Obsessing over details

embroidery booksI’m already slow when it comes to finishing a complete costume.

I research the garment itself, I read up on how to do even basic steps (I’m still learning how to sew), I make sure I understand what I need to do, and I fret over making that first cut into the fabric when I’m on a “no turning back” step.

You’d think I would steer clear of anything that would make the process even slower than it already is for me.

Apparently I don’t know any better though.

I’ve been getting into embroidery more and more. At first, it was just a neat challenge for me since I was never able to learn how to do it when I was younger. I didn’t know things like wrapping threads on the back of the work instead of knotting them to start and stop. Even though I knew you shouldn’t cover too much space with long lines of satin stitch, the stitches still weren’t small enough — not to mention, they were definitely not even or smooth.

Then I discovered videos, and other tips online, and realized if you have the right tools and a little patience as well as practice, it’s worth a shot to try those things you thought you could never do.

As if discovering you aren’t a miserable failure wasn’t enough, seeing people’s positive reaction to your finished projects is even more of a confidence booster. 

I keep finding my embroidered mitts on Pinterest boards or on forums (makes me blush and smile every time), and people enjoy looking at them in person. I found that although I don’t reproduce actual historical designs, I enjoy putting something a little more into a project to truly make it mine.

So I guess it’s no real surprise that I have started collecting more books about various types of embroidery and hand finishes (and want even more — I’d love to try tambour, and even try hand quilting some garments). Instead of just adding a purchased ruffle to a current project I’m working on, I’m contemplating hand embroidering my own.

Unfortunately, the practice isn’t going so well.

I’m not sure if it’s the fabric itself or just me. It’s difficult to count close threads for pulled thread techniques — where you use the embroidery stitches to warp the fabric threads themselves, causing patterns and holes to create a lace-like effect. The fabric I’m using is light and gauzy, but the threads are still a little too close together and higher count than I guess I should have used.

Photos of historical garments can be deceptive, because the fabrics in those seem similar to what I’m using. Plus, I’ve already got the fabric — I would hate to have to keep looking and buying fabrics to test, just to find what I need. I don’t like ordering fabric online, because you can’t feel it or get a really good look at the texture unless you’re holding it in person.

I received a few books for Christmas, and found a pulled thread book I’m hoping will help boost my confidence with this style of embroidery.

I wish there were videos and tips that were as good as the ones I’ve learned for regular embroidery, but I’ll just have to make do with what I’ve got.

In the meantime, I’ll keep practicing, testing some things, and coming up with some designs for the projects I’d like to use embroidery on.

I don’t know why I’m so determined to try this. I guess I just want to really make this, and other costumes, truly mine with even more details.

About Cynthia Griffith

I have way too many interests and hobbies, and continually cycle through them -- paying attention to some, while others wait for when I can get around to them again. My main interests are sewing and costuming (I enjoy historical clothing, such as 18th and 19th century, as well as fantasy costumes like elves and hopefully someday even dwarves), as well as getting back to art by drawing fan art of Thorin Oakenshield and Company. My husband Christopher and I spend a lot of time together, enjoying the outdoors and shared hobbies such as juggling. This blog and website is my way to share what I'm up to with friends and family.
This entry was posted in Costumes, Embroidery, Hobbies, Sewing and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Obsessing over details

  1. I understand when you’ve rolled through things you weren’t sure you could do with a surprising ease and then hit a wall. The Dresden work seems like some tough stuff. On one hand, I see old samples od real things and think, “Yeah, that fabric looks like the voile Cynthia has,” but other times I think, “If only Cynthia had the right stuff, she’d get it.”

    I know it takes a lot of practice, but I’ve seen you do some remarkable things over the years. And it’s not that things come easy to you, but…they rarely stump you. So I hope you can find the right resources that lead you to an “Ah-ha!” moment where it doesn’t seem so daunting.

  2. Mary says:

    Your work is so beautiful. I love those gloves. Sometimes it seems that you work things out in your mind, and then when you do it it seems to go with a bit of ease that may not have happened if you hadn’t played it out in thought first. I may be wrong, but that’s how it seems from my angle. Like Chris, I know it can’t be easy but you have such an amazing knack for working through “problems”.

  3. Mary I definitely work that way (working on a new outfit I haven’t mentioned here yet that I have to think about and figure out along the way). With this type of embroidery, I really think the fabric is a problem sadly. It’s not quite right and making things more difficult for me. I’ll figure it out though. Thanks! 🙂

Comments are closed.