‘Creating Couture Embellishment’ by Ellen W. MillerJuly 6, 2017 / byFiona Parker / Categories : Feeds
The book is set for release here in the UK on July 17th 2017 but is a timeless sourcebook of ideas for fabric manipulation and decoration. The author has taught extensively at Boston School of Fashion, focusing on couture construction but has also worked in theatre as a costumier, wardrobe mistress and stage hand so that really interested me! I can clearly see the influence of historical costume detail in some of the embellishments and fabric treatments.
As excited as I was for it to arrive it surpassed all my expectations when it did. I was awaiting the standard size of sewing text book but in actual fact it's a huge doorstop of a book at 400 pages. Karen from Did You Make That actually weighed hers! The morning it arrived I was on the way out of the door but stopped to have a quick flick through and ended up dragging it all the way into work with me so I could show the ladies in wardrobe how good it was. The publisher described it as a thing of beauty and it sure is.
After the initial basic tools and techniques chapter (which I actually found much more interesting than I expected as the stitches and techniques described are relevant to couture methods) the book is divided into Fabric Manipulation and Embellishment & Trimmings. These are then divided into various subcategories including pleats, tucks and ruffles in the fabric section and bias, lace and feathers in embellishment. The embellishment section doesn't just teach you how to apply it but how to make it too! One of the largest categories is hand embroidery, then followed by ribbon embroidery which I feel like might be a good place for me to start as this is something I already understand and enjoy.
My favourite chapter is the last in the book; Flowers. There are some jaw-droppingly beautiful creations in here, not least the carnations and fox gloves. I see a trip to VV Rouleaux coming on! I can't imagine being able to create something so lovely but the step by step instructions make it sound almost simple. Each technique is explained with a thorough combination of full colour photographs and clear diagrams.
The visual index is probably my favourite double page spread in the book. I'm personally much more likely to be drawn to an image and be encouraged to dive into the book than I would be by a written index. It's a great idea. Just look at all those colours, fabrics and details!
The pleating chapter fascinated me. First it takes you through how to calculate all the types of pleats you might be familiar like box pleats, knife pleats and cartridge pleats, then onto wrinkle pleating which completely blew my mind! pleats are created by compressing the fabric around various objects such as broomsticks and pipes! I particularly liked that the book also explains how to cut pattern pieces for pleated fabric and how to then sew with them. Really accessible. The clean and simple aesthetic of the book throughout really helps when trying to understand these quite complex and unusual processes. I also liked that an example of each technique is shown on a sleeve at the top of each page; it's much more inspiring to see the technique in use than a small sample.
The detailed breakdowns of the techniques and the accuracy required for, for example, these knot fastenings pictured above really appeals to me. I personally get a lot of enjoyment from making my projects 'properly' and following instructions to the letter so this kind of intricate work is right up my street. As much as I have also enjoyed experimenting with the processes of freehand drafting and draping and being a bit more free with my sewing there is something so satisfying about following things meticulously step by step. I'm very much like that with cooking too actually; I like to have a recipe and love to bake.
I haven't actually had the time to attempt any of the techniques yet and would love to block myself out a few days of staycation to do a little workshop. However, I feel like just reading through the book has totally opened my mind to the vast array of possibilities when working with fabrics and embellishment. In fact I feel a little overwhelmed with inspiration. I think my next step should be to sit down and take a look at my sewing queue and see which projects I might be able to work some of my newfound ideas into. Although many of the techniques ares special and unusual many of them are in fact very wearable and needn't be reserved for special occasion wear.
The home sewing community is very lucky to have a huge number of sewing publications on offer to us but it is such a breath of fresh air to see an in depth book released for more advanced seamstress and those of us who want to take our learning a little further. This book certainly doesn't skim over the topic but gives you all the juicy details. These are the kind of books that get me excited. I know it will delight both us home sewers and the professional costume makers I work with alike.
This beauty of a book is now occupying pride of place on my shelves and has earned the spot ten times over for the enjoyment I've already had from it. Thank you Laurence King for my already much loved copy and for motivating me to get even more creative with my future projects. For any of you looking to take your sewing up a notch or even just branch out into some new techniques make sure to add this to your wish-list.
This is a syndicated post. Please visit the original author at Diary of a Chain Stitcher
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