Bodice Neckline Applique

This is how I add an applique to the neckline of a bodice.

I used to use sticky back stabilizer exclusively, because I could not stand when the embroidery shifted and the Celtic knots did not line up. About a year ago, though, I got over myself mainly because the number of thread breaks and the slow stitch speed had finally driven me nuts. Now, I hoop my stabilizer and use temporary adhesive spray.

Since I float all of my fabrics, when it is important I first stitch out a placement cross onto the stabilizer. This same cross has been drawn in chalk on the back of my fabric. I then lightly spray the temporary adhesive onto the stabilizer.


After I line up the cross on the back of the fabric with the stitched lines on the stabilizer, I run a basting box around the area to be embroidered. Then, an outline of the applique area is stitched. (I have digitized all of these lines into my embroidery file.)


Next, I spray the stabilized applique fabric with the temporary adhesive so it will not shift on the base fabric…


…and then lay it over the applique area, making sure to check that the area is covered.


Now, I run double lines to tack down the fabric.


Here’s a closer look at the double lines. Why double? I have found that the two lines keep the fabric from fraying (even if the outside line gets clipped here and there) and then pulling away from underneath the covering satin stitch line. Because there are 2 lines, I can trim as close as possible so I can avoid any fuzzies showing.




Finished and ready to be cut out.


Sometimes, when both fabrics are thick, I might lay the applique first, and then after tackdown of the “base” fabric, trim the larger piece of fabric away from the area, but I always worry that the 2 fabrics might pull apart. I tend to do the above as often as possible.

Criticism II

I posted this back in May: Criticism.

My last post, Letter to Dressmakers…or…Cogitating on Popcorn Thoughts…whatever, sparked  wonderful discussions on IDD and some great comments here.  It is so wonderful to read not only the opinions and perspectives but about the unsung support networks that have bolstered others, as well.  I love hearing from all of you as you make me think.

Ali always makes me think.  Her comments helped me organize this post which was sparked by all of you who commented here and on IDD.

(Cindy, I enjoyed reading your perspective on all art being derivative…that is another post that I need to ponder.  Susan & Ali, maybe you can write about that as designers.) 

Gina got this thought process going with her thoughts on the silence:

The easiest way to create silence and Pablum is to post a picture of your new creation on a board and ask “tell me what you think”. Regardless of the true nature of the beast, inevitably it’s “Great” “lovely” etc etc etc.

…[Einstein] said that above all we should be honest. If we feel we can’t be honest so that we spare someone’s feelings, then we should be silent. Didn’t Thumper’s mother say “if you can’t say nuthin nice, don’t say nuthin at all”?

The other side of this coin is – are we REALLY helping the blossoming seamstress by sugar coating the truth? They go blithely away thinking everyone loves their work – yet we are wondering at “Didn’t she realise the design has a hidden mouse?” “That dress is way too large in the neckline”, “the colors just do not work for that dancer” etc etc etc.

Should we be honest? IMHO Yes, but dare I say a word? No, because I use my name on the boards and would never hear the end of it.

Ali’s response:

“Should we be honest? IMHO Yes. but dare I say a word? No because I use my name on the boards and would never hear the end of it.”

As is often the case, Gina and I are in agreement.

I think the largest white elephant in our collective room is the fact that we are all consciously aware of each other still. We know our places in the network of dressmakers and designers NOT in a collaborative sense, but in a competitive one: “I charge less than X and Y, but draw better than Y and Z, produce a more coherent product than Z and A, and I know X and A won’t take clients for reasons 1, 2, 3…” and so on. Whether we fit in as moms or dancers (oh, heavens, lowest of the low ;) ) who are trying out designing or dressmaking for the first time, or as dressmakers of limited/some/extremely great renown, or as designers only (relegated into a sort of “separate but equal” mental status, usually), once you’ve been around–yes, even on our beloved CF board–for a short while, you start to get the feel of the community. It is, as you said, Ann, one so entrenched in not just competition but secret competition. We know it, and it makes us uncomfortable, and so we act “nice”.

Gina’s example is good: it doesn’t matter if the dress is crap or the best thing ever. If a dressmaker asks for feedback on her new creation, we will not give it. We will be kind to a fault and probably even lie–at the very least, lie by omission by choosing not to respond.

When we are not nice, we are especially vicious. We can rip others to shreds. So we usually avoid it–it makes so many of us uncomfortable to see any sort of “mean” comment that all criticisms are often avoided. Of course, knowing our internal social structure, we feel free (largely) to snipe at the biggest names. They are impersonal corporations, far away and faceless; they are the President to our local political action committee. We pose no threat to them, but they do to us, so we feel comfortable making real criticisms there and only there.

What the community needs is three things, to my eye: a) to learn that criticism is NOT meant to be mean, it is meant to help you grow, b) to learn that criticism of one’s work is not criticism of oneself, and c) to learn how to give criticism in a way that gets these points across. Musicians, dancers, other artists all manage this. It baffles me how stifling the ID community, and the dressmaking community within it, can be on this point. I think that innovation can only flourish when people both expect to receive and feel comfortable giving constructive criticism.

