Thursday, June 16, 2011

Embroidering Bridal Hankies

It's been an intense week and a half as I created monogrammed hankies for my daughter's wedding. When I asked her if she would like me to make her a special bridal hanky, she came back with a resounding yes and a plea for hankies for each of her attendants. Then I got the bright idea of making one as a memento for the groom's mother as well.

So it was off to my embroidery books and a serious look at alphabets and the rules about monograms. There was actually a section on hankies in one book from my shelves and they are usually about an inch high! Pretty small and since I don't like doing padded satin stitch I chose to work them in shadow embroidery.

Next it was to the fabric stash to search for suitable fabric. I found the perfect Pima Cotton Lawn and started pulling threads for perfect squares. I practised each of the initials to be sure they would work and adjusted each one, adding curlicues and details. Initially I had wanted to add colour and pulled the palest of pink, mauve, blue and green but once I saw the test samples, I opted for simple, elegant white. 

I like to work shadow embroidery from the back using the herringbone stitch. I was sure I had some white floche in with my specialty threads but no luck. So again I experimented with all the different threads I had on hand and ended up with regular stranded cotton. I drew out the initials, scanned them into the computer and then used the mirror image feature to reverse them. With the fabric loaded in my hoop and a fine point fading marker, it was easy to trace the fine lines for stitching. I took one evening to do each initial. I had forgotten how satisfying shadow embroidery can be. Working the spacing for the stitches is like a tiny, wee puzzle!

With the hand embroidery done, it was time to add lace insertion and edging. Now I turned to the sewing machine and used a simple blanket stitch and #120 needle to attach the lace. My machine handles this beautifully without adding a stabilizer other than spray starch.  I mitred the corners of the insertion and gathered the lace edge to turn the corners of the soft lace edgings. (I think that makes them look more feminine.)
Just before they were finished, I remembered about dating special things like bridal gowns, Christening gowns and naturally bridal hankies! Back to the think tank! I chose to work the date in numbers with a colonial knot in between. To work the digits, I chose a very, very tiny continuous chain stitch and positioned the date along the side of the lace insertion, in the opposite corner from the monogram so it would not be too conspicuous.
So here are three of the finished hankies.
For some reason mauve seems to be appearing in my gardens right now this spring. The sage and poppies are both blooming at the same time. (And oh, the sage does have a lovely scent! I see why the bees are so attracted.) Nature so often exhibits colour schemes that we wouldn't come up with ourselves and here is a perfect example! It is doubtful that I would ever choose a vibrant orange leaning to red to put with a pinkie mauve but look how wonderfully they go together here. The green of the grass and foliage make it all work.  And then here is the ornamental lilac tree we planted last spring. What a show it made and again the scent was wonderful every time you passed by.

Believe it or not, I do sometimes take time out to socialize! Last weekend I met with five of my school mates, three of whom I have known since first grade! Here we dining in Lindsay, ON at Pane Vino, a fairly new Wine Bar at the east end of Kent St. on the north side. The angled parking can be a bit tricky but there is no charge in the evening!
I chose a pasta dish with shrimp and a fresh salad. Oh it was divine! and the espresso I chose in place of dessert just hit the spot!! I do highly recommend dinner in this tiny gem of a restaurant but be sure to make a reservation as the seating is limited and always busy!
Overall we haven't aged a bit but can you guess who doesn't colour her hair?

So until next time, do keep stitching!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Infant Wardrobe I - Special Occasion Dressing now ready to ship!

At long last all the parts are here and assembled, folded and stuffed ready to ship! It will be delivered to my distributor on Fri. You can order from the Amberlane web site or from Grace L. Knott at the moment. The stores won't have it for a while but do be sure to go in and request it!! Erika is working furiously to get everything on the web site updated and the photos of this pattern posted in the Atelier.

I've spent this week folding the large pattern sheets as there are no machines that will do this to the size needed to fit the envelope so it is with weary shoulders that I write the post. It has taken what seems forever to reach this point. I did 99% of this pattern on the computer so this is another another personal milestone. (And I continue to fold...) The little suit that was shown in Sew Beautiful last year has come a long way and I hope you will like what has evolved.

This is the little jacket and dress pants as they were photographed for the magazine. At the time I couldn't find a mock turtle T-shirt to put with it and the magazine staff didn't have time to go looking either. I was amazed that they found a baby to wear the suit! Anyhow, the little boy is wearing a matching hat from my pattern, "The Baby Boy's Smocked Bonnet".

Two weeks ago I met with my designer friend, Angela, and we travelled down to the fabric district in downtown Toronto to shop for the fabric for my dress for the wedding. We found the fabric in one of her favourite stores, Queen Textiles (at 444 Queen St. W.). Although they have the shelves chalk-a-block full to overflowing, fabrics like I was looking for are tucked away in another part of the building where they are kept in pristine condition.  I chose a royal blue bamboo knit so it drapes well, is 'environmentally friendly', incredibly soft, cool to wear (bamboo breathes) and has 'give' to make it comfortable to wear. All important factors for a July wedding! 

Here are the two ladies from the shop and more of their fabrics.

That done, we spent the remaining time looking for just the right beads to trim the neckline and wrist. Angela's specialty is beading so I can hardly wait to see what she creates. Here she is examining some of the incredible embroidered silks. Fri. I have my first fitting! It is all so exciting. Yes, I will post photos of the dress and the wedding when we return!!

One of my students, Lynn B, entered a number of her garments in the Schomberg fair this spring and won 10 first place prizes, 2 second and 2 third place prizes! (Here in Canada, first place is a red ribbon and second is blue.) The dresses shown are all from the Grace Knott bishop patterns. Congratulations, Lynn, for work well done! 

And this one will go on to be displayed in the craft room at the Ontario Association of Agricultural Societies Convention in Toronto, Feb. 2012!! I am so proud of Lynn.

So for now I will leave you and get back to folding those large pattern sheets. They simply can not live in my dining room and there are no more places large enough left to store them. Wish me luck as it is going to be a fabulous week weather-wise and it will be just too tempting to play hooky. 
So until next time, keep stitching!!!