Friday, December 2, 2011

Warwick Sampler Progress. . .

Here's some photos of the progress I've made on the Warwick Sampler.  This flower was executed by couching down thin strips of metallic leather.  I tried different couching patterns on different each petal.  On 1 petal I tried to couch down loops of the leather to see how that changed the texture.  The base of the flower was created with bullion knots of gilt smooth passing (size 4) and long pieces of tarnished silver smooth purl.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The belt . . .

So for this dress (client is still a secret!), I was originally asked to consider versatility as an inspiration--reversible, separates, etc.  When I was originally designing the dress, I kept sketching more complicated designs with pleats and reverse applique or gathered details, but it just did not feel right.  As I know the client extremely well, I knew that the dresses that look the most beautiful on her are the ones that are simple and classic and let her shine on her own.  I decided to create a simple strapless dress with a circle skirt on it.  She has an amazing figure so I wanted something that would show that off but that would still flutter when she walked.  I wanted a lot of movement in the dress.  As the inspiration for the dress was Spain, flamenco dancers were abounding in my mind, but I wanted to create the movement of ruffles without having ruffles.  Ruffles just don't come into mind when I think of this client (unless she was going to a 1980's party).  I let the skirt hang on the dressform for a little over 2 weeks so it could hang out and really let the bias do its thing.

I thought that I could then bring in versatility through the belt options.  I decided to do 2 different sides for the belt that could be flipped around for different looks.  The simplest side is pomegranate silk satin with black lace trim.  The other side is orchid purple silk satin covered in black point d'esprit  with black lace applique at Center back.  I've scattered gold spangles over the point d'esprit and re-embroidered the black lace applique with an outline of gold thread.  I hope she likes it!

This is the dress laying on my work table with the belt across it.  I'll upload photos of the dress on the dressform after I hem it this afternoon.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Lining is Done!

So today I'm actually finishing up the body of the dress, but I haven't taken photos of it yet (soon, soon!).  Here's some photos of the finished lining bodice. 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Progress on the Sangria Crocus Dress

Today I'm working on the embroidery of the 2nd bust cup.  For inspiration, I am enjoying a nice glass of red wine from the La Mancha area of Spain (I just thought it was appropriate!).

Here are some photos of the finished embroidered bust cup set into the lining:

Here are some photos of the skirt falling out on the dressform:

 I was trying different width of ribbon to see what width I'd like to do the belt.  This ribbon is 3".  I think 2 1/2" is the right width as this feels slightly too wide to me.  
Note:  This bodice is NOT the final bodice.  I am re-cutting the front bodice as I did not like the ease on this one.  The neckline and pattern are the same though.  Please remember the seam allowance is still on the top edge so the actual neckline will be 1/2" lower than you see now once it is sewn to lining.

Here are some photos of the skirt lining.  I edged the hem with some black lace trim that I had bought a number of years ago in New York.  

Friday, November 4, 2011

Sangria Crocuses

My latest project is a secret client.  It is inspired by Spain.  When I think about Spain, the first images in my mind are Paella, Sangria, Moorish tiles and the Alhambra.

Motifs:  Originally, I wanted to use a Moorish inspired design, however as I continued sketching that direction just did not feel "right" for this project.  I decided to change the motif and use crocus flowers for this project.  Saffron is the stamens of the Saffron Crocus, and saffron is used in many Spanish dishes, especially Paella. 

Crocuses mean "happiness and cheerfulness" and they are the first sign of Spring to me as they are the first thing to bloom in my yard.  When I see the tiny flowers popping up in my front yard, I know the warmth of summer is around the corner! 

 Saffron Crocus.  
Image from:
 Image showing the petals and stamens being separated.  The stamen is the saffron spice that you can use in cooking.  This photo is actually showing the process in Afghanistan, but I thought it was really beautiful.  
Image from:

Different types of crocuses.
Image from:

Colors:  I was given the constraint that the dominate color be black, but I wanted to use Sangria-inspired jewel tones as the accents and for the embroidery.  I thought about red wine, apples, lemons, oranges, grapes.  

Embroidery in Process:  Because I was using a mix of colors, I also wanted to use a mix of types of crocuses as I did not want the overall embroidery to have a "stripy" feel.  I loved the vein or branch-like movement in some of the other varieties of crocus and I thought it would be lovely to have those textures present.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Warwick Sampler- Creative Goldwork (in progress)

This is a sampler that I started in Durham, England this summer during classes with Tracy Franklin at her studio at Fowler's Yard.  The previous 2 summers, I had taken classes on traditional goldwork technique and wanted to focus on more non-traditional or "creative" ways of utilizing the metal threads and wires.  

For this flower, I have cut thin strips of leather and couched them down using DMC floss.  The base of the flower was created with Smooth Passing bullion knots and tarnished Smooth Purl.

The following 2 buds are created using layered "Wheel" stitch executed in Smooth Passing and DMC floss.

With this flower, I wanted to practice color shading with a burden stitch and smooth passing.  Each petal is slightly different.  I tried shading with not only the colored DMC floss but also the gold and silver smooth passing.  What I find interesting after I added the Pearl Purl edging is that the colors are more of the focus in the petals outlined in gold and the outline is more of the focus on the petals outlined in silver.  This may be because the silver Super Pearl Purl seems slightly thicker than the gold Super Pearl Purl, or it may just simply be the color difference--still an extremely interesting result to me. 

 I added pieces of stretched Pearl Purl (gold and silver) to the Smooth Passing bullion knots.

Monday, October 24, 2011

My Dress for Brittani and Travis' Wedding . . .

Our wonderful friends Travis and Brittani tied the know in Iowa last weekend.  It was a beautiful Fall wedding! I wanted to make something to wear for the occasion and ended up with this Ackermann/Mad Men/Jeanne Lanvin inspired cocktail dress!  Here are the details broken down:

Color Inspiration:
One of my favorite Spring 2012 shows was the Haider Ackermann collection.  The colors were spectacular with beautiful Indian silks in saturated jewel-tones that almost seemed to glow.  It also reminded me that I had some beautiful fuchsia dupioni silk in my fabric closet that I could use!  Below are a few photos from of the Spring 2012 Haider Ackermann show:

Silhouette Inspiration:
I had never watched Mad Men  until a few weeks ago.  After watching the first episode, I watched all the seasons in a matter of days!  Needless to say, I am hooked on Mad Men in the best way, and absolutely LOVE the costumes.  Joan is my favorite character. With this influence, I decided to do a very simple v-neck dress with straight skirt.  I thought the classic silhouette would be a nice blend with the bold color of the silk.
A photo of the women of Mad Men.

Embellishment Inspiration:
The dress seemed like it needed a little something special on it.  I had tried simpler options (fuchsia belt, black silk belt, black lace trim, fuchsia bow- to really keep it Mad Men inspired).  Nothing was working or felt "right".  I started flipping through a book I have, Lanvin, about the amazing work of Jeanne Lanvin for inspiration.  I have to admit that this is kind of my "go to" book when I'm looking for a bit of a spark.  I came upon this dress with "pinked" edges (these of course were not cut pinked, they were separate folded pieces that created a look of pinked edges without any raw edges showing) and a huge flower on the side created by petals of folded and pleated fabric.
 Jeanne Lanvin dress, 1920.  Image from the book, Lanvin.

So here is the final dress: