Today I am going to introduce you to one of the samples that went on to become a part of my jumpsuit design for the Hand & Lock Prize. This sample was developed towards the end of my project and combines features of other samples that I had been developing for several months. It uses tambour embroidered honeycomb as a base, this is a tambour stitch which is normally used for cutwork but here I have just used it to create the pattern. Over the top of this I have embroidered goldwork and Swarovski gemstone bees. The honeycomb is then tambour beaded with pearls and square cut glass beads.
This sample became one of my favourites and I decided to use it as part of my garment design. As the theme of the 2017 Prize was celebration, I decided that black wasn’t the right colour and instead used golden honey coloured organza. The honeycomb pattern was used all over the jumpsuit and on the belt which also featured the goldwork and Swarovski gemstone bees. The bees were also used on the tulle overlay so that they appeared to be floating above the honeycomb underneath.
I was very excited yesterday to see that Hand & Lock had released the photographs of all the winning entries from the Hand & Lock Prize 2017 on their website. I hadn’t seen my work on a model prior to this as I finished making the jumpsuit the day before I delivered it to the Hand & Lock studio. Pictured below is the image of my jumpsuit from the photo shoot. I am so delighted with how they have styled it and very relieved it fitted the model well!
It’s very surreal to see my work and name on the Hand & Lock website! It’s such a pleasure for me to be able to embroider full time at the moment and to have my name appearing on the website of such a prestigious embroidery company.
I have been getting a lot of questions over on Instagram about selling my work and teaching classes and as I am aware that my readers here may not follow my Instagram, I will answer these questions here too in case anyone is interested. Next year I will be starting to sell a couple of embroidered products that I am currently in the process of making. There will be more updates on this nearer the time as to where they will be sold. I am also hoping to teach some classes in tambour beading and goldwork next year but I am trying to find a venue at which to hold them. However they will most likely be located in the city of Bath.
On Thursday evening the live judging and prize giving event for the Hand & Lock Prize 2017 took place at the Bishopsgate Institute in London. I am delighted to announce that I was awarded third place in the fashion open category. Thank you to everyone who voted for me and took an interest in my work, it was so lovely to speak to so many people about my project and explain the hand embroidery processes used in my final garment.
Everyone’s work was displayed beautifully at the event and there were so many absolutely stunning examples of hand embroidery on show. I have included some photos from the evening and a couple of close ups of my final garment below. If you would like to see all the photos of my embroidery development samples for this project head over to the gallery section.
The theme of the 2017 Prize was ‘Celebration’. My embroidery designs celebrated threatened and endangered animals and insects, eventually solely focusing on bees. Recently a lot of attention has been placed on the decline of bees which have become increasingly threatened by human acitivity. I decided to make my final garment a celebration of bees and drew inspiration from a bee keepers suit. I used goldwork and Swarovski crystals to embroider a swarm of bees around the jumpsuit. The bees are sewn on to tulle as if they are caught in a bee keepers veil and the honeycomb belt represents the hive where the queen bee, embroidered with purple gemstones, is surrounded by worker bees. The jumpsuit is made from four layers of organza hand dyed in different honey tones. This is embroidered using tambour cutwork stitch with sections cut away to expose the different honey colours. Sections of the honeycomb are tambour beaded with pearls and glass beads. The jumpsuit is accompanied by a wide brimmed hat which features a honeycomb pattern embroidered with beads and goldwork threads. An eye mask (here worn as a choker) also features honeycomb embroidery.
I've been in embroidery hibernation for the past two months working on a very important project and now I'm back with some exciting news. At the end of July I was selected as a finalist in the Hand & Lock Prize and have spent the summer making and embroidering my entry. I entered the fashion open category so my entry is a garment but I am keeping all other details secret for now. All will be revealed on the 2nd of November at the live judging event in London. The vote is split between a judging panel and the attendees on the night, so it will certainly be an exciting and nerve racking event!
The goldwork bee pictured here was made at the request of a relative. It is related to my Hand & Lock entry but does not give anything away. I can't wait to finally reveal my entry and all of the samples which I have worked on for the past year.
After a couple of weeks of non stop working and thinking about my Hand and Lock prize submission, I finally submitted it on Wednesday night. I have been working on it for ten months now so it feels quite strange to suddenly have finished. Although I would really love to share all the photos now, I am keeping my work secret for a little bit longer. It all depends on the outcome of the competition but I have some plans for what I am going to do next, so keep your eyes peeled for the photos and news in the coming months. I'm working on a couple of requests for embroidery pieces now and I am continuing to intern for Joe Richards and excited to start a new project with him in July. For now I will leave you with a couple of work in progress teasers of my Hand and Lock prize entry.
I've spent a lot of time making various things in my lifetime and as I've grown up and my interests have become more specialised, my need for harder to source materials has increased. In my own embroidery work I am specialsing in goldwork and tambour beading and both techniques require materials which are not readily available from a haberdashery. I have spent a lot of time trawling the internet to find items such as pre strung beads and sequins and goldwork threads so I thought I would share my recommended list of suppliers with you.
First I'll start with tambour supplies, it is necessary to buy pre strung beads and sequins unless you are prepared to string them yourself, which I personally do not have the patience for! All of the sites that I have found selling tambour supplies are French, so you have to be prepared to pay a little more postage. The absolute best place I have found is Paillettes et Broderie, they have every type of sequin you can imagine in every finish and colour and an equally great selection of beads. The only downside is it can become quite expensive especially with the sequins. Another supplier is Brodely, there's not as much choice here and the sequin and bead bundles are not quite as big but it's a good alternative. I have also recently discovered Fried Frères, they have a shop in Paris (which looks amazing) and you can request a catalogue to order from. I haven't bought anything from them yet but they sell pre strung beads and sequins as well as hot fix stones, buttons, more unusual embroidery supplies and general haberdashery items.
