Sunday, December 30, 2012

Couching....and more couching

Couching the details onto the skirt and the moment...and will be for a while :). Progress is slow, but every little bit is a little closer to completion.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Trim and random other projects

Lots of waiting for things at the moment. Laura, the other Eleanora dressmaker tracked down some gold and silver trim for the panned sleeves, and it has finally arrived from Morocco. After all that, I am not sure it is a close enough match to use on the dress. So it is in my 'thinking pile' for a while.

I have also finally managed to visit a Moulding/Casting supplies shop in the City to get mould making and casting equipment for the buttons. Hopefully this  means I will be making some real progress on these soon.

Apart from that, not too much progress to speak off on this project, but a number of other things on the go which I will post to the gallery page.

Saturday, September 29, 2012


After a few conversations with people much more knowledgeable than I am when it comes to casting, it would appear that one of the best options for the button moulds is a two part, room temperature vulcanising rubber and pewter. That doesn't sound too difficult to organise, as there is a shop in Perth that sells all sorts of moulding equipment and materials. Shame its only open weekdays and difficult for me to get to in business hours. Might need to wait for a day off.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Buttons & Skirt Applique

This morning I received my prototype resin buttons from the 3D printer, and am quite happy with the result. The company I used was really easy to deal with, took a lot of care with the product (they cam packed in foam) and were very helpful in making sure they understood what I needed so it didnt cost me lots of money with design edits.

I started by collecting all of the button images from the portrait and working out the main design features. These were translated into a line drawing and series of cross sections and notes for the CAD designers. They took my drawings and truned it into a CAD design file which were printed using a 3D printer into the buttons.

The button shank doesn't look like it will be strong enough or thick enough to cast, so I will probably mould them flat on the back and attach button shanks later. I am looking at different mould making methods and casting materials at the moment. I will need to cast a few :) After they have been cast I will undercoat them in black then paint them in two shades of gold.

But generally, as my first foray into designing and commissioning a piece of work, I have achieved something quite close to what I had in mind. What do you think? Do they represent the portrait reasonably well?

Another major milestone reached as well - All of the applique on the skirt has now been completed. Clocked up 585 hours so far. Moving onto the couching now.


Monday, September 17, 2012


I have had a look at the CAD drawings for the buttons and apart from making them a little thicker, I am quite happy with how the drawings are turning into buttons. As soon as I have the prototypes I will post pictures.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Skirt Progress & Other Projects

After a 5 hour sewing session I have finally finished the black applique on the skirt :) There are times when I never thought I would see the day lol. I have lots of tiny sections to do one the 'gold' applique now, and then its onto the hand couching.

I have drawn up sketches of the buttons and sent them off to a 3D printer who can apparently convert my pictures into actual prototype buttons via CAD software. It took me hours of staring at the button in the portrait and then about 5 hours of drawing and redrawing before they were somewhat similar to the dress buttons. Impatiently waiting to see what they come back with....

In the meantime, I finished off my blue dress for the 2012 Italian Renaissance Costume Challenge. It was based on Eleanora of Toledo's burial dress. I chose the dress because the bodice and skirt pattern are the same as I am going to be using for the Eleanora dress and thought it would be a good opportunity to test wear the pattern. I have made the dress too long though and consequently its not sitting perfectly on the front hem. A quick tuck will fix that.

Next on the agenda...well one of the next projects in the pipeline is the Perfectly Period Pink Challenge running between September 15 and October 15 which is to raise awareness of Breast Cancer. I have picked out a lovely dress in pink and white stripes - and yes its period :).

I was lucky enough to have a day off to myself to go fabric shopping on Monday, and you will never guess what I found.....

Pink and White striped Silk! at only $10 per meter!!!! They only had 11.5 m left so I bought it all. Its a little light and very slippery so I will probably need to self line it, but how perfect is the colour?

More pics of Eleanora soon :) I haven't got hold of the high resolution pictures that were taken yet.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Progress...of sorts

Hello everyone :)

All sorts of interesting progress in the background. Nothing with pictures yet though.

