embroidery on wearable series


The Mattrah souq in Muscat is filled with oxidized silver jewellery. The inspiration for this tunic is from a turquoise and coral ear piece. When a blue cotton fabric was found for the tunic, the idea of working the embroidery in red fabric rose simultaneously.

b,rkt-fabric

b,rkt-fabric

Indian ethnic kutchwork design was chosen for this project, the kutchwork embroidery in blue on red fabric.

b,rkt-1

b,rkt-1

The border in the centre was worked in medium blue. The outline stitch to work the interlacing.

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b,rkt-2

The interlaced border.

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b,rkt-3

The border outline stitches around the centre were worked in lighter blue.

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b,rkt-4

After working the interlacing stitch.

b,rkt-5

b,rkt-5

Metallic silver thread is used for working the chain stitch outline,

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b,rkt-6

Blue wooden beads were added to the spaces in the central design,

b,rkt-detail

b,rkt-detail

The detail of the embroidery.

blue red kutch work tunic

blue red kutch work tunic

The sewn tunic with red yoke. A Patiala salwar in same shade of blue was bought to match with this tunic.

b,rkt-pattern

b,rkt-pattern

The kutchwork pattern

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This is the last past of the series in hand embroidery on wearable. In this post we’ll consider some ideas of designing embroidery on tunics which are marked for necklines and sleeves. By this method it is possible to work any type of embroidery of our choice on wearable. Ready to wear tunics are made this way on large scale.
The fabrics are marked for necklines, sleeves, slits, shoulders, borders. The chosen embroidery designs are transferred on to the fabrics. These fabrics are secured on big rectangular embroidery frames. The embroidery is done by embroiderers trained for this. After the embroidery is completed, the fabrics are taken away from the frames and sewn by tailors.
But we can do it on a small scale. After choosing the embroidery design, we can ask the tailor [or if a person is good tailor, then help themselves] to mark the places on the fabric to work the embroidery. Using these markings as guidelines, we can transfer the pattern on the fabrics. After completing the embroidery, the fabrics can be sewn into tunics, blouses, shirts… as the case may be.
Here are few samples of embroidered tunics, which were marked, embroidered and sewn into tunics.
This mangalagiri cotton tunic with stripes was marked with neckline. This was in early days when I was trying this idea. Though it was marked, the pattern chosen for this kutchwork embroidery was set apart from the actual neck line. After embroidering on the pattern, I added some small kutchwork motifs below the neck.

eowet-09

eowet-09

The shirt fabric is linen and the idea was to work white work on this. The markings were made according to the pattern, which was to be worked on both sides in the front. Crochet edging was worked later on the sleeve. This embroidery was a tough project, linen fabric did not help.

eowet-10

eowet-10

This yellow tunic is cotton. The pattern was transferred on to the front, where a marking was made for the neck. White and yellow carbons were ruled out on this colour. Green carbon paper was used to transfer the pattern. The marking is still on the neck to show the difference between the neck line on pattern and the actual neckline!

eowet-11

eowet-11

This mangalagiri cotton tunic has kantha embroidery on it. The tailor had marked a simple round neck. The pattern transfer and embroidery were worked on front and sleeves based on that. Seeing the work, he changed the neckline to this beautiful one. Sometimes it is better to leave some small space around the neck, to facilitate these kind of surprises. There is also a possibility of the tailor cutting off a small part of embroidery during his course of work.

eowet-12

eowet-12

The pattern for this kutchwork embroidery was drawn with this neck design. It was transferred on to the marked fabric. This tunic sample is a proof of a good coordination of pattern neckline and the tunic neckline.

eowet-13

eowet-13

The embroidery design for this cotton mangalagiri tunic was picked from a salwar design magazine. The tailor had this magazine with him. When I wanted to do this project, he not only marked but also explained where each and every element should be placed. Based on the inspiration and the guidance, this pattern was drawn and embroidered. Around the neck I had to draw the elements by hand to get the same effect. Still it was worth it. This embroidery has surface satin stitch on it.

eowet-14

eowet-14

Each and every design on these samples was chosen for that particular tunic in mind and they were all worked with the help of the markings made by the tailor.
We can work any embroidery on the tunic fabric in this manner. Important thing to note is to check whether the fabric is suitable for that embroidery. It is not just designing the embroidery, the tunic style is also kept in mind. It is a very interesting work. Practice, perseverance, eye for colours, basic calculations and understanding of fabrics and embroidery are the tools.
Enjoy designing and embroidering on wearable.

