Overnight Inspiration

I have been stumped for a few days about how to embellish the side panels on this dress. It is on my mind as I fall asleep and still there when I wake up. This is not a bad thing. If I were not trying to resolve something sewing related, I would be focused on corporate level decisions which are beyond my level of authority at the company where I work, or federal politics or some other such issues over which I ultimately have minuscule or zero control, and I would be very frustrated and unhappy. For me, the return to sewing has been about focusing my attention on goals which I actually might achieve. It is very therapeutic to have something into which I can pour my loving energy and over which I alone have ultimate decision making power. So when I lie down to sleep at night, I wrap my thoughts around fabric and trims, fashion, style, fit, and design challenges related to making a dress I don't really need. It sounds trivial, but I need that triviality. If my current project turns out to be a disaster, nobody will die. I can roll over and get some sleep when I am tired of thinking about it. And the sleep is good sleep. Sometimes I wake up with a gift from my subconscious, an idea I had not thought of before.

Yesterday's gift was hand embroidery. If I use hand embroidery, I can use wool which is thick enough to show up on the raw silk fashion fabric. Also, it solves the problem of how to program the stitches to turn a non 90 degree corner. I can follow the outline of the panel on three sides instead of just one. But what stitch should I use? Can I still use beads? Will the beads I have picked out now be too small? Should I use floral motifs? Do you see how one little flash of inspiration leads to more decisions? I love it. Really, I do. It gives me some puzzle to figure out. I think I am only truly happy when I am solving puzzles.

Many years ago, I made this little wool lap blanket. All the embroidery was done by hand with strands of wool. I remember how satisfying it was to watch it progress. I had done cross stitch before and similarly enjoyed the process, but the wool blanket was more dimensional and the larger strands were more satisfying to work with as the design progressed faster. Plus, it used beads! The blanket was made with a kit from INSPIRATIONS magazine. If you have never seen this magazine, I caution you - you WILL want to take up hand needle work when you see the breathtakingly gorgeous photography of the stunning projects. There. Don't say I didn't warn you. Ever since I finished the blanket, I have wanted to do another wool embroidery project, but I wanted to design my own instead of following a kit. I got stalled and never figured out what I wanted to make. I think sometimes that good design is about managing limits. When I am faced with endless possibilities, I often feel my creativity is crippled by the lack of limits. I think the little side panels on this dress offer me the limits I need. I turned to my bookshelf to find a few examples of hand embroidered border stitches to use as inspiration. I found what I was looking for in one of my A to Z books. I love these books. They are spiral bound and full of well illustrated instructions. I almost don't even need to read the text.

I found my inspiration on page 81. While I like the motif, what inspires me is the stitches used. I like the rows of stem stitch and blanket stitch, and especially the Palestrina stitch worked around the outer edges of the petals. I think I want to experiment with a combination of these stitches to create a border. I hopped on my bike at lunch yesterday and rode to Michael's to have a look at what they offer for wool embroidery. The best I could do was skeins of wool/acrylic yarn. I am going to try to separate the plies and see how that works out for me. Maybe I will figure out a way to incorporate beads. That will be sweet.

I am tempted to start my next sewing project since the sewing part of making this dress is on hold until I embroider the side panels. I usually don't like to have more than one project going at a time. It makes my sewing room chaotic. But these hands gotta be sewing something or I get restless....


  1. MUCH easier to read. Thanks Debra.

  2. Oh what fun ,Debra! While hand embroidery is not my thing, I'll be very interested to see the finished product.
    I too, go to bed and imagine and dream about sewing. I sometimes think I'm obsessed with sewing but then, as long as it harms no one, right?Lol