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Making Issue No. 7 / Makes / Emerald Dress - Embroidery
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Making Issue No. 7 / Makes / Emerald Dress - Embroidery

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I often forget the joy that comes from making stitches by hand. I'm not a frequent hand stitcher, but I think this way of sewing is wonderful and a much more intimate experience. I love the imperfect nature of it, and the uniqueness that's found within those individual stitches. I especially love when they come together to form beautiful things like flowers.

It's been quite some time since I embroidered anything, I think the last was a sign I made for my grandma during my youth that still hangs in her sewing room and reads, "When this you see, remember me." My grandmother loves embroidery; she even has a machine specifically dedicated to the craft. It's probably her love of embellishments that's piqued my interest in it. I love simple and timeless styles in soft and muted colors, so embellishment doesn't make its way into my work often. But lately, I've wanted to add a little something more to my handmade things such as lining a plain jacket with a subtle floral printed fabric and scattering small flowers along the edges of this dress.

Before I started this dress, I knew I wanted to add these little flowers, which helped when it came to making construction decisions that allowed for their addition. I read through the pattern instructions and after wrapping my head around how the dress came together, realized that it's the perfect pattern for adding embroidery along the neckline, sleeves, and hem. The reason is that all three of these areas have a separate facing that would be able to cover the backside of the embroidery and its stabilizer, keeping the inside nice and clean. Additionally, this pattern design allowed for the use of a small embroidery hoop while still being able to embroider along what would be the edge once the facing was turned inward and stitched in place. Stitching down the facings happens earlier in the construction process, but since I wanted to add embroidery in those places, I left it for last, which worked out really well.

To get an idea of where I wanted my flowers, I traced along the outside edge of the facing with an iron away pen so I could make sure to keep my flowers within this space. I then hung up the dress and used my pen to mark their places; I wanted them to feel a bit scattered and randomly put. After I decided the positions, I got to work. The hemline was the simplest because there was already fusible interfacing attached as part of the original design, so I started with these, enjoying the process of slowing helping the flowers to bloom. After I completed the hemline flowers, I moved on to the sleeves and neckline. With these, I used two pins crossing in an X on the right side of the fabric where I'd originally drawn the flowers, then used a small piece of fusible interfacing on the backside since the sleeves and neckline do not have fusible interfacing on the main body pieces like the hemline. After the fusible interfacing was secured, I removed the pins and redrew the flowers on the right side of the fabric, and started embroidering.

After I finished all my flowers, I stitched down the facings, and the dress was complete! Instructions for the Emerald Dress by Rae Hoekstra can be found on pages 78-82 of Making Issue No. 7, DesertThe flowers on this dress were featured in Making Issue No. 5, Color, as part of the Wildflower Project Bag by Melissa Wastney; the instructions can be found on pages 22-25 of that issue. I love how simple and unique each flower is and that their imperfection lends to their charm. They were the perfect thing to help me get back into embroidery, and now I want to put little flowers all over my handmade items, I just might.  - Emily