Those who know me well, know that I am "allergic" to measuring. Well, with this project it has been a crucial skill. I'm getting the hang of it. Below you will see placement marks for the dress border.
Dressage is horses, right? You can train horses to do elegant things. To march in a totally unnatural, regal manner. Right?
Not so the embroidery machine...or the embroiderer. I began embroidering directly on the dress today... along the hem edge. It is going well. there are 7 round patterns on each bias panel of the dress. I got 5 done today. #6? It tried to eat the dress . But I saved it.
I also began drafting the petticoat pattern. Using a very short half slip as a guide, I drafted the top half of the petticoat. This part will be sewn in opaque nylon tricot. Later, like tomorrow, I will figure out how long the ruffle needs to be. It will be embroidered and edged with lace.
We Jerome grantees met today at Concordia University Art Center Gallery to begin the planning for our show.
Our show is titled TRUTH TELLING. We all are dealing with various versions of hard truths that are often hidden or denied: domestic violence; ageism/sexism; mental illness; environmental loss. So we will tell our truths. The opening is slated for November 13, with an informal gallery talk from 5-6pm, reception from 6-8 pm.
Finally, after much delay, testing, seven hour stitchings ending in the trash can...I have completed the embroidery on the 50 years old and up jacket! Now, it needs to be indigo dyed and then lined. Onward, ever onward!
I'll get to the decision later...
I am trying to figure out how to get more text into the dresses, beyond the lovely collars. I planned to make text emblems that wound be sewn on the bias panels. In the first photo you see several techniques. I have embroidered an emblem on some crisp silk organza using both rayon and polyester thread, indigo dyed it, sewed it to some scrap Osnaberg that had had one trip to the Indigo vat. I embroidered directly on the Osnaberg with rayon thread ( un successfully...the stabilizer chosen was not enough.) I applied a water base gutta resist. Dipped the whole thing in Indigo again. There were issues with the dye take up of the rayon due to lingering starch from the stabilizer in both instances of embroidery. The silk got way too dark in relation to the cotton. The resist was interesting. My goal is to apply text without seriously affecting the flow of the bias skirt panels.
In the second photo you see 2 kinds of silk used to make emblems: a soft organza on the left and a crisp organza on the right. I was careful to embroider them with rayon backgrounds and polyester text over 2 layers of water soluble stabilizer. I embroidered directly on the cotton. I assembled, being careful to sew with cotton thread. I dipped once in the Indigo vat. Dried the test, applied gutta again, dried it again and then wet it again for a final trip to the Indigo vat. I am not entirely happy with what I learned. The crisp organza takes the dye much more intensely. The soft organza also shows a color shift and some messiness. The direct embroidery is the best by far. It, too, has some issues, though. In all of these tests I used water soluble Vilene stabilizer. It is rather hard to get all of it washed out of the stitching. The remaining starch acts as a partial resist, giving a mottled appearance to the swirl. Well, dang!
THE RELUCTANT DECISION:
I will embroider directly on the garment ( or garment piece before assembly), risking snarls and loss rates ( up to 50% loss rate!), using tear away stabilizer, risking affecting the flow of the skirt...all before dipping in the Indigo. BYW I bought another bolt of cloth so I can live with the loss rate if I have to.
A DECISION YET TO BE MADE:
Whether or not to activate the skirt with the resist. I will NOT do text with the resist...it is much too loose compared to the embroidery. But maybe squiggles and swirls. WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Every summer, for the past 7 or 8, I spend up to 2 weeks on the shore of Lake Superior. It is my self-created artist residency. Even on my more "vacationy" years, I do work there that is slow to get done when home in the Twin Cities. This year there was significantly less vacationing done. What did I do?
1. Compiled the text from the surveys and edited into final script for the embroidery.
2. recorded the indigo tests on poly thread vs. rayon thread
3. tested various kinds of twill tape and bias tape
4. finally figured out how to line things up correctly every time...I hope
5. completed the layouts for all the dress collars
6. completed the layout for one full jacket
7. re-designed the collars again
8. made a movie
9. watched lots of movies, finished 4 books.
10. drank wine
11. ran out of thread
12. panicked just a little and drank wine.
13. embroidered with sewing thread
14. stitched things down to see how they looked
15. ordered more materials of various sorts.
16. went to Hovland, Finland, Grand Marais, Grand Portage and Silver Bay. Bought pins in Grand Marais, thread in a True Value hardware store in Silver Bay.
17. came home to heat warnings
18. Today, I will put the studio back together after getting caught up on bill paying.
I am considering using indigo in the project, mostly because I love the magic of indigo! So, I will have to think hard about this over the next few weeks.
To indigo? Or not to Indigo? That is the question.
Imagine text marching across the lapels...
I picked up some 1" cotton twill tape today to experiment with. Embroidering ribbon is pretty easy...can Twill tape be far behind?
The fabric is Osnaburg, kind of an open weave mulsin. It is super soft, mighty stretchy, oatmeal in color, often used for historic costumes and for baby carriers!
Working on the hem of the dress tonight.
I've been thinking about the uniform I am building, draping, plotting, stitching. I want it to be simple...no closures; bias but secure around the bust and armholes. I want it to be SHRUGGED ON, when I dress. Uber easy. I want it to be feminine...appropriate for all ages. I want to be able to stand to wear it. I'm getting there, but I am wondering about the design of the dress. Hmmm... I may drape more cloth.
After much draping and sewing and draping and sewing and tracing of shoulders that fit...I completed the 2 major patterns today. The dress is a slamdunk. Except for stretching and/or slipping, it should be easy and accurate. ( I know, "Famous last words...")
The jacket took more time to get right. I finally got the shoulder right. I still don't know if I got the front facing correct. It is a self-liner for the turn back lapel and has a funny jog in the stitching to allow the turn back and some fancy decorative folds. Another muslin model is ahead for this. Currently, I think the final jackets will be wool flannel, which will do the ease really well.
After a difficult week of transitioning the embroidery tests to testing the actual fabric...success has been achieved. When I started embroidering on the more open weave fabric, all kinds of bedevilment occurred: Shifting fabric, rat's nests, shredded thread. When I tested netting, for the petticoat, it embroidered fine, but would not sew up on my sewing machine! Lingerie fabric was hard to find. I decided that I wanted nylon tricot, to make a soft, full skirted petticoat. Boy was that hard to find! I have now found 2 sources for it....one sample has arrived, the other is on its way. I am also awaiting undyed wool flannel. So, things are moving again.
WEARING MY AGE
I have received a grant from the Jerome Foundation to work on a project that I have called "Wearing My Age."