Embellish Without Fear - Part II, Machine Embroidery
I've noticed recently there's been a backlash against machine embroidery and I can understand why. The start up costs are high for both a machine and materials, and once they get into it, sewers seem to be quickly get stuck in a design rut.
At the moment, there are hundreds of thousands of designs out there. A site like Embrodiery.com has more than I can even imagine. So how do you decide which one to use? I have a simple rule:
Embellishment Rule 2: Avoid the "Motif" look
You've all seen these - a design embroidered smack in the middle of a sweatshirt. The design is totally self contained, it stands alone, and it often can't be manipulated or varied in even a simple way (flipped, rotated, repeated, mirror image)
However, the delightful baby sweater dress above (from the winter 2006 Hanna Anderson catalog) perfectly sums up a great machine embroidery design used creatively.
For example, If you used this design instead:
You would loose some impact in the final garment. This design is from Anita Goodesign, and while it's a really nice holiday motif, it's more suited to a non-garment project, such as dinner napkins or a table runner. If you tried to use on this on baby dress like the one above there's not much you can do with it other than to flip it as a mirror image, and as such it's not really meant to be used for a garment.
The Hanna baby sweater dress works for other reasons as well; the garment design is great to begin with, the color palette is narrow but effective, (there are only three colors; cream, dark red, and green), the cables on the sweater knit are the right scale to the embroidery, and the asymetrical embroidery is a prefect counterweight to the regularity of the cables.
You could make you own version of this dress pretty easily for a little one. The design shown at left is from Cactus Punch and it has a similar line and look to the design used on the Hanna dress. If you're not a skilled hand or machine knitter (I'm neither), this dress could be sewn from sweater knit yardage, or Malden Mills shearling polar fleece.