Friday, 8 January 2010

The Circus Beetles are in town!

I've been making Circus Beetles! This is my name for these brightly-coloured little busy-bodies that appeared while I was recovering from flu. Perhaps I was delerious.

I had an idea to make some fabric insect brooches, because I love insecty jewellery so much. I did two prototypes first of all, in the scraps left from my winter bird obsession. One was deemed too three dimensional to be a brooch (it may resurface again as a Christmas tree decoration) the other was lovely but a bit...dull. Finally it was time to use some colour after months of...beige.

Pale Beetle - Positively anemic by comparison!

Last summer I bought a pair of vintage 1970's curtains simply because the colour and pattern was so amazing. They are a glorious riot of pink, red and mustard swirls. I cut some of the individual motifs from the fabric and used larger ones for bodies, smaller ones for wings. As a contrast I used a red and white spot fabric on some of the beetles, which I aged down with tea to match the vintage fabric. For the wings I layered red, pink, gold and brown ribbons on pieces of tulle, then edged them all haphazardly with chocolate embroidery silk. Each little face has it's own character, beady eyes on most and antennae on some.

Beetles in Progress

I have an idea to mount them in a shadowbox, each with a vintage scientific label and pinned through the abdomen - of course - because I love how they look all together. Once I had decided they were Circus Beetles, I also had a jolly vision of them fluttering out of the folds of a tattered big top, each time it is unpacked for a show.

Like I said, delerious.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Snow Days

Nothing handmade here! But I was very pleased with this little mosaic of snowy detail snaps I did this afternoon. I've had the past four days off work, two for flu, and two for snow/flu. I'll write about what I've been up to on my snow days very soon, they have been quite productive.

Friday, 1 January 2010

New Year and the Bjork swan dress

I've always wanted to have at go at making this dress, and so, as soon as I got an invitation to a pop star themed New Year's party, it was clear who I should go as!

When Bjork wore her infamous swan dress at the Oscar ceremony back in 2001, the critics fell into two camps, either loving it or hating it. Either way it caused a stir and was a unique and iconic fashion statement. 

I didn't have that long to make the dress because I knew I was going to busy with Christmas, so I admit I cheated a little by buying a pre-made tutu from Ebay. I found one that had a drop waist, the ruffles starting from hips rather than the waist and therefore a little more flattering. I did make some modifications however, taking the whole thing off it's elastic waist and adding some darts to make it fit better also opening up the back seam to make it into a kind of wrap skirt which ties at the back with ribbons. 

Making the swan neck was the fun part. It was basically a shaped tube made from white jersey fabric, rounded at one end for the head, and wider at the other where it was going to be joined to the skirt. I stuffed it, then added lots of tulle ruffles, some fluffy marabou feathers on the inner neck, and made a beak from orange felt and a black fabric scrap. A couple of black buttons made beady swan eyes, and then it was ready to be sewn to the skirt. A few more tulle ruffles masked the join, and it was finished!

Caution: Swans like champagne - I'm sure that glass was full...