Monday, January 23, 2012

I like telling you about all the bits that didn't work

In my family we always make Christmas and birthday lists to help each other choose gifts (though we like surprises too). One of the things my sister wanted was a fabric cover for an A5 diary. She had seen some on madeit, and I would have been quite happy to buy her one there, if I could have found an option that seemed right for her, or had left enough time to request a special order.

So, in a moment of pre-Christmas craziness, I decided to try to sew it myself.

This really is a very simple sewing project. Except for the fact that I don't really sew.
I do have a sewing machine that was given to me years ago by a friend who was leaving Canberra. I've only used it a few times and generally for some half-thought-out (if that...) attempt to alter clothing.

So this was a challenge, and I am proud of how it turned out - not perfect, but she thought I had bought it, which, under the circumstances was a compliment!
Unfortunately I can't find the instructions I actually used, but it was basically this method, though I also used interfacing on the front piece of fabric.

This was one of those projects where I thought I was going to make something fancier, and had to simplify. I really wanted to embellish it, and tried quite a few options, but in the end this rather detailed Japanese print fabric just didn't want to be embellished. By me, anyway.

I vaguely considered having a section of contrasting fabric or a ribbon/trim, but gave that up quickly as it was a rush job and I didn't manage to find fabrics that played well together.

So I moved on to embroidery, trying it first directly onto the fabric...
The two above both use whipped backstitch and the beginnings of some seed stitch filler, as seen here. The one below is split stitch.
I was trying to use elements of the print to pick out an 'E' monogram - thereby biting off WAY more than I could chew - and had trouble getting anything sensible to happen. I couldn't even decide what colour thread would work - I think blue silk which closely matched the fabric was the best option, but it was inclined to disappear a little too much.

Meanwhile I searched for examples of hand-embroidered print fabrics and found lots of inspiration, including Amy's lovely work which I had admired before on her blog.

I'm pretty sure I should start with a fabric with a different sort of print, something much simpler, if I want to try this type of embroidery.

Next I decided to try applique (which I have never done before), embroidering a monogram onto a different fabric. Although I don't really know what dryer sheets are, I managed to work out this technique using scraps of non-fusible interfacing.
But I would have needed more planning and time and probably practice to - maybe - make this work. There were two main problems. The first was that I didn't come up with a combination of fabric and thread colour that would work with the main fabric. And the second was the difficulty of getting the shape right, I wanted my applique to match one of the shapes in the print, which might have worked, but only (I think) if the shape of the embroidered monogram was more sympathetic to that shape as well. I would have needed to invest some time with a pencil and paper to have a chance of making this work.

Finally, I was going to add a button and elastic loop for closure. But I realised that E might not want this (a friend pointed out that with the button, it wouldn't sit flat on a table for writing, which could be annoying). So I just took the button with me on Christmas Day and checked if she would like one - she said she wouldn't be inclined to fasten it anyway.

So plain it was.

And even though I spent a lot of time on things that didn't pay off for this project (as well as some that did: I didn't mention at least two practice goes sewing the cover with scrap fabric first), I have no regrets. Firstly because I like the final product and it does the job. And secondly for all I learned in the process, lessons I will be able to apply to some other project in future.


Donna Lee said...

I'm glad you left it plain. It looks classy in that gorgeous fabric. Any embellishment would have ruined the effect.

I like to sew. It can be a quick craft fix!

Anonymous said...

Well that's another one I didn't get to see on Christmas Day. We must do it differently next time. But what a beautiful fabric you found. Spectacular result and I admire your quest to add details! What patience you have, my love. ily ma

Demelza said...

It's divine and I need to see in the flesh

amy said...

Yes, I don't think it's you, it's the fabric. It's really not wanting anything added to it; it's clearly preening about how lovely it is all on its own.

Embroidering on top of a print fabric is much harder than it looks, at first. It's because just about every possibility is open, and you have to figure out which way to go. (And thank you for the mention!)

catsmum said...

I SO want that fabric that you've used for the cover - mmmmm yumptious in the extreme - and you did such a great job.