I’m going to show you in the next several posts how I went about putting together an embroidered Ukrainian style shirt.
1. Here is what I started off with. I embroidered the design on what is called “bread cloth.” You can find it at some craft stores. If you can’t, do it on linen or Aida 14 soaked in water and dried to make it a little softer. It took me approx. 3 months working an hour a day to do all of the embroidery.
2. After cutting out my pieces of embroidery here are the three things (besides needle and thread of course) I am going to use to put the shirt together. Bias Tape, Liquid Stitch and small pins to keep things in place.
3. First of all I unfolded the bias tape and placed it along each edge of each embroidered piece I had. In this photo it is the sleeve cuff. So basically your piece of embroidery fits inside the tape like a sandwich with one bit of tape on the top side, the embroidery in the middle and the last bit of tape on the bottom. Apply some liquid stitch on the inside part of the bias tape and press against the embroidered part with your fingers gently. Be sure to only add a tiny bit of glue too. Too much and it will seep through.
4. Next take an iron (no steam) and gently press down on your edges on both the front and back side of the fabric. Don’t go back and forth like you would iron a shirt. Just firm presses along the edges for about 20 seconds each. (I didn’t put a cloth over the embroidery before I did this. I wish I had because the iron was a bit too hot at times and burned the bias tape a little bit. Nothing tragic but not as perfect as I would have liked.)
5. For those pesky edges of bias tape just fold it under as in the picture with a little dab of liquid stitch glue between the folds and again press down with an iron.
6. Next I fit my cuffs around the sleeve and simply sewed it in using standard white sewing thread. I sewed a straight line around the bottom embroidered part of the cuff as well as near the top. Don’t worry about going in and out of every square - as long as you have stitches in the majority of your line going around the cuff near the bottom and near the top it will hold in place just fine.
7. Repeat this process of simply sewing with white thread along the edges (not through the bias tape just through the part where there is embroidery, you won’t be able to get a needle through the bias tape anyway because once it is glued it is really stiff). In my case I bought a polar neck shirt so I sewed my chest piece high enough up the collar so I could turn it over to hide that top edge. This is not traditional. In Ukraine they typically make a small collar out of embroidery too. I ended up not using the two pieces I had intended to make a collar out of. The reason was I couldn’t find a collarless shirt. I thought I could have attached embroidery to the polar neck but when I held up some embroidery against it I felt it would overpower the chest piece and be too much so I opted to leave the neck plain. Many (ok probably most) people in Ukraine make their shirts from scratch from linen. Whilst I’m a pretty decent embroider I am a totally inept seamstress so I opted to simply buy a shirt and attach my embroidery to it.
Next I went about making a tassel for my shirt which I’ll show you in the next post.