What to stitch for a 13yr old? – Elmo!

Occasionally, I enjoy making projects that I realise I can make no money off what-so-ever.  This week I have been working on one of these projects.

Last week, my beautiful baby boy was 13 years old.

I cannot believe how quickly time flies, and just how grown up Cameron is already.

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my beautiful baby boy at approximately 6-8 weeks.

One of our favourite memories with Cameron was always how much he loved Elmo.  Each morning he would get up and watch Street Street (had difficulty saying Sesame Street) whilst he had his breakfast, and then we would turn the television on again in the early afternoon and watch Street Street whilst we shared lunch.  Cameron’s first Birthday cake was an Elmo Cake, and one of my best memories of this was 15month old Cameron sitting in front of me, whilst  leaning back on my stomach whilst watching tv.  He kept on swatting the back of his head, and I could not work out what was going on, right up until I realised that it was his sisters kicking him from the womb.

As Camo has gotten older, he has certainly stopped asking for Elmo clothes, but does fondly remember his little red friend.

Last birthday in a throwback we made Elmo cupcakes, and I got a great picture of hubby and Camo in a similar pose 11 years on.

This year, we have the my darling boys main present, but I like to get him a few little surprises as well.   So last night at my local K-mart, I picked up a pair of pyjama pants and a t-shirt for $4.00 each, as well as a pair of slippers, and came home to begin creating.

Now I am very aware of the copyright issues surrounding embroidery designs, and I always steer away from creating anything that breaks that copyright.  However this design is being created for personal use only, and unfortunately I cannot and will not sell the design, but I had a wonderful time making this embroidery design.

I did have a quick check on Etsy and other sites to see if I could quickly purchase a design, however none of the designs had the furry look that I love with Elmo.  To get this effect, I used layer after layer of stitching, going around the shape of Elmo, all with a jagged edge.

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For a little bit of extra interest, I used glow in the dark threads for the eyes.  I had to go out and purchase white glow in the dark thread, however I love that the final look has a little bit of a twist to it.

When you are creating t-shirts, there are of course a few things to remember

  • I use polycut cut away stabiliser on the back of my t-shirts for the best possible stitching results. You really need to support the stitches of t-shirt designs over the life of the project, and that requires a cut away.  I like that polycut is soft and does not itch the skin.
  • Use a temporary spray adhesive to stick the stabiliser to the back of the shirt. For best results, I use a little temporary spray adhesive, attach the stabiliser to the t-shirt, and then hoop.
  • Once completed, gently pull the stabiliser away from the t-shirt, and carefully trim any excess away.

For the pants I have trimmed down the design so that it will fit into a 10x10cm hoop, and placed it on the bottom side of the pants.

When it came to the shoes, I relied on badge fabric.  I keep some around (it is a really stiff fabric with a weird backing that works so well for badges, and can be purchased at your local habby store, or check out your commercial embroiders for their offcuts) for times like this, in white and black.  I changed the design to be quite small, and added a circular border to the design, in a satin stitch.  After stitching out the two Elmo’s, I ironed on a piece of Bonded onto the back of the item.  (Bonded is a heavy duty double sided bonding film, perfect for items that need long term adhesion, under moderate use)

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Embroider Elmo on badge fabric

I then trimmed away any excess fabric/Bonded from around the satin edge of the design, I placed the patches onto the slippers, and ironed them on with a hot iron.  I like to iron this item a couple of times to ensure the bonding is really secure.

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Use a heavy bonding web to ensure the design won’t move or fall off.

Cameron opened his presents last night, and immediately put the pyjamas and slippers on.  I am thrilled with the way they have turned out, and I hope Cameron likes them even slightly as much as the technology we have given him.

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The finished Elmo slippers

I hope I have inspired you to get out the software that came with your machine, and have a play to create your own amazing designs. (Colouring in books are brilliant for practice for this).

Until next time, have a Stitchin’ Day.

Julie.

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A Gucci By Any Other Name……

Would a pair of shoes modeled and styled off a pair of Gucci shoes, but at 2% of the price still feel as great?

