A Commission

My older daughter has been drawing pictures of dresses lately, and I thought it would be fun to bring one to life. Her birthday is coming up, and this will be her present from me.

All the fabrics are from my fabric stash, which, combined with my dye stash, worked pretty well. The bodice is a jacquard silk taffeta, dyed 2 shades using the same dye. That peachy color was hard to achieve, and this was as close as I could get. I did not have any purple fabric in my stash, so I took some bamboo rayon and dyed it purple. The color came out too saturated, so I will be more careful of that in the future.

For the wavy lines in the skirt, I did bobbinwork with silk cord. The skirt is silk charmeuse, which is not stable enough for bobbinwork. I backed it with cotton flannel (actually an old sheet), which gave it more heft without stiffness. I did the bobbinwork on the yardage, then cut out the skirt. The silk cord came from Habu Textiles in the city. Habu is one of the strangest stores I have ever entered. It’s worth a look if you’re in NYC when they are open.

This project was really interesting, and my daughter likes the result.

Back View

Inside-out view. The silk charmeuse skirt is underlined with cotton flannel.

Close-up of the bobbinwork in the skirt



  1. akismet-21b053fec805c8711a1f608da8cdd26a
    Posted April 13, 2012 at 8:01 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I’ve never heard of bobbin work before. How does it work? The dress is very cool. I love it. I bet she does too. Pretty soon, you’re going to just buy all white fabric and dye it all yourself. 😉

    • Posted April 13, 2012 at 8:09 pm | Permalink | Reply

      For bobbinwork, you take a decorative cord or thread, like embroidery floss, and wind it in the bobbin of your machine. Loosen the bobbin tension a bit by loosening the screw. Use regular thread on the top of your machine, then sew your fabric wrong side up. The decorative thread will be on the right side. It is a very old fashioned embellishment technique that does not seem to have enjoyed a renaissance.

  2. akismet-21b053fec805c8711a1f608da8cdd26a
    Posted April 13, 2012 at 8:01 pm | Permalink | Reply

    It’s me Elizabeth. Not sure why I can’t log in as myself anymore. 😦

  3. Posted April 13, 2012 at 8:35 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Your dd must be thrilled seeing her dress come to life. It’s lovely.

  4. Posted April 13, 2012 at 9:31 pm | Permalink | Reply

    That’s an awesome birthday present for your daughter. Wonderful job! sewingforme.wordpress.com

  5. Posted April 13, 2012 at 9:37 pm | Permalink | Reply

    What a great team. I love how you have translated her vision, what an excellent present.

  6. Shams
    Posted April 13, 2012 at 10:32 pm | Permalink | Reply

    What a great gift for your daughter – she’ll be thrilled to see her design come to life. I used bobbin work back in the 70s, I think. But, yes, you don’t hear about it being used often.

  7. Sufiya
    Posted April 13, 2012 at 11:28 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Great dress…a very creative interpretation of that drawing; I actually find that the dress “transcends” the drawing!

    I just tried bobbinwork for the first time; it was FUN! I wound copper metallic thread on my bobbin and sticthed straight lines on a piece of bright olive green wide polyester ribbon organza that I was trying to make into “embellished overlay for a thrift shop camisole I was ‘upcycling”. It turned out very well; I ended up not using it (too stiff for what I was working on)but I will keep it for ise on something else.I don’t have feed dogs that drop, so I couldn’t “free stitch”- but I am looking for a machine at the thrift stores that does have feed dogs that drop. it’s a great way to get a lot of “bang for the buck” embellishment over a wide area quickly.

  8. Posted April 14, 2012 at 2:54 am | Permalink | Reply

    Oh I love this!!! I let my little daughter pick out fabrics for one of several patterns I like to sew for her, and that’s cool for now but when she’s a little older I think I’ll go out on a limb and do something like this for her. What a lucky little girl!! 🙂

  9. Dawn
    Posted April 14, 2012 at 6:39 pm | Permalink | Reply

    This is wonderful! You did such a creative job of bringing her drawing to life. I’ve been wanting to do something similar with my granddaughter, but had thought of making a doll outfit instead of one for her.

  10. Posted April 14, 2012 at 7:24 pm | Permalink | Reply

    What a great mom! I bet she is thrilled.

  11. Posted April 14, 2012 at 7:33 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I love, love love that you’re so encouraging of your daughter’s fashion creativity – that is just the coolest. Before you know it she’ll be bringing her ideas to life jointly with you, and then she’ll grow into doing it all herself. Do you think we could see her wearing her/your joint creation?

  12. janew40
    Posted April 16, 2012 at 10:48 am | Permalink | Reply

    That is wondeful! I used to “design” dresses when I was a little girl and would have been thrilled to see one of my creations come to life!

  13. Posted April 20, 2012 at 1:35 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Oh my goodness, this is the best gift ever! I’m glad your daughter was thrilled.

  14. Posted April 30, 2012 at 9:16 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Great job bringing her design to life. I can easily see me having to do this for my daughters in a few years. Right now they are happy selecting the fabrics.

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