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Posts Tagged ‘rayon thread’

To paraphrase Sir Steve Redgrave, the British rower,  “Anybody who sees me volunteer to costume a pantomime again has my permission to shoot me!”

You would have thought that after the last minute dash to get two World War 1 era evening dresses made for Blackadder Goes Forth in October that I would have had more sense, but no. No sooner had the curtain gone down on Blackadder then I was straight into costuming Scunthorpe Little Theatre Club‘s 2019 pantomime, Dick Whittington.

I did think I was on top of it nice and early, but I had stalls at a couple of Christmas fairs/markets which meant I needed to keep making stock…

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…and our Christmas challenge for Scunthorpe Embroiderers’ Guild which was to make a Christmas themed brooch to fit in a box we were given in September (silk thread and sparkly blending filament crocheted into a snowflake shape and beaded) …

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…the Christmas meeting which was making temari balls with Hazel…

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(my attempt has got no further than this, but I did learn that rayon thread, however shiny and pretty, is a very, very bad thing with which to wrap your temari ball)…

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…and of course, all the extra work that Christmas causes meant that I had very little down time over Christmas. Although I had been working on the costume since October, starting on New Year’s Day I sewed, altered, mended and generally worked like something demented for eight days straight. There are some odd photos of my labours but most have been taken as afterthoughts very late at night so apologies for the randomness and poor quality!

As the dame (Sarah the Cook) was a big lad at 6′ 3″ and build accordingly, most of our stock didn’t fit him so I ended up making a lot of it, starting with a baking themed skirt to go with an existing floral top. The skirt was plain cream and I made some felt gingerbread men and cup cakes to go around the hem.  They are roughly A4 size so they really stand out on stage.

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The sequins caught the stage lights beautifully.

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Then there was an existing red and green skirt but the top didn’t fit, so I remade that using the bodice pattern from the dress pattern I planned to use later. Have to remember to add the length to the sleeves for taller men.

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As it was for the scene where the dame serves in the shop, I added a rosette of medieval silver pennies and tickets to the matching mob cap.

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The main dress was for the ship/shipwreck part of the story and had to be made from scratch. I used a commercial broadly 18th century dress pattern which had a very full skirt to go over the traditional dame’s hoop and was open down the back – ideal for a Velcro fastening and quick changes. I uncovered some ‘Finding Nemo’ fabric in our club store which was ideal and used it for the sleeves and back of the skirt.

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The bodice and front were in two types of toning blue fabric (trying to use up what we had and not buy any more) but I broke up the bodice with a triangle of the Nemo fabric with extra fish added in the spaces and then created a set of felt signal flags to go across the skirt. They actually spell out something and no, it isn’t rude, although I was sorely tempted!

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It was worn with a ‘Kiss Me Quick’ hat before the storm and a very cute octopus (here modelling a miniature prototype bycocket hat for Dick) …

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…who was attached to a head band with crocheted seaweed for after the shipwreck!

We splashed out and bought a sparkly silver and blue walk down costume but when the headdress I had found in stock didn’t fit, I ended up the morning before opening night making a steeple hennin from very stiff lampshade fabric, more Finding Nemo fabric and the floaty veil from the original headdress. I am not ashamed at this point to confess that I used more glue than stitch!

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Instead of a good fairy we had Neptune, but the director didn’t want an old man in a toga, so I ended up designing a more military costume. The basic garment was a tunic created from some fabric that looked watery and amazing but as the crescent moon pattern was created from  a layer of loose threads between two layers of organza it was a nightmare to stitch and I ended up fully lining it with some left over fabric from one of the Blackadder dresses.

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It was worn with scale patterned leggings, tribal style tattoo sleeves with some amazing fantasy style leather armour on one arm, a scrim sash to look like a fishing net and a faux leather apron belt which was a cross between Greek and Roman and based on one worn by a character from a computer game! I had an interesting time cutting it out by eye, hand stitching it to look like separate pieces of leather and then making a medieval ring belt to go over the top.

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I wish I had some photos of the full ensemble. :o(

I also made bycocket hats for Dick…

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…an extravagant turban for the Sultana of Bungahie…

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…based on a 1970s turban hat and dressed up with oddments of pleated metallic gold and blue fabric stitched over the top.

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And a proper chaperon for Captain Cuttlefish to wear in the walk down. I made it as per the real thing, so it can be worn as a caped hood with a liripipe (long tail)…

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…or turned…

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…and worn with the head through the face hole and the cape and liripipe hanging down on either side.

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Another one that I had to cut without a pattern following an image on the internet, but I am delighted with the effect.

The show went very well and the costumes were much admired. Now all I have to do is to wash them all, and put them all away in the right boxes. Fourteen characters with between one and four costumes, each made up from a number of different elements… I might possibly be back before Easter!

 

 

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Our October Meeting at Scunthorpe Embroiderers’ Guild was an all day workshop with Ann Stalley on Brazilian Dimensional Embroidery. Knowing that it involved rayon thread, which in my experience is some of the most evil stuff on the planet, I was in two minds about the workshop. However, I can never resist a go at something new and so armed with a big block of beeswax for beating the rayon into submission, I headed off to the meeting to admire Ann’s work…

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…before she told us about her creative  journey. Hard to believe when looking at work like this, that Ann has only been doing Brazilian Dimensional Embroidery for eighteen months.

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She also assured us that the special threads (Edmar) used for this type of work are nothing like ordinary rayon thread (but still I had my beeswax ready just in case!).

Then it was our turn. For the morning session we would practise some of the basic stitches and then stitch a design using those basics in the afternoon. We each had a pack with some of the thread, two substantial milliners’ needles and some calico.

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First, bullions. I can do them but they’re not one of my stitches of choice. We put five pairs of dots in, all about a quarter of an inch apart. Our first bullion was ten wraps and pretty much filled the gap. That’s when I found it easier to work out of the hoop. The second one, to go in the same space, was twenty wraps, then thirty, forty and fifty, getting progressively loopier the more wraps we did.

I take it all back about the thread. The Edmar is a delight to work with. The loops slide smoothly over the needle and even though my bullions could be a lot more even, they were an awful lot easier to work than with ordinary thread.

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Next was a bullion lazy daisy. It’s an interesting technique as the little bullions are formed as part of the stitch, rather than being like the running stitch that tacks a normal lazy daisy down and took some practise.  They also would have been a lot neater if I’d hooped the calico back up!

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Lastly was cast on stitch which once I got a rhythm to casting on the loops, I absolutely loved.

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So much so, that I had a go at creating a sort of flower with cast on stitch petals in perle over lunch. It worked, but wasn’t as crisp a finish and just didn’t stand up as well as the Edmar.

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Using the perle illustrated perfectly what it is about the springiness of the rayon thread that makes the dimensional elements work so well. I was definitely ready to start the afternoon’s design of the bullion rose spray.

However, I struggled to place the first rounds of bullions properly and halfway through, although I was pleased with the quality of the bullions, I wasn’t happy with my scrappy rose.

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Luckily the outer bullions managed to neaten things up, and with the addition of a bead centre, managed to salvage it from being a complete disaster.

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Next the leaves. The design used buttonhole stitch but I love the way close fly stitch works up into leaves and I thought that this would suit the lustre of the thread.

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Very pleased with the result and by the end of the afternoon I had two leaves added to the spray.

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Not much to do to finish, and despite my slight misgivings beforehand, I thoroughly enjoyed the day. I’m seriously thinking about investing in some Edmar threads and I fancy seeing if I can stitch some dimensional sea shells.

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