Jan 16, 2011

Lovely Stitching

One thing that I love about lolita is that, beyond the bubbly feeling of bouncing around in frills, it has encouraged me to learn new crafts. I've learned to make bows, whip cream rings and tiny felt top hats, how to use pins to decorate and make things like hats and scarves match, how to curl my hair just right and many other little things. But by far my favorite lolita-inspired craft is embroidery.

Originally I picked up the skill through an online tutorial in an attempt to decorate a very plain cutsew. From there I've been more or less hooked on drawing with a needle. Luckily it's a good deal cheaper than any of my other crafting hobbies and is an amazing way to feel productive and relax at the same time. There are so many different things you can make, even if you know only a handful of stitches. Take a simple split stitch, back stitch and silk stitch and you can make a vine that changes thickness as it branches off. Add a few stitches with ribbon and suddenly it's covered in flowers. And the possibilities are endless. You want a dress with an ice cream? A hot air balloon? A bird? A key? Anything you can imagine you can stitch onto anything you want. Then there's applique, which is pretty much the same thing but adding in shapes of fabric to fill in larger areas.

If you want to personalize your wardrobe, learning a little embroidery and purchasing a couple of solid colored pieces is a great way to do it. I highly recommend searching through Taobao for some excellent solid dresses at prices that won't make you feel guilty for editing them. Embroidery has a more permanent feel than paint and is more elegant. I always loved the texture of the threads even before I learned to do it myself.

The first dress I embroidered. I wanted something that could be sweet and steampunk and I love antique keys.

Getting started is easy. You can learn basics over YouTube or through multiple other websites, though I prefer books for easy reference. You'll need fabric to work on (I recommend picking up a pack of quilting squares to learn the stitches are), a hoop, embroidery thread, and special needles. None of these are expensive items and can all be purchased at most craft stores. Pick your favorite style of tutorial and have it on hand as you practice. If you decide to go the way of books, I'd try looking for Doodle Stitching by Aimee Ray, as it has very nice and easy-to-follow instructions for many different stitches. 

As you start learning stitches, try to pick projects that incorporate the new ones one-by-one until you're comfortable with them. I wouldn't try to decorate anything you plan on wearing until you can do every stitch needed without consulting your guide. Once you're confident about your thread embroidery, try learning to add in ribbon.

Some other tips for making embroidery enjoyable:

1) Have a drink of your choice on hand. Having a cup of tea, hot chocolate or even a glass of wine, if you are so inclined, on a nearby table will make it seem much more enjoyable, especially during the occasionally frustrating time while you're still learning. This is also a great tip if, like me, you are prone to working for long periods of time. Just make sure it's not within easy spilling range.

2) Always put your needles away and wind your extra thread. This is especially important if you'll be unable to pick up your project for more than a few hours, or if you live with a roommate, partner or pet. Lost needles and tangled threads are never fun to deal with, especially when needles are later found by bare feet.

3) Put on a soundtrack. This can be anything. A movie you know well enough that you won't be looking up every few seconds, a favorite CD or even a friend that doesn't mind half your attention on crafting while you talk.

4) Turn off your phone. Sometimes being interrupted when you get into a groove can throw you off for the rest of the day. Besides, taking a little bit of each day for yourself is a good practice that will keep your stress level way down.

5) Pick designs and projects that you love. If you work on something that excites you, you are much more likely to finish it. So pick projects that make you happy.

1 comment:

  1. This dress you made is fantastic. I always loved embroidered dresses but yours is just so special