Moomin Embroidery

Following on from the success of my Meme Cushion embroidery which I made for my Aunt last year, I decided to make her another embroidered gift for her birthday this year. She loves the Moomins and she is Moominmama and I am Snorkmaiden, so I decided to embroider the 2 of them, smiling at each other.


I tried to draw the moomins myself, but it turns out I’m not Tove Jansson. So I traced them off my computer screen, because it allowed me to resize the 2 separate pictures so they matched. Plus I flipped the paper as they were both facing the same way but I wanted them facing each other. I then pinned the paper to my fabric and used the lines to sew the outlines in black, using a back stitch.

I should really have used tracing paper – or certainly something thinner than printer paper – because it was not as easy as I had anticipated to remove the paper between the stitches. It took ages and needed my overlocker tweezers! You can see tiny bits of white left around the eyes.

The main stitch I used for the moomins was split stitch – which looks a lot like chain stitch when you’re using 2 strands of embroidery thread, as I was using. It was really lucky I discovered this stitch because my original idea was to fill them in with straight lines going back and forth, but I had started doing that and it looked a bit rubbish. Then we happened across a programme on BBC iPlayer about the history of British embroidery, and specifically about religious embroidery, where they demonstrated this split stitch as a way of filling in sections of embroidery, to make them look particularly full. So I tried this and it looked so much better than the previous thing I was doing.

The apron (and the other bits in other colours) is still filled in in the old style I was going to do all of it in. I thought the apron looked fine as it was and it had taken ages and I didn’t want to undo it and redo it.

The circles on the bottom of the apron were done with french knots, which I think I knew how to do at one point years ago, but I looked up how to do them on youtube. I love youtube – you can find how to do anything on youtube!

I’m really quite pleased with the swirls on the noses. I tried to make sure the direction of the stitches didn’t look odd compared to the shape of the moomins as I thought that would look weird.

My original plan had been to cover the back, but a) I ran out of time and b) I didn’t know how to do it! The back doesn’t look toooo messy, but I probably would have preferred it if I had covered it up.

I decided to leave this as a sort of display thing, and not to make it into something else. The only thing I could really think of to make it into apart from another cushion and I didn’t think giving cushions for 2 birthdays in a row would be the thing to do.

I’m pretty pleased with how this turned out, if I do say so myself! I think I might have been bitten by the embroidery bug which seems to be growing amongst sewists. I’ve no idea what I’m going to make next year…….

 

 

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Designer Inspiration: Cristóbal Balenciaga

A couple of weekends ago (the day after I went to the Great British Sewing Bee Live), I went with my Aunt to the Balenciaga exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. It was a Birthday celebration for my Aunt, but I really wanted to go too, so win win! Fair warning, this will be a very photo-heavy post. Also I can’t remember all the things I read in the exhibition, so my comments may be few and far between! I’m definitely thinking I want to buy the book of the exhibition because I bet there is tonnes more information in there!

Anyway, here we go…….

His earlier clothes definitely had a Spanish influence, from his roots. I particularly love the matador-inspired jacket, above.

I feel like you could find this pink flowery dress on the high street this year! It has the statement sleeves that are everywhere at the moment (and which I’m coming around to!).

Lace was definitely something that popped up quite a few times – he was well-known for using lace, and slightly rejuvenating its reputation and making it cutting edge again.

This was definitely one of my favourite pieces – and I loved how they had x-rays of the garments so show all of the structure going on underneath what looks like an effortless, easy dress. They had a few dresses where they had a recreation, the x-ray and a video showing how the garment came together.

Love, love, love the fashion sketches!

I took a video of this dress because it was constantly rotating that that’s the only way to full see it all!

I kind of want to have a go at recreating this one! Maybe one day…..

This cape/jacket is amazing! I took a photo of the accompanying blurb so I’d remember how it  works – there are hidden ribbons underneath all of the pleats to hold them in place. Otherwise you wouldn’t be able to ever put your arms down!

This is a recreation of an original which was black and impossible to photograph! It’s a bit bonkers, but I kind of love it.

This might be my absolute favourite one – again the original was black so my photos of it didn’t really come out, especially with the reflections from the glass to contend with. This recreation was done by Claire-Louise Hardie of Great British Sewing Bee fame.

I love how you can see there is a separate sort of binding on the hem, which you couldn’t really see in the black original. There was a video showing how this one was constructed, and I thought it would be on the V & A facebook page (as I didn’t get a chance to video the video) but it’s not there, sorry! It’s all one piece of fabric and the only seams are on the shoulders. It boggles my mind how that even works!

If my memory serves, this one shows the influence of Japanese fashion on Balenciaga, in the form of the kimono-style belt.

