Embellishment techniques are included as a component of the Advanced Couture Techniques course at MFI and I’m loving the bling!
We’ve so far covered performance couture, beading, french flower making, tambour – beading and embroidery and this weekend will be metalwork.
This section is brought to you by POWERMESH! Our performance couture teacher, Tamara Bradshaw, worked on Strictly Come Dancing (UK) for 10 years. The #1 priority of performance couture is movement and stability – achieved using oodles of hooks, lycra and powermesh!
This costume was 1 of 3 commissioned by a string trio. The initial quote was $1200AUD for this one, but changes requested after the garment was completed added another $200AUD or so. Original design sketches are retained by the costumier, but copies are given to the client. Interestingly, the artwork (such beautiful artwork) forms part of the contract of sale. She is guaranteeing the outfit made, will look exactly like the sketch the client has signed off.
This nude powermesh, lace and rhinestone number will look sooo ‘sexy’, when the wearer is straddling a cello! Lace embellished with copper paint and sequins are glued, the remainder is stitched. Tamara uses a lot of rhinestones and crystals for embellishmnet, they are glued in place with ‘Gem Tac’ and are applied with a wooden kebab stick which has a dob of beeswax on the end; it makes picking up the crystals much easier than fumbly fingers! We learned to make the undergarment/leotard and cut out sections as needed. I hope to get mine finished one day so won’t bother showing you here – it fits a size 8 dummy, so not for any real humans in my household!
French Flower Making
This may be my favourite technique. You can just go wild, testing scraps of fabric – silk, wool, leather. The results are tangeable and useful – time flew and our teacher Georgina Conheady was wonderful, an absolute delight. If you need french flowers made for a project I cannot reccommend her highly enough – she has done work for most of the best bridal houses in Melbourne and beyond.
Dunk the fabric in a mix of 1/3 PVA glue : 2/3 water. Squeeze out excess and set aside to dry. When the hunk of fabric is dry, you’ll cut out the petals and various pieces ready to torture them with weapons resembling gynaecological instruments heated over fire! So a lot of this was familiar territory for me – being an ex theatre nurse and midwife!
Ahem, I may be the only person in the history of sewing blogs to have missed that the camellia is the iconic Chanel couture embellishment! What the?! I had no idea. Camellias are definitely not my favourite flower – too constrained and uptight, Give me something loose and wild any day, though I can see why their neat unperfumed appearance appealed to Coco!