If you are anything like me, you will spend a lot of time (maybe a little too much time) on Pinterest.  I have been inspired by a gorgeous pair of shoes that I saw on Pinterest the other week, by Gucci.  Now I am not normally that much of a shoe person (I have a size 11 foot, so I am happy when I don’t have to wear the boxes instead of the shoes), but these shoes just spoke to me.  I looked up the shoes on a couple of different sites, and found out that the shoes are available for purchase for only $875.

By pure chance, on the same week I was at my local big box retailer (K-mart), and I saw this gorgeous pair of slides that looked remarkably similar in original style to the Gucci ones.  Wonder of Wonders – they also fit on my feet!  So I just had to purchase two pair to make the most of this magical occurrence.  I however paid the princely sum of $15 per pair for my mules.

This is my 3rd or 4th item that I have been embellishing with the use of the By Any Other Name Designs.

The next thing I had to think about was exactly what design, and how I am going to embroider these.  I didn’t want to pull the shoes apart and then embroider the leather, I might as well just go to a cobbler and have a pair made for me.  I also didn’t want to embroider right onto the shoe, as on such a delicate part of the foot, the embroidery could easily rub.  When I looked into the Gucci shoes a little more, I could easily tell that these shoes had appliques attached to the shoe after manufacture.

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Create a template for your design using the software that comes with your machine, so that you can ensure the design will fit well on the shoe before you stitch.

So with imitation being the sincerest form of flattery – I have embroidered my chosen design (again the rose from the by any other name collection that I am so in love with at the present time) onto fine netting or tulle that matches the colour of the shoe.

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Hoop together tulle netting and WetAway Stabiliser to create a  firm hooping.

When you are embroidering with fine netting or tulle, you need to remember to use a wash away stabiliser (I love WetAway, because it comes away so easily, and rinses clean) underneath the tulle.  I also like to use two layers of the netting or tulle, just to give the design a little more stability.

One of the most important things to remember with embroidery on shoes is that as you stitch the design, you need to mirror the design for the second shoe, or else you will have weird looking shoes.  To do this, on most machines these days (and for the past 15 years), you can simply flip the design in the hoop, and stitch out the second copy.

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Design (by any other name roses) stitched onto tulle and WetAway stabiliser.

Once the design is embroidered, trim closely around the design, and remove all of the excess wash away stabiliser, my gently immersing the design in warm water.  You want the stabiliser to be gone, however you want to keep as much of the “starchiness” of the stabiliser in the design, to assist in forming it around the shoe.

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Embroidered design trimmed to approximately 2mm around each edge, awaiting the stabiliser to be removed

Whilst the design is still wet, place it on the shoe, and “mold” it around the shape of the shoe, as you are planning on attaching it.  Leaving it to dry on the shoe will ensure that the design is in the correct shape as you adhere it.

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Once the stabiliser has been removed, and whilst the design is wet, place on the shoe, and mold it to the correct position.

Once the design is completely dry, remove it from the shoe, and using a strong clear drying glue, glue the design onto the shoe surface.

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ensure that the glue you use is clear drying.  I love a hot glue gun for this project.

Allow the glue to dry, and you have your own pair of designer shoes, for a fraction of the price.

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I have been so happy with my first pair of shoes, that I have customised a second pair – and I am receiving so many compliments on the shoes, they are a wonderful conversation starter.

I hope you have enjoyed this tutorial, and that it will inspire you to create your own one off designer creations.

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

 

Free Project – Crewel Embroidery Makeup Bag

I love this makeup case.  It is large bright and cheerful, and yet has a real retro feel to it.  I have used the crewel intentions designs around the edge of mine.  The zipper is easy to put in, and every person you gift one of these bags to will love it!

