Saturday, 11 January 2020

Style Arc Gertrude House of Gifts Christmas Dress

For a change this was a fast moving fabric and pattern (fast fashion?) with no stash maturation. The fabric was ordered on 29 November, received on 7 December, cut up on 12 December with sewing starting on 15 December. The pattern was purchased on 17 November. Almost unheard of in my sewing life for two recent purchases to come together so quickly.

The finished garment

I'm not sure how long after Christmas you can wear your Christmas dress. As you can see from me posing in the sunshine by the grapevine on 27 December I was a bit ambivalent, wearing it with my Camper sneakers rather than my red shoes.

Can you wear a dress covered in baubles and presents past Twelfth Night? Does wearing it past 5 January cause bad luck like leaving your Christmas decorations up? Although there is also a superstition that Christmas decorations not taken down by Twelfth Night should be left up until Candlemas Day (2nd February) and then taken down. Don't think I'll be wearing this dress over the next month it is now safely ensconced in the wardrobe until December. Tidied away like the Christmas decorations.

Creates Sew Slow: Style Arc Gertrude House of Gifts Christmas Dress

Creates Sew Slow: Style Arc Gertrude House of Gifts Christmas Dress

There was a thread on Pattern Review about sewing old patterns and did that make you look frumpy. So here I am in a new Style Arc pattern feeling frumpy. The big contributor to the frumpiness is the cardigan, completely the wrong length for this dress but good from a colour perspective. Or maybe its the too high neckline or the flat sneakers. Whatever it is this picture does not have me feeling my best.

Creates Sew Slow: Style Arc Gertrude House of Gifts Christmas Dress

The fabric

A pre-Christmas impulse purchase from Liberty of London (I succumbed to their marketing email). The fabric was washed as soon as it arrived and cut out soon after to make the Gertrude Designer dress. The stash came into play for the lining fabric which is a plain black cotton voile.

Creates Sew Slow: Style Arc Gertrude House of Gifts Christmas Dress
Liberty of London House of Gifts navy tana lawn

The pattern

The Gertrude Designer dress is described by Style Arc as a designer dress featuring a fitted bodice, dropped shoulder line, tucked sleeves, inverted pleats and a back zip. The reverse inverted pleats give this designer dress its unique shape. This dress has a fitted bodice along with a dropped shoulder. The shape of the engineered sleeve is created by the under-sleeve tucks. The essential side pockets and mid-calf length give this dress its designer feel.

Creates Sew Slow: Style Arc Gertrude House of Gifts Christmas Dress

Suggested fabrics are washed linen, crepe, silk and rayon, so similar to the tana lawn I chose to use.

The pattern alterations

Amazingly no pattern alterations were made to this dress. Based on the finished pattern measurements I cut a straight size 12 (I did check the sizing by comparing to my TNT dress pattern). No forward shoulder or sway back. The only change I had to make when cutting out the dress was to shorten it to knee length because I didn't have enough fabric for anything longer. I also omitted the back zipper.

As this is a limited wear dress being made from a Christmas print I did wonder about just doing plain short sleeves without the tuck detail but decided in the end to just go with the pattern flow.

If I make this dress again there will be alterations, at the minimum: a sway back adjustment; shortened sleeves and lowered neckline.

The sewing

This was certainly not a quick sew for me partly because I used french seams and lined it but the pattern itself has a number of details that take time.

There are a number of steps to construct each of the eight bodice pieces (two front outer fabric, two front lining, two back outer fabric, two back lining).
Step one: sew the bodice princess seams together including the inverted pleats at the skirt end. Press the seam open and the pleats flat.
Step two: sew the centre front and centre back seams (two of each). I used French seams on these four seams.
Step three: add the two raglan sleeve pieces to each of the front and back sections. Press the seams open.
Step four: sew the shoulders of the dress and of the lining together. Press the seams open.
Step five: Attach the lining and dress together at the neckline. Trim the neckline seam and under-stitch.
Step six: For the side seams I used French seams and treated the dress and lining as one but made the sewing more complicated by keeping the pockets.

So what about the pockets. I puzzled this a great deal in one of my early morning awake sessions, trying to work out how I could have a pocket in a French seam. I tried to take pictures as I went along but of course when deep into sewing you forget all about pictures.

Step one: sew the pocket bags around the edge wrong sides together leaving a small area unsewn at each end by the side seam edge.
Step two: sew each side of the pocket bag to its corresponding dress side seam wrong sides together. Sew the dress side seam (wrong sides together) up to the pocket bag in two steps - hem to pocket bag, underarm to pocket bag.
Step three: press the first part of the French seam towards the pocket bag.
Step four: sew each side of the pocket bag to its corresponding dress side seam right sides together. This is where you need the small unsewn area of the pocket bag so you can separate the two halves of the pocket bag to sew them to the corresponding side seam. Press the finished French seam of the pocket bag towards the pocket bag.
Step five (no picture): Sew the dress side seam's second part of the French seam. This is sewn how you would conventionally sew the side seam with pocket bag in one continuous length - hem to pocket bag, around the pocket bag, pocket bag to underarm.
Step six (no picture): press the French seam towards centre front in order for your pocket bag to be facing the right direction.

