Rossanne Hamilton, Bristol, UK
I was excited about this year's theme, as I have been drawing celtic knotwork for years. The theme made me think of the celtic goddess Brigid. I wanted to design something that reflected her nature as a goddess of blacksmithing. I wanted something fiery, but I miscalculated how long this design would take to make, and how much hair-pulling-frustration it would create. So, this entry is what was supposed to be the test piece. That’s because I’ve never used metallic threads or satin stitch before. I had read that metallic threads were a pain, so thought it would be sensible to do a test piece first without metallic thread. When I realised I was running out of time and energy to do it again, I decided to use gold paint to highlight some of the design. I hoped that this would give it more depth and interest. It also took so long that by the time it was ready to wear, I had lost weight. So frustratingly it no longer fits as well, and the waist reduction is now uncomfortable when I lace it down so that the top and bottom edges are flush. Finding this out was so disheartening. There are lots of things I’ve learned from this project, and will do differently next time. But I’m still proud of the result, and very grateful for all of the help I received from the mentors and other members.
After I fitted the pattern, I photographed myself and used paint.net to design the knotwork. I then laced my toile onto a pillow and chalked the design onto it. I used plastic sheeting to trace the pattern and seams, which I converted back to the exact pattern. I traced the design onto the coutil. I used a heavy tear-away stabiliser, and satin stitched the design directly onto the panels before sewing them together. I found that I had to draw the seam lines on after embroidering, because embroidery shrank the coutil in both directions. I left a gap in the design at the seams, as I worried about the lines connecting. I used iron-on interfacing to protect the embroidery. The boning channels are machine stitched between the knotwork, and hand-knotted at the back. I hand stitched some bigger gaps behind the embroidery. After the panels were sewn together, I hand embroidered across the seams. I put iron-on interfacing on the back of the boning channels that had hand-knots down them, and hand stitched it around the sides of the channel tape to secure it, rather than adding a lining. Lastly, I added gold paint.
I made the neck piece with mostly the same techniques as the corset. The only differences are that I drew the design on a paper toile, and I machine-embroidered over the seam lines. I also lined the neck piece with organic cotton sateen and used millinery wire instead of bones for some of the channels.
Sateen coutil, Vilene iron-on woven interfacing, cotton sateen (to make my own binding), organic cotton (for the lining), Gütermann Sulky Rayon embroidery thread, Gütermann black polyester thread, Gütermann Sulky bobbin thread, Royal & Langnicket graphite paper, heavy tear-away stabiliser, Corsets by Caroline's "The Perfect Customisable Under-bust", Aranea Black’s Raven Neck Corset pattern, cotton herringbone twill tape, Jacquard Lumiere paint, synthetic whalebone - various widths, flat steel boning - various widths, grommets, 1mm cotton-covered millinery wire.
What was it like to compete this year? What would you say to someone who is on the fence about entering next year?
This is the first time I’ve entered because I’ve previously been too intimidated by the idea, but I have really enjoyed the whole process. It’s a great excuse to push yourself and try new things, and the Stitchlings group is a brilliantly heartwarming source of help and encouragement if you get stuck.