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Requirements

  • 90cm fabric (I suggest an even weave, stable fabric, such as homespun, cotton, or silk if you want a more luxurious look)
  • 9”x35” piece of iron on pellum.
  • 28”/70cm continuous zipper (available from most habby outlets) – pick a colour that co-ordinates with your fabric
  • Sewing thread to match the colour of the fabric you have chosen.
  • 15cm piece of bias binding to match the fabric colour
  • 1 sheet of cardboard
  • Spray adhesive
  • Hot glue gun
  • Crewel Intentions by Julie Hall Designs
  • Embroidery threads (I have used Mettler Threads Pink – 2300, Green – 9932, Purple – 2900, Yellow – 0520, Orange – 0800)

 

  1. Download the pattern from the free section of Julie Hall Designs.  Using the pattern, cut out each pattern piece 1 x front 1 x lining 1 x pellum 4 x top/base 2 x cardboard.
  2. Working on the front/main pattern piece, taking note of where the embroidery should go, embroider down the length of the fabric.
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  3. Take the iron-on pellum and iron onto the wrong side of the embroidery.
  4. Take the lining, and with right sides together, lay the lining on top of the embroidery.
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  5. Referring to the pattern, and using a chalk pen, transfer the line from the pattern to the fabric.
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  6. Using the chalk line as a guide and centre point, stitch down 5mm on either side, turning at the end to create a rectangle. (I have used a contrast thread here to show the stitching).
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  7. Using a pair of sharp scissors, slit through the chalk line to open out the rectangle.
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  8. Pull the lining through to the wrong side, and press.
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  9. Attach the zipper to the back of the lining, stitching through all layers.
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  10. Trim the rectangle back to being 30” long
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  11. With right sides together, stitch the sides of the rectangle together.
  12. Stitch the bias binding along the seam line to hide the exposed seam.
  13. Take the cardboard template and cut out two bases.
  14. Using the fabric base and top pattern piece, cut 4 bases out of fabric.
  15. Use the spray adhesive to spray the cardboard templates – press onto two of the fabric pieces, and glue the edges under.
  16. Create the handle for the case by cutting out the handle pattern, and folding the fabric in half. Stitch down the side, and pull through so that right sides are showing.
  17. Fold the raw edges of the handles inside the handle, and pin and stitch onto the case lid, pulling up slightly so that a stand up handle look is achieved.
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  18. Take the vanity case top (one with the handle), and marking up the quarter points, pin right sides together.
  19. Stitch top of the case onto the sides, and then repeat with the bottom.
  20. Give the entire bag a good press, focusing on the top and bottom joins.
  21. Using the hot glue gun, glue the cardboard panels into the top and bottom.
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The Copper Age – A New Design Collection and a New Free Design

A few months ago, I was writing about different colour combinations, and how we select our colours.

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At that time, I was impressed by the wonderful colour combination of copper and teal, and just how beautiful and fresh these colours look together. I really wanted to have a go at creating a collection that could successfully use this colour combination successfully, and I hope you will agree that it has been a success.

The Copper Age is a collection of 10 gorgeous circular designs, that have all been created around a dual colour range. As per usual, I have had the artwork for this collection in my files for a few months, and had not be able to find the right project – I really love the way my art folder works, with designs sometimes sitting here for years before the right technique strikes me.

I have chosen to use the Teal and Copper colour thread that I have been lusting after, and stitched the designs onto a white homespun cotton fabric. One of the things that I love about the designs is that you can really use any colours – simply find the colours that go best with your individual décor, and you are ready to rock-and-roll.

Whilst the designs themselves only have two colours, the layering in the designs mean that sometimes there are 5 or 6 colour changes in the design – Using colour changes has allowed me to create the most textured design possible, with lots of different stitch styles in the one design.

Emma (11yr old daughter) assisted me in naming this collection. She had come into the office whilst I was working on the designs, and whilst we were talking about them, we were throwing names around.  Emma liked the Bronze Age, however I really think that the colours that I have used are much more Copper than Bronze.

So far, I have used these beautiful designs to create a table runner. I am going to share the instructions for the table runner in a later post, however I am so happy with how the runner has turned out, that I had to share with you a picture of the finished project.

I feel like these designs are focused on the home décor/quilting side of embroidery, and I am planning on creating a small lap rug for my Mother with the Copper Age designs, using a simple 9 block layout. I also think that they would make a fantastic set of placemats. Or could be used to make some amazing cushions.

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a small glance at the table runner that I will be featuring later on this week.

 

The Copper Age Designs are sized to be used by most embroidery machines. Sizes included are 5”, 6”, 7” and 8”, allowing you maximum flexibility.

Naturally, I would not upload a new design collection, without giving you a free design to play with. You can find the free design for the Copper Age Collection HERE in our Free Designs Folder.

