Monday, 27 February 2017

Wedding Dress Modesty Panel - final preparation stages

Here we are arrived at part six of the dress panel project - the penultimate instalment.

And. This. Part. Was. Scary.

Actually, the part that worried me most was, after removing the embroidery hoop, I needed to trim the excess stabilizer off and I was scared I would cut the net.  One misplaced snip and the whole thing could fray irretrievably.  Thankfully, that didn't happen and here you see it soaking in our bathroom washbasin.  After which, it came out just that little bit crumpled up.

It dried quite a bit flatter though. Phew!  It was mostly the silver threads twisting and turning.

I re-rinsed the piece to make sure that all the stabilizer was out of the net and the threads - the silk felt horrid whilst still full of half dissolved Romeo!  Once it had dried again and I'd finger flattened a fair number of the silver threads, I subjected it to the book treatment overnight as you can see here.

From the bottom up:
-Thick or well folded towel(s)
-Beaded piece upside down so that the beads and stitchery sink into the towel and don't get flattened themselves and ruin the piece
-Heavy books

You can also use this sort of method to iron beaded pieces (or those using thick threads and 3D stitches) and/or clothes.  Iron from the back onto a thick layer of towelling and you'll have a lovely result.  Here's the finish I got.  Not 100% straight, but more than straight enough and much better than the wet version above!

Here's the panel mounted on a piece of dark green A4 card and popped into a plastic pocket for protection on the next part of its adventure - flying over to Ghana.

This is where I bow out of this project and, next time, you can see Janet, the bride's mum, fitting the panel and some shots of the whole dress in action. ♥

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2017

Friday, 24 February 2017

Wedding Dress Modesty Panel - Beading and Embellishing

Part five today - the beads and jewel embellishments.

I'd never used pearl beads of this size before, or diamond-like sparklies either, so I wasn't really sure of myself here.

This first shot you might remember from the introductory post in this project series - it's from the dress proper and shows what sort of jewel trims it had, including the pearl beads in the small flowers and leaves.  Actually, I forgot to put them above the leaves in the end....  Just remembered that whilst writing this!

Here's the whole panel with the pearl beads added.

And a close up of my favourite section with just the beads on.

The dress proper had two different sizes of pearl beads, whereas I was working with just one, so I ended up adding more in later on to even things up a little in the central, large flower.

These are the sparklies I was given to work with from both top and bottom.  I'd never really seen anything like this before, especially not with a view to working with them.  As you can see, the back has an 'x' shaped finish and no visible attaching mechanism like beads have.  So, what I ended up doing was fastening the jewel to the embroidery by catching threads around the arms that hold the stone in the setting.  That worked very well

Finally for today we have a few shots of the final panel with the addition of the sparklies.  I loved these.  They ended up being realy quite easy to do and they just look great!  I was happy to add the leftovers to my stash. ☺  Wish I could think of something else to use them on now.  Couture 'commissions' aren't something I get every day, sadly!  Part of me rather likes the idea of working as an embroiderer in a big fashion house.

Here's the whole panel still in the hoop, just before being taken out and prepared for fitting.  More on that next time, on Monday.  Join me then! ☺♥

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2017

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Wedding Dress Modesty Panel - More details on the silver work

Today I'm here with an extra instalment insterted in the dress panel story.  After the last post on the silver threads, Dima from the D1-D2 blog (go and check out her progress on the Alison Cole 'Pearl Butterfly' project, BTW.  It's beautiful!) left a comment asking how I dealt with the thread ends on the back of the panel.

Well, that made me realise that what I'd declared to be 'pretty self explanatory' was really nothing of the sort and that she probably wasn't the only one who was disappointed by my lack of detail.  I plead the excuse of having almost 20 blog posts to write in only 3 or 4 sessions and being a little too eager to get them all done and scheduled.... (blush).  Here I am today to redress the balance and explain how the silver threads were attached and fastened off at the back.  I found a few helpful 'in progress' photos too. ☺

Basically, once I'd gone around the four larger flower motifs, (which were easy to deal with given the heavy embroidery I could fasten off to at the back), there were two ways of dealing with the long stems and smaller motifs: with two pieces of thread running largely in parallel, or with one doubled over the whole length.

These first three photos show part of the process of working a two parallel lengths section.  What that means is that I cut two lengths of Kreinik Japan #7, not necessarily to the same lengths, and worked them alongside each other part of the way, separating for the single lines around any motifs that fell into their paths.

I started by plunging both ends under a large motif where they could be fastened off easily on the back, then couched them down with one stitch across both threads until it was time to diverge them to outline small flower and leaf motifs.