In this part of the series we will see the possibilities of working embroidery on sewn tunics. We all have some plain tunics either sewn by a tailor or bought from the shop. These tunics inspire us to work some simple embroidery to enhance the look. Big shops have same tunics in different sizes, how to make them unique? is the question. Sometimes printed salwars or patialas or leggings, jeans help us to jazz up a plain tunic. The necklines, the sleeves and the style are already there. The first thing to choose is the embroidery itself. The options are- our embroidery skill and use of mirrors or beads or stones. There are embellished pieces available in the market. These pieces can be glued or sewn or appliqued on to the tunic fabric. Now moving on to the colour choices. Generally colours are chosen with tunic in mind or are based on the salwar or leggings. Sometimes a colour in our mind also brings about a project. Tracing the design. This is the trickiest part in embroidering on sewn tunics. A well sewn tunic may look odd with wrongly placed design. It is hard to erase the mistakes of the copied design. Ensure the design is placed at the right place before tracing. Some tips- Please work at one sitting, instead of moving away for some other purpose. Use a steady hand. Stabilize the pattern with pins. Lift and check at different points before tracing. If there are pleats, seams on the tunics, ensure the pattern papers placed properly and careful in drawing over and around them. These are the vulnerable places, where if the pressure applied is more it may cause tearing of the pattern. Place the tunic on a flat surface. Spread it well. Be careful while securing with pins. Pierce with the pin the paper and the tunic together. Smoothen the surface of creases after the pins are all in place. Check often to see the placement is as perfect as possible. This part is not to be done when we are tired. Tracing any pattern on to the fabric is tedious. There is another option. When we want to stitch mirrors, beads on to the fabric, we can mark the points with the help of scale. Small lines and curves can be drawn with the help of pencil and scale if we have a steady hand. Now let see some samples of embroidery on sewn tunics. This tunic has a kutchwork motif element which is repeated to make a border. The single motif element is extended a little and used for the centre. The border was traced without much difficulty with the use of .the lines on this checked cotton mangalagiri tunic. The centre was folded and midpoint of the design was placed on it before securing with pins.

eowet-1

eowet-1

This tunic fabric is Kanchi cotton. The border on the fabric was horizontally sewn in front. The centre was folded and the midpoint of this kutchwork design was placed over it before it was traced. The border was too plain, some line stitches are worked on them and around the neck.

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eowet-2

This design with the square especially for this neck was traced in the centre on this cotton tunic.

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eowet-3

The tunic fabric is tussar. It was sewn with lining. The embroidery was worked with single strand of anchor cotton. To fill inside the design space with running stitches, the lines on the fabric were used.

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eowet-4

Here are some samples were the markings are made with the help of ruler. In this border, points are marked with the help of pencil and ruler. Fly stitch variation is worked on those marked points in black thread. Mirrors and beads can be worked in this manner.

eowet-5

eowet-5

This cotton tunic  in maroon colour was sewn with these borders in the front. The sleeves were made in cotton ikat fabric. After copying the motif below these borders, the markings for the mirrors, kutchwork squares were made with the help of ruler. The individual kutchwork elements were drawn by hand.

eowet-6

eowet-6

In this tunic, the sleeves, the border and the fabric below the neck were all sewn by the tailor. The paisleys on the printed yoke was highlighted with white thread. The space around the fabric was quite thick, it would have been hard to work the embroidery on it. Using the outline, the kutchwork elements were drawn at equal intervals around it. Gold sequins and beads were added as embellishments.

eowet-7

eowet-7

This linen tunic was sewn with tiny pleats in front. Markings were made with the ruler for the flowers, the stems were drawn around it.

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eowet-8

It was difficult to use the embroidery hoop on these four tunics, so I did not use it. These samples are shown here to explain some ideas on embroidery on tunics. The samples used are my own. Use this as a reference and move ahead and work to create your own beautiful tunics. The last post on this series will be embroidery on tunic part two, where the tailor cooperates and marks the neck, sleeves for embroidery.

In this post we’ll see some other options of embroidery on tunics. We have come across embroidered pieces of fabrics on stores. These pieces can be sewn on tunics, blouses, cushions, bed sheets etc. Let us see some choices, If we are interested in making our own embroidered pieces. We can design the pattern, choose the colour of the fabric and determine where it can be sewn.
While designing the pattern- There are pattern books, patterns from the net, used patterns from other sources.
Before using these patterns, they have to be adjusted to our requirement. Best thing would be to enlarge the design on photo copier to A3 or B3 size. If this is not possible. Enlarge parts of the design and paste them together. The design thus enlarged can be copied on to the fabric directly with carbon paper. Embroidery work can be done on this separate fabric and sewn on the tunic.
Choosing the fabric- the fabric used for embroidery can  be of same colour, of contrasting colour or of some colour from the tunic fabric itself, or made of two fabrics. This gives lots of options for creativity. Best places to look for inspiration are the online shopping sites.
Placement of embroidered piece on tunic. The embroidered piece can be kept in front of the tunic below the neckline, on the sleeves, on the shoulders,or around the arm hole or the same motifs can be sewn in front. This placement of the piece also depends on the style of the tunic or blouse.
Now let us see some samples of the tunics with separate embroidered pieces.
This tunic is silk georgette. The embroidery was worked on black cotton fabric. A simple embroidery with wooden beads.

