Piece de resistance

Winding back to last February I was working on some devoré velvet samples and further back to January of 2007 when I went and looked at Holbein potraits in the Tate.

I couldn’t get a few of those portraits out of my head and I found myself in March of 2008 rather taken by the idea of velvet sleeves.  So, combined with a new love of screenprinting, devoré, velvet sleeves and the need to produce my metre piece for my City and Guilds course, I came up with the following piece:


Whilst this was very grand with its devoré details, beaded fringing, machine embroidered organza cuffs, embroidered buttons and rouleaux loops.  I couldn’t help feeling that it could have been improved on in a kind of less-is-more kind of way.

What if I didn’t do any embroidery or surface embellishment?  My mother, when visiting my exhibition, pretty much read my mind when she surreptitiously tried the wrap on and hinted such a garment without the “lace” finishings would be quite the thing for the various social occasions she needed to attend.  So one bit of velvet and satin stitching later and she found this left under the Christmas tree for her:

Velvet Wrap for my mother

Almost no fiddlingabout this time.  I did forget, however, what a slippery old customer velvet is, despite the use of a walking foot and cough, cough, double sided sticky tape in the seam allowances.  I also thought I would save time (HAH!) by forgoing the rouleaux loops and covered buttons and do something with some of the funky new Asian knot templates I wanted to play with.  After 10+ metres of cord, hand sewing and 30 knots (to make 10 pairs of ball buttons and frogging combinations) my fingers and eyes would have disagreed with my earlier assessment.

Detail of asian knot fastenings

But you would have to admit, the result was really worth it. And my Mum was pretty pleased too.

Now, how would this look in a nice crisp dupion…….and some good ol’ fashioned one step buttonholes?