Monday, 17 December 2012

Summer sewing update

Hello and happy holidays, everyone! It's been awhile so I thought I'd give you a quick update on my summer sewing plan.

I have actually been sewing, a Christmas miracle! But I've been slow. So slow. I've finished my two black merino Renfrews, but don't have photos to show you. I want to finesse the fit of the second one, which is a little baggy. I want to tighten the bands up too, which are loose. I've also finished my Tiramisu dress! I looooove it. I'm refusing to take it off. Pics soon, when i get a chance. I really enjoyed making it and it's been such an intuitive process! I'm officially not scared of sewing with knits anymore. Love them and can't get enough!

I've also been helping The Chef out by doing dishes in the restaurant and that's given me a bit of extra sewing money, which is exciting! I bought some new patterns from SewSquirrel, who hand delivered them the next day! How's THAT for customer service?! I bought Anise and Elisalex. Elisalex is from By Hand London and I had to get it after seeing Rachel from House of Pinheiro's gorgeous number. That one wasn't on the plan, but The Chef bought me some beautiful fabric from the UK months ago and I think this fabric will be perfect for it.

I also went on a fabric shop and have bought (most) of the supplies to make my Anise! I went with a grey wool with mint green lining. I found the most amazing vintage buttons for it too. I started the muslin last night. I'm taking my time and following the steps from Susan Khalje's Craftsy class, which I've been watching on repeat. I'm in the process of marking the cut out pieces and thread tracing. I'm enjoying working with woven fabric again, it's been awhile! I can't wait to do my first welt pockets and bound buttonholes! I also cut out another muslin for my Cambie, but it seems to have been sidelined again. I'm fickle. I also bought a meter of creamy white knit fabric for another Renfrew, and some green and grey striped fabric for a Renfrew hoodie. That is, if I can find a tutorial in making a hood. Not to mention some more fabric for another Tiramisu. I need several more of these dresses. My favourite make so far!

The restaurant has been crazy busy the last few months and has sucked up a lot of my time but my work will mostly be winding up again soon. Hopefully that will make life a bit more manageable and it won't take a month to sew my next Renfrew!!

I'm on holidays with The Chef at the moment; it's the first time that he's had more than one day off since well before we opened! We've headed out of town for a few days before coming back to stay in a swish hotel in the city and celebrate our first wedding anniversary! Time has flown.

Since this is via my phone while the chef tastes beers at Bridge Rd Brewers, I'll leave you with just the one photo: a momento of my Christmas.

Thanks for such an amazing year. I can't believe that I'd never done any sewing before April / may. Discovering the blog land of sewing has been so incredible. I've made so many friends and this new obsession with sewing isn't going anywhere, it seems!

Monday, 3 December 2012

Embroidery 101 - A rambling introduction

When I was little, five or sixish - actually, it's entirely possible that I was even younger than that, I remember vaguely going on a holiday with my family to exotic locations such as "Echuca" and "Mildura". I remember pools, long hours in the car, peaches and the intense jealousy that I felt watching my sister with a scrap of fabric with holes in it and a print on the background and some thick wool and a dull needle that she was meticulously using to colour in the picture with. I was told that I wasn't old enough to do one, too. All I knew was that I wanted to colour in with that thread.

We moved to the country and were living in a tiny flat provided by the hospital that my dad worked for.  It had a minuscule backyard - just barely big enough for a cubby house and a clothes line - and a huge grassy area shared by the other flats out the front that looked out over Lake Guthridge - a swampy lake that was full of blue-green algae. I was (am) the middle of three girls and mum started a tradition on Monday evenings that we'd get to spend time with mum one on one and pursue an activity - I started a long-stitch (the object of my youthful holiday jealousy) of my own with her.

My mum and aunt Fleur have always had a great interest in embroidery too - My mum has a half finished tapestry from well before I was born. My aunt has completed some insanely beautiful pieces of embroidery too. Watching them tackle different pieces and use different stitches for different effects really piqued my interest. I completed a few cross-stitches when I was little, sporadically, but when I was 18, bored after finishing school and moving away from my friends and breaking up with my first boyfriend, I started a cross-stitch bookmark of some daffodils and got hooked in earnest. It didn't take too long to finish, whilst I watched day time television, like Passions, and soon I found myself with empty hands, searching out another kit to fill my hands with.

Cross-stitch kits were quick and easy, with everything provided, but the more time that I spent looking in the meager embroidery sections of stores like Spotlight and the more books I started looking at in libraries and bookstores, the more my interest grew. Soon I was making blackwork pieces, seeking out candlewicking. The pieces that I was working on became more and more elaborate. I went to visit Fleur in Brisbane, and we happened to notice an ad in the paper for an exhibition of embroidery and what I saw there only further inflamed the passion for the incredible things that you can do with thread.

One of the pieces was a hot air balloon, sewn on an almost invisible piece of fabric, so that the balloon appeared to be hovering in space. There were also some examples of Japanese embroidery - so meticulous. Every geometric shape was absolutely perfect. Gold threads were couched in red thread in perfect distances apart, like tiny gold bricks with red mortar. I wish I had photos of these to show you, but the luminosity of them just doesn't translate in print, anyway.

Anyway...the long and the short of this interlude is to say that embroidery is more than backstitching onto fabric. The limits are only what you make them. In this series of posts, I want to cover some of the amazing types of embroidery out there, to get you inspired. I also want to give you a breakdown on some common (and less common) forms of embroidery, then give you some tips and tricks on how to do them yourself. If people are interested, I'd also be happy to host an "embroider-along", where we modify an item of clothing with embroidery. Would you be interested in that?

Please feel free to jump in with questions at any point and let me know if there's anything else that you want me to cover.