eonwsy-1

eonwsy-1

The tunic fabric is synthetic trouser material. The mirror work embroidery was done separately on the same material.

eonwsy-2

eonwsy-2

The tunic fabric is silk chiffon. The bead work embroidery on front and sleeves was worked on silk cotton fabric.

eonwsy-3

eonwsy-3

These are some samples where the design includes the neckline.
This tunic is in printed silk. The zardosi work yoke was done on cotton fabric. Since the embroidery covers the whole yoke, the choice of fabric does not have much significance.

eonwsy-4

eonwsy-4

This tunic is silk chiffon. The bead work embroidery in the front is worked on handloom cotton fabric.

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eonwsy-5

The tunic fabric is silk georgette and the stone work embroidery is done handloom cotton fabric. The fabric differences is noticeable when they are of same colour.

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eonwsy-6

I had worked this embroidery piece on a black mangalagiri tunic. That tunic became too tight [ or I became fat] . I used that piece on this cotton ikat tunic

eonwsy-7

eonwsy-7

The fabric is printed cotton. Three embroidered pieces on red cotton fabric were made for the front of the tunic [last one not seen] and the sleeves were also worked on this same red fabric. Enough allowance of fabric to sew the sleeves was given on the red fabric.

eonwsy-8

eonwsy-8

All these fabrics were first embroidered and sewn on tunics. The designs were my own. They are all a result of trials and errors. I learnt to contain the errors, before they reached the embroidery stage. So that, the only task was to choose the right colours of thread and the stitches. Still people will have their opinions depending on their taste. These samples are to show that how we can design our own embroidery pieces, which can be sewn on tunics. If any of the steps need elaboration or clarification please ask on the comments.
We’ll see about embroidering directly on the tunics on the next post

Today we’ll see how to draw neck on paper using a sewn tunic. Ensure that the tunic is perfectly sewn and  has a simple neck design.

sample tunic-neckline

sample tunic-neckline

I have chosen this tunic as sample

st-nm-depth

st-nm-depth

Place the tunic flat on any surface. Imagine a line on the middle of the tunic. Place a scale[ best is using an inch tape, I couldn’t hold the tape and take a picture, so used scale] on it. Here, we are measuring the depth of the neck in front. Stretch the fabric, measure it and note it down. It is 6.5 inches.

st-nm-width

st-nm-width

Now we’ll measure the wideness of the neck. Placing a paper [keep a scale] on the middle line, using it as the starting point, using an inch tape measure the width of the neck. It is 3.1/4 on this sample.

paper sample-neck

paper sample-neck

Fold a large paper [ A3 or B3 size]  in the middle. Meaning the narrow side should be folded in half. Mark a point on the fold at the top of the paper leaving a 5mm space. This is the starting point. The depth is noted on the fold [y axis] from the starting point. And the width is noted from the starting point perpendicular to the fold. Now draw a neck design of your choice.
V-neck, U-neck are easiest.
Remember that, this is half of neck, whatever you draw will be half pattern, after drawing or tracing or copying the pattern on this half, place a carbon, red, blue or black, this ink side should face the other half of the paper. When we draw along the pattern placing the carbon like this, the original half pattern  gets copied on the other half. This technique is simple, fool proof.
Now some sample tunics, where embroidered borders are worked on separate fabric

eonwnl-1

eonwnl-1

After drawing the neck line, individual motif patterns were drawn around it. The tunic material is chiffon. It does not have a lining. The neck required a fabric which will hold the shape. The neck is deeper in this sample, it requires a vest to wear underneath it.

eonwnl-2

eonwnl-2

This sample is to show that sometimes pattern can be drawn and embroidered after the tunic is sewn. We just need to have some basic idea to the work on. The tunic fabric is cotton ikat. The embroidery is Kashmiri couching. The tunic was sewn with this  cross over neckline in beige fabric. Marking with scale the pattern was drawn. The pattern was two lines and points at equidistant. And embroidery commenced at that point.

eonwnl-3a

eonwnl-3a

The fabric with the copied pattern was sewn on the tunic first, and the embroidery was worked on that later.

eonwnl-3b

eonwnl-3b

In this sample, the square neck I had drawn and designed seemed too broad, so added a small triangular motif on both sides, to narrow the neck .
These samples here are to show that, it is better to have some idea of necklines before drawing the pattern and embroidery.
Things to note- if the embroidery is done very well but sewing it on the tunic is not done properly, the whole project will be constant reminder of the shortfalls made by either party. And, it is difficult for the person sewing to rectify any mistakes of the embroiderer.
Next we’ll see about yoke worked on separate fabric, which can be attached to the tunic