Creates Sew Slow: Style Arc Gertrude House of Gifts Christmas Dress

The sleeves because of the tuck detail consist of an under and upper sleeve. The tucks were sewn into the under sleeve, the shoulder dart sewn in the upper sleeve and both pressed. The under and upper sleeve were sewn together with French seams and a narrow hem was machine stitched. Once the dress side seams were sewn the unlined two piece sleeve could be inserted also using French seams, treating the dress body lining and outer fabric as one.

The final step was to hand sew a narrow hem. As I only had a limited amount of fabric (two metres) I had made the dress as long as possible but the only way I could have the hem end just below my knee cap was to have a 1" hem (⅜" for the first fold and ⅝" for the second).

After all that sewing the dress was finished on Boxing Day and has had minimal wear. Waiting for Christmas 2020 to shine!

There is much discussion about the quality of Style Arc directions. For me the Gertrude Designer Dress instructions were adequate clearly illustrating how to construct the princess seam tucks and the tucks in the under sleeve. This was pretty much the only time I referred to the pattern instructions, especially as I lined the dress and had to decide how I wanted to treat the lining and outer dress fabrics.

Outfit of the day

Here is the dress in action being Mrs Claus handing Christmas presents to my beloved (which he had to wait until Boxing Day for). I know pathetic but if you are going to the trouble of making a Christmas dress it has to have some purpose and he didn't seem to mind waiting the extra day (or twelve hours if we celebrated with our northern hemisphere family!). He also appreciated the pre-Christmas clean the house got which is what caused the sewing delay.

Creates Sew Slow: Style Arc Gertrude House of Gifts Christmas Dress

To be perfectly honest I felt more Christmassy dressed in my Twirling Rebecca Taylor dress with a red cropped top and United Nude Lev Wrap Lo red shoes than I did in my House of Gifts Christmas dress, even wearing the same red shoes.

Creates Sew Slow: Style Arc Gertrude House of Gifts Christmas Dress

Sewing out and about

The dress was started two Sunday's before Christmas whilst we were away on the West Coast. The Sunday afternoon was wet and miserable so whilst my beloved read his book I sewed at the little dining table.

Creates Sew Slow: Style Arc Gertrude House of Gifts Christmas Dress

After sewing the Christmas dress I gave the little Featherweight a Christmas treat with a good dust, oil and grease, plus I finally replaced her bed cushions (the little rubber feet).

Creates Sew Slow: Style Arc Gertrude House of Gifts Christmas Dress

The bed cushions are supposed to grip the sewing surface for vibration and noise absorption. Mine unsurprisingly given the age of the machine were hard and smooshed down.  To remove the old worn cushions I had to dig out the old rubber with a screwdriver. I got better at the digging out with each one I removed. The picture below left shows all four cushions removed and on the right shows the difference between two new ones (face up and face down) compared with the older cushions.

Creates Sew Slow: Style Arc Gertrude House of Gifts Christmas Dress

Saturday, 28 December 2019

Vogue 1321 Donna Karan Red Shibori Coat

This post is slightly cheating as the coat was made way back in 2013 from some fabulous fabric hand dyed by a group of local quilters (Cheryl Comfort, Catherine McDonald and Chris Tait). I was motivated to write this blog post because one of the sewers I follow has this pattern on a shortlist for her winter coat and there is only one review for it on Pattern Review.

Even though this coat is now six years old it is still a favourite and attracts lots of comments. On its first outing it went for a show and tell visit to the fabric dyers at Crafty Christchurch where it was photographed by a journalist from our local free lifestyle magazine Metropol and even featured in a tiny picture on the events page. If I was really dedicated to documenting my sewing I would still have a copy of the magazine picture posted in my scrapbook but alas I am not and the magazine has long since left the building.

The finished garment

The photos on the dress form were taken a few years ago (pre-blog) when I had a long session of photographing my me-made clothes as a record of my sewing adventures, as I realised how much I enjoyed flicking through the photo album of my embroidery yet hadn't bothered photographing my sewing.  The photographs of the coat being worn were taken a couple of weeks ago on a very sunny Saturday.

Creates Sew Slow: Vogue 1321 Donna Karan Red Shibori Coat

Creates Sew Slow: Vogue 1321 Donna Karan Red Shibori Coat

Creates Sew Slow: Vogue 1321 Donna Karan Red Shibori Coat

The fabric

The fabrics are a hand-dyed red with a matching indigo shibori overdyed fabric. Two one metre pieces of fabric were purchased at the 2012 Crafty Christchurch event in the Geodome in Hagley Park. When I decided to make this coat the original fabric was posted to one of the quilters to get some more dyed to match as I needed three metres of each fabric. I also bought a metre piece of indigo dyed fabric to make a belt but then used a purchased belt already in my possession.

Creates Sew Slow: Vogue 1321 Donna Karan Red Shibori Coat

The overdyed fabric is used for the coat skirt with the plain red being the upper body, sleeves and facings. The fabrics were difficult to photograph to show their true colours. The pictures of the finished garment give a better colour representation.

Only Catherine McDonald (Mallee Textiles) of the original group of quilters still dyes fabric for sale, which is a shame as they created some fabulous fabrics.

The hand-dyed cotton was underlined with an heirloom cotton batting that is almost like flannelette but more loosely woven.  The lining is a navy blue coloured silk twill.

