Friday, December 19, 2014


Hello, everyone. I was clearing off a flat surface in my “office”—that being the room that the computer, the sewing machine, the beading stuff, and a lot of books live together in—and it occurred to me to discuss some of the books that I referred to during the Great Dress Project.
The Great Dress Project was my daughter’s wedding dress, which included a shrug and many assorted false starts. During the adventure, I bought a number of books about various embellishment techniques and formalwear/wedding projects.

One I had on hand at the beginning of the adventure was Bridal Couture, by Susan Khalje. This had been my assistant for various sewing projects over the years. When my daughter got engaged, I pulled it off the shelf and went through it again. When she settled on a shape (the first time) I used it and some off the shelf patterns to come up with the prototype strapless bodice. When she changed the bodice to include band sleeves, it was back to Bridal Couture again! I cannot say enough words about how helpful this book is. You can use it for bridesmaid dresses and high school formal dresses just as well as for wedding dresses. And its discussion of various fabrics is a good start on the process of creating the whole project.

She decided on a beaded dress, so I accumulated books on beading, to go along with one I had already: Bead Embroidery Stitch Samples, by Yasuko Endo; Beading on Fabric, by Larkin Jean Van Horn; Beyond Beading Basics, by Carol Rodgers; Fine Embellishment Techniques, by Jane Conlon; Bead & Sequin Embroidery Stitches, by Stanley Levy.

The one that was already here was Designer Bead Embroidery by Kenneth D. King. It was helpful, but other than the very wise advice about underlining to give structure to the fabric and using an embroidery frame, I didn't end up using actual words in it much. It did get me started on prototyping various stitch ideas, though, and that taught me a whole lot! In particular, that less can be so much more in design, and that sequins really weren’t going to be needed.

Sequins and shapes--oops, too busy! Loopy stitches--totally not needed!

Test of various floral elements and bead combinations.
This bit of testing became the springboard of the final design. (The pinkish part on the left was the keeper. Done, of course, in ivory like the dress and silvery-white.)

Here is part of it, being added to the bodice-front pieces. (3mm Swarovski perles, Miyuki size 11 seeds and size 15 rocailles)

The blue lines are the tracing lines, which are not on the actual fabric. They're on Sulky Solvy! Which, conveniently, dissolves in water. And that's what it did at the end of the beadwork.