Petal & Pins

Category: Textiles

Treasure & Mermaids

© Sandra Alcorn 2013

© Sandra Alcorn 2013

Silk scraps are like treasure to me and even throwing out the tiniest piece is hard to do.

Occasionally I find a moment to create something whimsical with them – no planning just making something spontaneously and seeing what takes shape.

This mermaid is one such result – her face and hair machine embroidered and her tail hand stitched with sequin scales.

It reminds me of the old figureheads on ships as she has no arms. Perhaps she sings a siren song to the other characters in my cabinet of curios.

Georgie’s Dress

Dress Front

If you read my previous posts The Beginnings Of A Dress and Embellish And Adorn you will find the story behind the creation of this dress.

flower detailBodice detailhandcut silk flowers

These silk organza flowers are handcut and embellished with a Swarovski crystal in the centre.

The dress does up with small silk covered buttons down the back.

Dress - back


© Sandra Alcorn 2013

© Sandra Alcorn 2013

One of the dresses I’m working on for a client at the moment is in tulle finely embroidered with a lacy border of flowers and leaves that trickle down.

The effect is similar to the hem of this Garden Fairy’s dress I made of native violets – they grow in tangled patches like Mother Nature’s embroidery embellishing the brick paths and sandstone steps in my garden.

The Beginnings Of A Dress

© Sandra Alcorn 2013

© Sandra Alcorn 2013

In my post ‘An Elf In My Letterbox’ back in June I mentioned one of my nieces  would be visiting in September so I could create her school leavers dress.

We’ve been planning and plotting for several months with idea and sketches going to and fro and Marinella Rauso’s stylish blog I Love Green Inspiration provided some inspiration.

I had already chosen the fabrics and ordered a selection of beads and sequins in preparation. Last Wednesday she arrived and Friday we embarked on stage 1 – dye the fabric. The first attempt gave a pretty result but wasn’t colour fast so we re-dyed and now it’s a richer colour.

© Sandra Alcorn

© Sandra Alcorn 2013

Yesterday I saw a picture of Diane Kruger in a Valentino ‘poudre’ tulle illusions gown from the Resort 2014 collection – the colour and ‘feel’ is similar to what we’re creating.

Of course it hasn’t been all work and no play! – Saturday we went to Salamanca Markets and found a gorgeous cocktail ring and earrings to go with the dress and on Sunday we went to MONA and ‘feasted’ on fabulous art.

But today it’s back to ‘The Dress’!

© Sandra Alcorn 2013

© Sandra Alcorn 2013

A Lingering Reminder

Venice Fabric

This morning it was raining.

When it rains in the morning it often takes me back to the last day of my first visit to Venice. It was one of the few days it rained on that holiday, and opening the shutters I looked out the window to a steady stream of coloured umbrellas heading over the Ponte Chiodo bridge below.

As everyone scurried to where ever they were heading I lingered at the window watching and promised myself I’d be back. I bought a length of fabric on that trip from a shop on Strada Nova in the Cannaregio district – it now hangs on my wall, a daily reminder of a few days spent in  a city I fell in love with.

Last year I made good on my promise and returned to Venice. Again I bought some fabric, this time from the Fortuny workshop on the island of Guidecca. I made another promise to myself and in the meantime the fabrics are a reminder of happy holidays – and rainy mornings when you’ve time to linger.

Fortuny Fabric

From Petal To Cloth

Spring/Summer  2013/14 © Sandra Alcorn 2013

Spring/Summer 2013/14
© Sandra Alcorn 2013

In my previous post Roses Of Winter  the flowers of the hellebores were just starting to appear and now they’re out everywhere.

I’ve been sketching wedding dress ideas for Summer brides in the last few weeks and I think that’s influenced this Garden Fairy’s Wardrobe design.

I can imagine it reinterpreted in silk gazaar – a fabric that was developed for the couturier Christobel Balenciaga who used it in his collections in the 1960’s. Like a heavier silk organza the fabric has a crisp hand and a smooth texture – perfect for the ‘petal’ layers. The green ‘blush’ would be hand painted and the cream stamens and magenta speckles a delicate scattering of caviar beads.

Morning Tea & Fairy Dust

© Sandra Alcorn 2013

© Sandra Alcorn 2013

A little friend had a fairy party to go to so I made a fairy skirt out of some left over tulle & satin from my niece’s formal dress and some flowers for her hair.

The tulle is sprinkled in silver glitter – which leaves a slight trail like fairy dust – I can still see the odd twinkle in my workroom despite it being swept!

This morning I’m going with the ‘little fairy’ out for morning tea, so I’ll get to see her wings and perhaps she’ll leave a trail of fairy dust we can follow back home.

© Sandra Alcorn 2013

© Sandra Alcorn 2013

Take Another Look In The Window

© Sandra Alcorn

© Sandra Alcorn

A stroll back in time, another stroll past my window.

Window Dressing

Window Dressing

When I closed my shop front and moved my studio home people would often remark ‘I miss your windows’. Being in a street dominated by restaurants and open exclusively by appointment had given it an aura of otherness in a town like Hobart.

I enjoyed dressing the window in the same way I now enjoy making my Garden Fairy’s Wardrobe designs – a chance to play with ideas (or simply a chance to play) by draping fabric lengths on a dress stand.

Over the years I was there I had some interesting conversations with people who regularly went past to see what was in the window and they stopped in to express their enjoyment even if they were not likely to become a client.

One was a woman who said her mother had been visiting from interstate and on returning home asked her daughter to describe the latest ‘gown’ in the window when ever she wrote to her – how I’d love to read those letters.

Another was a man who had a weekend ritual of strolling to get the newspaper and stopping to photograph my window. He enjoyed the challenge of taking an image through glass without reflection and the dress stand and fabrics reminded him of his mother who had been a seamstress.

I thought I’d add some ‘window dressing’ pictures to the Petal & Pins mix so you can travel back in time and stroll past my window too.

Shadow Play

© Sandra Alcorn 2013

© Sandra Alcorn 2013

I love playing with shadows and I love working with lace, so yesterday when I finished a guipure lace dress I decided to try something different when photographing it.

The client and I decided on a classic 50’s silhouette – pencil skirt and a defined waistline which is emphasised with grosgrain ribbon. It’s left sheer so the colour of the slip can be changed and the back does up with 23 small silk covered buttons.

There was extra joy in making this dress as the client has become a close friend after first designing her wedding outfit 13 years ago. Coincidentally I commenced cutting the lace on her wedding anniversary so I decided to name the dress ‘anniversaire de mariage’.

This dress fits her like a glove – it’s classic, feminine and sexy. Tonight she steps out in it for the first time worn with a black slip.

I’d like to play some more with lace shadows and I think I’ll suggest to my friend she keeps a diary for this dress – to tell the story of where it takes her and whether it was a champagne or martini occasion!

© Sandra Alcorn 2013

© Sandra Alcorn 2013


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