The pattern

Vogue's description is very loose fitting, unlined, double breasted coat has front extending into collar, shoulder pads, dropped shoulders, top stitched darts,side front pockets and seams, stitched hems, three-piece sleeves with button tab, thread loops, raw edge finish and overlapped seams. Purchased belt.

Creates Sew Slow: Vogue 1321 Donna Karan Red Shibori Coat

The suggested fabrics are: lightweight melton, boiled wool, wool double knit. Lining to cover the shoulder pads and for the pockets: china silk, crepe de chine.

With my normal disregard for the designer I made my coat in a lovely cotton fabric, sewed the seams as normal right side together and added a lining.

The pattern alterations

As Vogue indicates in the description this pattern is very loose fitting. For me this means entirely too big and the size to make is chosen based on the finished garment measurements printed on the pattern. The size 10 provided the amount of ease I wanted whilst based on the pattern sizing I should have sewn size 16. The finished garment measurements for the size 10 are bust 43½"; waist 38"; and hip 58½". This supposedly fits someone with a bust of 32½"; waist 25" and hip 34½". No wonder a belt is needed.

Creates Sew Slow: Vogue 1321 Donna Karan Red Shibori Coat

Creates Sew Slow: Vogue 1321 Donna Karan Red Shibori Coat
My pattern back and front on top of the original pattern tissue
The other alterations were to lengthen the bodice 1" above the lengthen and shorten line. Use fisheye darts for the front and back outer garment pieces instead of the open darts ending at the waistline. Double the size of the darts in the front collar from ⅝" to 1¼" to reduce the width slightly.

As I wanted to use two fabrics, one for the upper body and one for the skirt a line was marked on each of the pattern pieces with the seam allowance being added directly on the fabric as it was cut out.

New pattern pieces were made for the front lining from the front pattern piece minus the front facing. The back pattern piece was used as is but placed on the fabric fold with extra fabric at centre back to make a pleat for ease of movement. The side front pattern piece was used for both the outer garment fabric and the lining.

The sewing

The sewing instructions assume you are using a fabric that doesn't fray and that the coat is unlined. As neither of these is true for my coat I followed the sewing instructions but adapted them where necessary. Seams were sewn right sides together rather than overlapped, darts were sewn together not slashed and overlapped.

As the coat was lined I didn't bother binding the edges of the pockets but I did make belt loops of the appropriate size for my RTW belt. The pattern description mentions thread loops which appear to be for the belt but the pattern directions don't mention the making of thread loops. For my wide belt thread loops would have been inadequate, proper fabric belt loops were needed!

The lining fabric was perfect for the covered snaps which were extremely easy to make using the pattern instructions. Ingenious to put both circles of fabric over the ball half of the snap, then snap the ball and socket sections together so the circles of silk are held perfectly in place whilst you draw up the gathers and fasten off - one circle for each half of the snap.  The hole in the silk was made using an awl rather than cutting the silk.

Creates Sew Slow: Vogue 1321 Donna Karan Red Shibori Coat

Creates Sew Slow: Vogue 1321 Donna Karan Red Shibori Coat

In conclusion

This was a fabulous garment to sew that has stood the test of time and still brings me joy. Now that I have been reminded about this pattern I quite fancy it in a nice wool as per the suggested fabrics but lengthened a few inches to lower calf length.

Monday, 9 December 2019

Vogue 9243 Twirling Rebecca Taylor Dress

I impulsively purchased a linen top in what to me is a pale orange colour (they call it vanilla), that has an extreme high low hem. The high is so high it makes it a cropped top but I envisaged it being worn over the orange dress in my imaginary orange summer wardrobe. I wanted to use Vogue 9243 for my orange dress but then I bought a sleeveless knit dress for a work event (no time to make anything) which left me pondering an alternative fabric - enter this lovely Rebecca Taylor ponte like knit.

The orange wardrobe may become a Stitcher's Guild SWAP 2020, a yearly wardrobe sewing contest to sew eleven garments that all work together. This year the rules are extremely permissive which is what tempts me but I'm not very motivated by deadlines in my sewing life. SWAP sewing happens over a four month period, beginning during my Christmas holiday so eleven garments should be extremely doable. All I need to do is commit!!

The finished garment

This dress is fantabulous for twirling, as well as feeling lovely and swishy when you walk. For the twirling action shots a large area of garden was needed and I wasn't entirely steady on my feet but it was fun.

Creates Sew Slow: Vogue 9243 Twirling Rebecca Taylor Dress

Creates Sew Slow: Vogue 9243 Twirling Rebecca Taylor Dress
Excuse the closed eyes the sun was blinding (but the best light for photographs)

The fabric

The Rebecca Taylor cotton poly knit has a lovely brushed back that makes it snuggly to wear but on the downside not suitable for a really hot summer's day. The fabric came from Silhouette Patterns and was bought to be paired with some leather (also from Silhouette Patterns) to make a trench like coat. The leather is more of a black brown colour than I anticipated and the Rebecca Taylor knit was completely the wrong colour so on to plan B...

Creates Sew Slow: Vogue 9243 Twirling Rebecca Taylor Dress

The pattern

Vogue 9243 is copyrighted 1985 so an oldie but a goodie. A few years before I got back into sewing I had a big clear out of my patterns and most of them went to my local Bernina Sewing Centre. The ones I kept were mostly Vogue Designer patterns as well as a few other Vogue patterns that I felt were classics. This is one of the survivors.

