Embroidered Graduation Dresses

Well it is that time of year when young girls begin to think about their prom dress. But if they want their mother to do some embroidery, they better have thought about their dress in February. When my daughter Courtney graduated, she wanted me to make her an oriental dress with a gold dragon on the front. After some research, I came up with a design that appealed to her.










This was the first time I had ever tried my hand at couching. I have since learned that the dragon is the symbol for the Chinese Emperor whereas the Empress would have cranes on her gowns.











The year before her high school graduation, Courtney was escorting a friend to his graduation.  She wanted a more fairy tale look that year. Courtney loves Celtic designs so I adapted designs by Courtney Davis . This was the first time I embroidered using metallic thread. I did not much like it. It was difficult to embroider with.

Celtic design at the back of the skirt

A lovely effect!



Needle Painted Eastern Blue Bird

I recently took a three-day needle painting workshop from Tanja Berlin , a graduate of the Royal School of Needlework. I have been wanting to learn this technique for some time but just never took the leap. I am usually pretty good at following instructions from books but for some reason this technique eluded me. Tanja is an excellent teacher. I would  recommend her to anyone wanting to put on a needle painting workshop.

Tanja Berlin's Eastern Blue Bird










She began by having us trace the blue bird pattern onto velum tracing paper using a pencil. Then using a pricking tool, pricked holes along the design. Then we placed the tracing paper onto the fabric. We then rubbed pounce over the pricked tracing paper. Next we drew over the pounce lines using a sharp HB pencil. This process took a half day to do.

Tools of the trade










Below is what I was able to accomplish during the remaining 2 1/2 days.

Eastern Blue Bird in Progress










Stay turned for updates on this project (one among many, I am afraid).

An Embroidered Coat – Inspired by Tibetan Rugs

A number of years ago I decided to make myself a spring coat. I had watched the movie Seven Years in Tibet, a movie about an Austrian mountain climber who befriends the Dalai Lama. I was quite fascinated with the garments and decided that I would make myself a modern day version. I chose a border design from the book Of Wool and Loom: The Tradition of Tibetan Rugs by Trinley Chodrak and Kesang Tashi.

Of Wool And Loom: Tradition Of Tibetan Rugs

I chose a rug border for the border of my coat that has the yungdrung symbol. This symbol is over 18 thousand years old and means “eternal” and “everlasting”.

Tibetan Rug with yungdrung border

Tibetan Saddle Rug

The colours chosen for the coat reflect the colours of the robes worn by Buddhist monks. Red is considered a sacred colour and yellow is the colour of humility.

Details of my Tibetan Coat

I knew that I had succeeded when a Buddhist monk approached me one day and told me that my coat represented symbols important to Tibetan Buddhist monks. That was the highest praise I could ever receive.

Winter White – My 1912 Skirt

One of my simple pleasures is the arrival of the Victoria Magazine’s January issue. This is the issue where, every year, all-things-white is the theme. There is something to be said about the serenity of a room decorated in white.

Some of my January issues of the Victoria magazine including this month's issue.

I also love the look of white garments. However, the only time it is ever practical to wear anything white is in a photo spread of the Victoria magazine. White isn’t even practical on your wedding day. I, myself, wear black and grey as my staples with an accent of red or fuchsia. But in keeping with today’s theme  of “all-things-white”,  I thought I would share a winter white 1912 skirt I made. It is a replica of a suit that is part of the Clothing and Textiles Collection at the University of Alberta. The skirts during the Edwardian period were often embellished with soutache and/or embroidery.

1912 Suit

1912 Skirt

1912 Skirt

The embroidery on this suit used very thick floss. I prefer more refined embroidery. But the overall look is very appealing.

Embellishment detail

The following images are of the skirt I made.

My replica of the 1912 skirt.

The soutache trim was hand-stitched in place.

Soutache detail

Embroidery detail

I have enough silk material to make the suit jacket. I am not sure if I will ever get around to it. We will see.