Thursday, March 31, 2011

Reverse Applique and Stenciled Hand-Stitched 4-Panel Skirt with Pin-wheel Design

This is what's been occupying my time for a number of weeks past.

I made myself this cotton jersey knit skirt, 100% hand-stitched with a stenciled and appliqued pinwheel design at the hem.  I wore it last weekend, and to my great delight, it was incredibly comfortable and flattering.  (Which, I have to say, is an achievement that cannot be overstated given my post-baby figure.)

So here I am, wearing my skirt in the photograph above - taken a la Alabama Chanin style - thanks to their two inspirational books, Alabama Stitch Book and Alabama Studio Style.  I read about their stencil and stitching techniques but figured that if I was going to embark on such an laborious venture, I might as well come up with a design of my own.

Eden & Eliot - right side stenciled and stitched before cutting

It took me one evening to design, cut and stencil, but a good many nights of sewing thereafter.  What I gained from all those nights is a lesson that women throughout the centuries have already known - when your hands keep busy, your mind stays calm.

Eden & Eliot - close up of reverse applique, stitched and stenciled

The month of March has been challenging.  And I've needed some calm evenings.  Its brings me comfort to have something to show for it at the end of this time, however small it may be in the grand scheme of things.

True to my New Year's resolution, I have yet to buy any article of clothing for myself this year.  So I'm also glad to have made something I will cherish for, hopefully, a good many years to come.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Spring Rain

I've been quiet lately on the blogging front because of grandparents' visits.  Not that I haven't thought about writing but I can't seem to find the mental space to actually put my thoughts to screen.

Nonetheless, spring officially arrived last Sunday bringing days and days of relentless rain.  Eden turned three last week but it rained on our picnic plans so we celebrated quietly at home.

Last year when she turned two, I threw her a monkey party complete with monkey themed favors, balloons, picnic food etc. I figured it would be her last big bash for a while since I was 8 months pregnant with No. 2.  My son, Eliot, arrived late Spring last year and he will be turning one in a few weeks. I'm not planning any big to-do for him either.

But party or no party this year, I am grateful for my children - who are growing every day into their uniquely quirky little selves.  I'm grateful for the rain, and for the nourishment that it brings to the earth despite the damper that it throws on my plans.  I think about the unspeakable suffering that must be endured by parents and children, separated by the wreckage caused by the tsunami in Japan.  Its good just having my children with me.  So very very good enough.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Hand-stitched Spiral Applique and Stenciled Bicycle Onesie

Hand-stitched Spiral Applique & Stenciled Onesie by Eden & Eliot

I'm incredibly in love with the work of Natalie Chanin, as decribed in her two books, Alabama Stitch Book and Alabama Studio Style - in which she tells the story of how she came to found a hand-sewing industry among the women of her Alabama hometown, producing couture garments using traditional quilting techniques of the Old South.

I won't go into detail about the books (since there are plenty of rave reviews on Amazon), except to say that the techniques she shares are so accessible that I'm inspired to explore them in my own work.

This little embellished onesie I created for Eden is my first project using one of the techniques in the book - how to stitch a spiral applique.  The design is my own, as is the idea of using the spirals for the bicycle wheels.  I'll share about my own process here.


Prewash and dry the onesie.  Lie flat and pat to smooth out any wrinkles.  Do not pull or stretch.

Trace the bicycle drawing onto the onesie using the pattern tracing paper.  The lines are pretty faint, so you may want to redraw with a disappearing ink marker.

Figure out how large a circle you need for the wheels.  (This will depend on how large your drawing is.)  Draw and cut out a circle from your scrap cardboard, or use a large circle punch.  This will act as your stencil.

Pour out a small amount of ink on a shallow non-reactive dish.  Dip your foam brush into the ink - it will soak up fairly  quickly.  Tap the brush onto a scrap piece of fabric or cardboard to remove some of the ink.  You do NOT want to load the brush fully as it will cause too much seepage.

Using the cardboard stencil that you made, carefully apply the ink over the two bicycle wheels, making sure you lift the stencil directly upwards when you move from one wheel to the next.  It takes some practice to apply just the right about of ink.  Go slow and dab the brush with up and down strokes, especially at the edges of the stencil.  Do NOT brush sideways or you will cause the ink to smear under the edges.  (You will need to place a sheet of wax paper in between the layers of the onesie to protect the back of the shirt from getting inked.)

This is what you should get when you are done stenciling - the wheels of the bicycle are inked in blue.  Allow the ink to dry 24 hours, and heat set with a dry iron under a press cloth.

Next, cut two circles the same size as the wheels out of the scrap red knit fabric. 

Using a pair of sharp embroidery scissors, cut a spiral pattern from the outer edge of the circles towards their center.

Pin each spiral onto the stenciled inked circles (after they have been heat-set and are completely dry).

Using a straight (running) stitch and 3 strands of embroidery floss, stitch the spiral down starting from the center out towards the edge.  Pull the spiral apart as your stitch, at times overlapping the edges so that you get a "random" effect.  Just make sure the outer edge of the spiral meets the outer edge of the underlying stenciled circle.  That way, you will end up with two uniformly sized wheels. 

There it is, the hard part is done.  Finally, I used a cross stitch to sew the remaining outline of the bicycle, and on a whim, added a little bird on top of the seat. 

A hand-stamped label in the back adds the final personal touch!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Announcing the Winner of our February Follower Giveaway

 The first of March has finally arrived today with a nice thaw in the weather and good news for our blog follower CindiEponaBri.  She has won this blog's first giveaway!  Congratulations Cindi, please send me a note and your gift will be on its way to you in a jiffy.

Thanks to all who've participated.  Now that I've got one under my belt, you may look forward to more giveaways in the future!


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