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April 22

WIP: The Birdy Blouse

I’ve been in serious need of blouses in my wardrobe; skirts I have loads of, but there’s a significant shortage of blouses.

I went and pulled out all of the blouse fabrics I have in my stash and selected out a few of those that would work for the springtime.  Then separately, I went though all of my blouse patterns and selected out the ones I actually wanted to make.

One of my fabrics that I’ve been hesitant to use is a 3-ply silk crepe fabric.  Silk crepe is my FAV fabric of all time and while my inclination is to hoard it, I know I’d love it even more if I used it for a blouse that I could wear.  I have certain patterns in my stash that lend itself wonderfully to the drapey silk crepe, the Vogue 5011 is the one I choose to pair with my navy-colored crepe.

I decided that this simple blouse needed some embroidery and set about looking on the flickr group: Hoop Love Vintage Transfers.  I picked out a few that could work, but choose this little bird transfer.

Every time I think of birds on fabric (or on anything really) I can’t help but chuckle and think of Portlandia’s Put a Bird on It.  I contemplate if I like the item simply because it has a bird on it…  Most times that’s the case, but I still can’t help it.  Birds are cute and make everything better.  So I’m putting a bird on my blouse.  heh

I’m a total newbie when it comes to embroidery, as I’ve only done one embroidery project in the past.  So I’m still choosing very simple designs that I can complete with a few stitch types: stem stitch, daisy stitch, back-stitch, and running stitch.

I decided on this color scheme: 3 blues for the bird, 2 corals for the flowers and two greens for the stems and leaves.  I went to Joann’s knowing I wanted a blue for the bird, but I always bring my fabric swatch & embroidery pattern so I can select the colors, all the while building around the blue and seeing what shows off well against the navy fabric.  Oftentimes I wander to the front of the store that has the natural lighting, to ensure that I’ve chosen decent colors.  I’m not sure about your local craft stores, but the fluorescent light can throw things off in a strange way.

I love incorporating multiple shades of the same color within a project, as I think it gives the embroidery a bit more depth and looks somewhat more professional as I’m just starting out.

I taped my transfer directly onto the front of my blouse, pre-stitching.

And I used some wax-free transfer paper and my knitting needle to trace the design onto the fabric.

I ALWAYS test these things out on scrap fabric first.  Sometimes I can use a pen as the tool to transfer the design, but I found that my knitting needle does the best job of transferring the image to the fabric.

Transferred design:

The one thing I didn’t test was the durability of my transfer.  As soon as I started stitching the bird’s head the rest of my transfer markings were falling off of my fabric.  *yarr!*  So I basically had to wing-it as far as replicating the original transfer design.

The bird is similar, but you can totally see some differences in mine vs. the transfer.

Most of these images are taken on separate nights too.  My work has kept me really busy and all of last week I only managed to embroider for 45 minutes before needing to head to bed.  So instead of spending all night to finish the design, I was at this for 4 nights.

My favorite part of the design was the flowers.  Those little bits of coral-pink really cheered me up as I was working on them.

I removed the hoop and you can still see the imprint that it’s left.  I’m hoping this will lessen after I was it for the first time.

While it’s not perfect (or as nice & tidy) as my first embroidery attempt, I think it looks pretty cute and ‘makes’ this blouse.

I currently have three blouses in the works, but my birdy blouse is the closest to being completed of the three, even with the addition of some embroidery.  Over the weekend I was able to stitch the rest of it up, and the only thing I have left on it is the hemming (as always).  I’m already planning on making a few more as it’s such a great basic blouse for the summer or for layering over in the winter.

Hope you all had a great weekend!

  1. Aleksandra / Apr 22 2013

    Love the embroidery, it’s beautiful! Kudos to you for being able to replicate the design when the transfer wore off. I totally would have panicked! lol

    Looking forward to the finished blouse. :)

    • Liz / Apr 22 2013

      Oh yes! There was an instant panic… but once I got past the bird all was fine. I liked having a bit more freedom to do the stems/flowers as I wanted. But the bird… that was rough. The poor little wing looks nothing like the original.

  2. Jane / Apr 22 2013

    The birds are so cute! Also, hemming is THE WORST. I finished a skirt a year ago, and it still needs to be hemmed. I really don’t feel like hemming a half-circle rayon lining. :(

    • Liz / Apr 22 2013

      I am the worst at hemming! I too have a dress from last year that needs a hem.

  3. SwinginCat / Apr 22 2013

    Aaaw, it’s so cute!

  4. ClaireE / Apr 22 2013

    The embroidery is beautiful and looks great even though the transfer came off. I cross stitch a lot and I don’t think I have ever completed a project perfectly but they tend to work out well. As long as you know what you are creating and have a sense of scale you’re fine – as you proved. Can’t wait to see the finished blouse!

    • Liz / Apr 22 2013

      Thanks so much Claire. :)

  5. Michelle / Apr 22 2013

    Completely beautiful! I love the embroidered touch!

  6. joelle / Apr 22 2013

    oh i love this, it’s so pretty! I wish I knew how to embroider, but at the same time, I really don’t need a new hobby ;)

    • Liz / Apr 22 2013

      Ahh…. I really can’t say I know how to embroider either. I’ve looked online at youtube and figured out a few stitches. Practice first since I’m always better after my 5th practice stitch than my first several.

