Monday, May 20
In the last few weeks I saw lots of Staple dresses pop up on crafty blogs I read. I have never made a dress before but this dress looked so versatile and it seemed to me that it would be quite easy to make as well. I bought the PDF pattern (design by April Rhodes), a couple of yards of fabric and other notions from a local store and started sewing... Well not quite, I first printed the PDF out on the wrong scale (entirely my fault not the pattern!) After that I had to stick 24 printed pages together to make the pattern. Which quite honestly is the only downside to this pattern. The pattern is well written and if you read the instructions carefully you can hardly go wrong with it. There are two versions (both in the same pattern) one for a 'dropped' hem (longer on the back) and one for a straight hem (which I made). I also think that the finish is really lovely with the French seams (which hide the raw fabric edges so you don't have to zig-zag or whatever).
I took my measurements to figure out what size I should make. As my measurements translated into two different sizes for the top and the lower half of the dress I wimped out and chose the Medium size. The patterned fabric, a soft light weight cotton, was especially selected for it's capability to hide mistakes that I assumed would be made. It was a bit confusing (to me at least) that I couldn't tell the 'right' side from the 'wrong' side of the fabric. This resulted in my first mistake: sewing the side seams together the wrong way. I think I even already had made a neat French seam on one side when I realised my mistake. With this fabric making the French seams was a bit of a nightmare anyway as it was hard to press open 1/8" seams.
Adding the neck facing turned out to be the most difficult part of the process for me. The first facing I had cut and tried to sew on really didn't fit so I cut another one on the bias to give it a bit more stretch. I then finished by top stitching on the wrong side (as you do..) It's hardly noticeable though so I'm not too bothered about it.
Beforehand I thought the biggest challenge would be adding the shirring in the waist. I bought elastic thread which you must wind loosely on the bobbin by hand. I tested it and there was no gathering of the fabric at all. In the end (tip from the pattern, apparently it varies per machine) I wound it on the bobbin really tight. Tested it, it was fine. Did the shirring on the dress and it hadn't gathered at all. I then wound the elastic thread on the bobbin extra, extra tight and simply added another shirring line 1/4" above the first non-gathered line and it worked so well!
I'm really happy with my Staple Dress and I'm glad to have learned a few new skills like making French seams and shirring. I also learned that pressing your fabric throughout the process is really important. Can't wait to make another Staple Dress! You can buy the pattern here and find more examples of the dress here.
Sunday, May 19
Thursday, May 16
My new pattern Blossom Tree Nursery Wall Hanging is finished and in the shop! This 10 page PDF pattern has a stitch and colour key (and tips for stitching furry creatures!) as well as instructions on how to make a sweet quilted wall hanging with your embroidery. Some (not a lot) sewing/quilting experience would be helpful with that though.
Early birds can get the pattern for just $6! After the 23rd of May the pattern can be purchased for $7.50
For the pattern I made up a name and date of birth. I wonder if there are any girls born on the 7th of April (or will be on the 4th of July if you are in the US) called Olivia. :)
Wednesday, May 15
I'm hoping to introduce this new nursery friendly pattern called Blossom Tree into the shop in a few days time. Initially I designed it for a project that was cancelled but thought it too cute to leave it in the drawer. I made a quilt/wall hanging with my version and I will also include sewing instructions for that in the pattern. As my assignment was to make a design for a girl the colours are a bit girly but I can see this work with greens and blues (or purple) as well!
Monday, May 13
This weekend I spent rather a lot of time with this tiny fella. He's based on this free pattern of mine from a couple of years back and over the weekend he magically evolved from a white bunny into a brown Jackalope. I had a lot of fun stitching the flowers and leaves around him and I definitely think these will return in a future pattern or two! Some of those were inspired by this pattern I recently shared and some of the inspiration probably came from the Stitched in Scandinavia book I reviewed last week.
I used some of my favourite shades of blue from the DMC six stranded flosses for the flowers: no 3810 and 775. And probably about eight different colours of brown, beige and cream shades for the Jackalope. Everything was stitched with just one strand of floss and sometimes I even wished there was such a thing as half a strand of floss for the tiniest details!
Wednesday, May 8
If you love the clean, fresh and and timeless look of Scandinavian design Stitched in Scandinavia by Karin Holmberg is definitely worth checking out. A more appropriate title for the book would have probably been 'Stitched in Sweden'. The techniques described in the book and the inspiration for the motifs in the book really all originate in Sweden. Obviously similar techniques and motifs would have been found in other parts of Scandinavia but the other Scandinavian countries definitely also have their own needlecraft 'specialities' and motifs.
Karin's designs give a contemporary twist to traditional Swedish needlecraft techniques such as På or Järvsö embroidery. If you haven't heard of these techniques before (I had not) don't worry! A lot of the stitches used will be familiar to you if you have a good basic knowledge of embroidery. There is an overview of what materials and stitches are used with the different techniques. In some cases local Swedish, materials are used but internationally available alternatives are listed too.
There are 39 projects in the book. Some of these have short instructions on how to sew the item you'll be stitching on (like a cushion cover) and others use store-bought textiles like underwear or a hoodie.
The instructions for the embroidery part of the projects are generally not detailed. To me personally that isn't a problem, especially as I'm not very good at following other peoples instructions anyway. The sweet nursery embroidery with two plumb birds for example is worked in Blekinge embroidery but which type of stitch (surface satin, French Knot etc) goes where is something you have to work out yourself. Again with a little embroidery experience under your belt this shouldn't be too much of a problem. All embroidery patterns can be found in the back of the book alongside information on embroidery stitches, transferring the designs and fabric care.
The book and the projects are mostly meant to inspire and there surely is a lot of inspiration to be found in these pages.
I'm smitten with these colourful Scanian Woollen embroidery designs...and the photography throughout the book is just lovely.
The many project ideas and patterns in this book are a wonderful source of inspiration if you are looking to add a unique Scandinavian (or rather Swedish) touch to your home decor and clothing. I'm always keen to learn about traditional embroidery techniques and I admire how Karin Holmberg uses these in a modern (and practical!) way.
Stitched in Scandinavia by Karin Holmberg is published by Bloomsbury and available from May 23rd.
This book was sent to me by the publisher for review. This review is my own opinion about the book.
Saturday, May 4
Phew, it was hard work but I managed to finish my Fly me to the moon embroidery pattern! It not only includes a charming tap dancing Polar Bear called Fred (more about Fred later) but also the rather neat lettering I designed to go with the 'main' pattern.
As usual the pattern has a stitch and colour guide and in addition some useful tips on how to stitch a lively looking Polar Bear fur!
Be sure to buy the pattern within the next seven days for the special introduction price of just $3.50! After the 12th of May the price will be $4.50.
When I wrote about the dancing Polar Bear last week Lucy @ Charm about you left me a comment mentioning that she named her son Fred (after Fred Astaire). After that there was no way I could give the Polar Bear another name but Fred. So Lucy if you read this, please sent me an e-mail and I'll send you a copy of the pattern. :)