These are samples to further explore embroidery borders worked on separate cloth, and are later attached to the tunics.

eonwb-5

eonwb-5

In this ikat mercerized cotton tunic, Black work embroidery border is worked on aida cloth. This easy in the sense, the pattern tracing is totally avoided. Cross stitch, black work, kasuti , chicken scratch embroideries can be worked on aida, matti or any other fabric with checks, dots. Measure the length of the border required and start the embroidery.

eonwb-6a

eonwb-6a

These are mirrorwork/ phulkari borders done on dark blue fabric. These are for sleeves. note the extra space on either sides for the seam allowance.

eonwb-6b

eonwb-6b

The same embroidered border along with a small motif attached to a Bengal cotton tunic. I did not attempt the neck because the tunic fabric is fine count cotton, the mirrors and embroidery might have weighed down the neck.

eonwb-7

eonwb-7

The tunic fabric is cotton ikat. The same black work border notion is elaborated here. The length of the tunic below the neck, the sleeves, two panels on the sides were measured. The black work pattern was drawn on black mangalagiri cotton fabric. And the embroidery was done with threads and some silver beads. The pattern tracing was in full swing for this tunic!

eonwb-8

eonwb-8

This tunic is a recycled tunic. Meaning, the embroidery on the green fabric was done on another tunic, which became too tight. So these borders were attached to this violet mangalagiri tunic.
This is the first level in embroidering on wearable. The focus is on colour coordination, pattern choices and the embroidery itself. And this is an attempt to give an idea to start .These borders are faster to work, and chances of making mistakes are minimal and they are also easily rectifiable. It is better to start with small borders.

Once we are comfortable working this we can move on to drawing the neckline on paper.

I have been embroidering on wearables – tunics, blouses for quite some time. On hand embroidery lovers group on Facebook, there was a request to provide the details about this work. I am starting this short series hoping it would benefit the people who are searching for instructions to embroider on wearables.

When I started embroidering on wearables, I started with stitched blouses for sarees. But on this series, I‘ll start with simple embroidery on tunics, sleeves with some samples.

We’ll start with borders worked on separate fabric, which can be attached to the tunic sleeves later.

Requirements-

Tunic fabric

Another suitable fabric for embroidery

Border patterns for embroidery

Inch tape

Pencil, scale, white, yellow carbon.

Start with the measurements. Take a tunic which fits you perfectly and measure around the sleeves, it can be half sleeves, three fourth sleeves, or cap sleeves. Note it down. Give an allowance of 1.5 inches on both sides extra. Same way choose the length required for the front of the tunic. This is individual preference, it can be long, short or medium or just a single motif. The same way, the length of the side slits can also be measured. Sometimes a border attached at the end of the tunic gives an elegant look. This kind of borders are fairly long. Ideal thing would be to use woven borders from sarees or dupattas.  These borders can also be embellished with embroidery. For all these embroidered borders, leave a seam allowance of ¾ inch on all sides. When using an embroidery hoop we need more fabric around the pattern to fit the hoop. These extra fabric can be cut after the work.

Fabric for embroidery-

This is an interesting task. With the tunic fabric in hand choose the matching fabric to work the embroidery on. This can be the base colour or contrast or small speck of colour from the tunic design itself. This is a very wild field.

For choosing the pattern for embroidery, it is required to have some embroidery patterns. I generally use the available pattern as an inspiration and create my own designs.

Here are some samples which can be used as guidelines for choosing the fabric for embroidery and the embroidery patterns

eonwb-1

eonwb-1

In this sample, the tunic is plain chiffon, the fabric used for embroidery is of the same colour in silk cotton. The pattern is single flower motif which is repeated for the length required. The width of the border is doubled for the tunic front. The length is medium. And the embroidery is done in contrasting colours.

eonwb-2

eonwb-2

The tunic fabric is silk chiffon, and the embroidery was done in white cotton fabric. The pattern –a design of flower with leaves is continued for the length of the border.  The border is short in front of the tunic.The embroidery is used to bring in some colour on white background.

eonwb-3

eonwb-3

The tunic fabric is silk. The fabric used for embroidery is cotton of the same colour. A simple circular pattern is repeated here. The threads used are chosen from the leaf colours on the tunic, and worked with dark brown seed beads. The embroidery does not extend to sleeves.

eonwb-4

eonwb-4

The tunic fabric is block printed cotton. The embroidery is done on contrasting half white colour fabric. The motif is repeated along with some mirrors on this border.  Colours for embroidery was chosen from Gujarathi embroidery  and the colour of the tunic which inspired this pattern.

We will continue with some more samples on borders. These samples are given here to get an idea about working embroidery on tunics. more details on patterns will come later in the series.Feel free to ask questions on comments, it would help me to improve this series.