Saturday, March 8, 2014

Steam(punk)y Summer Blouse: An Experiment in Cutwork (Part I)


So, definitely settling upon this inspiration for the blouse component of my Steampunk Egyptologist (Mummy Huntress) Costume. And therefore, it's time to play with doing some cutwork embroidery.


 I think this is going to be a serial, so be prepared to be bored (or, possibly entertained) by the craziness that is my crafting process. Well, then. Let's start at the beginning, because as a certain singing-former-nun-nanny informs us, it's 'a very good place to start.'

 Cutwork is a form of embroidery in which portions of the fabric is cut away. Sounds simple enough. And with just a few steps, and knowledge of just three (?) basic stitches, it is. Just labor intensive... I imagine.  Honestly, have never done it before. But we'll discuss this in a minute.

 First, for a better idea about the craft in question, here's a straight forward tutorial about the basics of Hand Embroidery Cutwork (not to be confused with machine embroidery cut work -which is obviously the style in the first/main photo of the tutorial) by Maya of Little Treasures.


The answer to this question for any person, in any endeavor should always be YES! Refusing to even attempt something on the grounds that you don't know how will never allow you to grow as a craftsperson, or a human being. Not to say that you should ever cave into peer pressure to do something you do not wish. But don't be discouraged to try something you want to try. 

My personal approach to new sewing/crafting techniques is ALL OR NOTHING. In other words, I ignore the very sage advise of trying a small project first, and then move up to the more intricate/complicated/labor intensive/difficult. If the difficulty level is too low, I grow bored and abandon the project. I'm not interested in having a nicely decorated doily for a nonexistent end table. I'm interested in having a nifty blouse to wear with my costume. 

That being said, I do have some knowledge and experience with needlework, including hand embroidery. Actually, one might say my first 'real' craft was cross-stitch, taught to be by my mother. It was her craft of choice at the time... Not really sure when I completed my first project. I vaguely remember a bookmark... Anyway, later in life, I found I did not care for all of the counting involved in cross-stitch, so I opted for the much more freeform hand embroidery, looking up a needlework encyclopaedia at the library and experimenting with a variety of stitches (and fills) in projects such as these wonderland scenes...

As for time, can anyone say several hours of bus commute per work day?

I have the basics, needles, scissors, knuckle-thimble thingy, embroidery hoop. 

Thread? I probably don't have enough embroidery floss in the stash, so will have to buy some. Upon consideration, I do tend to like bright colors, but I think in this case, I'm going to opt for the clean white tone-on-tone effect. While rayon or silk would add a lovely sheen, I'll probably opt for the cotton for ease of cleaning/durability.

Fabric? The best materials for this kind of work is cotton or linen. Since I've decided that I also require a new overbust corset for this costume (my old one is too big and a little worn -although not worn enough to merit one of the knobs falling off the busk, especially when it wasn't one that's a pressure point, and busks are not cheap), I had best shop the stash for this piece. I have several white cotton fabric remnants, mostly striped white-on-white, but maybe one will suffice.



  1. You have my attention! This work sounds fascinating. Look forward to your next installment.

  2. l love cutwork. I've been lusting after an Alabama Chanin piece (soooo expensive), but I think you are inspiring me to try it myself. Like you, I often just throw myself wholesale into a project without even knowing what I am doing. Sometimes with hilarious results---other times, turns out great :) I'll look forward to seeing your process :)