Friday, May 30, 2014

Birds of a Feather

There's nothing like feathers for adding a dash of old fashion glamor to an outfit. Who could ever forget Ginger Rogers's white feathered dress in the movie, "Top Hat." The other day, my friend Richard sent me a photo of a crimson red feather dress from the Alexander McQueen exhibition with a note asking if I could duplicate it for the doll. My short answer was NO, much too complicated! But it did get me thinking....

You could always buy a feather boa and toss it over the shoulders of your could make a dreamy feather dress like one of those creations that occasionally float down a catwalk or across a red carpet!

Many craft stored sell small packets of feathers just like the ones I've used for this project. I begin with the basic foundation (or sheath dress). Design the neckline you want and chose your fabric. To make it easy to attach the feathers, I chose a felt for my foundations. I wanted only the flat part of this feather, so I clipped away the fluff.

Note: I find it better to stitch the feathers while the doll is in the dress to ensure it doesn't "shrink" due to the stitches.

Start by deciding on a start point as well as a direction of a pattern to lay your feathers. For this dress, I began on the side at the waist. Stitch each feather to the foundation using a whip stitch along the center vein. Place one feather over the other until the entire dress is covered. If your stitches are showing, you can always glue a last feather on top.

Working with marabou was a bit tricky. The individual feathers are longer and because the manufacturer has assembled them into clumps, the stems can be a tad bit thick. I began by sewing each feather to the foundation with a whip stitch, however, I tried to pierce the stem to ensure the feather would not slip away. Since this is a two-toned dress, I placed the orange feathers first in a pattern where half point upwards and the other points down.

When I began the second layer, I tried to tuck the stems under the first layer to hide them as you see in my close-up photo.

After everything is in place, I use a few single feathers with fine stems to cover any other visible stems.

Of course, you are not obliged to make a full dress.

A corset worn over a full skirt is just as nice!

As I mentioned earlier, feathers are also sold by the yard. A contrasting color added to the hem of an evening dress adds a dramatic touch.

Or, you can cut rows of marabou to create a feather jacket or coat. This is a basic straight jacket with about 3 rows of feathers stitched onto the bodice and sleeves. It's the same principle we used in creating the fur jacket last December.

One final note. It doesn't take many feathers to create any of these garments. For the pink spotted dress, I used about 25 feathers and for the jacket, a single yard (meter). Moreover, each took only about 1/2 day to stitch on the feathers! Quick, easy, AND glamorous!

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  1. I like the look of feathers, but the little fluff all over the place makes me sneeze too much!

    1. Well Teva..such is the nature of feathers! However, you could look for flat feathers without the fluff. They aren't usually the prettiest, but they should still render an interesting looking top or dress!

  2. I adore the pink feather dress!! It's absolutely stunning. You sure are talented :)

    1. Thank you Chris. I really enjoyed this project.


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