The Copper Age Designs are available for download or available on a CD or USB, and can be yours for only $34.95. Pick up your collection HERE.

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

These Boots were made for walking….

machine embroidered boots
I am having a great time over the past few weeks, playing with some new embroidery designs.

I have been going through a period of using up artwork that I have collected over the past few years, and the new collection – Everything is Rosy is no exception. I purchased the artwork for these fantastic rose designs approximately 7 years ago, and have been looking at them on and off over the past 7 years, trying to decide what to do with them.

During that time, I have attempted to use the designs in Applique, and open thread work, but nothing seemed to work.

Until this week. This week inspiration struck, and I have been stitching roses ever since.  I have created these roses with a little texture, the leaves are a basic embroidery stitch, whilst the roses themselves are satin, giving depth to the designs.

I love working with floral designs, because you can play with the colours so much. Each of these rose designs are two toned, giving a shaded look to the flowers.

So far I have used these designs in a few different ways, creating an embroidered back for a denim jacket, and embroidering down the side of a pair of trousers, however when I was out at the opportunity shop last week, inspiration struck!

We are moving into winter here in Australia, and I have seen on the fashion boards a couple of times some beautiful embellished boots. After showing them to the girls (Emma & Grace – 11), we all decided it was a great idea for us to try.

We found a great pair of boots for only $4, which was perfect as I wanted to experiment with the technique before spending huge amounts of money. The boots fit Grace perfectly, and they are in great condition.

Embroidering boots can be done on any embroidery machine, the main tricks to think of when you are working with something such as a boot is to support the embroidery as you create it. I like to use the multi-needle machine for this, as it has a table attached, alternatively, on your domestic machine, ensure that your boot is able to move freely around the embroidery area.

Once I finished the boots, the girls and I went to Sydney for a get together with my family.  My 18 year old niece was so impressed with the boots, she was disappointed they didn’t fit her, and said she would happily wear them out.  High praise from a fashion snob. 🙂

Requirements

  • 1 pair of zippered boots, made out of a soft leather/vinyl/suede. (You need to be able to open up the boots and lay them flat for the hoop, so ankle boots are not suitable.)
  • Sticky backed stabiliser (you will not be able to hoop these designs, and will need to simply place on top of the hoop)
  • Embroidery threads – I have used 2 shades of green and two shades of red
  • Marking pen – I like a chalk pen
  • Squissors
  • General embroidery requirements

Instructions

  1. Take the boots and lay out on a flat surface
  2. Using a ruler and a marking pencil, mark down the centre of the boot 3 inches.
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    Take the sticky backed stabiliser, and place a piece in the hoop, exposing the sticky side to the top of the hoop
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  3. Lay the opened boot on top of the stabiliser, centring the cross hatch you created with the marking pencil.
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  4. Move the hoop to the machine, and ensure that the boot is well supported, and able to freely move around during embroidery.  I am using a multi needle embroidery machine here – however you could just as easily complete this project with a standard embroidery machine.
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  5. Slow the machine down to the lowest setting, to make stitching through the thick material easier.
  6. Embroider the design.
  7. Once the embroidery is complete, remove the hoop from the machine, remove the boot from the stabiliser, and gently take away any excess stabiliser.
  8. Repeat steps 1-8 with the second boot, ensuring that you flip the design so they are both facing the same way.
  9. Once the embroidery is complete, you may need to place an iron on piece of facing fabric to the embroidery to avoid the reverse of the embroidery abrading the skin.

I hope you love this project as much as the girls and I do.  I am off tomorrow to find another pair of boots that will fit Emma for the same technique.

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machine embroidered boots

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

How do you choose your colours?

What type of stitcher are you? Do you go with gut instinct to select your threads for embroidery, or do you agonise over the decision, second guessing your choices?

Whatever type of stitcher you are, we all know that choosing the right colour of embroidery thread can make or break your design!

Personally, I am a safe person. If you pay attention to what I stitch out, you will see a lot of colours that I know go well together, and seem to work, being used over and over again.

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I have fallen in love with this palette of copper and teal from Pinterest, and have already added a stock of Copper Thread to my specialty threads.  Now I just need the perfect designs.

