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Mrs Bowden’s top tip – adding embroidery

Mrs Bowden’s top tip – adding embroidery

How to plan embroidery ….

Beautiful vintage embroidered dre



There are so many lovely ways we can augment our clothes and embroidery can feature beautifully by using cloth which is embroidered to add texture and interest.  Or, we can add our own embroidered motifs and/or designs.  I love adding embroidery to garments and find it extremely therapeutic.  This week’s top tip deals with how to layout your design.

Presently I am working on a special Birthday dress based on Butterick 5880.
Decide where you want the embroidery to feature and use the outline of the dress on the garment instructions sheet and trace over or photocopy and draw your design out if you don’t feel confident about free hand drawing.  This will give you an idea of the scale and placement for the pattern.
Knowing where to put the embroidery and deciding what the scale should be is often tricky.  As you can see I have sketched where I would like the embroidery to go so I’m prepared to transfer my idea to the pattern piece.    I have based this design on a flow of Lily of the Valley which is the flower for May, the month in which my Birthday occurs.
Lay the relevant pattern piece on the fabric and either use tailor’s chalk to mark the outline or tack around the edge.  Make sure you mark in any relevant information such as darts, pocket placement, pleats, drapes etc as you will need to build these features into the design of the embroidery.  Then tack the rough outline shape of the design – you can see I have done this in white thread to show against the cornflower blue crepe.  Make sure you consider the seam allowances so you exclude these from the embroidery.
Do not cut the pattern piece away from length of fabric.  Instead cut a border to allow for the fabric to be mounted into a hoop and tensioned before sewing. You can see here that the sweep of embroidery is bigger than the  hoop which means moving the hoop as I go.
There are various options for transferring the design.  If you are drawing free hand – as I am in this case I am marking the stem and leaf position with a temporary fabric marker – these are brilliant but very fleeting in their mark so you need to draw and stitch PDQ!

You can also use predesigned transfers which are ironed on – always do a little test piece on a spare piece of the fashion fabric to establish what temperature is required.

Here is my birthday dress from last year which featured a heavily embroidered pocket and midriff section.  You can see it in action when Mr Tim and I went dancing.

in stitches,

Mrs Bowden x

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