It was a very interesting exercise to look at the pile of patterns and decide which to keep and which to discard especially to find the vast majority of those retained were Vogue. Nowadays I hardly even look at the offerings from the other big four pattern companies.

Discussing the age of the pattern with a colleague and the fact that it had survived a cull she immediately guessed it was a Vogue pattern. What is it about the Vogue patterns that make them keepers?

Creates Sew Slow: Vogue 9243 Twirling Dress

The dress is described as a semi-fitted and flared pullover dress, below mid-calf or lower calf, has back neck slit with button/loop, low cutaway armholes and side pockets. Narrow hem. Purchased belt.

Suggested fabrics are: Jersey, stable knits, light weight linen, crepe-de-chine and silk likely Jacquard. So for once I followed instructions as the Rebecca Taylor fabric is a very stable knit.

The pattern alterations

I overlaid the V9243 pattern pieces, matching at the waistline, with my TNT knit dress (a Silhouette Patterns combination of #195 Sweater Set and #2010 Yoga Skirt) and used that for the upper part of the dress merging back into V9243 size 10 below the french dart. The shoulder seam width is as per the original V9243, but the neckline was lowered slightly. The pattern was also lengthened 4".

Creates Sew Slow: Vogue 9243 Twirling Rebecca Taylor Dress
Creates Sew Slow: Vogue 9243 Twirling Rebecca Taylor Dress
Vogue 9243 compared to the TNT knit dress pattern

Creates Sew Slow: Vogue 9243 Twirling Rebecca Taylor Dress
Creates Sew Slow: Vogue 9243 Twirling Rebecca Taylor Dress
Vogue 9243 original pattern compared to the Twirling Rebecca Taylor Dress
This pattern would be fine to use for a woven version but there was too much ease for a knit fabric.

The sewing

Yet another extremely quick sew on the overlocker, apart from the hem and stay stitching around the neckline and armholes. The neckline and armholes were turned under at the stay stitching line and sewn down. As this was a knit the back neck slit with button loop was unnecessary.

I wasn't sure how the pockets would work in this knit so I only added one pocket on the right hand side really just as a place for my handkerchief to go. The pocket has proved quite stable so if the pattern is made again I might go mad and have two pockets.

The orange wardrobe part II

The week's workday wardrobe was planned around black/white and orange. None of these garments featured in my orange summer wardrobe so when I do start sewing that plan I will have no shortage of other clothes to mix in.

Creates Sew Slow: Vogue 9243 Twirling Rebecca Taylor Dress
Monday to Thursday, left to right: Style Arc Maris Orange silk linen top with WORLD Two Wrongs Trouser Black White Mosaic; Witchery Vivid Coral Detail Swing Knit Dress; Witchery Vivid Coral Rib Elbow Sleeve Knit Top with same WORLD trousers as Monday; V9243 Twirling RT dress with Minx C Reed Clothing Vanilla Short Angel Wings linen top; all week I wore the Ulysses Horizontal Hold trench coat with an orange bucket bag, CODA orange paper brooch and United Nude Solid Fold mono shoes
The Witchery Vivd Coral Detail Swing knit dress was purchased for a work event after I spied it in the Witchery shop at Wellington airport. It looked fabulous paired with my blue jacket, CODA orange paper brooch and Vic Matiē Theo navy shoes. Unfortunately I didn't take a picture of it, the closest I got was an outfit earlier in the same week, with a carefully staged selfie in the bathroom at work!

Creates Sew Slow: Vogue 9243 Twirling Rebecca Taylor Dress

Monday, 18 November 2019

The Sewing Workshop Era Floral Faux Fur Coat

Whilst still deep into my sewing theme of the Minnie Mouse red white and black wardrobe I found a fun fabric to make a fabulous winter coat. I admired it for a while and then The Sewing Workshop had a promotion and yay I got 20% off. In all honesty it was a good marketing ploy as whilst I had been hesitant to buy it all full price as soon as the discount came along I had hit the buy button before rational thought had any chance of intervening.

The finished garment

Spring has very much sprung with the fading blossoms on the crab apple tree providing the back drop for my new winter coat. Maybe after a few months resting in the wardrobe I will have got over the initial lack of love for the finished coat. Its redeeming feature is the wonderful lining.

You might notice there are no pictures of it buttoned up. That is because it doesn't have buttons yet. I have the buttons just can't decide how I want to make the closure. Favourite idea at the moment is to have a leather fabric loop rather than a buttonhole. Will wait for next winter before I make my final choice.

Creates Sew Slow: The Sewing Workshop Era Floral Faux Fur Coat
 Worn with Andrea Moore boyfriend jeans and mohair jumper; United Nude Solid Fold shoe in colour mono

Creates Sew Slow: The Sewing Workshop Era Floral Faux Fur Coat

The fabric

This is one of the more expensive fabrics I have ever bought at US$69 per yard and the 20% off basically covered the cost of shipping.

In the pictures it looked completely fabulous. When it arrived I was a bit disappointed with how flimsy the knit backing was and to me not strong enough to support the faux fur with any longevity. There were also a few flaws in the fabric (not that I discovered this until many months later when I was cutting out). Despite this I was still excited to make a winter coat with it. The only demotivating factor was that we weren't having a winter, sure we had more grey days than normal but the crisp blue sky winter days were few and far between. In fact my most worn coat this winter has been the Horizontal Hold trench (albeit with an Ecopossum cardi under it on some occasions) which given it is a cotton/acrylic mix and therefore provides very little warmth despite being a heavyweight jacquard indicates how mild winter has been.