 

As a digitiser, the worst part of my job is to make colour guides. I feel like I am telling you what colours you HAVE to use (and I truly don’t ever want to do that).  For me one of the greatest parts of my job is seeing other people’s interpretations of what the designs should be, and how they are used in different people’s homes.

Many psychologists and designers have developed scientific ways of selecting colours, and whilst there are a couple of simple rules to make colour selection easier, gut instinct can never be ignored.

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I would not think of using this blue and green together, but how amazing does this image look.  I am planning a new set of “On The Tiles” – this may be the colour palette

 

Studies have shown that it takes us as customers approximately 30 seconds to evaluate a design. To increase our chances of people liking our work, selecting appealing colours is important.

Many patterns call out for certain hues—skin, leaves, fruit and so on. That doesn’t mean your colours are chosen for you. With thousands of colours of embroidery thread available, the choice can be quite overwhelming.

The science of choosing colours.

One of the simplest scientific ways of selecting threads, is to use the Thread Manufacturers colour card guide, and a colour wheel available as a download from the internet, or from most art supply stores.

Using the Colour Wheel

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I downloaded this colour wheel from Pinterest, and love the descriptions at the bottom as well.

 

There are many technical terms for colours and their variations, but you should be aware of some of the basics. The simplest tool to select colours is the colour wheel. Colour wheels can be simple or complex, but they all do one thing; they take a variety of colours and put them in groups that blend into each other.

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Cool and warm colours are a bit of a joke in our house, ever since I refused to let hubby purchase a black leather jacket as he has a creamy beige skin tone, and needed a warm colour to suit him (he now loves his Brown leather jacket)

 

Complementary colours for embroidery threads

Complementary colours are the easiest to work with. Using a particular base material? Find the colour on a colour wheel. The complimentary colour is right straight across the wheel. That will be the hue of your applique. This method works beautifully. Use it to make the most eye-catching designs.

 

Most colours include shades that genuinely work well together. Use a colour wheel to get them, just by seeing where they fall on the colour wheel. Complementary colours are the safest colour schemes to choose since they are two colours directly across each other on the colour wheel.

Analogous colours: neighbours on the colour wheel

Analogous colours are more detailed than complementary colours. They are three colours next to each other on a colour wheel. For example, three colours of yellow could be yellow-green, yellow, and yellow-orange.

You can combine analogous colours, but it helps to add in a complementary colour also. With one of the yellows, it would be nice to add a purple, the complementary colour will work well!

Triadic colours: adding a little contrast

Triadic colours are colours equally spaced on the colour wheel. Many triadic colours schemes can be used purposefully to produce a slight contrast, almost like a split-complementary colour scheme, yet remaining balanced. Red, yellow and blue are the most notable example of triadic colours.

Now the fun part: choosing creative embroidery thread colours!

The fun starts when you find variations on the basics. Instead of using a “true” version of a colour, maybe you can use a shade lighter or darker. Take the triadic colours of red, yellow, and blue, but use different strengths.

Another part of choosing colours is the colour temperature. It can make a significant difference in your design.  For example, blues/greens are considered “cool” and reds/oranges as seen as “warm.” Each colour has warms and cools which can be found with the help of a colour wheel. The next shade towards blue or red will determine if it is the warm or cool tone. Keeping colours warm or all cool can help your embroidery designs look fantastic.

Embroidery thread colours, the “non-scientific” way!

Yes, colour wheels and colour schemes are a good starting point. Ultimately, you must “feel” the colours you want. Colour grouping starts with complimentary colours, but then you need to take it to the next level. Go with your gut and add a few more shades.

Check out boards on Pinterest, such as the link I have here, on colour trends to see different colours placed together in inspiring formations.

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After all the technical terms and working hard to select colour schemes, now you will discover the “unscientific” secret to choosing colours of embroidery threads.

Find colour groupings in a design you like, something that has been found and put together already. Use your thread chart, and match up the colours, noting which thread comes closest to the existing design.

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That may go against colour theory “rules”, but if you like it, then go with it.

I hope you have enjoyed this look at Colour.  Unit next time, have a Stitchin’ Day.  Julie.

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.