And now for something different… my first time with embroidery

If there’s one thing I’m terrible at when it comes to sewing, it’s taking risks.

But, as you all know, when it comes to the Twitter dress, one hell of a risk was needed to try and salvage this project. Not to mention, quite honestly, I am really really BORED of this garment now.

Enter embroidery, a craft I’ve never really had a go at and probably should have practiced a bit more before getting my brand-new embroidery needles stuck in – but this is risk-taking sewing here. EXTREME stuff, I’m telling you.

Embroidery requires a hoop to keep the fabric taut while you’re stitching along, desperately praying everything won’t come out all wonky. I was half tempted to go without, but, according to Sublime Stitching, the hoop is an integral part of the ULTIMATE EMBROIDERY KIT and being as this was EXTREME RISK-TAKING TIME, it just wouldn’t be the same without the hoop now would it?

I had planned to buy my ULTIMATE EMBROIDERY KIT from the lovely Sublime Stitching, but, er, I got impatient and toddled along to a lovely craft shop in Guildford called Pandora instead, where I acquired some stitchery goodness.

Keeping my Twittery theme in mind, I asked a good friend of mine to doodle me a  swallow. I get enough stick for having earrings with a passing resemblance to the Twitter logo (especially considering how much I’m on there), I couldn’t quite face actually embroidering it onto a dress. Isn’t it a nice design though?

Now, you’d think the sensible thing to do would be to practice, practice, practice first on the oodles of scrap fabric I have. Psht. Whatever. EXTREME RISK-TAKING has no time for piddly practice. This project needs moving along, pronto!

I sheepishly admit I wish I’d done a bit of practice now. It’s not that it looks too bad, it’s just a bit… wonky. Poor wonky bird. It had such high hopes, coming from a lovely design, but my inexperienced embroidery hands just got a bit over-excited and everything went all over the place. I could take it out, I suppose, but you’re assuming I can be bothered.

Getting stuck in couldn’t have been easier, thanks again to Sublime Stitching. Have you seen the tutorials available on the site? They’re fantastic, really clear and excellent for beginners. If I get more into embroidery, perhaps a cheeky book order is on the cards.

This isn’t even the half of why the Twitter dress is taking me so bloody long. I wish I could promise you an adventure-filled sewing tale full of pattern-slashing and skilful adjustments but it’s more a case of me sitting in a half-sewn muslin cheering on whoever was doing some sporting stuff on the telly.

It’s grit my teeth time to get it done now. The embroidery, while wonky, was actually pretty fun because it was something different. Now it’s back to the sewing grindstone. Sigh.

Do you ever get bored of your projects because they’re taking so long? Sometimes I wish the sewing fairy would come to visit and I’ll come home to find everything done, seam finishes and all…

GUEST POST: Thread Carefully’s 10 Sewing Commandments

Part 1

With almost 100 people taking the pledge now, I thought it was about time I got some guest posts here on Seamless! Today, the lovely Tabatha and Julia of Thread Carefully have thoughtfully put together their 10 Sewing Commandments with plenty of helpful hints and tips for beginners and experts alike. Without further ado, here are Commandments one to five…

Tabatha's Chantilly dress

1. Thou shalt only buy sewing equipment from reputable retailers.

This doesn’t include second hand or thrifted machines necessarily – those usually can’t be bought from retailers – here we mean new equipment.  It really is worth your while doing a bit of research before buying – not only into the brand and model number of the machine you’re interested in, but also into the retailer themselves.  If it seems too good to be true, it probably is! A good retailer will be there even after you buy your machine to service it, fix it and even show you how to use it if you need them to! If you are in the UK The Sewing Directory can help you to find your nearest retailer. If you can’t find what you’re looking for there, do a quick search online, but make sure you actually go to the shop.

2. Thou shalt not buy fabric simply because it is cheap.

How many times have I fallen for this (Tabatha’s good on this: she is way more restrained than I am) only to kick myself afterwards.  “Wow, that fabric that looks like it’s been stepped on is a bargain! I MUST HAVE IT. ”  No, just leave it.  It’s not worth it.  It’ll remain in your stash unused for you to feel guilty about forevermore.  By all means, if the fabric is cheap and you know you will definitely use it then there’s no reason not to buy it.  However, think carefully before snapping up a bargain piece of fabric, especially if you have no specific pattern in mind.

Julia's Tetris Macaron

3. Thou shalt not attempt to exactly replicate others’ creations.

This is one that’s close to both our hearts.  Like many people, the reason we started sewing was to have pieces that were unique to us.  We were both sick of constantly seeing other people in the same outfits or having people buy clothes because they liked how they looked on someone else.  Sometimes – dare we say it – we were even guilty of it ourselves.  When you start sewing you suddenly become appreciative of exactly what goes into making that piece.  You can deliberate over a pattern for hours, choosing the perfect style of fabric for it and the ideal trim.  At the end, you have something to be proud of.  It’s wonderful to admire other people’s creations and to garner inspiration from them, but if you love it so much you try to replicate it exactly, you are taking away the unique quality the other person has striven for. You should embrace the individuality that sewing permits, and create your own wonderful, inspired pieces, rather than copy  other people’s ideas.

4. Thou shalt always pre-wash or pre-shrink fabric.

I bet you, like us, have learned this the hard way.  Does much else need said on this, apart from that you will be devastated if your brand new, barely worn, [insert garment type here] shrinks the first time you wash it.  It has happened to us, and, although there may be a few commandments here we break from time to time, this is one we never, ever , EVER break.

Photo by Steven Depolo

5. Thou shalt always cut the correct size according to your measurements

Never guess what size you are based on your usual dress size (UK, US or otherwise).  Each pattern comes with measurements to help you identify your size , and that size will vary from company to company. Measure yourself each time and use that number.  It is only a number.  A number which no one need ever know, if you so wish.  The pattern may as well state sizes A, B, C, D, E for all the difference it makes.  An ill-fitting garment not only looks bad, but must surely feel bad.

Watch out later this week for the next five commandments, courtesy of Tabatha and Julia! In the meantime, check out their blog. If you’d like to write a guest blog for Seamless, get in touch!

2011’s inspirational makes

Photo by foto.bulle

It’s that time of year folks!

Time for the year in review posts – the highs, the lows and the things you’ll do better next year. 2011 has been quite the year, hasn’t it? I wanted to do something a little bit different for my end-of-year post…

I want to hear about the makes which have inspired your stitching in 2011!

My RSS feed is jam packed with some amazing sewing bloggers from all corners of the world and I’m sure the same can be said of you guys! These are the crafters who inspire me to stitch, knit and take embarassing photos of the results.

Have you seen a creation this year which has just taken your breath away? Maybe you’ve retweeted the blog post in awe or added it to your inspiration folder – if you have, I would love to hear about it.

Or perhaps you’ve made something this year which you’re pretty damn proud of. I want to know all about the blood, sweat and seam ripping which went into your best make of 2011.

Send me the link to the blogpost documenting the make and tell me why it’s one of your top makes. Then, on Friday 30 December I’ll post a selection of them on the blog where you can bask in their glory!

You can get in touch with me via all the usual avenues, whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, e-mail or by commenting below!

Can’t wait to see the inspirational makes!