Hey, want to play show and tell? Here’s what I did with my Christmas vacation! I thought I’d show you my beading progress as I go, since this dress will probably take me a long time to make. This hand beading stuff is intense work, right?
Remember when I wrote about being inspired by the Alambama Chanin books? Well, this project has been in the works ever since. The dress pattern and stencil are taken from Alabama Studio Style and Alabama Stitch Book, respectively. This is the left side panel of the princess seam dress:
As I suspected it would be, the biggest challenge was tailoring the Alabama aesthetic to work with my personal style. I made about a million little samples on swatches trying out the different techniques, which generally include a lot of applique. In the end, the applique never looked quite right to me and so I decided to do a completely beaded look. (I took beading advice from Kenneth D. King’s excellent Designer Bead Embroidery.) I used the stencil to make the pattern and transferred it to my fabric (a lime green wool knit) with a silver Sharpie. You can still see the Sharpie marks on the areas I haven’t beaded, but they’ll be completely covered by the time I’m through with them!
I plan to bead at least one other panel, the adjoining side back panel. I’ll probably make a bunch of construction changes to the Alabama Chanin instructions, like adding a silk organza backing for stability (I tried doing that before I beaded, but the layers kept shifting and bunching, oy). It’ll be more finished looking than the book projects as well, without the unfinished hem and all that jazz that never looks quite right when I do it! It will probably also need a crinoline and a matching belt, don’t you think?
I’m heading to Palm Springs at the end of this month (to guest teach at one of Heather Ross’s Weekend Sewing Workshops, yay!) so I’m looking forward to having more travel time to work on this. Though planning and sampling this project was initially frustrating, I’ve really enjoyed the process of hand beading. So relaxing! Plus, it’s nice to have a portable sewing project. Goodness knows lugging a Bernina about with you and holing up in your hotel room with it is hardly socially acceptable!
Do you have projects you like to take with you on the road?
You can follow any comments to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.