This is another one there they show all of the engineering underneath what looks like a simple shaped dress! The corset is inside out so you can see all of the boning in there.

This red dress had to be one of the most bonkers ones to see the construction of! It’s tied underneath to the wearer’s knees!

The video of how this one works is online, and is definitely worth a look!

Fabric choice is definitely key in so many of Balenciaga’s designs, and especially this one.

I didn’t know this, but he also made a bunch of really cool hats!

Throughout the exhibition there were photos of the original buyers wearing the designs that you were looking at, which I really liked. It made them seem like real clothes (and hats), that people actually wore, and not things just to be revered – though it’s great that so many of them survive, and in such great condition.

After the hats was a whole section on embellishments, which was AMAZING! I naively never think about the fact that designers in the past, and now, make their own textiles, by embroidering/embellishing/painting the fabric, I always think they bought the fabric like that and just cut it cleverly, but of course, that isn’t the case! This beading is amazing!

This ombre jacket/dress was particularly amazing because there was a video showing how the beading etc was done – it was recreated by the couture embroidery house Lesage.

This is the recreated piece of beading and embroidery. I would definitely recommend watching the video, least of all because it’s all done upside down, where the right side of the fabric is on the bottom of the frame. And the person does it so quickly, it’s mind-boggling!

This dress was all hand-embroidered! And the pieces were all marked out and only the pattern pieces were embroidered so as not to waste time embroidering bits that would be cut off, but it was done when the fabric was still flat, before the dress was assembled. The shape of this dress also is amazing – teeny tiny waste!

I strangely love the feather sleeves on this one, even though it’s a bit mad!

All of the flowers on this outfit were hand painted! The craftsmanship involved in this level of fashion is truly amazing! Makes it seem almost worth the crazy price tags!

The above suit definitely seems pretty tame compared to most other things in the exhibition, but I love how they displayed the tailoring tools, below. I had no idea the tracing wheel had been around that long!

This is one of the more famous dresses, I think, and it’s on the cover of the book of the exhibition. I love how well the brooch goes with the dress – there are also bejewelled shoulder straps, though it was tough to get high enough to take a photo!

Classic 60s shift/sack dress. Not sure about the hat though……

This part of the exhibition was definitely more about wearable clothes that he made for his many wealthy clients.

I love the scalloped coat, which was made for Ava Gardner.

 

On the first floor of the exhibition space were loads of designed influenced or inspired by Balenciaga. I was particularly exited to see this dress, worn by Tilda Swinton, which I wrote about in my post about why I love her! I can’t remember who designed it, let me know in the comments if you know! (I should have taken notes!)

Also very excited to see this Courreges coat, which I posted a photo of in my post about him! Courreges studied under Balenciaga, so it makes sense he was represented here!

This one has a clear inspiration, from a garment in the other part of the exhibition!

I weirdly love this look, and I’m not sure why. The trousers are totally wearable and not too out-there, but I love the whole thing.  Especially the shoes.

Bonkers but amazing!

This was definitely one of my favourite inspiration designs, it looks kind of like a ship.

And it’s slightly pointed at the front!

The beading on this one is amazing!

This seems to be the evolution of the trapeze shapes Balenciaga played with. I really like the strapping details on the back.

I really like this silver and black version of the pink ombre one.

This one is an even more crazy version of the one on the cover of the book.

The pink dress with the statement sleeves….

…which has a zip all the way down the back.

This tube-y dress was by a Japanese designer, I think, who plays with zero-waste fashion and using as few seams as possible. I’m keen to start looking into zero-waste sewing/fashion, so I found this really inspiring.

Phew! There we go! I definitely want to have a go at recreating some of these looks. Which is your favourite? Do you hate the more shapeless looks?

 

 

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Make It: 15 Homemade Christmas Present Ideas

15 Homemade Christmas Present IdeasOn Saturday  the boyfriend and I went to see the Christmas lights being turned on in Cirencester and it was really lovely. We all sang a couple of carols then Ben Miller (or Armstrong and Miller fame), who is apparently local pressed the button then there were fireworks on the roof of the local church. It has definitely got me feeling in the festive mood so I thought I’d share my pick of homemade presents I’ve made for various people in the past – I have no ideas of things to make this year, so if anyone has any ideas I’m definitely looking for some inspiration!

(click on the picture for the full post)

One of the most versatile and adaptable presents you could make is a tote bag – you can applique something on it to suit the person you’re making it for. I’ve made them with a car, a strawberry and BBC’s Sherlock on for various people!

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For your tea-loving friend or relative, why not make them a tea-cup candle? You can flavour them with any essential oil – I used chocolate, mmmm.

