Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Rogue Trader Cape - complete!

All of my normal crafting was put on hold this past two weeks because I had the looming deadline to get my husband's Rogue Trader Warhammer 40k cape finished before the final LARP game ever for this campaign. If it wasn't finished in time, it would never have been worn for its intended purpose... so the pressure was on!

I finished the embroidery quickly enough, although I decided to leave off the motto. The letters would have been too fiddly and I'm not sure it would have been completed in time.
The embroidery almost completed. 

It looks ok without the motto. 

The monocle was an panicky substitute - I'd hoped to be able to buy a gold coloured wire circle in a 2-dollar shop jewellery findings display, but could only find what I was looking for in silver. Eventually I used a gold finding I had lying around that was designed to be eyelet edging. The chain of the monocle is very fine crochet.
A close up of the skull's monocle. 
My husband and I went shopping to find a fabric for the lining. I was leaning towards pale gold satiny fabrics, but he went for a really metallic gold polyester stretch fabric. In the store I was thinking 'this is so gaudy and horrible' but in truth it was a much better match and fit in better with the intent of the cape and the overall costume. Rogue Trader crews are not known for their restraint.  You can see the lining most in the collar.
The collar under construction. 
I borrowed some millinery wire from my sister to go around the top and at intervals in the collar.
The front is decorated with some gold braid and some cheap skull earrings that another member of the crew found.
The skulls are earrings - $3! They give just the right finishing touch. 
I had hoped to get some better pictures of the cape in its entirety, but I decided I couldn't wait for the rain to finish and the light to improve.
The back of the cape. 

The front of the cape as a whole, showing the collar lining still,
and hints of the rest of the lining. 

I'm glad he got to wear it at least once. According to my spies at the event, the cape gathered a lot of comments, so I'm very happy.
You can read about the earlier stages of the cape and its embroidery here.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Embroidery class, year 2 - fine needlework - smocking

Our last completed topic in the guild's basic course was fine needlework. Year 2 has a very different feel to year 1, because we've had people move away, drop out, etc, and we are down to a group of six. Very cosy and yet more competitive!

Fine needlework is technically anything done with a tiny needle, but for the purposes of the class it covered two types of work: madeira work and smocking. This post will be about smocking, as thanks to the pregnancy exhaustion of first trimester, I didn't fully complete my madeira work project before handing it in, and I'd like it to be done before I photograph it for the blog!

I've been interested in smocking in the past, even to the extent of buying a book on it, but the amount of preparation you need to do to pleat the fabric had always seemed daunting. There are techniques you can use to smock fabric without pre-pleating, like counterchange smocking, but it works best on stripes or checks and still requires some fabric preparation in terms of marking it up.  So being given a pre-pleated sample piece for the purposes of the class was an ideal opportunity to try the stitching part without the initial time investment.

For our class and assignment folder we had to produce a smocking sampler, so just trying a variety of stitches.  I do enjoy the freedom of producing samplers but it does occasionally end up looking a bit messy.
I ended up with about a dozen different stitches and variations on stitches on my sampler, and I'm quite happy with it. I didn't get the room to try picture smocking, or smocking with buttonholes for a ribbon insertion - two techniques I liked the look of - but it was a still a good range to get a sense of what is involved in the technique.
The finished smocking sampler for the class. 
The basic stitches are quite easy. A lot of the elegance of smocking comes from how you combine them - so using the basic wave stitch in a variation that forms these lovely triangles, between which I've added tiny cable stitch florettes:
These triangles are made up of one basic stitch - but are so effective!
Or using a simple stem stitch to create a trailing vine which you then embellish:
An embellished trailing vine is so pretty - in a final project it might need backsmocking to keep it strong.
I really enjoyed playing with these smocking stitches. My reservations still stand though. There would be a LOT of preparation of fabric. But the final result does look beautiful. I suspect that only the recent news that the impending baby will be a boy has stopped me researching pleaters on ebay. After all, how much room would a pleater take up?

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

A new beginning

Making the decision to walk away from Jupiter Hollow, and running a craft business with my sister, was very difficult to get around to emotionally, but once made we accelerated our planning a lot. Going 'alone' means that we can work at our own pace and have a more coherent brand vision, but because we'll still be going through many of the same stages at the same time we will be supporting each other.

For a long time I'd planned to run a craft business of my own under the name 'Cinnamon Mist', but unfortunately when I sat down to have a look that was taken at blogspot and as an etsy store name, so I didn't think it was a great idea to continue with that (even though I had it as a gmail address. I've since 'released it' back into the ether.) But that left me in a quandary. I'd blithely assumed I could be Cinnamon Mist still, and be happy with that, despite the fact I decided on that name when I was about 16.  Now I needed to find a new name.

Deciding on the new name has been very difficult. Lots of brainstorming. Lots of random words being appended to other words. Lots of 'what do you think of ...?' to sister and husband.

I'm happy with Parlour Duck crafts. It is intended to convey the traditional craftsmanship and the quirky edge of the items I craft. And the fact that I like ducks. Fraser, my very own precious duck, long gone now, is of course a strong inspiration for the name. I suspect she would have been very happy to be a parlour duck. She certainly took every opportunity to be a kitchen duck and an inside duck. (It is a very tiny Fraser in my avatar picture.)

I believe in the long term I'll be happier than if I'd just defaulted to cinnamon mist because it was there in my mind. Parlour Duck crafts reflects the me of today rather than half a lifetime ago. So what can you expect from this blog? Much the same as my posts on our Jupiter Hollow blog - posts about my current projects, posts about updating vintage crafts and patterns, the occasional reflective post on ethical crafting and fashion, etc. But there will also be some new slants - I'm having a baby in November, so that is the focus of a lot of my time, energy and interest at the moment! And as we launch our craft businesses, they'll be posts talking about the crafts and patterns I'm selling.