Linen Ottobre dress with free motion embroidery

This pattern is #18 from Ottobre Design 03/2008.  (Ottobre, which means “October” in Italian, is a Finnish pattern magazine, which can be found here.)

The above image is from the magazine.  I loved the two coordinating linen fabrics but didn’t have anything similar in stash, so I decided to create a similar look with embroidery.  I didn’t have time to do hand embroidery, so I opted for a technique my sister Mary has used before.

I loosely based my design on a little snippet of Art Nouveau clip-art.  I laid tracing paper over the pattern piece and drew half of the design, then folded it in half and copied the other side. (Well, actually I drew the whole design first so I could have a general idea how it would look, then copied half so it would be symmetric and even.)

When my design was finished, I held a piece of tear-away stabilizer over it on a window (for a light box) and copied it onto the stabilizer in pencil. Then I attached the stabilizer to the wrong side of the fabric with basting glue. I used a basting glue stick since I had it handy and the piece was small, but basting spray would work even better.

I wound some size 8 Pearl Cotton onto a bobbin, and threaded the needle of the machine with matching sewing thread. The reason you do it this way is that you can’t fit thick threads like crochet cotton or pearl cotton through a machine needle, but they can fit in the bobbin.  I probably should have loosened the tension in my bobbin, but I didn’t want to mess it up for regular sewing.  Some time I’d like to get a second bobbin case, so I can keep one case at the right tension for regular thread, and tinker with the tension on the other one.

Then I lowered the feed dogs on the machine and put in a darning foot (also known as a free-motion quilting foot).  I used the “needle-down” feature to help me pivot, and carefully stitched out the design, with the pattern piece face-down on the machine bed and the tear-away stabilizer on top.  If your design has words or isn’t symmetric, make sure you reverse it, since the bobbin side of the design becomes the front.

Here’s a bit of the embroidery in progress.  I used a large-eyed darning needle to pull the thread tails to the back.  You can see here that my design bubbled a little because I wasn’t thorough enough with my glue stick. (Fortunately the bubbling didn’t show after it was pressed.)

It did take a long time to peel off all the bits of stabilizer afterward.

(That was just one of several things that made this project take longer than I’d thought–another was that I had planned to do a machine hem but decided to do a hand hem, and yet another was that somehow the bodice lining pieces ended up slightly smaller than the bodice and it took several tries and a lot unpicking before I could get the lining to match up.)

The dress has a faced hem with giant rick rack sewn into it for a scalloped effect.

Mabel likes it.  She loves the color, and she says the fabric is soft.

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This entry was posted in My kids actually are funny (and sweet and wonderful), Sewing, Tutorial and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Linen Ottobre dress with free motion embroidery

  1. Annette says:

    Love it–so cute, including the hem!

    You had me at “Finnish magazine.” I had to click over and check it out! I used to have a subscription to a Finnish handwork magazine that included sewing, knitting, and more–and for years, I didn’t know the English terms for stuff.

    • zstitches says:

      Fortunately this one is available in English. 🙂 I do have some Japanese quilting magazines, and I don’t even quilt–I just love looking at the beautiful photography.

  2. Grandpa T says:

    I have a hard time deciding which is prettier. The dress, or the model. Anyway, they go perfectly together!

  3. Kristina P. says:

    That is so pretty. Just darling.

  4. Stephen says:

    The dress is lovely (I love the color). But, hands down, the model is lovelier.

  5. mary says:

    That’s it, I’m asking santa for a sewing machine for my birthday. I love to sew. I made a pot holder in home ec for my mom and she waited three whole days before throwing it away.

  6. jenlinmin says:

    Excuse me while I just to crawl back into bed and wonder why I go on living when I don’t have an ounce of creativity in my body. You are amazing, Zina. Thank you for allowing me to live vicariously through your blog!

    • zstitches says:

      Oh, but I have plenty of my own reasons to crawl back into bed. One of the reasons being to avoid all the many, many things that didn’t get done while I was sewing. (But thank you!)

  7. Jen says:

    Going blind from sheer awesomeness.

  8. the MomB says:

    Lovely, lovely, lovely, both Mabel and dress.
    The design adaptation and execution are both beautiful.

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