This outfit is by far my favorite project. I was inspired by a shortall I saw on facebook.
I couldn't find a smocking plate that looked enough like this, so I made my own. The pattern for the shortall is "Jeffrey" from Children's Corner.
The giraffe plate is for sale in my etsy shop, The Polkadot Pup, if you're interested. The others will be put up later this summer.
I think the elephant is my favorite.
The zebra was more difficult to design, because of the stripes. I finally decided to smock him all in white (I actually used cream), and use decorative stitching for the stripes. The eyes and muzzle are smocked.
I went back over the elephant with those same decorative stitches (I think it's just a plain stitch) to outline the ear...
and again on the giraffe to the underline of his jaw.
A close-up of the zebra's stitching. As I look at these close-ups, I see imperfections in my smocking. This just my 3rd picture smocking project (I don't have a pic of the 2nd - I finished it in time for my niece to wear for Christmas, and never got a pic! Oops.), and I see LOTS of room for improvement. The June/July issue of Sew Beautiful has a little mini-tute on picture smocking by Michie Mooney, and I found that helpful for the July 4th outfits I made for my guys.
Here's my bullion stitching. I used bullion knots for all the tails. I've never made bullion knots before, but Google and YouTube are great resources! I think I may use bullion knots in a few more projects. I like how easy it is to manipulate the ropes into shapes, a la Kari Mecca.
I found the tails looked more natural if I made the small ends first, then the larger top part. The idea was for the ends of the smaller knots to look like they were wrapped in the larger knot.
And once more, because I love this outfit so very much:
I see my finished projects, and I'm reminded all over again why I started this venture to learn hand smocking and heirloom sewing: so I can create beautiful clothes for my children (and for others!) because I can NEVER find what I'm looking for, and when I do find it, I can't (or won't) afford it. Here's the breakdown of expenses for this outfit:
Material, 1 yard (and I have plenty leftover for some shorts), 9.95
Pleated insert, ready-made from the shop, 6.00
Embroidery floss, 9 colors, less than 3.00
Pattern, on sale! (and I'll reuse it) for 6.00
Total expenses: $25-ish
I did spend a lot of time, drafting the smocking plate, looking for the shortall pattern, running here and there for materials, and then the time to actually MAKE the outfit, but I gained so much from the project, reusable materials, new skills, etc. I could have bought the outfit USED for around the same price, but not in the color I wanted (it's orange gingham on etsy). Was it worth it?
Have you ever made your own (fill in the blank) because you couldn't find what you were looking for? What was your learning curve? Was it materials or skills that stumped you?