In this third shot you can see the two ends re-converging ready to be couched back down in the original one stitch way and then plunged under the big flower and fastened off there.  I had to use my tweezers quite a lot to help the thread to settle in the right direction.

As you can see from this section, it wasn't always a simple task.  The long diagonal stem, with the motifs under it AND the stem with the heart, the flower it joins into on the right and the snaky-shaped trailing stem end underneath that flower are all one section!  The piece for the lower part needed to be quite a bit longer than the top one as it had to cater for the triple flower and leaf section.

Actually, I can't remember exactly where this piece ends, but it looks like the trailing end was worked with one piece laid double and then continuing out to the heart stem.  I'm thinking the ends are safely couched under either the heart or the flower.  I can't recall at this distance of time - I did this back in November!  It may even have been at the base of the snaky trailing bit, where it joins the flower.  I've no pictures of the back of the work, so I can't check now.

The other way of working the silver outlining was to use one long piece doubled over.  These two segments here were done with this method.

The thread was bent in either half, or as near to half as the diverging motifs allowed and started at an edge on the motif furthest out from the large flower.  On each of these, I probably (or should have!!!) started near the base of the leaf or flower, worked all around it, then begun the one stitch over two threads method until I was able to plunge the ends under a larger motif again.

Basically the same thing applied when working something with a trailing end of stem as in the two sections seen below.  With these, I 'tweezed' the Japan thread closely together and, after putting in one securing stitch over the very end of the fold, set off with the over-two couching stitches.  The right hand motif was done by bending one piece roughly in half, whilst the left hand design needed a rather longer 'lower' part so as to take in the other trailing stem - again worked by doubling up.

I hope that makes some sense at least!  I was flummoxed by some sections and had to think about the best way to do them so as to neither leave any ends showing through the net, nor scratch the poor bride to death!  I also didn't want any doubling over back under the threads as it would probably offend on both counts.

I apologise for the 'cast' on some of the photos.  Much of that came from the fact that there was a layer of reflective water soluble stabilizer underneath and was pretty hard to work around at times, photographically speaking.

The beads and jewel embellishments follow on Friday.  Join me then! ☺

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2017

Sunday, 19 February 2017

The Sunday Yarn - 19 Feb 2017

At the moment, I have a virus - possibly a touch of the 'flu, so I'm not getting much embroidery done.  However, I have been able to do a decent amount of knitting and I wanted to share the results with you this afternoon.

First of all, I've completed all the knitting on a new baby project, the cream cardigan above.  It needs a bit of a press, some buttons and some embroidery now.  The arms seem a little too long to me, but it might also be that they're a bit 'thin'.  The pattern said to use size 6 (5mm) needles with the DK yarn, but I found it a bit too loose, so used size 8's (4mm).

The sample here is me having a go at cabling using an on-line tutorial I found last night.  I changed direction twice (to see how it worked), thus the odd look about it.  I also used up an old 4 ply yarn on this, so that was good. ☺  Always pleased to use up odds and ends.

And I'm almost at the end of my first ball of yarn on my scarf.  I wish I'd use another 10-20 stitches in this one so that it'd be wider, but I'm certainly not starting again now!  It'll be fine in use and will be long enough to layer up.

Next, apart from the finishings on the two recent baby knits, will be making a start on the full size things for me! ☺  I'll be using mostly chunky yarn, so it'll be similar to knitting a baby garment in 4 ply.  The 4th thing I have in mind to do for me is for super chunky, so even quicker and easier!  My mum's ordered a waistcoat using the oddments of chunky yarn too, so shouldn't have much in the way of bits and pieces hanging around afterwards.

Back to embroidery tomorrow and, all being well and I'm able to edit a post in time, there'll be some more detail on the silver thread work on the wedding dress project.

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2017

Friday, 17 February 2017

Wedding Dress Modesty Panel - Silver Threads

Time for part three of this project and stage three - working the silver outlines and stems.

As is true of many embroiderers, my go to metallic thread brand is almost always Kreinik.  It's pretty rare that they don't have what I need and I have a good supply of their threads in stock.  Japan Threads #1, 5 and 7 were perfect for this project.  I used #5 to work the larger flower centres and #7 matched the silver work on the dress exactly.  I used #1 as a couching thread. I just needed to take care to make sure that each couching stitch went over a net thread or else it would be useless in holding the Japan #7 thread down once the stabilizer was dissolved.

Here are a few photos showing progress though the piece.  They're self explanatory really, so minimal text today. ☺

The light was reflecting to beautifully off the silk flowers and the silver metallic thread, so I had to take this shot and try to capture at least some of it.  Those of you who've seen this kind of work in the 'flesh' will know just how limited even the best photography is, but it gives a good idea.