Creates Sew Slow: The Sewing Workshop Era Floral Faux Fur Coat

Creates Sew Slow: The Sewing Workshop Era Floral Faux Fur Coat

Initially I was going to use a plain black warm back coat lining but then I found this perfect polyester satin fabric at a local fabric store. I don't normally like using synthetic fabric but as the faux fur was anything but natural nothing was lost by using this polyester fabric for the lining.

Creates Sew Slow: The Sewing Workshop Era Floral Faux Fur Coat

The fabric alterations

Given my reservations about the strength of the faux fur fabric and the fact that I wanted a warm back lining additions were made to both fabrics.

For the faux fur it was block fused with a tricot interfacing to retain the original fabric hand. It was tricky to fuse this as the faux fur made the fabric quite lumpy and the iron had to be manoeuvred between the fur to make good contact with the fabric.

Creates Sew Slow: The Sewing Workshop Era Floral Faux Fur Coat

For the lining it was block fused with a polyester fusible quilt batting.

Creates Sew Slow: The Sewing Workshop Era Floral Faux Fur Coat

The pattern

The Sewing Workshop Era jacket description a loose-fitting, below-waist jacket has high turn-down collar with deep mitred corners, side vent openings extending above waist, one-piece sleeves with deep hems and vents. Two-button front closure and decorative buttons at vent and sleeve openings. All edges finished with wide hems and mitred corners. Wrong side will show.

Creates Sew Slow: The Sewing Workshop Era Floral Faux Fur Coat


Suggested fabrics are: linen, wool, medium to heavy weight silk, crisp sheers, cotton, boucle, sweater knit, and novelty weaves. Wrong side of fabric will show.


The pattern alterations

The obvious and pretty much the only pattern alteration is that I lengthened the jacket by 23" to create a coat, but keeping the high low hem shape of the original jacket. To determine the extra length needed and the width at the hem edge I measured the Victory Ulysses trench. The side seams have no shaping being a straight line from the underarm to the hem. They would have benefited from some shaping to give more width at the hip.

The pattern is designed with a lot of ease so I chose to use the XS size with a finished bust measurement of 46" (meant for a 31" bust) and I am happy with this choice.

The other addition I made to the pattern was to add a welt pocket. Both the design and position on the coat are based on Vogue 1836 an Issey Miyake pattern I have made before.

Creates Sew Slow: The Sewing Workshop Era Floral Faux Fur Coat
Left: front pattern piece; right: back pattern piece
I used the XS sleeve lengthened by 2¾". This gives a sleeve that is pretty tight on the forearm so I sewed it with a ¼" seam allowance to give me an extra ¾" - not ideal but wearable. Next time I make this (if ever) I will widen the sleeve from the bicep down to the hem by at least ½" on each side.

The lining fabric used the same pattern pieces as the outer garment. The only difference was I omitted the 3⅝" hem around the outer edge of the garment; removed the collar; and added a 2" box pleat at centre back for movement.

The sewing

The first thing sewn was the lining to check that I was happy with the fit including the length. This is when I discovered that the sleeves were too tight at the forearm and reduced the seam allowance.

Creates Sew Slow: The Sewing Workshop Era Floral Faux Fur Coat

Even though the faux fur fabric was block fused to tricot interfacing it had a tendency to fray so all of the fabric piece edges were overlocked before being sewn together on my little Singer Featherweight.

The pattern instructions were good and easy to follow, although I missed steps and adapted others where I had changed the garment design. The one area where I am still perplexed is the collar. In the pattern instructions and pictures the collar is the same height all the way around but mine is definitely higher in the back. I have no idea what I did to get this significant variation in height.

Creates Sew Slow: The Sewing Workshop Era Floral Faux Fur Coat

The welt pocket was sewn using the instructions from V1836, except for two things: (1) I did a double rather than single welt; and (2) I forgot to follow the instructions to enclose the cut edges on one of the pockets and just overlocked the edges of the pocket bags together. It doesn't matter in this coat given it is fully lined but it is a nice touch in V1836 which is unlined.  The welt uses a plain back cotton fabric and the pocket bags are the lining fabric.

Creates Sew Slow: The Sewing Workshop Era Floral Faux Fur Coat

The real feature of this pattern that I absolutely love is the 3⅝" hem. The ⅝" is folded under then the corners are mitred and the 3" hem turned to the inside and top stitched. My lining fabric goes to the point where the hem is turned up and is fully enclosed by the hem.

Creates Sew Slow: The Sewing Workshop Era Floral Faux Fur Coat

Sometimes although I read the description of the garment on the pattern it doesn't actually sink in. Case in point is this coat. The collar is too high at the back which shouldn't be a surprise as the description is "high turned-down collar". Hmm turned down - not what I wanted. So when I finally get around to putting the buttons on I will also undo the collar and reduce the height. Reverse sewing in this fabric is not fun as the stitches pretty much disappear because of the fur and loose fabric weave.

