FOUNDATIONS REVEALED COMPETITION ENTRY
The Honeymoon Smock
Outline the story …
Nature has always been an integral part of my life and a constant source of inspiration. When I started my sewing journey the most inspiring thing was learning about natural fibers and their outstanding properties. Keeping this in mind, I wanted to choose a project that would honor the theme not only in design but also with the choice of material. The other factor reflected in my design choices is sustainability. I strongly feel that when pulling inspiration from nature we should also remember how to preserve it. When designing and producing anything new I aspire to make choices that reflect that ideology. I want to make sure that the items I make are of quality materials that serve the purpose, can be mended and would ideally last a lifetime. For these reasons I have come to love historical clothing.
My project of choice was to make an Elizabethan era smock with blackwork embroidery. I came upon blackwork embroidery on Pinterest and fell in love with the juxtaposition of geometric and mathematical designs combined with natural themes. My goal was to finish the garment in time for my honeymoon trip. Both me and my husband were born in autumn so I wanted to reflect that in the embroidery as well. I combed through a multitude of resources and found a pattern for a lovely acorn design from 16th century Germany. I opted to shorten the length in order to wear the smock either with trousers or a skirt.
Outline the construction…
With sustainability in mind I set myself a goal to acquire the necessary materials locally. I found a beautiful 100% linen fabric in a tiny local fabric shop. Silk thread would have been the historically accurate choice, but unfortunately it was not locally available so I opted for cotton instead. All of the hand sewing was done with a pure linen thread.
The process of making this garment included a ton of new things for me. I had previously only sewn a very simple viking era dress so I felt this was an appropriately challenging step forward when it came to the technical aspects of construction. This was my first time using an actual pattern. Having previously only sewn by hand I also wanted to challenge myself to use a sewing machine on the seams that would not be visible. I used a pattern by Margo Anderson and found additional help in Morgan Donner’s Elizabethan shirt video on Youtube.
The biggest hurdle for me was the embroidery. I had never embroidered before, so starting with such a thin fabric was a challenge. The pattern was a counted thread pattern, so counting the warp and weft yarns of the fabric to ensure uniform stitching was very time consuming. I estimated approximately 40 hours of embroidery.
The finished garment is far from perfect (oh, to get even gathers!) and there are still many things I would like to improve, but all in all I’m very happy with how the smock turned out.
What It’s like to compete:
Competing was a nerve wracking but rewarding experience. I’ve never competed before and as a beginner I had to overcome a lot of insecurities. In the end I am exceedingly happy I decided to take the leap and leave my comfort zone. It has been an invaluable learning experience in technical aspects, time management, design process, research, and also self worth. I am very appreciative of the opportunity to compete as a beginner, which I feel is a rare opportunity. Joining the competition is also an excellent motivator for finishing your project! I wholeheartedly recommend joining the sewing community in this wonderful journey of overcoming obstacles and learning together!