Heirloom Sewing, Decorative Buttons, and Machine Embroidery

This week I made a couple more peasant blouses (can't get enough of them!) using heirloom sewing techniques, some decorative buttons that I bought at M&J Trimming in New York a couple of years ago, and machine embroidery.

Red is My Most Flattering Color :)

I got a gift certificate to the Stitches fabric store on Capitol Hill for my birthday from my brother and I finally put it to good use by getting this amazing textured chiffon. Whipped up two easy tops: one very basic, which I can accessorize with the gazillion statement necklaces that I have, for example, this latest Michal Neggrin stunner. And the other I decided to decorate with a peter pan collar enhanced with some hand-sewn beads.

Machine-embroidered Peasant Blouses

Finally, after much embroidery placement testing and different trim try outs, I've completed two more peasant blouses :)

My original idea was to combine these individual patterns into one, but for some reason, my Embird software would not let me do it. Or rather, all looked well on my laptop, but my embroidery machine would not recognize the combined pattern. So, as a work-around, I added this cotton lace trim in between each individual embroidered piece.

Here are some pictures of the work in progress :) 

I don't speak French, so after a lot of asking around (thank you, Anna Feretti!) and Google Translate searches, I opted to label this top "Chanel Chapeaux" :) as in Chanel Hats. I got the idea for this blouse as soon as I first spotted this collection of flapper patterns, especially the last one that I placed on the back! :) After all, Coco began her career as a milliner, designing hats in her free time when she lived as a "cocotte" with Etienne Balsan at his estate Chateau de Royallieu.

Here's the finished look :)

And some close-ups :)

And finally, sleeve detail.

The next one is a Jane Austen blouse. My original idea was to combine these cross-stitch patterns that I found online with some text, maybe a fitting Austen quote. But once again, even though everything looked fine on the laptop, my embroidery machine just would not recognize the pattern :( So I figured, maybe these perfectly executed exquisite embroideries are enough, when combined with a delicate trim. Imho, it works :)

Embroidered Peasant Top

Well, this was my first real experiment with machine embroidery and imho, it turned out ok. I'm actually wearing this top today, having completed it yesterday. The embroidery patterns I used here all came with my Brother PE 770, but I played with the layout and size, placement, rotation, and using different hoops. It also took me a while to choose the best stabilizer. In the end, I opted for the dissoluble stuff. Basically it's glue and once the embroidery stitching is complete, you hold the cloth under running water and in a few seconds it melts away :) Magic!

Another super important tip that I was given by the wonderful employees at Quality Sewing and Vacuum in Northgate is using the special embroidery bobbin thread. It's much thinner than regular thread and it's crucial in ensuring that the fabric doesn't pucker as you embroider and the design comes out flat, even, soft, and flawless - I can't say enough great things about it!

Anyway, I finished this top by adding an element of heirloom sewing - cotton lace trim around the hem and sleeves.

I can't wait to start on the flappers and the Downton Abbey patterns! And next up is installing Embird software and using the digitizing plug-in to create my own embroidery patterns. Hand embroidery is great and admirable, but machine... it's just so much faster! :)

White Peasant Top

After a two-month draught, my creative juices are flowing again and so I present to you a newly completed peasant blouse :)

I'm very happy with this piece. Again, I took for inspiration something that I saw at Anthropologie :) Why buy it when I can make it myself :)

I wasn't too jazzed about the gather and the high neckline, so I modified my basic top pattern and combined a nice embroidered cotton from Mood with a cotton lace that I picked up at JoAnne's. I also lined the lace with some thin cotton jersey. The jersey has a bit of a pattern, so I ended up with an even more textured blouse.

The necklace that I'm styling it with is an exquisite one from Michal Negrin. I just got it as a birthday gift from my BFF :)

Here's the original $118 Anthropologie blouse :)

My Jane Eyre Dress

I'm right on schedule :) Next on my list was altering this Burda (8072) pattern:

I thought it would be a lengthy process, but maybe I just know my measurements and the dart placement well enough now. I started working on Saturday, made a couple of samples and was satisfied with the fit to try making an actual dress.

I used this embroidered dark grey thin wool (I think?) fabric that I bought last year at Mood. The dress is lined (except for the sleeves). And the fit is lose enough so I skipped installing a zipper (maybe that's why it didn't take so long :)) I added my favorite black trim to the outer edges of the little pocket thingies (they are not really pockets, just decorative) and I added my beloved Peter Pan collar. And suddenly, because of the grey and the collar the whole dress took on this very modest yet chic (sexy librarian) Jane Eyre look. I like it :)

Here are some pictures of the work in progress and the finished dress. The pleats turned out pretty crisp too.

Paris, Je T'aime

Here are a few more tops that I made during the Thanksgiving break. This first one uses 2 yards of Spoonflower-printed crepe de chine. When I was in Paris back in 2004, I bought a small scarf from a street vendor. I still have it. It's square, bright red, with dark blue letters, and it spells PARIS over and over, with the Eiffel Tower instead of an 'A'. It took me a while, but finally I did manage to recreate this design in Photoshop. I then ordered two yards from spoonflower.com and added my favorite lace collar. I'm wearing this top today with black cords. My only wish is that it was brighter. I specified a much brighter red and black, but I guess that's the best that Spoonflower printers could do.

Here's the close up of the print. Paris, je t'aime! 

Red is my most flattering color and I've always wanted a bright red, festive, Christmasy top. So, take two yards of this chili pepper crepe de chine from Mood, add some red lace from Pacific Fabrics mixed with the red and gold trim from Nancy's and voila :)

And this last blouse is made from a gorgeous chiffon that I forever admired at the District Fabric store in Fremont. I finally broke down and bought two yards. I lined it with a 100% silk lining. It's breezy and feminine :) and the lurex thread gives this blouse the appearance of an extremely delicate body armor piece.