Something I love that I'm not very good at: Embroidery. I keep trying, and ... uh... possibly I shouldn't shoot for the moon on my first exit from the harbor. Anyway.
But I was daydreaming, pinning, and talking to my girls online when I realized... my sewing machine is marketed as an "heirloom machine" ... and it has any number of stitches that can look pretty awesome when done correctly, on the right fabric, and with embroidery thread. (It's an Elna 6005).
So... I cut one of my peasant blouses (I had remnant of the same off-white fabric that I made the first blouse from) sewed it up right quick, and started to play. This is a good blank canvas for this sort of play - lots of room, and the character is completely changed by what you choose to do.
Here's the first cuff I did. First I found this nifty ruffled hemstitch. I haven't used it before now - somehow in my head it was a decorative stitch that I wasn't much interested in. Then I used the eyelet stitch... which can be snippy. I used my awl from corsetmaking to pop out the holes. On the cuffs themselves, they're gathered with three rows of elastic thread. This is what I've done before*, but I wasn't excited by the look (even solidly covered with embroidery stitches. The grey is a pencil mark. It'll wash out).
So I'm trying something completely different on the neckline. First I ran that ruffly stitch all the way 'round (the neckline minus the gathers is enormous) and then about twice that number of eyelets. The plan is to run a ribbon through the eyelets to gather it up - I'll let you know if it works or not. If not, I'll go back to elastic thread embroidered over for strength.
Anyway. the cuff has (and I wish I took better pix, whitework isn't conducive to this) a row of embroidery below the tight bit, then three rows on the elastic. The two outside are thick leaf/vines and the inner is shamrocks.
So - after I get this done, I'm going to break out the iron on patterns and start putting some hand embroidery ... and then I'll go back to sewing dresses for 9yo. I like to have one over-the-top project, and it's nice to have something to do in the evenings when I'm too tired to tackle a new project or don't want to go sit in the patio for some reason.
I'm really excited about the hemstitch without bulk, and you're probably going to see too much of that. :)
* Elastic thread: You hand-wind (this is important) the elastic thread onto your bobbin, then use like regular bobbin thread. I find it works best when used on a long stitch length and gathered. It is NOT strong, even in multiples. You can use it for a cuff as shown above, and you've seen me use it for a neckline. I tried to use it on a waistline or two... and it snaps. Even with tissue-weight fabric, that's more than it can handle. Frankly, I always embroider over it for extra strength. The waists I couldn't do that with, I needed the stretch to get them on/off... and yeah.
It's a good technique, but I hope to move to ribbons through eyelets or small buttonholes for finework.