Monday, October 24, 2016

Shadow Work on Knits...yes, you can!

Shadow work embroidery has always traditionally been worked on sheer fabrics, such as organdy or batiste. You need a sheer fabric to allow the color of the floss to shadow thru the fabric, which is what gives this type of embroidery it's name.
Traditional shadow work embroidery created by hand
Being the "adventurous" person I am, I always like to explore different possibilities in sewing...taking that step outside of the box. That led me to create my shadow work machine embroidery designs many years ago! I believe I was one of the first that forged into taking what traditionally was created by hand and figuring out how it could be accomplished by machine. I have strived hard to make my designs unique and to keep my designs looking like the traditional method as much as possible. 
Shadow work embroidery created by machine stitched on batiste
As you can see in both those photos, the embroidery casts a shadow of color within the outline stitches. This is what makes shadow work embroidery so beautiful! When you purchase my machine shadow work designs, I include detailed instructions on exactly how my designs are stitched, as there is a method to creating the shadow.
My latest adventure outside of the box, has led me to test stitching my machine shadow work designs on knit fabric. Knits come in all sorts of weight - some are thicker than others, so there is a little trick involved to make it work! Below is a photo of my machine shadow work stitched onto fairly thin onesies.
Shadow work embroidery created by machine on onesies knit
The outline colors that you see on these machine shadow work designs from my Classic Peter Rabbit Shadow Work Collection were stitched using the same color on the "under-stitching" that you see on the top outline stitching. The thread color is cast thru the knit, creating the beautiful shadow work.
I have never worked traditional hand shadow work on knits and it's something that I doubt would even work, due to the thickness of the knit, as well as the stretchiness. My experiment with machine shadow work tho proved to be a success in which I am well pleased!
Shadow work embroidery created by machine on Pima knit
For thicker knits, such as Pima, you have to work a little differently to get the same effect. I did the under-stitching in a darker shade thread than I did the outline stitching. I also used the same color thread in the bobbin for the under stitching, which helped to give more color to the shadow portion of the design. For the outline stitching, I used a color that matched closely to the blue trim on the gown. I was very pleased with the end result!
Machine shadow work takes a fraction of the time to work by machine as opposed to creating by hand and it's a great alternative to those with busy lifestyles! It's also a sweet addition to using it on knits!
I also have another little tip for the inside of the garment. I don't like threads hanging loose or anything to be "scratchy" in any way for a baby's garment. I am a huge fan of using "german interfacing" in my sewing projects and it has come in very handy to use to fuse to the underside of embroidery to keep the back side of the embroidery soft and smooth next to a baby's delicate skin. This trick works well for kids and adults who don't like the feel of the underside of embroidery next to their skin! When using it on knits, make sure you cut the piece of german interfacing just a tad bigger than the design and in the shape of the design so that the knit can still somewhat stretch.
German Interfacing on inside over design
Southern Stitches has a large selection of all kinds of machine shadow work designs; baby designs, holiday designs, and even monograms! The rocking horse design shown will be available soon as part of a new collection coming soon!


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Little Liberty Love

Why is it that the most expensive fabrics are always my favorite? I have my favorites in classic heirloom fabrics, many of which I have rolled on bolts in my sewing studio just waiting for that "special garment", and it sometimes takes a that to even cut into some of these wonderful fabrics! 
Once you get hooked on "the good stuff", it makes it impossible to turn back, it becomes your "go-to" and you just make the investment, knowing that excellent quality fabric is what makes the garment become an heirloom that will last thru generations. 
Liberty of London is one of my favorites and I've completely fallen in love with the luxurious silky feel of this fabric! Of course it's expensive, because it's known as the "good stuff". Every once in while tho, I find a deal on Liberty and I order yardage to just save for something special, other times I see a print that I just have to have, no matter how much it costs!
I recently dug into my Liberty stash to use with a vintage pattern from my collection. I could just envision what this dress would look like using this print and I couldn't wait to get started! 
I was eager to get started and carefully laid out each pattern piece to make best use of my fabric, meaning that I work hard to not waste it. It seems I was a little too eager and after cutting all the pieces out, I realized that I had cut every.single.piece out the wrong way on the fabric. I failed to notice that there is an up and a down to the fabric print.
Notice how little hearts seems to be the under-theme of this fabric? Every flower has little hearts - isn't that cute? Well, my little dress was about to have every single heart hang upside-down. I could have sat there and cried! I tried to convince myself that no one would even notice such detail and I could go ahead and just sew the dress up. But no, the perfectionist in me would never-ever do that! I sat there configuring the fabric I had left - could I cut out new pieces and fix this problem? Nope, wasn't possible. Lucky for me I own 2 sizes of the little vintage pattern that I was planning to use and I had cut out the larger of the two sizes. Maybe, just maybe I could cut out new pieces using the smaller size and making use of the pieces I had already cut. Yes! that proved to be the solution to my careless mistake! Whew!
The pattern I used is very similar to the out of print Children's Corner Candace, which is next to impossible to locate. If you find it, expect to pay as much as $88!
The pattern I used is a little older than the Children's Corner version, but very similar and just as cute! This is another pattern that is next to impossible to locate - lucky for me I have in my stash two sizes!
Here is my finished Little Liberty of London pleated dress.

