Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Back From Stitching Serenity

I made it back home from Stitching Serenity X, a two day class held at St. Mary's Seminary in the hills above Santa Barbara. This is held every year and is sponsored by the Berry Good Smockers Chapter of SAGA in Woodland Hills, California. As I mentioned in my previous post, the class was on making a baby dress called June Baby and taught by Vaune Pierce.  Since my granddaughter is two years old and a bit tall for her age, I had Vaune make the kit up for a size 3 dress, as opposed to the six month size for the rest of the class. There were two special techniques used for this dress: 1) inserting organdy into linen fabric with point de Paris, or pin stitch, and 2) making scalloped edges on organdy.

This is the insert, with the embroidery finished. Since the base fabric is a fine linen, it's pretty wrinkled. The organdy, a light violet color, is stitched in place using point de Paris, which gives the characteristic holes in the organdy. The embroidery is done with DMC coton a broder #25, which gives a lovely sheen. Coton a broder is a 4 ply thread that is used one strand at a time. It's perfect for monogramming and cutwork, and is often referred to as cutwork thread. You can buy it from Vaune, and she carries all of the colors. I really like the way the bullions come out using this. On the left you can see the pin tucks that were stitched by hand. Each one is only a few threads wide. They are pretty easy, but time consuming.

Sometimes you think you know how to work a particular stitch, and then take a class or pick up a different description which gives you a whole new insight into it. I had made the Shirley Temple Dress, which had scalloped edged all along the neckline and sleeves. I wasn't entirely happy with the scallops, and after taking Vaune's class I found out why. I was packing the stitches too close together! This caused the purl ends of each stitch to ram together and sort of bunch up. Vaune told me to space the stitches a bit apart, and lo and behold, they lay much smoother and really looked much more even.

On the left you can see where the stitches are too close together and looking somewhat uneven and bunchy, but on the right they are nice and smooth. I finished the two sleeves and one collar, and just need to finish the other collar and the hem - that will be a job! And that's just the embroidery - I'll still have to put the dress together. I plan on getting a lot more of this finished this weekend.

There is an excellent reason that this class is called "Stitching Serenity".  St. Mary's is no longer a Seminary (a place to train priests) but now functions as a retreat center. Up in the hills above Santa Barbara, you couldn't find a lovelier place for a weekend away.

Off to the left is the Pacific Ocean, mostly obscured by the low cloud cover which never really went away. Right in the center, what looks like very ordered rows of plantings is just that, the replanting after the Santa Barbara Tea Fire in November 2008 (We in California name our wildfires). The air is perfectly clear and the nights are silent, except for the bleating of the goats brought in to keep the brush eaten and the fire hazard lessened.

I've only attended one other Stitching Serenity, and if I can dig up the materials I'll share it with you. I had forgotten how lovely and peaceful it is, and definitely plan on attending again!

Now that I've written this post, I realize that I need to explain a bit more about point de Paris, the type of thread used, and so on. But that will be in another post.

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