Creates Sew Slow: The Sewing Workshop Era Floral Faux Fur Coat

To be completely truthful until I wrote this blog post the coat was more than likely destined to never be worn just live as is in the wardrobe until it was passed on to a charity shop. Now that I have been reminded just how extravagant I was when I bought this fabric, as well as looking at the photos where it seems more wearable (and not a big furry joke) it may get the necessary changes including buttons and be worn. This coat was sewn in September and it really is amazing how differently we can feel about the clothes we make once a little time has passed. Definitely no love at first sight with this make but I can feel it growing on me.

Sunday, 10 November 2019

Threadworks 2019: Renewal - The Giving of Life

I recently got to see a fabulous embroidery exhibition by the Canterbury Embroiderers' Guild, something they do biennially. The plan was to do this post early enough to give others the opportunity to see this exhibition, however on my first visit to the exhibition I just soaked up the talent without taking any pictures and only got back to the exhibition to take photos on the second to last day it was open.

Creates Sew Slow: Threadworks 2019: Renewal - The Giving of Life

I have included the statements that accompanied each of the embroideries which also explain the embroidery technique used.


The prize winners

I am pretty sure I didn't photograph all of the prize winners but here are the ones that particularly interested me.

Lynette Hale - 17th Century Gentleman's Sleeping Cap
Selectors Choice Noeline McIlroy Prize and Viewer's Choice Second Place

Lynette posted this to Facebook "This is an embroidered mans’ 17th century sleeping cap which I did a while ago. I also made the metallic bobbin lace trim. Last night at the Canterbury Embroiderers Guild Exhibition opening I was honoured by being presented with the late Noelene McIlroy award for best stitching by the selectors. Very thrilled & did not sleep a wink last night!"

Artist's statement: Modern interpretation of a 17th century design by Thomas Trevelyon. Worked in pure silk, metallic threads, beads and sequins. The bobbin lace is worked in gold thread. The cap is lined with silk brocade and finished with a handmade silk tassel.

Category: Traditional
Design source: Thomas Trevelyon
Technique: Surface stitchery and goldwork

Surface stitchery is any form of freestyle embroidery in which the pattern is worked by the use of decorative stitches and laid threads.

Goldwork originating in Asia, is the art of embroidery using metal threads. Once accessible only to the wealthy, goldwork embroidery was used historically to adorn ecclesiastical textiles, military uniforms, and clothing and textiles of the nobility. It is a type of surface embroidery and the majority is a form of laid work or couching that is, the gold threads are held on the the surface of the fabric by a second thread, usually of fine silk. The ends of the thread, depending on type are simply cut off, or are pulled through to the back of the embroidery and carefully secured with the couching thread. A tool called a mellore or a stiletto is used to help position the threads and create the holes needed to pull them through.

Creates Sew Slow: Threadworks 2019: Renewal - The Giving of Life

Creates Sew Slow: Threadworks 2019: Renewal - The Giving of Life

Louise McCliskie - A Couple of Dusty Millers
Best Embroidery Traditional Embroidery Original Design

Artist's statement: Dusty Miller annuals are known for their velvety, silver foliage. These two stumpwork pieces recreate the Dusty Miller beautifully.

Category: Traditional
Design source: Original
Technique: Stumpwork

Stumpwork or raised work is a style of embroidery in which stitching is raised from the surface of the work to form a three-dimensional effect. Stitches can be padded or worked around pieces of wire to create individual forms such as leaves, insect wings or flower petals.

Creates Sew Slow: Threadworks 2019: Renewal - The Giving of Life

This pair of embroideries were completely stunning the leaves recreated the velvety texture amazingly well.

Linda Graham - Sublime Stitches
Best Embroidery Traditional Embroidery Class or Kit Design

Artist's statement: A collection of stitches in a sampler form. This beautifully stitched piece is a modern take on the traditional sampler.

Category: Traditional
Design source: Elizabeth Almond, Blackwork Journey
Technique: Needlework sampler

A Needlework Sampler is a piece of embroidery or cross-stitching produced as a specimen of achievement, demonstration or a test of a skill in needlework. It often includes the alphabet, figures, motifs, decorative borders and sometimes the name of the person who embroidered it and the date.

Creates Sew Slow: Threadworks 2019: Renewal - The Giving of Life

Not sure why but there are some strange goings on in the photo at the bottom left and right hand corners where the embroidery is duplicated over the borders. Hopefully it doesn't detract too much from this gorgeous sampler.

Kate Paterson - Le Danseur
Best Embroidery Contemporary Embroidery Class or Kit Design

Artist's statement: Stitched from a kit I purchased in Paris at the haberdashery shop Au Ver a Soie (Silk House). The instructions were in French with excellent diagrams!

Category: Contemporary
Design source: Pascal Jaouen and Mik Jegou
Technique: Surface stitchery

Creates Sew Slow: Threadworks 2019: Renewal - The Giving of Life

The ones that caught my eye

I could easily have photographed many more of the pieces as this was a very inspiring exhibition, however I chose to photograph only those that really spoke to me. For example when I received the email with the viewer's choice winners I realised that I hadn't taken a picture of the piece that won first place.

Jenny Baird - We Are One

Artist's statement: Design created following the Christchurch Mosque attacks interpreted in stitch.

Category: Contemporary
Design source: Ruby Jones
Technique: Surface stitchery

Creates Sew Slow: Threadworks 2019: Renewal - The Giving of Life

Jenny Baird - Forbidden Fruit

Artist's statement: One of William Morris's most popular designs. The Strawberry Thief, stitched in crewel and beadwork. Resplendent in plumage of floral patterns this cheeky fellow looks very pleased with his juicy red prize.

