As part of what will probably be a lifelong quest to use all of the embroidery floss left to me by my grandmother, I’ve been slowly coming up with designs for embroidery projects. Combined with my interest in slow fashion, I’ve started working on updating pieces of my existing wardrobe with embroidery; this is one such project.
I’ve actually owned this shirt for a few years. I rarely wear it, even though I quite like the cut of the shirt. I also love blue and white china patterns, and had even considered getting a tattoo in blue line work. That never happened, but after eyeballing this shirt again last year I thought it might make a good canvas for a blue and white design.
The original drawing I made when I was brainstorming tattoo ideas was for a peacock with peonies and chrysanthemums. The design wasn’t perfect; some of the flowers weren’t particularly well drawn, but the idea was solid – so I went back to my original drawing, made some modifications and applied it to my existing white button down shirt.
The embroidery was pretty straight forward. I started this project in September last year and probably would have finished in within a few months if I hadn’t gotten bogged down in difficulties with work. There are some projects I will work through when I’m depressed, but this project I wanted to enjoy working on; I didn’t want to grow to associate embroidery with sadness or wear items on my person that held that context. So, I set this project aside and worked on some other things, figuring I would come back to it once I was in a better place emotionally.
Of course, I worked on a great deal of other projects since then, but I knew after starting my new job in late June I started coming back around to this one; it was more than half done – I just needed a bit of a push. Unfortunately, after finishing all the embroidery work I realized that I had applied the water soluble embroidery stabilizer that I drew the design on the incorrect way; it ended up causing the design to imprint onto the white fabric instead of washing out clean.
I ended up picking out some work I had done and trying to bleach away the marks, but that didn’t work. So, I ended up redoing sections with darker blue thread in order to cover up this mistake – mostly sections of the peacock’s body and feathers. There are still a few rough patches, but I think I successfully hid most of the damage. I’d say that this isn’t a piece I would sell, because of the flaws, but I would wear it myself since I don’t think it’s too noticeable.
I also realized, after giving the shirt a wash, that it shrank a bit. Argh. It’s now a bit too small, and I hate to say I want to use it as ‘thinspiration’ (the context of that word is very toxic) but it does make me feel a bit more motivated to concentrate on bettering my diet and overall health. The pandemic hasn’t been kind to us in many ways, and one of the effects I’ve felt personally is about 10 lbs of additional weight. I don’t think it’s a crazy goal to lose 10-15 lbs from my present weight, and that will probably be enough that I can fit this shirt again.
Even though this shirt didn’t come out perfectly or come together smoothly, I really love the concept of it and think I will be making more of these. I kind of want to do a whole series of embroidered button down shirts, and I think it’s the kind of clothes that would be easy to buy inexpensively from a salvation army or other second hand shop.
I seem to go through things in phases, and now that I’m moving into the fall and the weather is turning cool, I’m really starting to feel the warm cozy sewing vibes. I’ve made myself a list of things I want to accomplish through the end of the year – including some kanzashi projects that I’ve been picking at on and off for a while – but right now I’m enjoying the putting things together one stitch at a time.
Anyhoo, that is all I’ve got for today. If you enjoyed this post please check back again next week for more arts, crafts and creativity!