Firstly, Laura Sathur Ulak from and I have been discussing jewellery, fabric and buttons quite extensively. It turns out that there is a company in the UK that can make reproduction fabrics. So we are getting a test sample made to see if the colours etc are OK and to see how much it costs. I am still plowing ahead with my hand made fabric though. So if you have a burning desire to get your hands on some reproduction fabric head on over The Eleanora Club on facebook to keep up to date with progress....because you all know by now how bad I am with updates.

We are also waiting on design drawings from a pewter caster who is working on the girdle and necklace for us. Again, hoping its not going to be too expensive lol.

And my life has been more or less consumed by buttons. I have been talking to a 3D printer who is going to print my button prototypes for me. I just need to clarify exactly what I want, which means studying every button visible on the portrait and working out how they will look in 3D and then drawing it. Slow progress, but will be worth the wait. After I have the prototypes, I will be making/having moulds made to cast the buttons in metal.

I have had a friend take some good quality pictures of sections of the dress and also the inside as people have asked me how bits have been done. So keep watching this space and I'll post them here and on The Eleanora Club fb page.

Other than that, I have finished a blue dress based on the Eleanora burial dress pattern from Janet Arnold's Patterns of Fashion for The Realm of Venus Second Italian Renaissance Costume Challenge. The dress needs some modifications, but generally fits quite well (apart from a little bit of expansion on my part lol).

I have also whipped up a little 1920's number for a friends Cabaret Theatre night at The Ellington - if you are in Melbourne, watch out for 'A Saucy Little Secret' coming to a venue soon. Or check out HMS Popup Productions to see whats going on.

What else....two steampunk coats for a friend, a bustle dress and a 1929 gown are also in progress.

See, I have been far too busy to write blog updates, I have been busy sewing lol

More pictures next time...promise x

Friday, July 13, 2012

Ooops, it's been a while since I posted an update,  Sorry.

I have just been reading all of the comments everyone has made :) thank you so much, the feedback is just what I need to keep me motivated.

Not much direct progress to report, however I have bee working on a dress based on the Eleanora of Toledo burial gown for the Italian Renaissance Costume Challenge (look up the Realm of Venus website for some truly amazing dresses) for two reasons, firstly because life got in the way of my challenge entry last year and I was unable to complete it, and secondly the dress I am working on this year is based on the Eleanora of Toledo burial gown. So I get to test out the pattern I'm going to use for Eleanora.

I have also been listening to a presentation by Dr Sheila Barker from the Medici Archive Project about the portrait. I need to email her and get some more details, but from the presentation, I gather Dr Barker has been studying documents in the Medici archives and has found some really interesting information about the portrait, the dress and the politics around it.

Apparently it took six different weaving techniques to make the fabric, and the dress took three years to make. So I don't feel so bad about taking a while :) Ermine fur was sent via Rome to line the sleeves, I would never have guessed from looking at the portrait. Also the trim along the edge of the bodice and sleeve panes is not a cord or piping, but is a gold and silver ribbon, which was woven specifically for the gown.

Lots more information in the lecture, but I have to go back to my notes for further details. If you are interested in finding the presentation google The Medici Archives or look on YouTube for Sheila Barker and the Bronzino portrait. And finally, it has been suggested that I should Have a costume exhibition when I finish the dress....I haven't decided on that yet.

Friday, April 6, 2012

At last it is done ..... well skirt applique anyway

After some 575 hours, the applique on the skirt is done! Well all the major bits anyway, moving on to the little loops now, which will probably take a fair while as well.

But this is such a huge milestone for me on this dress, I just had to see what it looked like, so a few pins later and 'ta da' to know what you think....

Skirt applique almost done....

Another 10 hours or so done on the skirt and i can finally see the end of the tunnel for the applique, one large gold motif to finish and three small motifs. Then I have to do some filling in of small loops and that sort of thing. After which, on to hand couching.....

Friday, March 9, 2012

An update about not very much...

Just in case anyone is wondering, I am still working on the dress as time permits. Unfortunately is not permitting very much :( as I have taken on the opportunity to lecture a tourism class at the local university as well as my full time job. Great opportunity but sewing time is suffering a little.

I am still appliquing bits on to the skirt and have probably done another 15 hours or so....and still it goes on. I think all of the black sections are done now (other than inside the small loops) and am working my way through the gold motifs.