I used the tiniest of lace trim around the collar, sleeve cuffs and yokes



Just for fun I used cotton lace insertion on the hem
Back to the sewing studio for more stitching...until next time...

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Back to the classics!

Ohh, it's been a l-o-n-g time since I have taken the time to write on my blog - much-much too long! I didn't forget about it, just had to re-group myself after one of those sewing slumps that shows up every now and then! The good news is that I am re-grouping and getting back to the classics at Southern Stitches! I have way too many unfinished projects that for one reason or another got put aside. My goal is to finish them up, because they are way too cute to be left unfinished! So with that said, expect an active blog with some new tutorials coming, along with new designs! YAY!
This week I have been finishing up on one of my favorite projects that I started earlier this summer! Who doesn't just love Beatrix Potter and Peter Rabbit? You can't get anymore classic than that! I have designed some new machine shadow work designs that are sure to make you want to sew something sweet!
This sweet set is called "Baby Beatrix Layette" and it includes an ePattern to make either a boy or girl version matinee jacket and diaper cover to coordinate! Included in the set is my new Classic Peter Rabbit Shadow Work Collection
Southern Stitches Machine Shadow Work designs are designed to look like they were created by hand! With an open herringbone-type stitch below and single stitch outlines on top will make a trained eye take a double-take! My machine shadow work designs are dainty and delicate too, just like hand embroidery, but takes a fraction of the time to stitch.


There are many options with this set - you can purchase the designs alone, or the ePattern with 2 design options or purchase a custom-made set from my Heirloom Shop that includes a monogrammed baby quilt! Find the collection that is right for you!





Friday, April 1, 2016

Why I love the {classics}

I love classic sewing because the design is relatively unchanged by time - it's as good now, as it was then. The word "classic" means something that is a perfect example of a particular style, something of lasting worth or with a timeless quality. 
This is a photo of me when I was a little girl, wearing a smocked dress...a timeless classic! I went to a public school and girls had to wear dresses everyday till I was in about 5th grade. I remember wearing smocked dresses year round. Yes, no matter what season, and get this - I lived in the Mid-West!

I lived where winters were common to get 10 to 12 inches of snow and schools never closed. Sidewalks were shoveled and we didn't have school buses - we walked to school uphill the whole way no matter what the weather was. I remember putting bread bags over my patent leather shoes and slipping my shoed feet into my "shoe boots". I remember pulling on my "leggings" and wrapping my face in a wool scarf and trudging to school in nasty blizzard-like conditions or even pouring rain. Yes, people, like me, who tell these stories are telling the truth! I remember slush everywhere in the hallways after we shed all our winter outerwear and the janitors mopping up all the slush after we were in our classrooms. I say all this because I often read where some use the excuse of climate for why they don't heirloom or classic sew for their children or grands. Even with seasons set aside, many think that classic heirloom is "old fashioned" or "out-dated". I don't get it. There are others who think that the classic heirloom styles are only for those who live south of the Mason-Dixon Line or Deep South. I don't get it. Classic & heirloom styles have no boundaries!

What I love about fashion trends right now is that leggings are so in style. You can make a darling smocked or even heirloom garment, team it with a pair of leggings and even a cute cardigan and have a darling ensemble that is both timeless and trendy, all the while keeping the littles warm on a cold day! 

Lace is crazy in style these days and it just takes a little creativity to take a classic pattern or heirloom style and make it trendy! I have seen heirloom garments paired with cowboy boots and it's adorable! Lace has no boundaries! Look at the current fashion trends - lace is ever so popular!
I challenge you to take a classic heirloom style that you feel is "old fashioned" or "out-dated" and get creative with it - bring it up to the current trend, if you want, all the while keeping that heirloom look with laces, pintucks or smocking - I promise you that you will get others asking you where you got that gorgeous ensemble!

So why do I love the classics? I love the classics because they are timeless - you can style and restyle them in many ways to keep up with the trends or keep a traditional look and both will last thru the generations and always be in style! Even damaged or stained "old-fashioned" heirloom garments can be taken apart and re-fashioned to newer garments. I have done this and I have sewing friends who have done the same!

I would love for you to stop over to my Facebook page and share your classic creations! Let's start a huge revival of all the classic styles and get this new generation of sewistas to fall in love with the timeless classics in a whole new way!



