I finished the garment hem yesterday, but am waiting to see Sharon before putting in the sleeve lining and the lining hems. The only thing that’s left is the leaves and the embroidery! so I am playing with leaves again.
There are so many options! I am playing around with fabric combinations, dyes, paints, and some fine gold wire (for stiffening the leaves). Questions that need to be settled include:
- What fabric(s) to use in each leaf?
- What colors of fabric?
- What surface design techniques to add detail? (dyeing, painting, silkscreening, etc.)
- What embellishments, if any, on the leaves?
- How to finish the leaf edges? Wired edges for a sculpted leaf, or not?
- What colors, fibers, etc. for the embroidery swirls?
At the moment I am leaning towards using iridescent chiffon over a solid colored background, but I have some lovely orange/red iridescent peau de soie that is too pretty not to use. Of course it’s a trifle too light, but if I zigzag machine-stitch a border around the leaf and scrunch-overdye it in spots with a dark red dye, then…
…well, you get the idea. I think I am going to try to settle the fabric first, then the colors, then the construction of the leaf. After that I will tackle surface design.
So far the combination I like best is a purple chiffon over dark purple china silk, painted with skeletal veins in metallic gold fabric paint. I have a gorgeous iridescent yellow/orange chiffon which I am trying to find a use for; unfortunately, it’s very close to the garment fabric in color, so it’s not really suitable as it stands. I also have some lovely iridescent chiffon in root beer shades (also probably not suitable, but I’m trying) and another piece of dark red chiffon. The last one is the most promising, but I need to dye some duppioni silk or peau de soie in a compatible color to check.
My plan for Saturday afternoon (I’m already booked Friday evening and Saturday morning, unfortunately) is to dye lots of small swatches of fabric in various autumn shades – peau de soie, shantung silk, china silk, organza, and chiffon. Since I only need a 3″x3″ swatch for a leaf, and since no two leaves will be alike, I can make lots of samples with only a little bit of fabric. I plan to test solid colors and scrunch-dyed colors, though I think solid colors are probably best, since the rest of the garment is quite “busy”.
Once I’ve decided what fabric and color combination to use, I’ll have to figure out construction. I think I basically have two choices: sew a leaf together in two or more layers and then turn it inside-out, or overcast the leaf edges, either zigzagging over them with a sewing machine or doing a similar edging by hand. There are advantages and disadvantages to each approach – at the moment I’m leaning towards overcasting the edge, because I think it will allow more detailing on the edge and because it makes it easy to apply wire to the edges, shaping the leaf into three dimensions.
And then, after I work out construction, it will be time to figure out how to add details to the leaf. This is where it gets really wild. I have a HUGE collection of surface design toys, most of which I’m not really familiar with. Do I pull out the mix-your-own-textile-paints-from-scratch kit that I’ve been dying to play with? Or fire up the Thermofax machine for the first time? Do I experiment with stitched shibori? Or do I do something quick and simple with fabric paint and a brush? What about hand-carved stamps and stencils? Silkscreening?
Anyway, as you can see, I’m awash in options, but since I have only really got about 24 hours (Saturday afternoon to Sunday afternoon) to work on this, I better settle things quickly. Time to get cracking!