March 31, 2017

Sequins & Stars: Cutting out the Tulle and Embroidering Planets

Well after finishing the beaded bolero, I have made some progress on my planned galaxy inspired black tulle circle skirt! Before I can really get down to the rather daunting task of embroidering on all of the starts and scatterings of sequins, I had to cut out the layers of tulle and make the larger applique embellishments!

Before I even cut out the layers of the skirt, I decided to play around with painting some of the tulle metallic gold with acrylic craft paints. While it turns out painting tulle isn't exactly possible, I did discover a really cool effect by accident! If you dab on a lot of paint and then peel off the tulle net very slowly, the paint gets caught in the windows of the net like little tiny stained glass almost. I made a bunch of small rectangular strips in gold and silver using this effect and I think they will be great stardust/background galaxy filler for my skirt!

I did have to cut out the layers for the skirt eventually though, so I wrestled the tulle into submission and cut out 3 layers of circle skirt from really wide (108" wide I think it said?). Using super wide tulle means you don't have to have side seams in the layers of your circle skirt. See crudely drawn illustration below! Simply layer the wide folded (it comes folded off the bolt) as wide as your circle skirt pattern is "long" through its center. Layer as many times as you want for how dense you want your skirt. I cut mine at 3 layers of folded tulle (so 6 layers of net total but with the folds lined up). That was 6 yards of tulle by the way for 3 layers. I accidentally bought shiny tulle instead of matte, so I cut a 4th layer for my skirt out of 45" wide matte tulle since I had some in my stash. Since this matte tulle was only 45" wide this top layer of the skirt will have side seams, but I doubt it will be that noticeable in the end.

So above you see my top layer of this skirt laid out on the carpet so I can play around with how I want to arrange the galaxy of appliques and embroidery on top. I am in the middle of creating some sequin and bead embroidered planets for my fictional galaxy that I will cut out and sew onto the skirt tulle. Once these larger appliques are sewn on I will populate the galaxy with hundreds of sequin stars...but lets not think about that now as it is going to take ages!

Now you may be thinking I am a bit mad, and also that all of this would be much easier if I had a large embroidery frame (they certainly use big tambour frames for this type of work in couture), and you would be quite correct. Seeing as I only have small circle frames however...I'm doing the best I can!

Also my desk looks like this...

Beads and sequin everywhere! The silver moon (or wait...that's no moon!) you see in my embroidery hoop there is finished, but as it took way too long to bead so precisely, I will be using more simplified designs for the other planets!

I had never done tambour embroidery on tulle before and so far I am not a fan! Usually when making appliques you would use silk organza which is much stronger that this nylon (poly? I don't know what they use to make tulle!) tulle netting. Despite tulle being obviously much cheaper than silk, I would still much rather be using silk, but the only place that stocks it near me is 40 minutes away and I didn't want to make the trek! For those of you unfamiliar with tambour embroidery, it is done with a tiny needle sized hook that is much like a sharp crochet hook at a miniature scale. (I sort of wonder if anyone has tried to crochet with one of these before?) To embroider, or more often to sequin and bead, you work from the back side of the fabric and push up the sequins from underneath. You can only really do this on sheer fabric since you wouldn't be able to see what you were doing otherwise! Here is a video showing how tambour embroidery works. I was super lucky to take an introduction to tambour class at the Royal School of Needlework while I was studying abroad back in university. In fact the instructor in that video (Robert Haven) was the same instructor who taught my class at the RSN! I highly recommend embroidery classes at the RSN by the way, you get to sit inside Hampton Court Palace and embroider which makes the whole experience extra special!

So this has been the crazy galaxy sequin skirt update! Hopefully I will have more progress to show you all soon! Are any of you working on a crazy or long term project these days?


  1. It looks like it's going to be fabulous! I might want to make one for myself, and your explanation of a circle skirt with tulle is going to come in useful, as I've just bought some tulle to use as a kind of underskirt! Tambour embroidery sounds really good too :)

  2. Wow, it looks lovely so far! I'm sure the final skirt will be absolutely stunning :)

  3. This is going to be a stunner. Looking forward to progress reports! Every so often I look at the RSN classes and think I would like to learn there one day.


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