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.
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).
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.
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.
About ten years ago I made a coat for my, then, twelve year old daughter Chelsea-Lyne. I was inspired by an article in a winter publication of the Victoria Magazine with a photo-spread of Scandinavian coats.
Photographer Toshi Otsuki
I used red and black stroud that I had in my stash of fabrics from when I lived in the Northwest Territories. I made my own version of the design you see in the photo above. I spent many hours hand-appliquéing each piece. Once completed she wore it everyday for two winter seasons. What was I thinking! She rolled in the snow, went skating and tobogganing. To my surprise it held up very well.
Unfortunately, when she outgrew the coat it was just a little too small for me to wear. I always thought that I should make a coat for myself since I would definitely get more wear out of it.
This photo was taken after the coat had been worn for two seasons.
I decided that the time has finally come for me to make my own coat. I already had a Vogue pattern for a coat that I liked. Here is one of my many projects in progress. The appliqué for the two-piece collar is almost complete. The appliqué pieces are designs taken from Michele Hill’s William Morris in Applique. I am thinking of outlining each appliqué piece with jade coloured beads. Nothing like adding more hours of work to a project.
I am making the shorter version of this coat.
Stay tuned for updates on this project in progress.