If you want to use beads that are not strung for tambour then you can buy a bead spinner, available from GJ Beads. This works best if you have a fairly large amount of beads, you use a needle and as it spins it threads the beads.
There are a lot of different websites selling goldwork supplies but I like London Embroidery School best. They sell all the different types of gold, silver and bronze threads and a couple of coloured threads as well as various other golwork supplies. They are sold in 5g or 10g packets. Also they dispatch orders really quickly, normally a couple of hours after it has been placed; so (depending on the speed of the post) you will normally receive your order the day after ordering it. Brodely sell a good range of coloured threads as well as the traditional colours. They also sell a lot of gold and silver beads and other goldwork materials.
When it comes to fabric I mainly use organza which usually comes from Beckford Silk or Whaleys Bradford. Pongees are silk specialists and have amazing fabrics.. At the moment you have to contact them for a price list and order over the phone. But I have just seen that they are updating their website so that you will soon be able to order online. Beckford Silk are also silk specialists and have a wide range of silk fabric in beautiful colours. However some colours are dyed to order so they have a minimum order usually of 10 metres. Whaleys sell a lot of undyed fabrics of various compositions so you can dye or print the fabrics yourself. If you want to tambour bead onto tulle it's best to get cotton tulle, this is very hard to find but I recently discovered some on Brodely.
So that concludes my list of embroidery supplies stockists, I hope you find this useful and if you have any recommendations of your own please do leave them in the comments.
Now for a little update on what I am doing at the moment as I am aware I haven't posted many new embroidery pieces in a long time. This is because I am still working on my entry to the Hand and Lock Prize so I am keeping it all secret at the moment, I'm so excited to show all the new pieces I've been working on. Now that I am no longer working under the time constraints of university projects I have really been able to concentrate on hand embroidery as I have always wanted to do. I've really advanced my goldwork skills during the course of this project and the subject matter is different from anything I have previously done.
I'll be starting on more work for Joe Richards again soon (the last post I wrote shows my work on his newest collection). I'm also collaborating with another of Joe's interns, who is a graphic design masters student. We are working on a small project together, which is very different from my own work but really exciting.
Since I graduated last summer I have been interning for Bath based designer Joe Richards. I have been working with Joe on hand embroidery for his Pre + Autumn/Winter collections. This has included embroidering many samples to develop the embroidery ideas for the collection and embroidering the final garments. This season Joe has also been doing a collaboration with John Smedley so all of the knit pieces in the collection are from the collaboration. The pieces that I have hand embroidered polo necks, jumpers, cardigans and a coat, as well as socks in three different colours. They are all embroidered with extra long glass and metallic bugle beads in a variety of colours and patterns. Below I have included photos of these garments and some images of the garments in the process of being embroidered.
The collection has already been shown in a press preview and will also be shown at London fashion week later this month.
Go to http://www.byjoerichards.com/ to see the full collection.
I embroidered this bee for a Christmas card but as a change to just showing the finished piece, I photographed each stage of the embroidery. Goldwork embroidery is quite a fascinating process especially if you are not familiar with the technique. There are a lot of hidden parts such as the padding which can take just as long as the visible embroidery especially in larger goldwork pieces. The goldwork threads used are interesting as well and quite different to threads used in other embroidery techniques, often they do not contain a very high percentage of gold or silver but they create a brilliant effect.
The first step is padding which is what allows you to achieve the raised effect often seen in goldwork. For this bee I used four layers of felt for the bottom segment and three layers for the top segment. The bottom layer of felt is the smallest and gradually gets larger to form the shape of the padded area. There is a piece of pearle purl being added here because I forgot to photograph this stage before starting the next.
The next step is adding outlines. These are created with pearle purl in silver and gold.
Once all the outlines are complete goldwork threads are added to cover the padding. These include rough purl, smooth purl and check purl. They are hollow so the length of thread required is measured and cut and then strung onto thread and stitched on.
Next the remaining areas are filled in with chipping which is created from small pieces of cut up check purl in silver and gold sewn on individually.
For the final stage the copper pearl purl is used for the legs and antennae...and the embroidery is complete!
I was interviewed by Vichy Ly from Sincerely last week about my work, traditional hand embroidery techniques and new technologies. Vichy is a fashion graduate from Berlin, her own work is very beautiful and includes a lot of hand embroidery. She is also a talented photographer and the Sincerely website is beautifully designed, I highly recommend that you take a look. If you are interested in reading the interview, click here.
On Monday I finished the whitework Hydrangea I have been working on recently. This piece was designed so that I could learn most of the vital techniques of whitework. Apart from drawn thread work which I didn't feel would work with this design all of the techniques are covered. These include pulled thread work, outline techniques and decorative stitches. The embroidery is worked on evenweave linen as the pulled thread work and many of the decorative stitches are counted stitches, which means you count the threads of the fabric to create a pattern. The Hydrangea was drawn from a photo I took whilst at Dutch Design week last year, one of the exhibitors had beautiful floral displays in her handmade glass vases.
I recently registered for the annual Hand and Lock prize, and as I am currently on a short break from interning with Joe Richards, I have been working on drawings and embroidery samples for this project.