Thursday, 29 October 2015

Dragon dress: Sewing

We had nine days to make the dress and the boards for the presentation. Nine days isn't a lot of time when you know every seam will be inspected and scrutinized - and it's not only sewing, things need to be ironed, cut, marked, overlocked and pressed, you have to sew zippers, hems, lining and handsew details, not to mention all the decoration this dress design called for.

During the last two weeks before finalization I always worked with this project. I made dragonscale smocking on the tube to and from school. When the school closed at nine in the evening, I sat at home and handstitched pearls a few hours before bed. Even when I slept, I dreamed about the dress.

I started handstitching pearls and pretties onto organza. By doing this, I don't have to wait with the embellishment until the dress is finished, and I can do a couple hours work each day. 

Dupion mounted on organza.

It was actually the first time I sewed anything in silk. (I thought the Victorian gown from last year was silk, but turns out it wasn't.) Silk dupion is a dream to work with, it presses so easily, but since I laid my pattern pieces so that the weft is diagonal, it frays like crazy. In addition I have to be super careful when I sew, otherwise the organza moves. I have taken up so many seams, and it irks me that I don't have time to hand baste everything together.

This was what it looked like after one day's work. There's a hidden zipper in the back, and the hip pieces are only pinned onto the doll. The colours proved to be hard to photograph, so please trust me, it looks okay.

Oh yes, low quality phone pics, but you can see what the dress looks like after I got the organza parts sewn onto it. On the bottom part of the prganza I have used a clear nail polish to seal it, and brushed on a gold metallic acrylic over. The colour of the organza and the dupion underneath, shifts wonderfully when walking in it.

Started sewing the embellishment on.

So. Much. Embellishment.
This is only the first layer of embellishment. The ultimate goal is to work it into the fabric, embroider around and make it look organic, like it's all one fabric.

And this is how far I got in nine days. There's still a lot left to do until it looks like I want it to, but for the moment it's presentable. 

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Even more natural dyeing

What I love most about rhubarb is definitely eating it, but the colour the leaves give is nice as well. I'm looking forward to using the whole plant when the time for rhubarb jam and cobbler comes next year. 

I've taken to calling this project "fifty shades of yellow". (Because I am a little bitter about it, I like neither the book series or yellows, at all.) But the strong colours that the turmeric dye gave, are nice enough that it's hard to completely hate them. 

I am planning to try carrot dye once more. This is the result of dyeing with the water used to boil five-six carrots. Next time I'm using a lot of carrot shavings, and I will let the dye sit on the heat for an hour, like I normally do. (But seeing as the yarn was snow white before I put it in the dye, it's not a total loss.) 

How do I explain this colour without sounding crazy? I boil my taters with some rosemary, because that turns into noms. One day I forgot about it and would have ended up with fried potatoes if I hadn't remembered in time. The taters were saved, but when I took them out of the water I noticed that the water was really brown. So I put in some alun and a small skein of yarn. For science. Of course it ended up... yellowish.

And some cheating.  I found another bottle of food dye. But not yellow, yay! 

I set up a rule, that I was not to use foodstuffs that could be consumed, for dye. And even so, I wanted to use coffee for dyeing. So this is coffee that's already been used, and collected over a few days in the freezer before being made into dye. Since the coffee bean is technically a berry, I set the colour with salt and not alun. 

I found some curry that should have been used before 2009 in the back of a cupboard, and instead of throwing it away I used it as dye. 

When I was younger, I used visit my grandparents a lot. We'd go up in the mountains and pick berries in fall. One of the things I'd insist on making was blueberry ... Since I was the only one who liked it, the bottles would just collect over the years, and we still have some left, so I took a bottle from 2005, and used it as dye. 

I've been told that blueberry dye isn't very colourfast, so I've hung up one of the skeins in a window to see if it fades. After a week it holds up quite well - but then again, we haven't had much sun either! (Oh, the joys of living above the polar circle.)