stop people from dragging threads backwards through the machine whilst the tension is engaged. I totally understand that this would be a terrible idea, however it would also be a terrible idea to drag the thread through the needle whilst the tension was engaged and not stitching, so the true trick here is to dis-engage the tension (lift up the presser foot), before you remove thread, no matter what way you are going.

On speaking with my mechanic, he has told me that after 50 years in the business, he has never seen the way thread is removed as an issue with machines.

I am over 25 (by nearly 20 years), and was taught the traditional method of trim the thread near the needle, and pull the thread backwards, winding onto your thread spool.

So far, this has worked for me. I do a little giggle in classes when ladies get flustered because they “forgot” to unthread the other way.  Once or twice is certainly not going to be a deal breaker for your machine.

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My other concern, as a little bit of a miser, is that I would be “wasting” a reasonable amount of thread over the course of my stitching life. Whilst it is not a significant amount for each design, it does add up, and hurts my head when I think of the waste.

At the end of the day, I truly believe after all of my research that there is no right or wrong on this practice. If you are comfortable in the way you are changing your threads – continue, if you are having issues, consider trying the other way.

Until next time, have a Stitchin’ Day.  Julie.

Thankful Thursday – Week 10

I cannot believe that we are now 10 weeks into this project.

I hope you are enjoying these designs as much as I am.

This week the design focuses on the people in our lives.  You can download your free design for the next two weeks HERE.

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So this week, tell someone in your life how much they matter.

Until next time, have a Stitchin’ Day.  Julie.

The Truth about Erasable Pens for stitchers

Water erasable pens have been on the market for a long time (by my approximation around 30 years). I personally have a love/hate relationship with them.  Below I am sharing with you some of my personal experiences with different pens/markers, and suggestions for use.

There are so many choices when it comes to tracing a pattern or transferring markings to fabric. It is best to use a tool that is suitable for the fabric you are working with, but the most important thing is to always test your pencil/pen/chalk on a scrap of the fabric before starting your project. There is nothing worse than making a lovely quilt top piece, or dress only to find that those pink pencil marks can’t be removed no matter how many times you wash it! Even if you’ve never had a problem before, test each marker on each type of fabric, before you begin your project. The worst stains always seem to happen on the most important projects – Tears are usually involved. Along with a few choice swear words.

So…Choose the best option, read the directions carefully, and test it to make sure it is completely removable before you begin working on the main project.

Disappearing Ink Fabric Pen

One of the most popular fabric pens; I’m sure most of you probably already own one. The disappearing ink becomes invisible a little too quickly sometimes, but the marks from either end have always washed out well for me. Unfortunately, these pens tend to dry out rather quickly, so it is good to have a back-up handy. Stories abound that you can get the ink to “re-appear” by placing it in the freezer.  I have never had this happen, however I have had the experience of the lines not disappearing properly.

 

Water Soluble Pencils

A coloured pencil made to wash easily from fabric. These are kind of hit or miss. The brands with harder “leads” need a lot of pressure to make a mark, which can stretch the fabric out of shape. The softer versions often shatter on the inside and you waste the entire pencil trying to sharpen a nice point. Nice for heavier fabrics like canvas or denim.water-erasable-pens

Pilot FriXion Erasable Gel Pens.

The heat from an iron causes the ink to disappear.  These are relatively new on the market, and I have heard many different reports on them.  I personally have had very good experiences with these pens, however I have a friend who spent a lot of time creating a beautiful runner, only to find that the marks didn’t come out at the end.  Once again, if you freeze the fabric, the mark will return faintly, and if you leave the pen in a hot car, the ink will turn clear.

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Chalk Cartridge Set or Chalk wheels

Thin sticks of chalk in a holder. I love this option.  I use the chalk wheel as my go to method for marking dark fabrics.  Sometimes, the markings doesn’t come out immediately, however I have never had the issue where the marks remain after a washing.

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Pencil

Far and away my favourite way of marking up light coloured fabrics, a sharp light marking of a 2B pencil is easy see and remove. To remove pencil markings, you can make a solution (as per below), and I use a toothbrush to brush over the pencil markings and remove.

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In Conclusion

My personal favourite form of marking fabrics is to use lead pencil for light coloured fabrics, and the chalk wheel for dark coloured fabrics.  I find that these methods are the kindest to the fabrics and the most reliable.

Solution to remove pencil marks

¼ cup water ¾ cup Isopropyl Alcohol (rubbing alcohol) 8 drops of Palmolive green dishwashing liquid (must be this brand, I don’t know why, but it does work)

Mix together and apply using a toothbrush and gently rubbing.  Always test first.

 

Re-fashioning the footstool

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The original footstool created for Machine Embroidery Magazine

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After 9 years of use, the footstool was ready to give up the ghost.

Nine years ago, I created a project for Cameron’s room. A fantastic shaped footstool, made of denim, with embroidery all around it.  It was so handy, that instead of leaving it in Cameron’s room, we brought it out to the loungeroom, and used it every day ourselves.

