Wednesday, March 27, 2013

An antique silk gown and a photo shoot

Last week I met with Carla Canonico at A Needle Pulling Thread magazine for a photo shoot. This wonderful needlework magazine is produced right here in little old Newmarket!            

We were photographing the Christmas decorations for the Festive issue, well John, the Art Director and so much more, did the actual photography but Carla and I set up each shot. I of course never thought to bring my own camera to record any of the process...

Yes, the Festive issue and it is only March! Carla and John work so far ahead to bring you this wonderful magazine. I brought in a set of three silk ribbon embroidered decorations making use of some slightly different stitches along with the tried and true. There is a traditional ball, a Christmas tree and a Drummer Boy's drum.

Then a few weeks ago, inspiration struck again and I did up some felt 'cookie cutter' decorations that employ only two stitches for the designs. These are so easy you could even get your little people stitching if they are comfortable with a needle and thread - well maybe it is more like it to say if you are comfortable. After all needlework, particularly embroidery is a hand skill to be passed on the next generation and what better way to spend precious time with your children or grandchildren.

Please go to A Needle Pulling Thread magazine to check it out. From there
you can catch Carla's Face book page and 'like' her beautiful photos!! You might even sign up for a subscription or check out the "needlework pages" a listing of shops and services that you are bound to find helpful.

This is the cover of the newest issue that has just hit the news stands. Preview it on the web site and look for it next time you are out shopping.

Also last week a parcel arrived in the mail from my best friend in England. She always surprises me with these wonderful packages. Inside the gold tissue tied up in the prettiest ombre ribbon, was the most delicate Christening gown in champagne gossamer-fine silk embroidered in ecru silk or rayon thread. It has been made from an embroidered border which has not been trimmed to the edge of the stitching. There obviously was an embroidered insertion made to match.  

For those of us who use heirloom sewing techniques this gown is an anomaly. It is an antique gown from the Victorian or Edwardian era which has been sewn together by sewing machine - French seams of course. The hemstitching that was used to turn up the hem is absolutely perfect and exquisite.
The odd thing to me is the way the designer used the insertion pieces on the bodice and sleeves. Hope you can see this in the photo above. The 'waste fabric' has not been removed nor hidden by turning it to the back. Instead it has been used as an edging with part of it turned inside for application. In the CF, it has been made to look like these edges are pin tucks and a second pin tuck sewn beside each edge.
At the waist in the photo it looks like the 'waste fabric' has been turned to the back but on further examination, there is a huge tuck on the inside - an alteration was made but nothing was cut away so next baby could be accommodated.

All the embroidery on all the pieces is also perfect - not a sign of puckering. This is quite a feat considering how fine the fabric is and they wouldn't have had all the stabilizers the modern embroidery machines require. Look closely at how perfectly it has been stitched. I simply marvel!
The lace edging on the sleeves looks much like some of the fine lace edgings still available from Capitol Imports. Here is a close-up of the sleeve.
The designer even made an attempt to math up the pattern of the embroidery in the centre back the only seam in the skirt. But I imagine she was limited by the amount of fabric there was.
We can learn so much by studying antique garments. How did they make use of the different parts employed in the garment, what kind of seams, and their size, allowances for alterations and so on.
The design is simple enough for anyone to copy. All you need is a basic yoked pattern. Why not turn you had to creating such a gown for some wee babe!
So until next time, keep stitching.....


  1. The embroidered pattern on this piece looks rather Swiss. I wonder if it came from some other part of Europe...Switzerland,France,Germany and was incorporated into the gown? Wonderful. Happy Spring.

  2. When I inquired from my friend, she was sure it was Swiss. She asked her vendor in England and she also was confident of the Swiss origin.
    The design is perfect and totally pucker free. It is just amazing!