Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Key Embroidery

What this? Another filler post? Yes, I know, I know, I'm slacking. But with only one more weekend to finish my Victorian costume, I'll soon have a lot to show off

I finally got the base embroidery done on my golden key. It's terribly uneven, may have to draw guides next time to keep the lines more even. It definitely needs something to finish off the edges. I'm thinking of putting that newly aquired skill of finger loop braiding to good use to provide that finish, but I find myself unsure if that'd have the right look. Hmm, maybe I could use some of the gold wire left over from the muff work... Hmm....

Monday, 17 February 2014

Scrappy Circle Skirt

Last week, my sewing machine decided to stop working. I couldn't figure out what was wrong, so lost the entire day and a busy week meant a panic as I wasn't able to try and solve the issue. One dose of determination, a decent screwdriver and a tangle of thread and lint from under the baseplate later, and my machine is working! Just two and a half weeks left to finish up my costumes though. So here's the start of a long term project I've been working on as I've not gotten much done this week:

I have long coveted the idea of a scappy skirt, something made with all those little project ends that are too small to become anything useful on their own, but too pretty to throw away. Well, if I want one it's about time I made a start on one.

I picked up some polycotton in purple for the skirt base and drafted out a quick full circle skirt on the folded fabric. Suzie checked the drafting for me, so I felt certain I could proceed with confidence.

By far the best tool in the making of this skirt was the availabilty of a good decent allotment of floor space. I pulled pieces of fabric from my designated scrap box, and tried to arrange them in a way that was visually pleasing without being too rigid about the layout or piece shape.

So far I've discovered that my inner magpie does a lot of my fabric purchasing for me; the final skirt at the moment is aiming towards a very shiny finish. There's also not enough scraps to do all four panels, so each panel is going to end up with it's own distinct character. So I pinned.

And then I pinned some more. And a bit more. And by then my back and knees were making distinctly unhappy noises, so that was all the fabric sorting I was going to get done that evening. The plan is to sew everthing down with a running stitch to stop it shifting about, then to bind each edge with a close zig-zag stitch.

Long term project yes. Panel one already has a lovely weight to it. And it's incentive to get more nice sewing done to replenish my scrap box!

Saturday, 8 February 2014

First Steps in Illumination

This week I found myself with an unexpected couple of hour gap in my schedule. I felt it was important to do something with that time, so I pulled out my paints and attempted something I've been putting off: Medieval Illumination.

Drawing is something I used to do a lot when I was much, much younger, but never practiced. So I've tried, but generally put it off because things have never worked out the way I wanted. Even when I'm designing clothing, I tent to skip straight from idea to sewing without doing up a sketch, because that one step trips me up more often than not.

First step was to sketch out my chosen image, a Scitalis or serpent from Medieval bestiaries. The particular image I've chosen is the one which appears in the Aberdeen Bestiary.

I've harrassed my more experienced illuminating friends for a while about this, so I knew which basic materials to use. The inial colours of my scitalis were completed with Reeves gouache colours, a 12 colour set, so lots of blending was involved. The original image I believe had a gold background; a little too advanced for begining with (plus I couldn't find my gold leaf), so I went with a yellow cold colour wash. This was also fabulous for covering up the stray pencil marks that my cheap rubber couldn't erase.

So here's my finished attempt, with the original below for comparison. I'm quite pleased with it. I've an awful lot to learn about blending and painting with gouache paints. I'm very pleased with how the face turned out, less pleased with this attempt on the body. The wings please me too, even if they are simpler than the original. I imagine practice will make my hand steadier, otherwise I'll have a hard time convincing people that my wiggly lines were just an attempt at making an extremely faithful reproduction of the original's not perfectly straight lines.

I've picked up a few supplies now to help me along with this (the difference decent brushes can make!), and I'm looking forward to trying it again instead of letting it intimidate me.

Monday, 3 February 2014

More Muff Work

Due to the adverse weather conditions around the globe (too cold to sew or too warm to work with fur), the Fabulously Fashionable Fur competition has been extended! So here's an update on how the progress has been on the muff.

I'd already cut a layer of linen to the shape of the fur piece, so I cut the velvet just large enough to hem around the linen.My intention is to whip stitch the edge of the fabric piece to the edge of the rabbit fur, trapping the velvet raw edges in the centre.

That complete, I took the pieces of white linen with the goldwork template and tacked them to the velvet with a strong black thread, for contrast, so it would be easier to identify and remove when the goldwork is complete. I positioned the goldwork approximately an inch in from each edge.


And then is was time to mount the fabric up in my new embroidery frame. Alright, it's no medieval stretch frame, but it's doing a good job of keeping the fabric taut. And it collapses back into a carry case, making it very easy to bring to events to me (and shall be testing that very use quite shortly). 

Now, I will confess, I have started the goldwork. And it is shiny, but oh-so-slow. I'm trying to get a little more done so it can look even more impressive before I show it off. As it is I'll have to do significantly more than an hour an evening to be finished by the end of February.