Friday, May 25, 2012

Heirloom French Hand Sewing


Back in 1990, I took an heirloom French hand sewing class with a friend of mine. Our girls were 2 and 3 years old at the time. We both loved to sew and wanted to expand our horizons. We had visions of making our little darlings sweet summer dresses made of batiste with delicate lace and hand embroidery. This was our ticket to pure bliss!

The first thing we learned how to do was Shadow Embroidery. I've never done anything so fine and delicate in my life! The back of the design is just as beautiful as the front. I wish I had taken a photo of it before I put this together. It almost looks like a fishtail design. The point being you get the "shadow" effect on the front. I elected to embroider Kira's initial with some delicate flowers and leaves. This was going to be the bodice of a little sundress. I don't see a sundress...do you? Hey, my intentions were good! :)

Isn't it DIVINE? The rosette is made from satin ribbon and finished off with  a vintage button in the center.

Next was learning to sew entreduex, which means "between two" in French. It's a way of connecting lace to lace, lace to fabric, or fabric to fabric. I remember getting frustrated over this. It's very delicate and took some practice, but the results are well worth it. It's used in heirloom sewing and baby clothes. Very beautiful!
The "batiste" fabric is a very pale green. Those are two different laces sewn together at the bottom. I had to add the millinery flowers because....well, I just HAD to!
I had to add this teeny tiny crocheted pin cushion because it just seemed to fit. No pin cushion is complete without pins, right?

Last, but not least was smocking. Again, the plan was to use this piece in the bodice of a little sundress, connected with entreduex and then more on the bottom. I can still see that vision in my head! Now why none of this came to fruition is beyond me. I'm just happy I saved all of it. I did make Kira some adorable Easter dresses that had smoking and hand embroidery involved, so I wasn't a COMPLETE failure!

Again, the fabric is "batiste" in a yummy peach shade. All that embroidery work was done by hand.

My friend ended up buying a smocking machine which is really cool. It actually gathers the fabric for you, with your guidance. Then you hand embroider whatever you want on it. It's an interesting technique and I was very pleased with the way mine turned out.

I came across this little "stash" while searching for something else. I knew I had saved it and would someday do something creative with it. A sampler of those pieces as well as some others I used in dresses I made for  Kira. I had to add a piece of that stunning French lace that I hand sewed down the front and back of her wedding dress. I'm in a sincere love affair with that lace!

I wish you could "feel" this lace in your hands. There's just NOTHING better than lace from France!
Just had to add one more....*sigh*
Viola!

The test is to see if I can actually part with this and give it to Kira. She's turning 30 in August. It seems like yesterday I was dreaming of these beautiful little dresses.


1 comment:

Melissa Taylor said...

Saw this pinned on Pinterest and I just have to say I LOVE what you do and am in awe of your talent!!! Amazing! Wish I could do this...