After 9 years of every day use, the footstool began to disintegrate, and was looking very tatty, so this week I embarked on a project to rejuvenate the footstool. I still had a little of the same fabric left, and since it wore so well, I figured I would use it again.  With new designs to show a more modern, family room look, I am very happy with the results.

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This project was a little bit of a challenge for me, as when I created the first one, my friend Rita assisted me in making the stool. Rita was trained in the 60’s as an upholster, and is a genius at anything like this.  So for this project, I was on my own, so now I have a real sense of achievement.

Old stool – the stool itself is still perfectly in shape, it is made of a plywood base, with solid metal legs and an 8 inch layer of dense foam. All of these parts were in good enough condition to re-use.

Step 1 – Pull Apart.

The first step was to pull the fabric off the stool. I removed the feet and set them aside (with the screws), and began the process of pulling all of the staples out (there were so many!!!)

Measure the circumference.  The circumference of my cushion is 164cm. The denim that I am using is 150cm wide.  I therefore had to cut two strips of denim for the outside of the footstool.  A mistake that I made when I created the first footstool was not cutting a wide enough piece of fabric.  This time around, I cut the fabric 11 inches wide, making the fabric simple to hoop.  After joining the two pieces of denim together, I drew a line in tailors chalk down the centre of the fabric, to allow me to hoop the fabric evenly.

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The embroidery on the denim was actually quite easy. I chose the new Watercolour collection, as I was after a subtle design that still left the footstool soft and malleable.  The Watercolour collection is also quick to stitch, meaning I didn’t spend a week creating the footstool.

Once the embroidery was complete, I trimmed the top of the panel to 4.5 inches. This gives me enough fabric for a seam allowance, and half of the height of the design.  Make sure that you don’t trim the bottom edge of the fabric, as you will need this to pull around the base and staple.

In a contrasting fabric, I have then cut 3 inch bias strips from a thick cotton fabric. Once I joined the bias strips to form a strip approximately 180cm long, I have then created the piping by feeding encasing piping rubber within the bias strips.  I used my zipper foot to stitch close to the piping edge.

Whilst I was cutting, I took the base of the footstool, and traced it onto an extra piece of denim. Add the 1.5cm seam allowance, before cutting out the top piece.

From here, it was as simple as to join the piping to the top of the footstool, and the sides to the top and piping. Once all of the seams were matched, I stuffed the foam into the new cover, before adding the plywood panel.  I borrowed Darling Husbands staple gun, and stapled the sides onto the plywood.  I then replaced the top panel covering up all of the fabric, before screwing the legs back on (to be honest, Darling Husband did that part).

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I am so happy with the way this turned out, and I am enjoying using this stool just as much as the old one.

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Until next time, have a Stitchin’ Day.  Julie.

2017 Trends in Embroidery from the Runway

I have never been a fashion plate. I was watching a minimalism documentary on TV last week, and was so proud that I have less clothing than those professing to own a minimalism lifestyle (we won’t touch on the fact that my office has much more than any committed minimalist could deal with).  However I do love fashion, and have been known to arrive early at the doctors so that I can pour over the vogue magazines before my appointment.

My love of fashion images has also been assisted since the beginning of Pinterest. I have a board dedicated entirely to fashion trends as inspiration that I encourage you to check out when you get a minute.

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I have been so happy to see the trend of machine embroidery on the runways for the current seasons, and would love to share with you some of these amazing images, and suggestions for how we can incorporate these into our embroidery projects.

Embroidered Handbags – this one I love. Many of the large designers this year have incorporated embroidered handbags into their collections.  Fendi, Roberto Cavelli, and Gucci have all highlighted beautiful embroidered bags, incorporating many different embroidery styles, I have an idea running through my mind of embroidering on leather/vinyl to create a wonderful useful bag in 2017.

Denim – If you have looked at any of my projects, you will know that I love a good piece of denim for embroidery. I’m not sure what it is – the colour, the ability for the fabric to withstand dense or light designs, but denim really is one of my favourite mediums to embroidery with.  Which makes this continuing trend so easy to embrace.  Add embroidery to your favourite jeans as they are wearing out in a patch style to prolong their use, or up cycle from your favourite second hand shop to make an item that is uniquely yours.

Dress and Formal Wear – Remember when Cate Blanchett first got noticed with her daring fashion choices on the red carpet, with her gorgeous gown with the sheer embroidered back panel that made it look like birds and flowers were flying across her back – well the style of embroidering on our formal wear has remained, with both sheer and heavy fabric perfect for this style. I love the sheer sleeve with tiny embroidery, but my total favourite would have to be the gorgeous white hi-low gown, with beautiful red embroidery.  Could you emulate any of these styles by customising a dress/item of clothing with embroidery.

Homewares – this is where it gets exciting. The trend this season is for bright, with lots of heavy embroidery.  Take a look at the overstuffed couch with the multi coloured embroidered panels.  Now I am not sure I would ever be patient enough to complete this project, however I really think it looks amazing, and so inspiring.  I do love the bright colours in homewares, with the primary colours, mola and folk art styles, and fun looks.

I hope you have enjoyed this look at trends, and they have inspired you as much as they inspire me.

Until next time, have a Stitchin’ Day. Julie.