Though I normally depend on the talented Cari Barg from Cabbit Corner to make my embroidery, she has been inundated with other commissions since Costume College 2017. She offered to work on my next pattern in September or October, but I thought I would take this moment to put what I learned from CoCo to good use. (Namely, I took a course with Denise Hendricks from Romantic Recollections, which was really enlightening. I’m looking forward to her posting her full lecture online so all the world can benefit from her expertise.)
After making two frock coats, I’ve decided I really want to work on several things:
- Another Frock coat for Matt – 1770s again, but I learned so much about fit so I would like to try again. This time I plan on springing for some delicious fabric by Duran Textiles.
- A yellow pet en lair/jacket skirt combo in silk. I got some beautiful silk taffeta by Oscar de la Renta while I visited New York City two weeks ago.
- A court gown. 10 yards of stunning Scalamandre with my name on it is sitting around my house right now, waiting for me to get the skills and courage to cut into it.
- Lucrezia de Borgia’s red gown. I loved that series and I think a Renaissance gown would make for fun times.
The original “next plan” was to learn robe a la francaises while making myself this gown in the Met. I rarely make an exact museum copy and I thought this would be good exercise, especially since I’m very displeased with my robe a la francaise skills.
It helps that I really did find the most perfect shade of yellow silk taffeta for this from Mood! However, as I was playing with my pinking iron (if you don’t have one, I highly recommend messaging the good people at Resurrection Ironworks; they do custom pieces beautifully.)
But then planning Matt’s coat, I started work on digitizing Matt’s embroidery piece (which I’ll talk more about later), and I realized, “No. I want to make an embroidered set for me.” But I wanted a gown. I did some research on pinterest, internet, and my books, and it seems that there were actually quite a few embroidered women’s gowns. I mean, that makes sense. If they embroidered stuff for men, why on earth would they not want to do the same for women?
Nonetheless, there seems to be very few examples of embroidered pen en lairs/women’s jackets for women. I made a pinterest board with a few examples but please send me a shoutout here or on instagram if you see any more!
In particular, these two coats were very impressive:
I would love to do a heavily embroidered piece like this. I don’t anticipate it’ll be HA, so partly HA, party fantasy. But I’m starting to realize that I actually enjoy the fantasy element of HA clothing a bit (I mean, my pink frock coat was utter fantasy and so much fun to wear!), so I’ll be making this in fantasy rather than HA. So after some thought, I decided to put aside robe a la francaise aspirations for a bit so I could turn this into a dream outfit in yellow silk. More on patterning this coat out once I start, but for now, I turn to digitizing the embroidery for this.
While hunting about the internet, I fell head over heels in love with this Met Embroidery sample. I mean, it’s a very famous piece and absolutely gorgeous.
This was Matt’s favorite that he saw online so we discussed turning this into an embroidery for him. Again my tools are as follows:
Computer/Tablet: Surface Book
Program: PE Design 10
Machine: Brother VE 2200 (12″x7″ bed)
So I started to trace this out for him.
This was my first attempt on the flower:
What looked fine enough as a computer file looked terrible printed! On the plus side, it took only 35 minutes to print. So I upped the “semi transparent” portions from 50 stitches/inch to 70 stitches/inch, increased the density of the whole thing fro 114/inch to 140 stitches/inch. I tried to minimize some of those gaps and tried again:
Woo! Closer. Not great but definitely closer. This one took 55 minutes to print. At this point, I decided that the transpoarent sections just weren’t working for me so I nixed it. I increased the size of some of those patchy sections and tried a third time.
Definitely closer! (This one took 120 minutes.). I posted it on instagram and started on the border. At this point, Denise chimed in and suggested that I up the pull compensation. After playing with it a great deal more, I took her suggestion, and tried again.
By this time, my dog Gideon was a fluffball sleeping next to me which made changing threads painful since each time I got up I’d have to wake him up. Nonetheless, there was something lovely and cathartic about dog breathing.
A whopping 195 minutes of sewing time later (not counting thread changes), it was done! I liked it. I liked it a lot. Not perfect by any means, but certainly closer. I can say I’ve poured about 17 hours into this design so far, and it’s definitely getting there. I’m working on version #5 today so we’ll see about that one later.
But for now, I’m pleased with how my first attempt at HA digitization is going.