Project: Shirt Resuscitation Part 5

[This title is getting super old. I should make a project index instead. Next project; lesson learnt.]

So I finished embroidering the tulips today! Wheeee! I’m stoked about making some actual, visible progress on this thing.

I also managed to fill in my project journal, so I can read about my progress later on. [I saw someone else do it, and while I am nowhere as good as they are at journalling, I think it’s a sweet idea.]

I took this picture this afternoon, as I started on the third tulip. My stitches aren’t the neatest, to be honest, but that’s the whole point of doing this on a throwaway tee. My mother is ready to rip my head off for expending so much effort on it though, because she thinks it is turning out beautifully. Moms be crazy, yo.


I drew out the flowers from photographs I saw on Google, and used thread tracing to transfer it onto the shirt. Then, coloured in my palette on paper, trying to replicate the shading. Failed abysmally, as you will soon see. But that’s the good thing about a personal project; you get to muck it up as you learn. So I’m not sweating it too much.

So there it is. I hope the next update won’t be quite so far away.


Project: Shirt Resuscitation Part 4

Yeah, this is an on-going enterprise.

To be fair though, after my last update in MARCH, I had finished the outlines of the flowers by mid-April. [Please excuse the photos. I am the world’s worst photographer.]

This completed the remaining flower outlines.

And here is one of all the flowers labelled.

I then moved on to plotting out the colour schemes. The flower photographs I had used for inspiration already had their own colours, so I avoided taxing my puny brain too much and picked up those colours in cotton embroidery floss. Then I had to replicate the shading on the flowers, which let me tell you is a daunting prospect.

Lots of embroidery blogs I follow suggest colouring pencils as a means to plan stitch direction, colours, and so on. So I broke out the design and tried to match the floss to the limited set of colour pencils I had. the attempt wasn’t pretty, but it sufficed for me to get an idea of how to start.

The colours look a little darker on paper, but they are quite a bit softer in floss. I had a picture of that too somewhere, but I can’t find it any more.

Hopefully my next update will be about starting on the tulips, and some progress will be visible. For the moment, I am sticking to a simple satin stitch, because the thought of mixing up the stitches boggles my mind!

Project: Shirt Resuscitation Part 3

Ah, the huge peony. Lost? Read part 1 and 2 first.

I was dreading the huge peony, because it truly is gargantuan. Plus, I had cut the pattern into its component bits, so realigning was in my future. Lack of confidence overall, played a huge part in this.

About 10 days ago, I pulled it out, determined to conquer the peony bogey. I aligned it, and started basting. I got a good 30% through the thing, before I realised that I was stitching on top of the sweet pea flowers. I harrumphed a little, but decided to plow on nonetheless, figuring I could make it foreground-background.

Then, I realised the pattern overlapped the sleeve’s seam. Hm. No way I could fix that. Out came the hoop, and the paper. And I proceeded to unpick the 30% of peony I had painstakingly basted. Tears may have been shed. The project went back into the bag, some unpicking still remaining.

Day before yesterday, I pulled it back out, deciding to at least finish the unpicking. I located a seam ripper I had bought, and promptly forgotten, and attacked the peony with vengeance. Finally, broken pieces of thread lay in a bowl, and my shirt was back to the just the sweet peas.

With some trepidation, I lined up the peony again, and basted some tentative, preliminary stitches. It took me two days, but I finished the sucker. Yesterday, I pulled out the last bit of paper.

You can see where one of the lines of Frankenstein-like darning intersects with the design. Those lines are the whole point of this project.

And here it is with the sweet peas. There wasn’t originally meant to be so much space between them, but I figured I would fill it up with leaves and a lattice to bring the whole design together.

[I do not anticipate finishing this thing in my lifetime.]

Now I have the other side to do. It has a lily, a bunch of tulips, and a scabiosa. The peony and the lily are about the same size, but the scabiosa sketch is terrifyingly detailed.



Project: Shirt Resuscitation Part 2

Second in this series, after the set up post.

Last time, I had the shirt, the threads, the design [HA!] that I drew, the fusible interfacing, and the dressmaker’s carbon for the design transfer. I didn’t start the project though, since I was a little intimidated by the size of it all, as it was a classic case of me biting off more than I can chew. Also, work projects took priority. So it got shelved for a few months.

The first task was to apply the interfacing. I was nervous about doing this, because of the creases that I thought may appear. But the interfacing was of much better quality than material I had previously worked with, so it ironed on well, and fused beautifully and soft.

I managed to cut a rectangle for the top, and ironed it on without incident. The key was to iron the top itself first, so it was flat in itself. I am sure other people know this already, but I didn’t. It was lucky happenstance.

The second picture is the front of the top, in glorious crease-less flatness.

Here is half of the design, and the dressmaker’s carbon paper. It DID NOT work. *sad face*

I then Googled “basting”, thinking that this technique was called that. Thankfully, Google is way smarter than me, and showed me articles for thread tracing. Unfortunately, the technique is meant to be used with tissue, which I didn’t have.

Slightly put out with this hiccup, I wondered what to do for a while. Didn’t trust myself to do a prick and pounce, because 1) thought I would run out of patience and make a mess; and 2) don’t have the materials for that either.

So, thought I would give the printer paper a shot. Printed out copies of the design, in case I flubbed the thing. Used a tiny hoop to secure the fabric, and transferred the design using tailoring thread in backstitch.

Again, was afraid of the final result. But it wasn’t so bad after all!

