May 2011 – Learning New Things, Like Hand Embroidery

Learning new things – Like hand embroidery.  No one ever taught me to embroidery. I was taught how to quilt, knit, crochet and taught myself how to smock. But embroidery looked very hard, tedious, and time consuming, as is anything done by hand.  So, I have a wonderful embroidery machine that does all my embroidery for me.

The last week of April my smocking guild, the Lone Star Smockers, got to have Gail Doane come to our area and teach embroidery. She is a world renowned embroidery expert and her work has been published in many publications such as “Australian Smocking & Embroidery”. She also has a book that I bought and looked longingly at each picture, wondering if I could ever do anything so wonderful with my hands. Here is a picture of her book, “Cute as a Button” or aka “Sew Cute Couture”

Below are pictures I took of her work that I found in my copies of Australian Smocking & Embroidery.

There are many more but these are the magazines I happened to have readily accessible. You can still buy copies of some of these magazines here:

She also had a bishop dress published in this book entitled:  “Beautiful Bishops”. This is her work on the cover:

Two days of our class were spent learning how to make 5 different flowers. Two of the flowers are made by casting on the thread instead of wrapping it around the needle, like the bullion flowers. So we learned how to make a huge beautiful bullion rose with a button in the middle, a purple flower using double cast on technique, a peachy flower made by using a blanket stitch, a blue flower using single cast on technique, and a yellow flower using the lazy daisy stitch. I realized later that I put too many stitches in my lazy daisy flower, but decided to keep it that way, at least on the bodice. Here are a couple of pictures of my completed bodice.

On the dress skirt, there are more flowers to embroider between the tucks along the bottom of the skirt.  I chose to make the dress in a size 3 so I have 17 flowers to work on to complete my dress. I have this all marked off and started by making the chain stitch for the green vines.  Here is a picture of the completed dress that Gail made and taught us to make. You can see more of her work and techniques on her website: (called LuLu & Annie).Picture used with permission

In the class Gail taught, we received the kit containing all the items need to complete this dress. She has several kits that can be purchased and also her book, “Sew Cute Couture”. You can go to her ETSY site by following the link below:

We also made a wrap skirt and blouse that is still under construction.  I am so happy to now have a 6 week old granddaughter (at this writing) so that I can make all these beautiful outfits for.  I learned a great way to do a new hem, a wonderful way to make collars without stretching that bias cut edge, and many embroidery stitches that I never knew about.  I plan to incorporate some of these techniques into some future doll clothes.

The one thing that I go away with, after taking Gail’s class, is that I now can’t wait to sit down and pick up my project and work on the embroidery. I have a new interest in doing all these hand stitches that I once thought impossible for me to learn. There is a certain feeling of accomplishment once you have learned how to do something that you always admired but thought beyond your capabilities. Now I can’t wait to try out some of the outfits in her book.  If you ever have the chance to take a class from Gail, I would highly recommend it. One other thing I enjoyed about taking her class was getting to see the actual dresses she made that you see in the magazines. She had a whole rack of clothing she has made with all her wonderful embroidery work. Try new things, you might just like it!



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