I was posting regular updates on Instagram and was delighted around about this stage to know I was definitely on the right track as I got the comment "I love love love it!" from the bride. ♥

I had wanted to have a gap in the silver thread above the 3-leaf section just either side of the top centre and put jewels in the gap, but it would have been too hard to sink to the end without being very visible, so I re-jigged it to put the jewels either side of a line instead,

By this point, it was already beginning to look quite complete, but there were still two more types of trim to add.  More on that next time.

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2017

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Work in Progress Wednesday - 15 February 2017

I confess, I'm not getting a lot of embroidery done at the moment.  To be honest, I'm more into knitting just now as I'm doing baby projects both for this year's Shows and also for friends' newborns.  I've also been stashing some yarn for some knits for myself.  More on those projects on Sunday...

At least I've got a little more progress on the everlasting violet thread painting to share.  I'm expecting to need this for a special greetings card in May, but there may be up to two more also needed, so I really should get back going with it.

I took this photos with my phone, so the colour isn't quite as faithful as I can get it using my camera.  I need a few things sorting on my technology - camera battery door fixing, new laptop battery and the power supply 'pin' thingy fixing, so I hope to get to that as soon as I can and be able to work more comfortably instead of having to compensate for some problem most of the time.  Frustrating!

Join me again on Friday for the next instalment in the wedding dress modesty panel series.


Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2017

Monday, 13 February 2017

Wedding Dress Modesty Panel - Cream silk stitching

Welcome to part two of the wedding dress panel series.  Today we're looking at the creation of the basic satin stitched flower and leaf motifs. I had a couple of kind comments on the stitchery from the last post, but I only showed photos of the embroidery and embellishments on the dress proper, i.e. not my work at all. Sorry for any confusion there, it seems I wasn't sufficiently clear. From now on, all the work is mine! 

To be honest, a lot of them were not worked terribly well, especially not the smaller flowers, which weren't that easy to create.  However, I wasn't too worried about that as I knew the dodgy parts would be covered by outlining and beads, so I could get away with working a few flowers before finding the best method.  Above you can see all the small motifs done - a first milestone, then below a detail shot of one part once the first of that medium flowers was complete.

It was at the point in the 3rd photo that I ran out of thread!  I'd badly underestimated the amount of silk needed and thought that what I had in stock would do.  It didn't - not nearly!

The next part of the drama was to source a supplier who didn't charge the earth for shipping and would do so quickly, so not Barnyarns this time, but Silken Strands - a small, family business based in Wales.  Highly recommended for speed of service and reasonable postage costs.  I confess to having enjoyed 24 hours off the project to catch up with some other tasks whilst the threads arrived ☺

Drama stage three was receiving the threads (I bought two packs to be sure of having enough!) and finding that they were a whole shade lighter than the original one I'd had a few years!  Possibly it had darkened in storage.  Anyway, Janet and I agreed that, in view of the timing, it was more important to carry straight on and hope it wouldn't show later on than to try and source another shade.  Those of you who are, like me, very sensitive to nuances of colour (and have good screen resolution) may be able to see where one shade ends and the second began.  It was clearer in real life and screamed almost painfully at me....

You can see the colour difference again here in this close up, but it fades into less significance when the whole lot of the silk work is done.  To be honest, that colour change was the only real disappointment to me in this project.

That's it for this time.  Next time I'll be taking you on a tour of the silver work parts.

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2017

Friday, 10 February 2017

Wedding Dress Modesty Panel - design and sampling

Here's the project many readers have been waiting to read more about - the wedding dress modesty panel.  Today's introductory instalment covers the purpose, design and transfer of the project and is the first in a series of seven posts.

My lovely young friend, Lauren, has been living mostly in Ghana for the last couple of years and, as often happens, met and fell in love with a nice, local chap. ☺♥☻ Their wedding date was set for mid December and she bought both of their wedding outfits on a long trip back to the UK.

However, there was a small problem with the bridal dress - it's a bit low at the back.  By European standards, it was pretty decent, with the back finishing around about bra level, but by Ghanaian standards, it was too low for polite company.  To quote the bride, "You can flash your boobs any day of the week, but one flash of a woman's back....!"  So, in order to avoid offending local cultural sensibilities, Lauren sent me this photo of the needed 'addition' and asked me if I could help out with some embroidery to make it look like it was part of the dress.  I quite liked the idea of the challenge and hopped on a train over to her parents' place in Halifax clutching my art box which I'd refilled with white, cream and silver threads of all types.

