Monday, April 30, 2012

Up to my ears in Gold!

Greetings from San Francisco where I am working on my Advanced Goldwork project with the Royal School of Needlework. I cannot believe I have already completed Day 3 of 10 of my module.

I designed a whimsical project not knowing if it would be allowed, and a more traditional Jacobean project just in case the first one was rejected. I was delighted when my tutor, Sarah Homfray gave the "thumbs up" and I could begin working my adorable Humpty Dumpty design. This character has always been near and dear to my heart. As a child, I happened on the most charming over-sized stuffed Humpty Dumpty I had ever seen at a nearby gift shop. Christmas being only a few days away, it was the only item specified on my Christmas list. Although it was quite expensive, I knew if anyone could afford to buy it, Santa could.

My mother, the single parent of four girls, knew how much that stuffed Humpty Dumpty meant to me and on Christmas Eve, she approached the store manager and with all the fortitude she could muster, explaining how slim his chances of selling it after Christmas. The manager was convinced and a sizable price reduction was administered, making the unusual item affordable. Needless to say, I was completely overjoyed that Christmas morning at the sight of my Humpty Dumpty. I kept it throughout my teenage years and when I moved out, I made throw pillows from his stuffing for my first apartment, unable to bear throwing it out.

Here are a few pics of my design and progress so far. I have managed to stay on target with my work, completing the pricking and pouncing in order to transfer the design onto the fabric and lacing up my slate frame on Saturday, completing the padding (applying felt) on Sunday, and working the pants today in laid work. Tomorrow, I hope to complete all the plunging (bring the thread tails to the back) and beginning the laid work on the hands. Stay tuned.
Pencil drawing of Advanced Goldwork project, featuring Humpty Dumpty. Notice the thread breakdown and stitch plan. This design is taken from a 1930's Nursery Rhyme book.

The pink gingham silk dupioni is the fabric I have chosen for my piece. What you are looking at is the goldenrod colored felt applied to the fabric. The gold threads are a combination of Japanese gold #5 and Roccoco gold. The white padded felt areas are the hands, which will be stitched in silver threads.

This is a closeup of my work in progress. Note the yellow paint lines on the fabric, which will be covered with metal threads. The dark areas are where I have couched the threads in place with purple silk, facing out to light lavender to create coloration and shading to the pants. All the ends will be brought to the back and tied off. For now, they are held in place with hair tape so they don't get caught in my stitches.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Royal School of Needlework

I spent most of the day packing my sewing supplies for my upcoming trip to San Francisco to begin my diploma course at the Royal School of Needlework. I will need an entire suitcase just to house my supplies. The diploma course is the next phase of study after the Certificate Course, which I have already completed. Lasting ten days, this intensive course features Advanced Goldwork, a project I designed and must complete before the deadline. I'm really looking forward to it.

Although I completed my design ideas yesterday, I still had to figure out stitch placement and thread choices so I brought home my sketch pad and completed that portion of the task. Now I'm working on laundry so I can complete my packing tomorrow. My plane departs Friday morning and I have a ton of stuff to do before leaving.

The Certificate Course consisted of four module areas of study: silk shading, Jacobean crewel, goldwork, and blackwork. It took all of five years with which to complete and I'm expecting the diploma course to last at least as long. I haven't had an opportunity to scan the mockups of Advanced Goldwork, but I would like to share my project from 2007's module.
First module of Certificated Course, Silk Shading, is a study in long and short stitch. Working from a photograph, the design is replicated in single strands of Anchor floss on silk dupioni. (See acutal photo below).

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Busy Weekend

I just experienced one of the busiest weekends we've had in a while. Saturday morning we drove to Lafayette to have lunch with Evan and Andrea then off to the BFA Art show at the museum. The BFA Art Show, is an exhibition of the graduating Graphic Design seniors and fellow fine arts majors from UL in Lafayette. The exhibit featured the best works of the senior design students and their final projects. They were to develop a fictitious non-profit organization of their choice and design an entire corporate campaign including packaging, stationery, logo, website, and product development. Evan chose an organization geared to the many pets that were rescued from Hurricane Katrina called Hurricane Hounds. I think it turned out terrific and Billy and I were extremely proud of his work.

Then, we drove back to New Orleans just in time to make Billy's awards banquet where he was awarded a trophy for his Big Game Fishing skills. We had such a great time just visiting with old friends while enjoying a marvelous meal.

F to B: Logo, stationery design and corporate imaging; dog grooming products;
 dog sweater product; dog food packaging; suitcase to hold kit with labeling.

Corporate Image and stationery design.

Closeup of product development.

Point of Sale showcard.

Web page design.

Evan and Andrea at the Art Show.

Billy, Evan and me.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Laptop Day

I spent the entire day working on the revision of "Charlotte", a pattern that went out of print a few years ago. This pattern features a baby gown and matching bonnet, which I'm told is a favorite for namings and special occasions. I had it regraded to include newborn sizes for those wishing to use it as a coming home outfit, and into a little girl's dress version, in cases where a big girl dress is necessary. This version will be high yoke, gathered waist and three-quarter length sleeves. It will also feature the large medallion in front with a cartouche for a monogram. The gown is sized NB-6mo-9mo, and the girl's dress is sized 1-2-3.