Do you have a friend who loves lego? If so, you could make them a lego doorstop – there isn’t a huge amount of knitting involved, so you’ve still got time to make this in time for the big day!

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You could make a genuinely one-off present in the form of a scrapbook, as I did for my dad’s 65th birthday.

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For your music-loving friend or relative why not make a vinyl record clock?

For your internet-meme-loving friend or relative you’ve still got just about enough time to embroider a cushion cover 😉

thumbnail_img_1309For your friend or relative who loved cooking and baking you could make them a lovely apron – there are lots of free patterns out there. I used the one from the first Great British Sewing Bee.

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If you have a friend or relative who loves running or exercising, you could make them a useful present in the form of a running armband to hold their phone and keys while they’re out doing their thing.

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For Kids:

If you know a kid who needs entertaining while traveling (or at other times!) why not make the travel match game I made for my friend’s daughter?

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If you know a kid (or have a kid) who would like to learn about growing things, why not make them a felt allotment? (p.s. this is really, honestly, one of my very favourite things I’ve ever made – I was more excited to give it away than I think the recipient was when she opened it!)

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Why not make their favourite book into a cushion cover……..

Sarah-&-Duck-cushion-2or a wall-hanging?

Clothes are sometimes a good option for kiddies (though they will grow out of them in no time at all!) I’ve appliqued babygrows, made dungarees and made the cutest dresses with matching knickers!

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Are you making any homemade presents this year? I’m not sure I’ll have time to be brutally honest, though my sister has asked me to make her some skirts so I think that will count….if I get them made in time?!

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Make It: Meme Cushion

(*This post contains swearing*)

I love a good internet meme. And this bayeux tapestry one is one of my favourites. I was chatting to my Aunt on the phone a few months ago and I think she might have told me about it – we were talking about other ‘don’t give a fuck’ memes too.

memeWhen she mentioned this meme, I googled it and found someone else had embroidered it on a cushion and thought this was a fantastic idea. I filed it away and planned to make it for my Aunt’s birthday, which is at the end of September. We’ve both had a pretty crappy few months so it seemed even more appropriate by the time I handed it over – a little late, oops!

meme-cushion-1I used the picture at the top as my inspiration and drew a version on paper – an A3 sheet (2 A4 sheets stuck together). I started with the writing – it was quite fun to make sure it didn’t look even or straight! I would not have had the skill to do it neatly! I traced everything onto greaseproof paper, then traced it onto the calico – it’s quite good how you can draw on calico! And because you’re sewing over it, it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t all come off.

I like the 2 different kinds of ‘e’ and the random dots at the ends of some words. Also the ‘v’-shaped u’s. I did make one mistake though – can you spot it? (The a in barren doesn’t have the cross part, it’s just an upside-down ‘v’.) I sewed all the letters with really thick embroidery thread from my local sewing shop, using backstitch so the lines were unbroken.

meme-cushion-5I added a simplified version of the house thing in the photo. This is mostly to fill the space above the men! Again I used backstitch.

The men are maybe my finest hour of embroidery – again it’s a good job this wasn’t meant to look amazing! I decided to put just 3 of the men and not all 4 – I thought 4 might be pushing it! I did the outlines in brown embroidery thread – the kind you get with crossstitch kits. I used 2 strands at a time.

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I bought 4 different colours of thread – gold, red, green and black. I used the grey mixed with the brown for the cape of the dude on the right. I pretty much copied the colours from the picture as best I could. I slightly with I hadn’t done the 2 bright colours on the same guy on the left. But he does have an excellent moustache, so there’s that.

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I just used long stitches to fill in the lines as quickly as possible basically – I don’t know what the stitch is called, though.

meme-cushion-4I asked the advice of my friends when I’ve done all the above about whether to add some soil-type lines and they all agreed yes. And they were definitely right – it looked a bit bare before I added them. This is what it looked like before I sewed the front to the back.

meme-cushion-2I had left the piece of fabric quite big so I had room to change the proportions according to the cushion inner thing. But in the end I made an inner cushion and used toy filling to stuff the cushion. I think I stuffed it a bit full, though, because you can’t really see all of the embroidery unless you squish it a bit.

Here is is all finished!

meme-cushion-8And here is is on my sofa – it took so long to make it look good, it was ridiculous! I’m not great at styling I think – any tips?

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My aunt took this photo of it on her chair and made it look sooooo much better! She’s definitely better at styling!

Meme cushionDo you have a favourite meme? If so, please post it in the comments to give me a giggle 🙂 Would you be tempted to embroider it on a cushion? It could be a good Christmas present for someone!

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