      But yeah…. I don’t want to accumulate more items for my stash (embroidery floss…) but a bit is okay.

  7. Stephanie / Apr 22 2013

    So cute! I too have a plan to use Gertie’s portrait blouse and embroider on the shoulder. I really think little details like that make the item and yours is gorgeous.

    • Liz / Apr 22 2013

      Oh yes! I love that portrait blouse. Basic little blouses with cut-on sleeves are wonderful.

  8. Qui / Apr 22 2013

    darling idea Liz, and I’m so impressed with your embroidery. You make it look easy!! One day I hope to give it a try–I have a favorite sweater with coral flowers that I adore and need to recreate (in a size that fits).

    • Liz / Apr 22 2013

      Ohh yes! I’d love to embroider a sweater. I’ve always had plans for buying a vintage sweater (already made) and adding some embroidery… But there’s always so much to do in so little time. :)

      These stitches I did are easy!!! Youtube them for sure if you’re wanting to try out a bit for yourself.

  9. Stephanie / Apr 22 2013

    Super cute! I am also in desperate need of some blouses! That pattern is so cute! I need to find something similar to add to my pattern stash!

  10. nancyworegreenstockings / Apr 22 2013

    It looks so darling! I can’t wait to see the blouse once it’s done! I have no doubt it’s going to look adorable.

  11. Marie / Apr 22 2013

    Oooh, I can’t wait to see this blouse finished…absolutely love your embroidered birdies!

  12. Miss Virginia / Apr 22 2013

    “wing it”–haha! anyway, the embroidery looks fantastic, especially for someone who hasn’t done much! Looks professional :)

  13. Jill / Apr 22 2013

    Lovely, lovely. I especially like the two-toned effect you used!

  14. Amanda / Apr 22 2013

    Totally adorable, Liz!! Love how this came out. Makes me want to attempt it myself. :)

  15. Kate-Em / Apr 23 2013

    What a great idea. I love the blouse pattern on its own but adding the bird and flowers just makes it perfect. Can’t wait to see it as part of an outfit.

  16. Ashley0107 / Apr 23 2013

    Aww, it’s really pretty! I love the colours you chose :)

  17. Alex / Apr 23 2013

    It looks amazing!!!

  18. SewLittleTime / Apr 23 2013

    that looks amazing liz – i can’t believe it’s only your second project. you have such great attention to detail!

  19. Theresa / Apr 23 2013

    That’s so pretty and lovely for spring, I haven’t embroidered for such a long time, it really is a lovely touch, though I’d have panicked when the transfer wore off.

  20. bonita / Apr 23 2013

    Oh, so inspiring Liz! I love it. I want to do some embroidery embellishment ~ I just have to decide where and on what.

    Hmm, maybe instead of sewing something to embroider {I can’t anyway – my machine is down :'( } I should update something in my wardrobe… Thanks for the ideas! :3

    bonita of Depict This!

  21. Kelly / Apr 23 2013

    I love your embroidery! The colors go perfectly with your navy blouse. I just started learning to embroider, and I really like it. I love that even beginners can make something pretty!

  22. MrsLeapheart / Apr 24 2013

    Nice blouse! G-ma taught me to embroidery. We did tea towels to keep us busy and out of mischief. If I may give you a few pointers…when doing the “outline stitch”..always put your needle back through the hole you’ve just made. Keep your thread to the under OR upper side of the needle, never switching in mid stream. When you pull your thread out of the skein, keep track of which end is the “new” cut end, and thread the needle from the opposite, or OLD cut, never varying this. All of your stitches will be even, and the thread won’t tangle and make those nasty, inexplicable knots.
    Thanks, Grandma!

  23. Clipped Curves / Apr 24 2013

    How original and unique. You did a fantastic job, I wouldn’t have guess it was a first if you handn’t said.

  24. Lisette / Apr 24 2013

    Oh! I’m quite breathless. As someone whose embroidery always looks poorly, I have to say that yours is BEAUTIFUL. And it’s going to be on a blouse? It will looks so genuinely vintage If only I had your patience.

  25. Sara / Apr 24 2013

    our bird embroidery is such a cute way to spruce up a solid-colored garment! :)

    I hear you on the “needing more blouses” thing — for some reason I have lots of skirts, but hardly any shirts that aren’t tshirts! I made New Look 6808 this weekend, can’t wait to make another. Cheers!

    • Sara / Apr 24 2013

      Uhh…”Your” bird embroidery. :)

  26. Ginger / Apr 24 2013

    Holy cow, I LOVE this! Absolutely lovely work! Can’t wait to see the finished blouse!

  27. Rochelle New / Apr 26 2013

    I had to join that Flickr group since you mentioned it. They have the coolest stuff! I love the design you picked and cant wait to see the finished blouse :)

  28. Michelle / Apr 27 2013

    The bird is so cute – I’m looking forward to seeing the finished blouse.

  29. Bridget / Apr 28 2013

    LOVE IT! You did a fab job!

  30. Meg the Grand / May 7 2013

    It’s just perfect. I love the embroidery you’ve added so much – the colors are so fetching against the dark background!

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