I responded:

As usual, your insight is right on, Ali. You know I have ranted about exactly the same things. Thank you, once again, for saying it so well…

And then she wrote:

It’s because we both come from a heavily academic space, I think. This is not to imply elitism, but I suppose it could be read that way. You taught for years, and I’m pretty over-educated for my age. DWe have stubbornly refused to let go of the idea of constructive crit being required for a healthy community; what baffles me is that, after seeing the poll on CF of what other dressmakers and designers do or previously did as their main job, we are the exceptions! The DM community as a whole seems to be pretty awesome based on that poll: we have biologists, engineers, teachers, social scientists. We have so many well-educated people, whether by formal or self education, who MUST have learned how to give and receive concrit at some point. Why do we allow ourselves, as a community, to follow the secretive, deadening path that Irish dance as a whole follows when we KNOW better? We are smart and creative. Let us set the example for how to criticize, critique, and share in an open, honest way. If we’re lucky, it will catch on to the whole of ID.

And then, before I could notate my profound thoughts on the subject,  Suz got in on the action:

You got me thinking on why we can take criticism in our “real” professions but not ID. Just my first ‘gut-reaction’ here but my two worlds were built different!

My ID world formed WITHIN my family’s cultural life while my professional life is OUTSIDE my family. The university not only allowed me to evolve independently but encouraged me to be independent! In my science based career I was taught to question the methods and practices of other scientists to get ‘proof’ for my opinions!

My ID life has evolved AND involves numerous family members both immediate and extended. I already had my ‘place’ given to me because I was hopelessly unable to dance. Unlike the DANCERS(said in revered awe…) I could make my way around the left side of my brain as well as the right side so I chose to join the ’support staff’ as a dressmaker….really as an avenue to remain ‘in the family’. (Whole ‘nother psych. paper in that statement!!) So I do have enormous problems separating criticism of my work as not being criticism of me personally. By the end of a dress it is MY CHILD and the more difficult the ‘labor’ the more I tend to want it to thrive. So if it is “bashed” (as stagemoms are so apt to do these days) I am hurt. I’m sane enough to know the defect in my thinking, and do know how to consider the source, but that would be my brain’s left side which does not always control my world!

I had begun to focus in on that in a different way, Suz.  I wonder if the fact that most (nearly all?) independent ID dressmakers learn and function in relative isolation has something to do with the resistance to constructive criticism.  In terms of ID, even though I began on my own, when I started working with Susan I put myself into apprentice mode.  The first time I brought a dress that I had finished on my own at home to her for inspection was so stressful (in fact, I think I brought my mother!)!  I just KNEW she was going to rip it apart…when she smiled after she inspected it, I almost swooned (ok, a bit of hyperbole for effect!)! 

I also feel that my dresses are my “children.”  I felt that way about everything I ever created.  But, I think I am pretty open to true constructive, intelligent criticism (“The practice of analyzing, classifying, interpreting, or evaluating literary or other artistic works.” ).  As not only a young artist studying dance and choreography but also a university professor and professional choreographer, criticism was part & parcel a given, proven part of the process and the culture.  I learned early on that since art really is a subjective form (there is no objective right & wrong), that criticism is irrevocably tied to the critic’s subjective eye and taste no matter what anyone says!  However, what I learned from the best of my professors was that a good critic helps you evaluate your own methods, thought processes and techniques so that your vision is as clear as it can be, regardless of whether or not they like it!

Do I always graciously give my thanks for negative criticism that helps me refine something?  Of COURSE I do as I am a perfectly formed female specimen of fully-evolved higher intelligence……………………………….NOT!!!!!  If I am unsure to begin with, the process is quicker, but for the most part I whine, I bitch, I argue, argue, argue (ask Susan).  I do, though, take criticism that is clear, well-articulated, and right and assimilate it.  Sometimes the criticism, while valid, serves to point out a flaw in my thinking that creates a different view than I meant and arguing the point helps me make it clear.

Do I want to hear when someone does not like what I have created?  If you are going to be mean for mean’s sake, no.  Go suck a lemon.  If you are going to explain why, and are open to a discussion (unlike a recent naysayer on the boards who hid behind “It’s my opinion which is enough and nobody’s business”…ppphhhththth!), then go for it!  As I said in the last post, I totally appreciated the person who said the red tunic dress looked like Renaissance armor and then provided pics! 

Why can’t we not only take the real, helpful criticism, but try to also be truly CONSTRUCTIVE (“Serving to improve or advance; helpful.”)?  Maybe we should each ask ourselves what we truly want when we post pics of our creations on the boards (I am asking myself this very question as I write this).  If true constructive criticism is not what we want, then we should not post.  If it is what you want, but folks are only being nice, be clear that you are open to it all and hopefully someone will take you at your word.

Will all of the competition that Ali pointed out disappear?  Probably not.  We all want to be liked “best.”  But, we all can learn so much from the rest who want to share, not tear down.  And, it has been my experience that sometimes there is an epiphany waiting to slap our foreheads because of a statement from the “new” one in the back who restates a known fact in a different way because she just figured it out for herself.