DIY: Upcycled Embroidered Cami

For this week’s DIY/refashion/upcycle post I’m sharing how I transferred an image from the Internet and embroidered it onto a thrifted camisole – a possible solution for those novice/newbie embroiderers (like me!) who need more practice with freehand embroidery!

If you had seen my previous post on embroidering a motif onto a T-shirt I’ve become quite enamoured with embroidered detail. With the discovery of the insanely talented Tessa Perlow and her embroidery art I’ve become quite obsessed with it.

I had this perfect thrifted camisole ($8 from Vinnies Glebe) that I wanted to go bigger with my newly acquired (but still learning) embroidery skill.

diy embroidered cami
Yes, that is a child’s Pillow Pet in the corner. #mumlife

Alas I’m not quite the artist like Tessa so I had to make do with finding a floral print on the Internet and try to embroider that onto the cami. And it’s not like you can take a black cami and lean it on to the screen of your laptop to trace the print onto, right?

After consulting my local craft store on the situation I decided to buy some Aida cloth, which is woven fabric designed for cross stitch and embroidery.

After upsizing the floral image I wanted from the Internet, I printed it out and went over it with a black marker so the outline could be clearly seen.

diy embroidered cami
You can faintly see in the background the original size of the image.

I taped the image on the back sliding door…

… then taped the Aida cloth over the top (you can see where I’m going here). I then traced the image onto the Aida cloth with a pencil.

I cut the excess Aida cloth off, leaving the image and enough fabric around as allowance for my novice embroidery.

Time to get stitching.

While I pretty much followed the outline for the outside of the flowers, for the inside I was a bit less strict, stitching freely and wherever I thought needed some texture and filling in. I obviously exercised creative licence with the colours of the flowers too.

Once the embroidery was complete I CAREFULLY cut around the embroidery, removing as much of the Aida cloth as I could from the edges without ruining any of the stitches of cutting the fabric (unfortunately I did snip a little bit of the fabric a couple of times – but will explain how I covered these up soon).

Yes, that is another toy in the corner.

You can see there is still some Aida cloth visible. I actually don’t mind this. However, I had a bit of a brainwave at this point and will explain an absolutely optional next step, which is strictly for those who are mildly obsessive, because this step is actually what I think took me the longest as I am one of those mildly obsessive people.

I took a pair of sharp tweezers and carefully pulled out the strands of the Aida cloth. You’ll see in my image below I’ve circled where I pulled the strands out, next to a part where I didn’t – the edges are nice and clean where the strands have been removed.

Some strands came out super easily, others were harder to remove. You can imagine how obsessed I got with this, to the point that I wanted to pull every single Aida cloth strand out – to my pain, as it ended up puckering some of my work and I had to do over some of the stitching (*cries*). However, in the end I probably pulled out 70% of the cloth this way and I’m happy with the outcome.

I decided I wanted to outline the embroidery with a bit of backstitching. This helped to cover up any stray Aida cloth strands, as well as shore up those little bits of fabric I accidentally snipped when cutting out the Aida cloth.

Sorry for crappy photo, taken at 11.15pm (*snooze*)

So, after what seemed like an eternity, here is the finished embroidered product.

Yes, there’s still a bit of puckering, that’s me being the novice at embroidery, but once worn it’s not too noticeable.

Wearing: thrifted Verge camisole with embroidery done by me; thrifted Max Mara turtleneck (via Salvos Stores); thrifted Gorman denim skirt (via Vinnies Newtown); Freelance lace up shoes.

You could of course always buy it – the embroidered trend is HUGE at the moment and high-end designers (think Gucci) through to fast fashion retailers have it in stock.

However, there is something so peaceful about doing embroidery that if you’re able to learn it (there are some good tutorials on YouTube) or go to a class (Tessa Perlow does classes!) it’s a lovely way to practice mindfulness and produce a beautiful piece of embroidered art (or upcycle some clothing!) while you’re at it.

Let me know what you think of this embroidered DIY/upcycle/refashioned project (I never know which term to use!) by commenting below! I’d love to hear from you (and get some feedback on improving my embroidery techniques!! :))

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