Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The dress

The dress worth fighting over.....In Gone with the Wind, Scarlett's younger sister, Careen, whines to her mother that she wants to wear Scarlett's green dress to the barbecue. She's turned down, of course, but in actuality, the dress is white with a green lily of the valley flower type print with gorgeous ruffles across the bodice and shoulders. Which lead me to my dilemma, the movie costume is one thing but the way my canvas has been designed is very different. When in doubt, I go with how the canvas is painted and channel the spirit of the dress as opposed to killing myself by trying to be too literal.

So how to do it justice? With such beautiful shading, I hate to cover it up since that's one of the things I value the most in a hand painted canvas and the inspirational dress in the movie seems like a sheer overlay with a white lining, I think light stitching will be just the thing. I decided to go with a classic but easy to follow pattern of over three, under one, over three darning pattern on the vertical using two strands of silk Splendor. I'm using S1055 for the palest barely green shade, S905 for the medium-light green, S996 medium-dark green and S907 dark green. Before I get into the darning pattern, I'm going to deal with the dark green swirls, trust me, it will save my sanity.

In general I like to stitch strategically and I've stitched myself into enough corners to know it's easier to think about stitching order towards the beginning than to have to deal with headaches later. I have decided to do a wrapped backstitch over the dark green swirls using three strands of S907. By doing the backstitch and wrapping first, I can slip my needle underneath he wrapping while doing my darning pattern if necessary to keep my pattern going but also it is easier to do the wrapping portion without surrounding stitching so you won't have to avoid catching the darning stitches while trying to wrap. I don't want the wrapping to be too tight so I did my back stitches over two canvas threads at a time making sure the stitches and watching my tension. The important thing with wrapped back stitch is to always wrap in the same direction per swirl. So either outside of the line towards the inside or inside going towards the outside of the line, it doesn't matter which as long as you always keep your needle wrapping in the same direction thus avoiding making a tangled mess. Wrapped back stitch is also great for rounded lines.

 So now that the swirls are out of the way, a few things about darning patterns. Most darning patterns start on one end and continue to the opposite side. Since the stitching is so light, you can't start/stop a thread in the middle of a row. You also can't bury your thread to start it because you will see these mechanics through your light stitches. I will often use a L or pin stitch to start and stop my threads which essentially is taking a stitch vertical and then horizontal and I often go over them a few times just for good measure. Your thread should not be knotted so the L/pin stitches lay flat and your framer will just put the mat right on top of these stitches in the margin or they will be pulled to the back area of the framing as part of the lacing with no issues. If you are finishing as a stand up or ornament, your finisher will also know what to do (probably a row of machine stitching to prevent fraying of the canvas and these stitches will get caught and held safely). Since this pattern has so much going on, these things are not as much concern, so when I did my wrapped back stitch I did a few little jumps. And now I'm going to take a leap of faith and do something almost as shocking as a woman in mourning dancing the Virginia Reel, I'm going to show you my backside!

As you see, I followed under my back stitches on the backside to avoid as much traveling as possible and I jumped to the closest swirl. If it was too far away, I used a waste away knot and then buried under my back stitches later. Between the darning stitches the back stitches and dealing with the dots, you won't even see it. 

With all these color changes this is also a good time to mention thread management. The concept is to pull threads you are going to use again out of your way so you don't catch them while stitching other areas or colors. I use a combination of pulling them off to the side and wrapping them around the tacks of my frame on the front and keeping them on the needle and using a handy magnet... and speaking of magnets I can't believe I haven't shown the one I have been using.... there really is a magnet to go with every project if you look hard enough and I just couldn't resist this one:

So back to our darning pattern. Here is a quick illustration of the darning pattern I used. 

So now what to do with those dots? I know this is a day dress but I couldn't help but think sequins. It is still pre-war after all so a little glamour is not unheard of but still keeping in mind this is a day dress, I decided to meet in the middle and go with matte sequins. They weren't easy to find but I did and BF can help you find them too if you give them a call. I used a super thin invisible quilting thread to attach them.

And this whole plan is being repeated on the bodice except the ruffles which I have BIG plans for... but alas, we are back to where we started regarding stitching order. I plan on doing some major 3D ribbon work for the ruffles and we all know if I stitched that now it would catch on all my other stitching and probably get worn out and wrecked so I'm going to hold off and do that towards the end. But stay tuned because we are going to give you all the ins and out when we tackle them.

And here we are with the progress on the dress so far along. 

And "I'm ready for my closeup Mr. DeMille". . . oops, WRONG movie!

So that means ladies and gents that next time we are (finally) moving on to another character.... who will it be I wonder? Will it be the scoundrel bootlegger? Or the always lovely and appropriate Melanie? Don't miss a single episode, subscribe to our blog via the box in the upper right hand side for delivery right to your inbox. 

In the meantime, Fidelis and I wish you a healthy new year full of enjoyable stitching.