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Friday, November 12, 2010

Christmas smocking and embroidery collection

I have now made some progress on my Christmas smocking. Looking at the timeline to Christmas, this may end up being the Australia Day collection, but we shall see!

One dress is finished. This one used a kit from Australian Smocking and Embroidery Issue 86 .The dress is called Gypsy Dance and in a lovely bright sun-coloured batik. The pattern caters up to size 10 and I made size 8.

The smocking creates a variegated effect by a two-needle technique that loops one row over the thread from the row above. 

I also made a bag to go with it from left-over fabric. The basic pattern for this is from the book Fabulous Bags to Stitch and Make  by Jenny Rolfe . I didn't, in this instance, quilt the bag, but hope to do so with my next effort from this book. It has very clear instructions and good diagrams.

A second dress is now underway. This one is an adaptation of Shisha from AS&E Issue 43 from 1998 . I wanted to make this one in a plain, strong green cotton with cotton thread rather than the printed fabric and silk thread of the original. Samela, at Country Bumpkin, helped me find the equivalent cotton threads. I also adapted the pattern upwards from 3 years to 4 years.

This project uses the multiple needle technique to smock the dense bands that imitate shisha mirrored embroidery. I haven't used this technique before. It is taking quite a bit of concentration and so far I have found it a bit easier to work in sections rather than right across the bodice. I got a bit of help from the A-Z of Smocking. It will look good, I think.

The other challenge is the use of silver metallic thread for circles imitating shishas. I find this thread really horrible to work with. Fortunately, the circles are relatively small and contained, so it is manageable. There is an embroidered border to go around them. This is not a project for doing with my mind on something else!

I managed to finish the first 'shisha block' over the weekend. I did it in two halves, not being able to face 26 threaded needles. By the second half I had begun to get the rhythm of working 13 needles. It is still quite hard to stick to a single row at a time, especially when the red goes around  the silver circles. However, I think I might have a go at using 26 needles and doing the whole strip across when I come to the repeat band.

The other adjustment I made was in using the horrible silver metalic thread. Instead of three strands I used two strands doubled over, making four strands. I found threading two strands with a needle threader a lot easier than trying to thread three strands. I had to thread the one strand at a time. Threading three is difficult and the ends wear and fray. Having two doubled over also means there are no ends to fray and get caught.

Monday 22 November. Finished the smocking on this one over the weekend and blocked it.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     I used 24 needles  right across the second band . It worked well until the red divided: then it was harder to stay even and I worked in sections. It is far from perfect, but effective.

I have now begun smocking the third Christmas dress. It is an adaptation of Texas Rose from AS&E 52. I didn't get the pleating completely straight, so I'm hoping the effect is interesting rather than ugly (the funny light band in the photo isn't in the original).
I have quite a bit of construction to do this week!
Monday 29 November
Considerable progress this week. Shisha is finished and looking good.

Texas Rose is smocked and blocked.

The photos need lightening to show the effect of the green leaves on the black smocking - quite effective.


I have about 6 french knots to go to finish the embroidery, then I can begin the construction.

Tuesday 30 November
Texas Rose is now complete.

 Yes, it is the same dress - different light . I am amazed that the double checks worked and the piping has blended nicely. I had to select on tone and shade rather than colour match, and wasn't confident.

Now I only need to embroider a rocket on a pair of jeans. The collection WILL be finished for Christmas!

Monday 6 December
The rocket jeans are now finished. I had some difficulty getting a perspective that enabled the rocket to be large enough to be seen. It doesn't bear much scientific scrutiny, but works artistically, I think. I enlarged the earth when the rest was finished. The moon is a little odd - that was a request!  I'm pleased I persevered with the horrible silver metallic thread for the rocket - awful to work with, but looks good. Hope it wears OK!

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