Category: Traditional
Design source: Nicola Jarvis, Inspirations Magazine issue 93
Technique: Surface stitchery

Creates Sew Slow: Threadworks 2019: Renewal - The Giving of Life

Crystine Baxter - La Broderie au Passe

Artist's statement: Interpretation of an historic design worked in surface stitchery.

Category: Traditional
Design source: Thérèse de Dillmont
Technique: Surface stitchery

Creates Sew Slow: Threadworks 2019: Renewal - The Giving of Life

Dawn Chivers - A Partridge in a Pear Tree

Artist's statement: Surface stitchery using one strand of thread.

Category: Contemporary
Design source: Jill Buckley / Trish Burr
Technique: Surface stitchery

Creates Sew Slow: Threadworks 2019: Renewal - The Giving of Life

 Dawn Chivers - The Life Cycle of the Swallowtail Butterfly

Artist's statement: Stumpwork using a single strand of silk creates this depiction of the butterfly life cycle.

Category: Traditional
Design source: Jane Nicholas Embroidery
Technique: Stumpwork

Creates Sew Slow: Threadworks 2019: Renewal - The Giving of Life

Maree Cooper - Christmas Tree

Artist's statement: Cross stitch Christmas tree embellished with beads.

Category: Traditional
Design source: Cynthia Zittel, The Drawn Thread
Technique: Cross stitch

Cross stitch: a counted stitch commonly worked on evenweave fabric such as linen. Cross stitch is one of the oldest and most popular embroidery stitches, historically it was used to adorn clothing and household linens and is now commonly used to create decorative pictures.

Creates Sew Slow: Threadworks 2019: Renewal - The Giving of Life

Linda Graham - Quaker Cross Stitch Balls

Artist's statement: Cross stitch used in a fascinating way to use up left over fabric and threads.

Category: Traditional
Design source: Denise Harrington Pratt of Amaryllis Artworks (Facebook page)
Technique: Quaker embroidery

Quaker embroidery: the Religious Society of Friends, or Quakers, believed in the importance of education for girls including the teaching of embroidery. Motifs associated with Quaker instruction include: Roman style alphabet, small wreaths, paired doves, swans, natural looking sprays of flowers, and eight-pointed stars. Unique to Quaker samplers was the inclusion of bold and intricate medallions and half medallions, often lined up along the edge as a border. Widespread adoption of the same alphabets and motifs led to nineteenth century samplers that are easily recognisable as having been created under the instruction of a Quaker teacher or one trained in a Quaker school. These motifs are now being used to create cross stitch patterns which are used in decorative work.

Creates Sew Slow: Threadworks 2019: Renewal - The Giving of Life

Carolyn Lynn - Butterfly Courtship

Artist's statement: Surface embroidery using cotton, rayon and metallic threads on printed Colour Me fabric.

Category: Contemporary
Design source: Papillon Paisley Butterflies by Hayley Crouse for Michael Miller Fabrics
Technique: Surface stitchery

Creates Sew Slow: Threadworks 2019: Renewal - The Giving of Life

Lyn Mallinson - My 100 Day Project

Artist's statement: This piece is, to a certain extent, self-explanatory; a 100 day challenge. Although I had prepared graphs they did not always work out as I had planned. Sometimes it was because of the colours used, or the colour I wanted to use, sometimes two patterns just didn't look right together. Positions were changed which caused others to be changed too. So strictly speaking not a 100 day challenge but it certainly threw up lots of challenges and it did take 100 days to complete - plus one more to make it presentable!

Worked on 28 count even weave fabric using a combination of Perle 8 and DMC Flower Thread which unfortunately is no longer available.

Category: Contemporary
Design source: Original
Technique: Wessex stitchery

Creates Sew Slow: Threadworks 2019: Renewal - The Giving of Life

I bumped into Lyn at the exhibition and we discussed her 100 day project. The original concept was to draw a 10 x 10 grid, have a basket of stitch technique names which you randomly pull out and stitch in one of the grid squares. Once you have used all of the stitch techniques you put them all back in the basket and start again. This resulted in a very random look which didn't bring Lyn joy. So on the advice of her daughter she threw away the sampler in progress to create her own version of the challenge using Wessex stitchery, a technique very dear to Lyn's heart, and an 8 x 8 grid. This version is more suited to the precision Lyn likes to demonstrate in her work. Lyn is a fabulous tutor and this sampler is a great example of her design aesthetic.

Karen McElhinney - Toowit Toowoo

Artist's statement: Two owls sitting on a branch - a contemporary take on traditional goldwork embroidery.

Category: Contemporary
Design Source: AnneMarie Moorhead class at the Wanaka Embroidery School
Technique: Goldwork

Creates Sew Slow: Threadworks 2019: Renewal - The Giving of Life

Jeanne Moeller - Christmas Tree

Artist's statement: Velvet material decorated with surface stitchery and embellishments.

Category: Contemporary
Design source: Jane van Keulen (Stash Palace)
Technique: Surface stitchery

Creates Sew Slow: Threadworks 2019: Renewal - The Giving of Life

Laura Murray - Poppies

Artist's statement: Surface embroidery on layered fabric which has been used to give dimension and perspective.

