Monday, we wrote about artist Tilleke Schwarz’s New Potatoes as inspiration for the week. However, Tilleke’s textiles have been a source for inspiration for me for years. When New Potatoes landed on my desk about a year ago, we started the skirt you see above as homage to Tilleke and her work.
We have produced narrative work over the years in the form of our Story Quilts. With that series, we take vintage quilts, refurbish them, and embroider oral histories onto the fabrics. You will find a Textile Stories Quilt project in Alabama Studio Style that describes this series. However, this series is small in comparison to the beautiful narrative work of Tilleke Schwartz.
Using Tilleke as inspiration, we’ve documented with thread and appliqué some moments of studio life over the last year on our Long Skirt, a project from Alabama Studio Sewing + Design.
Most everyone in the studio had their hand in working on this skirt. We juxtaposed appliqué and a variety of embroidery stitches on our natural-dyed Indigo organic cotton jersey, in a hand-embroidered style similar to what Tilleke uses in her art. Its development was slow and, at times, stagnant. I began with colorful flowers, let the project sit, picked it back up, added on, passed around the studio, and let the fun in everyday life unfold.
The moments read something like this:
“and the spring time came and went…and still WORDS”, Venn diagrams, Express Checkout, tea, beep beep, sunshine, paths crossing, “there was a moment when she thought she was crazy,” flowers, appliqué, “the words started and wouldn’t stop,” and, of course, music. Olivia ended with an embroidered cat.
I believe that everyone and everything is worthy of a story. Embroidery preserves that story beautifully. You might find Elegant Stitches is a fantastic resource as you begin to embroider your own.
Long Skirt pattern from Alabama Studio Sewing + Design
1 ½ yards of 60” wide natural-dyed organic cotton jersey in Indigo (or choose from our nine Natural Dyed colors)
1 yard of 1 ½” wide fold-over elastic ribbon
Button Craft thread
Basic sewing supplies: fabric scissors, pins, needles, ruler, rotary cutter, and Alabama Studio Sewing + Design: this book contains the basic sewing and embroidery techniques we used to make our skirt.
Elegant Stitches – We recommend this book for its step-by-step instructions and illustrations of very simple, as well as extremely complicated embroidery stitches.
Follow instructions for the single-layer Long Skirt on page 60 of Alabama Studio Sewing + Design.
OUR DESIGN CHOICES
Garment – Long Fitted Skirt from Alabama Studio Sewing + Design
Fabric weight – Alabama Chanin 100% organic medium-weight cotton jersey
Fabric color – Natural dyed Indigo
Fold-over elastic ribbon – White
Button Craft thread for construction – Coats & Clark Colors #1 White (over-dyed with Indigo)
Stencil – Bloomers and Paisley appliqués (download from our Resource page). We also used fabric scraps cut into various shapes and sizes.
Embroidery floss– We stitched with leftover floss from our Garage Sale (including out-of-date colors).
Embroidery technique – Zigzag stitch used for waistband; instructions available in Alabama Studio Sewing + Design
Embroidery stitches- Backstitched, whipstitch, stem stitch, French knots, seed stitch, chain stitch, couching, split stitch, zigzag chain stitch, herringbone, Ermine stitch- instructions available in Alabama Studio Sewing + Design and Elegant Stitches
Seams – Inside Felled