Monday, February 15, 2016

National Smocking Month

Did you know that February is National Smocking month? Have you ever wanted to learn to smock? Maybe you know how to smock but you want to perfect your smocking skills. 
The Smocking Arts Guild of America (SAGA) is encouraging members to smock together in public this month and to help spark interest in smocking. Some chapters will have special displays in libraries and other locations. My local chapter, Sew Many Things, has created an amazing display at the Williamson County Library
If you live in the Nashville area, I want to encourage you to attend their Learn to Smock Workshop at the library on February 27th. You will not be disappointed, as there are many talented ladies in this guild who will be eager to teach you smocking skills! They are a great group of ladies and this should be a really fun and informative workshop!
If you are unable to attend, or if you live somewhere else in the world, but still would like to learn how to smock, I have created a free PDF file with some basic smocking stitches to get you started!

Happy Smocking!

Monday, February 8, 2016

{think} Spring!

I don't know about you, but I am so over winter! By February every year, I've had enough of it and I'm just so ready for Spring to arrive! How about you?
One thing that helps me get over winter is to do a little Spring sewing. 
Here comes Peter Cottontail

I don't do custom sewing for customers too often because it takes away time I can spend doing more designing. However, I was contacted by a potential customer, who requested a special smocked bishop for her daughter's birthday. She knew exactly what she wanted, as she had seen a particular dress on a blog and had inquired about having one made from the blogger. The dress was found at Southern Matriarch and Martha created a darling ensemble for her grands. You can read all about it and follow a link to her blog by clicking on Martha's photo below! ~by the way, she has an amazing blog!
The Peter Rabbit Smocked Bishop is the dress my customer had her heart set on. I asked Martha if she minded that I make an exact copy of her dress. Lucky for my customer, she said yes! I always think that it's not only kind, but considerate to ask the original designer for permission before copying one's work. I was delighted that Martha not only referred the customer to me, but was also so very kind to allow me to copy her work.
The smocking plate for this dress was created by another sewing friend of mine, Gwen Milner. She also has an amazing blog, Smocking with Gwen and you will want to check it out! She designs some of the most darling smocking plates you'll ever see! This one was a remake of an old smocking plate she created years ago and it was re-printed in Sew Beautiful Magazine in Feb/March of 2014 (Issue 152), entitled "Peter Cottontail"
Sorry about the color - took this pic
under lamp light!
I was very happy that my customer was not in a huge hurry for this dress. I had plenty of time to work on it, which made it so much more relaxing to just work on it when I felt like it! These bunnies are just too cute and I had more fun smocking this little dress!
I had 7 Peter Cottontails to smock and that took nearly eternity some time to do, but I really enjoyed each one of them! One of my tips when working with multiple colors is to thread a different needle for each color you are smocking with. It makes it much more easy to move thru the design during stacking without having to remove the thread from the needle and rethread. Often times that just causes a tangling mess. I just pin each needle into the pleated fabric, with the threads out of the way and work with each color along the way. It makes it so easy to just pick up the color needed and have the thread in the needle and ready to go!
I referred to Martha's photos on her blog often, as she had made a few changes to the smocking design so that it would work on a bishop dress. I think Martha did a fabulous job in modifying the design and it saved me time of having to figure it out!
Putting the Bullion Carrots between the rabbits
was Martha's great idea!

My finishing touches were to add in my label - this is a must if you want repeat customers or for those who look inside a dress to see where it came from! (yes, I'm guilty of doing that!)
This dress turned out so cute and someday if I ever get blessed with a grand-daughter, I will make one for her! It's just too cute not to! 
Dress Front
Dress Back
Bullion Carrots on each sleeve
Front
Back

February is National Smocking Month and if you want to learn how to smock, I will be offering some tips and tutes right here on my blog during the month of February!

{think} Spring!!

Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 year in review...2016 goals

I don't know about you, but 2015 has been quite a year for me! Part of this year I felt like I was lost in nowhere land, trying to find my pathway in this crazy business world of Sewing! There were many times I had to stop, take a step back, assess the situation and do what I could to improve. I made a lot of mistakes along the way, but those were refining times to re-focus my purpose and passion in sewing. The single most passionate thing I always go back to is smocking...
Smocking tends to top my list of where my passion in sewing lies. I sort of felt like I didn't get much smocking done in 2015, but when I look back at pictures, I see that I really did do my share of smocking this year!
The highlight of 2015 for me, was being published in the new Classic Sewing Magazine! It sparked a renewed interest in me to keep hand smocking alive and to continue to promote it. I want to help spark interest in those who want to learn the art and be there to guide them in proper technique along the way!
My first article in the new magazine featured two of my favorite things; sewing for babies and smocking! My 2nd article will also feature some vintage-inspired smocking, which turned out to be one of my most favorite projects I've worked on! Look for it in the March 2016 issue! For now, I will leave you with a teaser!
In 2016, my goal is to narrow my focus to what makes my business different from the rest...what makes me unique and extraordinary! 
Happy New Year, my friends! I hope you will follow me in my journey as I strive to create an epic year at Southern Stitches!



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