Sashiko Francoise

Hello! Earlier this summer I went on my first solo trip to Grandpas, somehow successfully navigating the London tube system and getting to the right place at the right time. I needed a project to do without a machine and so asked Twitter what my options were. Susan of Measure Twice Cut Once suggested that I try my hand at Sashiko embroidery which was perfect.
 Sashiko embroidery is not something I've done before, but it went pretty smoothly with some internet research and a bit of improvisation. For those unfamiliar with the term, Sashiko stitching was originally a type of reinforment embroidery over worn and patched areas originating from Japan. However, now it can be used decoratively. It consists of a simple running stitch typically using white thread on an indigo background for a high contrast.
 I used the Tilly and the Buttons Francoise shift dress pattern, which I've made several times before. This time I blended the separate shoulder pieces back onto the main dress pieces for a dress with only 2 pattern pieces instead of 4. I wanted a simple background for my embroidery. Originally I found a design I liked and traced it with chalk on tracing paper, then attempting to transfer the chalk onto the fabric. This attempt was unsuccessful. Instead I decided to go with simple stripes that could be easily chalked onto the fabric with a ruler. The fabric was an old white cotton tablecloth with a fairly loose weave so the larger needle could easily pierce through the fabric. I then dyed it using a navy dye in the sink. It turned out a bit patchier than I would have liked so I probably should have stirred it more.
The tips that I picked up from various bits of internet research were to pick up several stitches on your needle at a time, as it will help keep the stitches straight. At the end of the row, leave some excess thread so it doesn't pull tight and pucker. Because the hand sewing I was doing was fairly simple it only took 2-3 days to finish. The lack of laptop did mean that I had a fair amount of otherwise usually occupied time.
So, as soon as I got home I stitched the dress together, tried it on and sighed. It just wasn't right, and had a number of issues that needed fixing. It went into The Pile for a couple of weeks and I picked it up again after my operation. I took a fair bit of excess out of the center back seam to make it slightly more fitted. The shoulder seams were taken in to make the neckline less gapey. Next time I'll take out some width at the centre front because the neckline does still gape a bit I also raised the darts so they actually hit my bust. In hindsight, the diagonal dart wasn't a great idea because it messed up my stripes.  A bust dart would have been a better idea. The hem was too dramatically A line for my liking as the fabric is so stiff, so I taped that in by 2 inches on either side. 
Despite not being able to stripe match the side seams, I did manage the center back seam pretty well! In regards to the insides, raw edges are all overlocked. Neckline and armholes are bias bound as per usual. The hem is turned up 1 inch and slipstitched into place. 
After all of the fitting changes I'm so happy with how the dress fits now! I think you get double the satisfaction when you turn a project from a wadder into something you love. It will be great in winter for layering under with shirts. It was fairly chilly today so I layered my white archer under it, which kept me warm. It's great to be able to transform a tablecloth into something so different and unique.
 Thanks for reading and to Ed for snapping these on the way home from visiting friends and to my parents for waiting patiently in the car while we shot these.
Lauren xx