Tuesday, April 15, 2008

what everyone needs

truffula tree shirt

i've been telling eva for weeks that i'll embroider her a truffla tree shirt (she's really into "the lorax", which was one of my favorite books as a kid, too). i had planned to do some hand embroidery, but then i saw girl popcorn's machine embroidery tutorial on the craftzine blog and got inspired. while i was on bed rest for a month or so, i watched a lot of crafty tv, which included some of those traditional quilt shows on PBS. one show (hmm, fonz & porter or the other one? it's all a blur) had a guest who basically drew her entire quilt design in thread on black fabric. it ended up looking like a printed fabric, because she used very dense stitching and a variety of colors (unlike basic quilting motifs). so, i sort of combined the two ideas and though my free-motion machine stitching is decidedly inexpert, decided to give it a go on some beloved truffla trees.

sometimes the right tool makes all the difference. i was unaware of the water soluble stabilizer girl popcorn mentions, but it's perfect for the task. you can transfer a very precise line drawing this way, and keep stretchy t-shirt fabric under control at the same time. i always wondered how people did that! so, i just traced some images from the book and fused the stabilizer to the shirt (i also put a layer of soluble stabilizer on the back -- given i still got some puckering, maybe a more basic embroidery stabilizer -- that stays in place? -- would have been preferable?) i then began to stitch the various colors (eva helped me choose thread that matched the trees in the book). here you can see the line drawing and the first trees stitched in.

truffula tree design

i did the black outline stitching last so it would stay on top. i thought it would be really difficult to pull off the level of detail i had drawn into the design, but i just went slowly, and was surprised to find it worked out just fine. here's the final result. i haven't machine washed the shirt yet, so maybe some of the puckering will go away? there are a few ink marks from when i rinsed out the stabilizer (they do warn not to use just any pen, but i'm not always known to follow directions), but i think that'll wash out.

truffula tree shirt detail

not bad for a first attempt, and it really went quite quickly -- an easy one-evening project (i'd still be working on the hand embroidery version well after the baby arrives, i think). more importantly, though, is that eva adores it. i'm so happy to have this technique in hand; just think of all the possibilities...