Those are sweet peas, and I am trying hard to ignore their resemblance to female genitalia. Once the fillings are done, they will look better. I hope!

Initially thought I could start working on these, but I see now that I would have to transfer the whole decision before making stitch and thread colour decisions. Next up is a HUGE peony. Not looking forward to that.

Stay tuned.

Project: Shirt Resuscitation

[Side note: I’m supposed to be working right now, because I have a deadline tomorrow. Therefore, I am blogging. But, of course.]

I bought a bunch of tees at a large discount store a while back, and regretted it instantly because they are partially synthetic. I generally avoid the store because my previous experience with their clothes has been awful, to say the least.

Anyway, I am easily beguiled by colours, and I fell in love with this gorgeous shocking pink one. Pink has easily been my favourite colour since I was little, even though I went through this phase of ‘don’t-gender-stereotype-me-!’ in between, where I chose predominantly black and blue. Spoiler alert: it didn’t last long. With my complexion, medium to dark pinks work fairly well.

The tee in question, being made of questionable fabric, ripped rather easily after a few washes. I thought it would be a good opportunity to give it a bit of a lift, so mum and I bought some lace that matched it perfectly.

We gave it to a tailor, but because he used a sewing machine to attach said lace, the fabric underneath ripped rather dramatically. I took it back, and unpicked the lace from the top. The lace was mostly salvaged, and I can use it in the future for something or the other. Darned the rips in the fabric, so now I have a Frankenstein’s monster pink tee. [And a close up of the darned bits.]

Now, as you can see, the rips are all around the neck area, and they are rather inconveniently in different spots on both sides.

At this point, my mum suggested I chuck the thing in the bin and call it a day. But. BUT. I love surface embroidery, and I do not have the guts to actually try any of it out on good clothes or fabric. So this becomes the ideal training ground!

First, I drew a pattern that would cover the rips. Badly, I know, I’m not an artist. I had the outlines of the tee, and made sure that the A4 sheets covered the rips.

Ha. First thing I realised is: “Ambitious much, dipshit?” Those flowers are colossal. I cannot satin stitch those large areas, without the thread eventually sagging. So I now have to learn some other filling stitches.

Then, it occurred to me that I would need fusible interfacing. Otherwise, I could reasonably expect a repeat performance of the lace fiasco. So I bought that.

Finally, I don’t have embroidery thread. So what does smart-aleck Sundaram do? She orders it online, comparing the original photographs of the flowers on one tab, with the skeins on another tab. [And then I wonder why projects terrify me? Because I set myself up for failure every time with this go-big-or-go-home attitude.]

Anyway. This arrived in the mail a few days later:

I think I got enough, don’t you?

Now what remains is the actual project. Considering it has taken me almost 8 months to draw up a design, buy interfacing and thread, and buy yellow carbon paper for the design transfer, I wouldn’t hold my breath for any finishes any time soon.

But, since I am quite excited to do this, I will create a project index when I do start. [Standard disclaimer: Subject to memory not failing dismally at concerned time.]

Project: Racing Stripes

I am notoriously bad about documenting anything I do when I am in the throes of doing it, so of course I do not have before pictures of today’s project.

The project today was a beat up pair of trainers. They weren’t beat up because of extensive use, but by the virtue of being shunted around the various cities I have lived, being buried under a pile of other shoes, and the like. Last month, I pulled them out for use when I go to the market, since the market is full of uneven flagstones, and I needed a thicker sole on light footwear to save my feet and ankles from extreme abuse.

The shoes originally has three metallic stripes down each side: the centre one in a light purple and the two flanking that stripe in a pewter shade. Both colours were metallic and pastel. However, due to the wear I mentioned before, the colour started flaking off.

Now, I am no diva nor fashionista, but I draw the line at looking shabby. So peeling shoes was not my idea of acceptable. The shoes themselves are serviceable, so I thought I’d try painting them.

So I did. And here they are.

racing-stripesThey look rather cheerful now, and overall I am pleased with the way they turned out.

Ms. Fixit

Do you ever have favourite comfy home clothes that become ratty and tattered, but you don’t want to throw out because they are the comfiest things you own? I do. Several pairs of cotton sleep shorts which I love with my whole heart.

I may have just confessed to being in love with shorts. I can live with that.

Anyway. My mother has been on a mission to delete those pairs of shorts from my life. And I have resisted, claiming that they were irreplaceable. The shorts were bought at a fair in Goa, from an export surplus kiosk. Calling it a temporary structure is being very generous. The originals from the US would cost me a bomb to buy, so yeah no way was I giving up my ratty clothes.

Then, an Indian brand decides to launch sleep shorts too. And now I have a whole new set of them. With matching tees! So I had to think fast to save my shorts.

So I darned them. I have spent the last day and a half darning clothes. A talent, by the way, I didn’t know I had. I have had an enduring interest in embroidery, but I haven’t really done too much with it.

The other achievement of the week was a newish top that I had bought, but whose lace tore on a sharp edge somewhere. The lace was in a panel on the back, and looked awful. Mum and I stopped by a lace shop nearby, and got a long strip to be put in sections in its place. However, the tailor made a mess of the whole thing, so I had to undo it, and redo it. And it turned out really well!

The escapades above have engendered a little more confidence in my crafting abilities, and I think I will actually get around to tackling the projects I have shelved for years. Once I get around to them, I will post photos on here too. Yay! So excited.