Tomorrow, Billy and I are driving to Lafayette to see Evan's Art showing at the museum. This show features the best of the best works of the seniors at University of Louisiana at Lafayette. I'm really looking foward to it and I promise to get a few photos for you. Happy Friday!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Caitlyn's Dress

I decided to get my lazy self into the office today, especially since Billy has been dropping subtle hints about having to care for the doggie all by himself while trying to work. We have a new receptionist who is adorable and sweet and we love her. Brandi loves the pup but truthfully, it is my dog and I should be with her. And I really need to get to work designing a project for myself during the two week session at the Royal School, which is coming up quickly. I'm doing advanced goldwork and it is a bit intimidating. But, I've never been one to shy away from a challenge.

I received a text from Christine on Easter morning, the student I was helping with her Easter project via text a few weeks ago. She was excited to report the dress had been completed in time, even though it was 9:45 p.m. the night before. I think the dress turned out lovely and I could tell she was immensely proud of herself for having reached her goal.
Caitlyn wearing Cherries Jubilee on Easter Sunday.
Caitlyn looks so precious in her new shoes and pretty Easter dress. Christine, you did good.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

It's Finally Done!

Last night, my niece and nephew came by with Sophie to pick up her completed dress. I was delighted when the dress fit her perfectly and she looked like an angel. I think I saw a little tear in Amy's eye when she saw her daughter in the dress for the first time. I did not photograph her in the dress because she had just returned from ballet class and she looked a bit disheveled. I want you to see her when she is all done up and looking angelic. Here are the photos.

Sewing for a plus-size child is a completely different experience than sewing for average sizes. Not only is the sizing a challenge, but the design aesthetic should be considered when dressing that body type. The secret is taking accurate measurements, working with a muslin shell, and perseverance. I only had to make 3 muslin before success. I was extremely lucky to have a pattern that went all the way up to a size 16. I decided to use Hannah because of the style of the dress and because it was cut so large. Sophie is only 8 years old so purchasing a dress for her was completely out of the question. Even if I could have found a dress in the correct size it wouldn't be appropriate for an 8-year-old, considering it is her Holy Communion.

To refresh your memory, Hanna is a pattern that has a cutout in back, no sleeves and a bolero jacket. We decided it wouldn't be tasteful to have a cutout and we felt it needed sleeves. Other than that, we used the pattern as designed. The dress is made of Ulster 14HC linen. I added an over skirt of dotted Swiss voile so the dress wouldn't be clingy. To made the sleeves, I used the jacket sleeves but eliminated the scallops along the edge. Instead, I used silk charmeuse bias binding from Farmhouse Fabrics to form the bias binding. That little bit of shine works well with the ribbons in the halo and medallion. At the last minute, I decided to add the seed pearls sewn individually around the binding. The beads added a little bling to the otherwise simple design. The only embroidery is at the bodice front: her monogram worked in white floche.

After the final fitting, I decided to add a self lining to the skirt so she didn't need to worry about purchasing a slip. And the lace was added as an afterthought to help make the dress look special. I love the way it turned out.

This is my first attempt at making a veil. I have to say, I was a bit nervous about cutting a veil, but it really wasn't that difficult. I decided to machine sew 1/8" wide silk satin ribbon on the edges. The halo is made using a kit purchased from The Ribbonry in Ohio. I also made the medallion at the waistline. Since the binding was not bright white like the ribbon in the kits, I decided to add a few silk satin ribbons to blend in, thereby allowing the veil to blend in with the colors of the dress.

Although I will be in San Francisco the day of the Communion, I will post photos of Sophie in her dress. I think you will be impressed.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Final Countdown to Easter

I've been receiving a few calls from my students who are down to the wire on their Easter dresses. Sometimes just discussing your dilema is comforting when you are confused about how to proceed with your sewing. It makes me feel needed to answer questions, offer a word or encouragement, and then to see the completed project. It happens to me too.

My niece came over Wednesday night to try on her communion dress and I was totally relieved when it fit perfectly. It looked adorable on her and now I feel confident to move forward. It doesn't need to be completed until the end of April, but I wanted to allow a lot of time to devote to this project. I'm so glad I did. I will post completed pics of the dress in a few weeks.

Today is Good Friday and the office is closed. I decided not to go into the office today, even through I would have had sewing to do. It feels great to just hang out once in a while just doing nothing. I'm caught up on my Easter gifts and looking forward to celebrating the holiday at my sister-in-law's on Sunday. Evan and Andrea won't be in until late Saturday night so I have a little time to get their gifts wrapped and baskets put together. After all, the Easter bunny is coming and I must be ready for him.

In New Orleans, Good Friday means "crawfish." We have been envited to a crawfish boil and I am truly looking forward to it. It's sort of a tradition to spend Good Friday eating crawfish with friends. Crawfish is considered seafood, therfore it is the perfect thing to eat during Lent. Happy Easter eveyone.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

May Sew Beautiful

The new issue of Sew Beautiful Magazine just arrived today and I was thrilled to see my newest article, Les Petites Papillion. The photography turned out terrific and the dress looked as though it was created especially for the model. Perfect!!!