Sunday, June 23, 2013

Applied Arts: Faux Embroidery

Every now and then, an image sticks in my head, forcing me to create a project around it. Last month, it was a draped velvet gown by Madame Gres in the Haute Couture exhibition. Of late, it is an image of a dress from the Spring/Summer 2013 collection of Italian designer, Alverta Ferretti. It was a simple ecru gown with what resembles a whisper thin layer of diaphanous flowers floating on top. I love the idea of petals lifted from one source--an embroidered vintage petticoat, a lace trim for example--to use as an embellishment for something else. Think of it as a form of embroidery, but much more simple.

I will warn you. This project will take you a while to complete as there are many aesthetic decisions to be made. Admittedly, I am a day late with this posting because I thought this would be a snap. Au contraire! You are the artiste!!! You are, in fact, deconstructing one element to create a new "work of art!" Truth be known, this project took me four days to complete, start to finish.

For my black lace dress, I decided to create a monochromatic patchwork of lace. I chose a "nude" colored fabric to create a strapless sheath dress (consult "patterns"). My closure will be on the side.

I took black lace trim and cut out some of the motifs. Lay them on the doll. Play around with them, turning them upside down, backwards, diagonally. Pin them in place. Remember to turn the doll around as you work so that there is harmony between the front and back of the garment. I also try to camouflage the seams and darts by covering those spots with bits of lace.

For this design, I wanted texture which is why the lace in this garment sometimes overlaps and why there are spots where the foundation peeks through. I could have stopped there, but decided to add a bit of subdued spark with the addition of black beaded clusters randomly placed. The straps are different from one side to the other. One side has beaded straps that purposely fall off the shoulder. The dress is closed with Velcro.


For the beige dress, I worked with a strip of vintage lace. You can begin with a sheer foundation which will give you a maximum amount of control, but I decided the lace was dense enough to create a dress without one. I played with the lace, wrapping it around the doll and pinning in place. There will be spots where you need to cut away the lace to make it fit against the foundation. Take those bits and pieces and patch them back onto other areas. Doing it this way meant I also had to figure out how the doll gets in and out of the dress. The dress is closed at the neck and one point on one hip with the help of hooks and eyes.  Keep everything in pins until you are certain you are happy with the results. Then, using tiny stitches, hand stitch everything in place.

The dress appears to be without seams....the mark of a couture garment!

For the last garment, I began with the same princess line dress I posted earlier (Princess Diaries) except I added 5 1/2 inches to the hem to create an "evening" length. I machine stitch the dress and put it on the doll. Here too, I cut out tiny motifs from some metallic trim I had as well as the embroidered roses that once graced an old undergarment.
The lace appears to "float" on top of the chiffon gown.

Play with it until you get just the effect you want and hand stitch in place.
Play with the direction of the motifs. And, make sure your appliques aren't too thick.
When you are finished. Carefully cut away the top of the dress very close to your "embroidery."
If you have used anything other than tulle, you will need to use a product like "Fray Block" to keep the edges from unraveling. Because my gown is sheer, I decided to create a simple one-piece under-skirt which also has more "embroidery." I like the subtle hint of motifs under the chiffon that contrast those in full view.

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Make matching "couture" shoes by creating sewing a bit of lace over open toed sandals.

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