Felt inspired one day remembering these iris flowers in from of my apartment building where I grew up. I knew that once they bloom spring time began.
Memories and nature inspired me to make a flowy silk blouse with embroidered iris flowers. My blouse is a mixture of natural materials (silk and alpaca fibers) with different techniques combined (felting and free motion embroidery).
I found the fibers at a World Market store, not in a crafts shop. They are naturally dyed, 100% Alpaca fibers, very soft to the touch.
The silk organza is from fashion fabrics club. I bought it online and was surprised as always with the great quality. It is sheer and crinkles when washed. The color is a light olive green.
I have made the felt in a non traditional way (not with felting needles), I used a variegated thread and sewn in free motion over the natural alpaca fibers.
Pre-treat your fabric like you will when the final project is worn. Wash it by hand in warm water with mild soap and line dry. This will make the fabric shrink and crinkle. You can iron it a little on low temperature before cutting out the pattern. Lay your pattern pieces over the fabric and allow enough fabric for seam allowances (see the tips and tricks on working with silk first).
You will need a free motion foot or darning foot attached to the machine. Drop the feed dogs. This will allow you to move the fabric in any direction you want, just keep it at a steady pace, to make equal stitches in length.
Create your sketch on drawing paper. Use colored crayons so you’ll know what color goes where.
Iron on tear away light stabilizer on the wring side of your fabric, where the application will be. Do this after the pattern pieces were cut out and before they are assambled for sewing. Try to do this on a scrap piece and see if you can rip it off easily, without damaging the fabric. On my organza, I could tear it away by pulling grain wise. Pulling cross grain would tear my fabric also.
Trace the drawing on the right side of your fabric. Use an embroidery transfer crayon or chalk. I used a piece of dry soap to trace and it will come out easily with water when washed.
Hand form the shapes of the flowers according to the drawing. Mix in different colors for shadows and highlights.
Use the variegated thread to free hand embroider. Do the contour first and then fill out the center parts, moving the fabric with your hands back and forward so that you go at least twice over every stitch and allow the thread to accumulate. Directions in which to move your fabric depend on the drawing, try to imagine the lines. You can incorporate bead, sew over yarns and ribbons, use your imagination. I wanted to keep it kind of simple.
When the embellishment is finished, continue sewing the garment.
For this project I used a serged narrow rolled hem with the variegated thread.
Wash it again under warm water and try to felt the portions with the fibers. This will create a less tidy look and it will enforce the fibers to mix together creating a stronger fabric.
Tips on working with silk:
P.S. I have entered this top under the Sewing with Nature contest from Craft magazine. Go to the flickr group to see all entries. Good luck everyone!