Poppy Embroideries

My spring coat is finally finished! While it’s too late for spring, I hope that by wearing it in fall the feeling of summer will be extended a bit. This was a big project!     2016-07-03-11.53.22-8I decided to copy an old favorite unlined coat. I always pull it out between seasons because the single ply of wool is the perfect weight, but it’s grey and looks a little blah in spring. However, the oversized fit gives enough room for anything from dolman sleeves to another layer beneath. To celebrate spring, I wanted embroidered poppies around the hem of the coat. I looked all over for the set of embroideries I evisioned in my mind, but to no avail. Just as I was giving up, my neighbor’s poppies began to bloom! I have software. I can draw. YES, I can do this!

The first step was to take some snapshots of her poppies. I wanted red poppies and some were golden, but as long as the values are there you can change the color later.PoppyBThe second step was to simplify the photograph into a line drawn cartoon. This needed to be done since the number of embroidery threads used should be kept down to a reasonable number. I have a single thread embroidery machine, so I need to rethread for each color and the final embroideries have about 14 colors.   drawing-webThe third step is to scan the freehand cartoon and open it up as a layer in a drawing program like Adobe Illustrator, then complete a vector drawing. The embroidery software I purchased from Husqvarna Viking has a drawing module that is fairly simple to use, but I’m used to the feature rich Illustrator. This part takes awhile, at least for me. I spent time fussing around with the composition by moving the flowers, changing their sizes and even moving flowers from one photo to another to balance. There are three separate embroideries on the coat plus some small designs for the buttons and the collar.      poppies1_042316 I make all of this sound very straightforward but the truth is I’d never attempted such a complex project, and most steps had to be done more than once. The good thing is that I continued to find faster ways to accomplish my goals. Next time should be much more efficient!

After the drawing is done the embroidery software takes over. The basics of the software are incredibly easy. Just point your mouse to an area and the software will fill that area with the embroidery pattern of your choice! Of course, that wasn’t good enough for me…I wanted shading, and the stitches to change direction on the petals, and satin stitch on the stems, and different weights of black outline. You get the picture, I basically nerded out for hours, and here are the final stitch outs before I put them on my coat.

I didn’t want the back of the embroidery to show inside the coat, and I was running out of fabric! I found a length that was uneven along the top and almost the width of the bottom hem. I then let this found shape lead me to the placement of the embroideries and the curve of the pocket. I like letting the fabric make decisions for me, and I think the pockets came out better than the straight ones that I’d planned. If you look closely you can see the bottom hem is actually two layers.2016-07-03-11.55.24-19


I also designed matching embroidered buttons!2016-07-03-11.50.53-2

For the asymmetrical collar, I copied a few of the previously designed poppies and had them land in the corners. Now all I have to do is wait for some cooler weather!


Have Scissor will Travel

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This project started with a fail by me. For my BSF’s birthday, I made a holder for sewing tools that hung around the neck. Luckily I put a few nice tools in it because the holder was useless! A few weeks later Debra suggested that we design aprons that would hold our tools, and that sounded like a great idea (and helped me save face).

We got together with a pile of fabrics, some inspiration photos and started planning. She wanted one to tie, and I wanted one I could just slip on. We made some paper templates and were soon cutting into fabric. The good news is BSF-Debra actually came over with her finished apron so you get to see both!

This is her apron with the cool textured denim and accents of lime green including a fabulous piece of green leather. I used my machine to embroider her logo that her husband had designed for her.

_O0A1068 Debra-logo


It functions the best of the two aprons, and if you decide to make one, follow her lead in putting the tools center front so the apron hangs evenly. The other advantage is room for two pockets for hands. She found the badge reel that we are both using to hold a pair of small scissors. The front pocket holds large scissors, marking pen and pencil, measurement gauge, and a seam ripper. She has also tied on a 36” tape. Needle and thread can be pinned on the flap at the top.  Honestly, what more do you need?

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We are both constantly amazed that we can start out with the same idea and end up with completely different looks. I wanted to have some asymmetry to mine, but unfortunately at a slight loss of function. However, other than leaving my large scissor out of the pocket most of the time, mine is a pleasure to wear.

2016-07-03 11.47.06Since I like to embroider with my machine, I digitized a drawing of my tomato pincushion and placed the embroidery on my shoulder to hold pins. The dot fabric has some free-motion embroidery and I added some color to the black fabric with the help of some Diane Ericson stencils. The linen cat fabric came from Elfriede’s Fabrics and the crow is also from a Diane Ericson stencil.2016-07-03 11.44.37

Both of us love our aprons and it’s such a relief to not be constantly hunting for tools! Happy sewing!