Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Well I do declare, it's been a terribly long time since my last post. I wish I could say I was at a southern plantation doing research but no such luck, I've been working like a field hand getting my yard under control before winter sets in. 

But who cares about me, let's get back to our southern bell, Miss Scarlett, in particular let’s talk about her hair. Now I will admit, stitching hair can be confusing. It's often painted in a single large block of color which can be a little daunting because it doesn't give you any real direction on how the stitches should go and this was the case with Miss Scarlett's. My personal favorite hair moment in Gone with the Wind is when Scarlett pulls her sister's curl. If I had a sister, I bet I would understand....let's hope trying to stitch all these hairstyles in this piece doesn't have me wanting to pull my own hair out! Luckily though, I've tackled a good amount of hair in my day so I've come up with a few tricks over the years, or at least things that work for me.

I've found when dealing with hair, my first thought usually leans towards texture. Do I want it slick, shiny and smooth like the ladies in those Pantene commercials? Or do I want it a little courser or thicker? The answer to these questions drive my decision on what thread to use. If I want Pantene lady, I'll go with something stranded like Splendor as you can't beat the sheen of stranded silk. If it's a difficult color to match or I want it a little more flat (like for a mermaid), I'll look at cotton floss or Floche (although not my favorite). But if I want coarser, bouncy hair, which in this case I do, I'll go with something with bit of a twist, like Vineyard or Pepperpot. For Scarlett I'll be using Vineyard Dark Earth #C-042. I find the color name slightly ironic since the scene before she wears this green dress is when her father explains that for anyone who is Irish "the land is like their mother" and that "land is the only thing that lasts". . . earth/land, they’re the same thing in my book. 

If you watch the movie it's hard to see exactly what's going on with Scarlett's hair in the barbecue dress scenes, I actually found a few drawings online that I found more helpful than trying to tell from photographs or the movie. It seems around the temples the hair is pulled back, which means that the different sections of the hair will be angled in different directions. When faced with a situation like this, I often find it's easier to mark it out before stitching. I know some people use the thread they're going to use to put in directional stitches, but more often I use either a Dritz Fineline Air Erasable pen (which only works on blondes or light colors since the ink color is purple), or if the hair is dark, like in this case, I find a white chalk pencil – like dressmakers use -- especially handy, and unlike the air erasable, I can mark it one night and come back the next day and decide if my approach is still on track or if I need to make adjustments. With air erasables they often fade away in 12-24 hours (depending on humidity) so be forewarned. The encourage every stitcher to seek out these two products. They last practically forever, aren't a big investment and you will use keep finding uses for them.

So in marking off my direction lines, I put lines near the bows in first, then the long waves and then the lines on the top third of her head that is being pulled back. As I mentioned, I found a drawing online very helpful but if this wasn't a movie character with a specific frame of reference, you could look at google images for inspiration to help you figure out how to break it up or use the white or blue chalk pencils with a damp clean cloth or new makeup sponge as the perfect eraser so you can experiment, or you could use the air erasable and then use the chalk over it once you figure out what you want.  Here is the result of my chalk lines.

A word of friendly advice when you have hair broken up in different directions. I stitch each area with its own thread. Even if I have enough left with my working thread, I will often stop that thread and start again in the fresh area. I know this might sound like unnecessary work but I do this so if I have an issue in my next area, I can cut/pull it out and not have to worry about the previous area which I'm already happy with. And here is progress after a short evening of work. 

We all like to think the next area will go as smoothly but if you encounter a challenge in the next and have to take it out, you will be glad you put in the 30 seconds of extra effort. And speaking of which, you may have noticed that my chalk lines in the second picture above is different than what I stitched in the progress picture directly above. I initially misread the sections directly below the bows. Thankfully, I (mostly) follow my own advice and I’m glad I did because the stitches in the sections directly below the bow were "self-contained" so when I figured out my “misread”, I could take them out and shift gears without much angst in the top of the head area which I was happy with.

I did the crown of the head with an angled satin. The areas directly below the bows are done in long and short and the draping hair areas on the sides were done in a combination of long and short, stem and split stitch. I like split stitch when trying to create waves because it seems to make for a smoother transition to change directions to create the wave. I often put in a few dividing lines and then start filling in, it keeps my lines from going too far astray. Here is an example of my initial dividing lines to break it up.

And finally, here is my finished product. Including eyebrows which I kept pretty simple, as don't need her looking like Brook Shields circa 1982 . . . 

So up next, we're going to tackle that amazing BBQ dress... and be warned, like the movie, we might need an intermission and do the dress in two blog posts.

In the meantime, please consider subscribing to my blog for delivery of new posts right to your inbox and if so, please remember validate your subscription by clicking the link in the email you will receive. You won’t want to miss a single episode of our Gone with the Wind extravaganza!