Here I am determining the size and shape of the panel - running carefully around the edge with some red sewing cotton and a tapestry needle so as not to jab into her!

After lots of holding up threads against the stitchery on the dress (which seemed to have been done in machine rayon and silver Jap style thread, then hand embellished), and then trialling some on some scrap net pieces, these are the threads that matched best with the original materials and survived the necessary work process.

I worked a couple of small samples, this one trialling a couple of different Madeira shades - ecru/2404 and off white, and also trying out some of the beads and sparklies Lauren and her mum, Janet - an accomplished seamstress, had bought in for the project.  You might also notice a sort of 'haze' on this photo, as if there were a plastic bag or something underneath the net.  Well, in a way there is, as I had to used Romeo water soluble stabilizer to work this piece.  The net is quite fine, but nothing like fine enough to be able to hand work enough stitches on easily.  Stabilizer provided the perfect solution.  Once the stitchery is complete, you just rinse it out well.

Naturally, I took a lot of photos of the embroidery design on the dress and here are some of the details from those pictures.  I used these not only to create a suitable pattern using motifs as close as possible to the originals, but also to get more of an insight into how they were worked and how best to set about it myself. NB These 3 photos are from the dress proper and are not my work.

After looking at it for a while, I traced around the edge of the panel and began to put together a design idea trying to make it look as 'at home' as possible.  I'd been told not to worry as Lauren's hair would cover it much of the time and it just needed to give an idea, but, hey, this is me!  It had to be spot on, right?? ☺

Here it is set up in the hoop after the tricky task of tracing the outlines onto the net using a fine black biro.  You can clearly see the stabilizer here and also that I tacked along the top and bottom of the panel to keep it still.  Given that the net's just that little bit stretchy, I had to be very careful not to have it held taut in the hoop, but to sit as it would in the dress.  The Romeo 'fabric' acted as a stabiliser in that sense too.

Next time I'll show you the first stage of the stitching - the ecru silk flowers and leaf motifs.

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2017

Monday, 6 February 2017

Lilac Bellpull Project

Here we are at the second project of last autumn's stitch-a-thon!

Actually, I began this one in the summer shortly after getting all the projects for the Bingley Show sorted, but didn't get to work much on it until a few weeks later on.  I used it as a bit of an alternate project alongside the autumn leaves some of the time. Not often, as this one was over-due anyway and the leaves one was to a fairly tight time schedule, but I did a little bit here and there for variety.

The starting points were that the bride (a Chinese friend who'd actually got married back in July) loved purple shades and has very little room in her home - no living room, poor thing - and so something to hang was best.

In Patricia Ann Bage's 'Beginners Guide to Drawn Thread Embroidery', I found this design, the centre of which I'd worked a few years ago, also in purples, as a wedding card.  The bellpull ends I had in stock were quite narrow though, so I needed to adapt the pattern ever so slightly to take it in about 4 threads at each side.

I didn't seem to take many WIP shots, so we can do this all in one post.  Here we go:

At this point I realised that two things needed changing:

1) The purple squares just didn't work.  The shade of purple was too red to co-ordinate well with the lovely, rich, blue-purple in the centre motif (much more glaring that it appears here), and; 2) I'd miscounted on the chart and should have left done klosters blocks of 13 stitches, then 9, then 13 again.  So, I took it out back to the innermost green square sections and re-worked it with the correct spacing and the red-purple replaced by Kreinik #4 Very Fine Braid in 032.

As you can see, it wasn't very comfortable to work this piece.  The fabric I was using was really too narrow to fit into the nearest size of frame I could make up (Q snap 8"/11" rectangle).  Maybe it was partly this, but also an unhealthy mixture of not reading the instructions properly, rushing to get the project completed after the Autumn Leaves one so as to get on with the next (I wanted clear decks as far as possible) and/or over-confidence that led me to mess up with removing the threads as you can see here:

I removed all 12 rows instead of removing 4, leaving 4, then removing the final 4.  I just didn't read the instructions for the filling stitches or look closely enough at the pattern at the right time.  Lesson learned!  So, I had to choose alternative fillings that didn't require a central bar of threads still in place and that would look OK in this fairly long space.

Unfortunately, I didn't get any decent photos of the final stitched stage before the awkward sewing up part, but here it is finished up and you can see the fillings in the close ups.  A little narrow, but not too bad on the whole.

I'll leave you with a photo that I snapped on my phone (very badly, sorry!) of the happy couple and their witnesses signing the register.

Which project next?  The bridal dress panel is coming up soon. ♥

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2016/7