How I Spent My Day

Yesterday, I spent the greater part of the day teaching a class about heirloom sewing; passing on what I’ve learned about creating delicate Victorian detailed embroidery techniques using my sewing/embroidery machine by helping others create a sampler which they can now use as part of a garment (likely a nightgown) or some other decorated textile project.

Heirloom Sample #1

It’s that time of year – I had a class of one. While my student was working, I had a bit of time to work on a sampler of my own – not particularly precise since I was distracted showing her techniques to help her with the precision that makes this work so lovely. I’ve put my sampler aside as an example of what you’re trying to avoid – my rows aren’t straight, the spacing isn’t exact and the panel is too narrow for the garment I want to make.

However, I still intend to make a light weight, flowing summer top embellished with heirloom work. So after aquafit this morning I started another stitched piece to serve as the yoke for this garment.

Finished Heirloom Panel – 24″ x 12″

Today, I decided to use a crisp paper as stabilizer, pulling it away from the stitching as I finished each row. I also took the time to draw lines with a heat-erasable pen to follow as I stitched. Unlike yesterday, my rows are evenly spaced and straight.

I began with 4 rows of tucks in the centre, since the neck opening of the top I plan on making has a slit I want to replicate, I decided not to put a lace piece down the centre. Now that I’ve drafted a pattern for the front yoke from my existing top I have a feeling I may not have left enough space at the centre to make the slit and face it properly (Oh, well). Next some hemstitching, followed by a row of decorative stitching, a grouping of pin tucks, another row of decorative stitching, an entredeux insert, ending with more decorative stitching and an outside line of hemstitching. The panel is symmetrical and the lines do match up on both sides.

Over the next few days, I’ll cut out the garment and begin assembling it. The top on which I’m basing this creation has an embellished front without a seam joining top and bottom. I’ll have to add a strip of entredeux to join top front to top bottom. I’m still thinking about style here and may in the end just use the same pattern I used for the nightgown and simply sew a hip-length top from it. I’ll make that decision tomorrow.

Heirloom Sewing

I’m doing an Heirloom Sewing class on Tuesday. The plan is to create a sampler using a range of heirloom techniques on a piece of lightweight cotton fabric (voile, batiste, lawn) large enough to become a yoke on a pull-on shirt, or a nightgown, a piece that can be used to make some kind of garment.

I needed to make something to show a finished product. A number of years ago I created several heirloom samplers intending to use them to make nightgowns. My supply of these lovely cotton nightgowns has continued to be serviceable for more than 10 years – I haven’t needed to replace any. However, I needed a new garment to show the class so yesterday I chose one of the samplers, pulled some batiste from my fabric stash, and cut out the nightgown. Today, I sewed it together.

First I had to put a bias binding to finish the front neckline. Second, I had to embellish the ends of the sleeves. I have a supply of beautiful lace edgings I bought quite a while ago and decided I should use one. I put it on the sleeve edge, did a row of hem stitching using a wing needle, then three rows of pin tucks using a 1.6mm twin needle and a pin tuck foot, finally a single row of decorative stitching. Together it makes for a pleasing sleeve edge.

I constructed the gown with French seams by sewing wrong sides together first, pressing the seam, folding it along the seam edge and stitching the seam again 1/4″ from the edge encasing the raw edges within the second seam. It’s a strong seam finish and there can be no fraying.

Once I had the gown made up, I double folded the hem and edge stitched it, then I added three rows of tucks along the bottom edge. I might still add a bit of decorative stitching but for now I’ve stopped.

Along with the original panels, I now have a completed nightgown to take to class!

New Nightgown for Joan

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It was my neighbour Joan’s birthday on Wednesday. A couple of years ago I made her an heirloom nightgown. Two weeks ago she asked if I could fix a rip in one sleeve. The tear was too large to “fix” so I replaced the sleeve – the gown was like new. At the time I thought, time to make her another gown. I use a white batiste and this time I did a bit of embroidery on the yoke. Used a binding on the neckline, and didn’t bother with a lot of fancy heirloom stitching on the hems. I gave it to her this afternoon.