Category: Contemporary
Design source: Anne Jaquiery-Newall, Nelson Embroidery School 2018
Technique: Surface stitchery

Creates Sew Slow: Threadworks 2019: Renewal - The Giving of Life

Colleen Parrish - Friends

Artist's statement: Design created following the Christchurch Mosque attacks interpreted in stitch.

Category: Contemporary
Design source: Ruby Jones
Technique: Surface stitchery

Creates Sew Slow: Threadworks 2019: Renewal - The Giving of Life

Colleen Parrish - Scruffy the Blackbird

Artist's statement: Cushion printed with a photo of a blackbird embellished with stitch.

Category: Contemporary
Design source: Original
Technique: Surface stitchery

Creates Sew Slow: Threadworks 2019: Renewal - The Giving of Life

Colleen Parrish - Thread Painted Bird

Artist's statement: Long and short stitches using one strand of thread to recreate this picture of an African Lilac Crested Roller.

Category: Contemporary
Design source: Savanna Glory by Renette Kumm (@RenetteKumm), Inspirations Magazine issue 95
Technique: Thread painting

Thread painting: also called needle painting, is an approach that uses a combination of long and short stitches and a variety of colours to produce embroidery that has the same qualities of a painting.

Creates Sew Slow: Threadworks 2019: Renewal - The Giving of Life

Leureen Pedersen - Zebra

Artist's statement: Or Nue technique has been used to great effect to create this stunning zebra.

Category: Contemporary
Design source: Anne Jaquiery-Newall
Technique: Or Nue

Or Nue (or shaded gold) is a form of goldwork embroidery using couching where different coloured silk threads are stitched over the metallic base of gold threads to form patterns or designs.

Creates Sew Slow: Threadworks 2019: Renewal - The Giving of Life

Alison Wilson - Spray of Ginko Leaves
Viewer's Choice 3rd Place

Artist's statement: Traditional goldwork and needle painting used to create a decorative picture.

Category: Traditional
Design source: Shirley Pygott
Technique: Goldwork and needle painting

Creates Sew Slow: Threadworks 2019: Renewal - The Giving of Life


Alison Wilson - Turkish Tile

Artist's statement: Canvas work tile

Category: Traditional
Design source: Shirley Pygott
Technique: Canvas work

Canvas work is a form of counted work stitched on an even, openly woven canvas. A large variety of stitches are used to create a pattern which can vary depending on materials used, texture and scale.

Creates Sew Slow: Threadworks 2019: Renewal - The Giving of Life

Diane Wilson - Terracotta Tile

Artist's statement: Terracotta inspired tile in canvas work stitches, embellished with beads and metal threads.

Category: Traditional
Design source: Merrilyn Heazlewood
Technique: Canvas work

Creates Sew Slow: Threadworks 2019: Renewal - The Giving of Life

The guest exhibitor - Jo Dixey @dixeysoul

In Jo's own words "I am a freelance embroiderer, stitch artist and author of the embroidery book Creative Thread. I teach small groups a variety of embroidery and fabric techniques as well as design based workshops. I work on commissions which have included large alter cloths, university banners and work for the fashion and movie industries. I repair old embroideries and I hold exhibitions of my own work. The work I do for exhibition ranges from large wall hung quilts to fine embroideries. These pieces are mostly based on the human form and often comment on life!

I trained for three years at the Royal School of Needlework, followed by City and Guilds creative embroidery parts one and two. I worked for the Embroiderers Guild in the UK for a year promoting embroidery around the country before moving to New Zealand in 2000."


Jo in the past (before Instagram) had a blog at http://dixeysoul.blogspot.com/

Creates Sew Slow: Threadworks 2019: Renewal - The Giving of Life
Oh you wear glasses numbers 1 to 5, 20 x 25 cm

Jo also had some gold work pieces in the exhibition but I photographed them really badly. The pieces were: Let's Dance; Red Head; Miss Fancy Pants; Miss Sparkly Jumper; Support Crew; Let's dance II and It's your time to shine. Pictures of some of these can be found on Jo's Instagram page @dixeysoul.

In closing

Lyn Mallinson, one of the exhibition selectors wrote a really nice piece in the Guild newsletter.  "Congratulations to all our exhibitors. What a great variety of styles and abilities. Well done to those of you who submitted original pieces – keep up the good work. But by far the biggest section was the “work from kit, graph or class” so another thank you to Ann for including these groups. The hardest part was choosing the prizes! There were so many worthy of commendation. We could have awarded more prizes as several of you missed “by the skin of your teeth”. We have had a lot of positive feedback from both the public and the Museum staff. This shows what a great Exhibition we have had and you may all feel justifiably satisfied with your achievements. You did our Guild proud."

I second Lyn's words the exhibition was a truly splendid look inside the workroom of Guild members and the fantastic embroidery they can achieve. Hopefully the inspiration I soaked up will last long enough for me to pick up needle and thread to finish a goldwork piece I started in a class earlier this year, which is currently languishing on the sofa.

And...

I won one of the raffle prizes (the Blue Raffle) full of delicious comestible goodies.

Creates Sew Slow: Threadworks 2019: Renewal - The Giving of Life

Thanks to Ann Bradley and her team for putting on such a wonderful exhibition, and to Ann Bradley personally for the delivery of my raffle prize.