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ModelWelcome to the adventure of my life!  This is my Bernina Fashion Show garment entitled Caribbean Sunset which I designed and created for the 2008 show Rendezvous.  It challenged me, it taught me patience and in the end, it gave me enormous satisfaction!  The whole idea started with a plan for taking Sulky Cut Away+ stabilizer and somehow making a beautiful coat out of the stuff.  I began by working with a heavily tattooed and pierced gentleman who taught me to airbrush.  His experience came from airbrushing motorcycles so I hung out with him at his body shop for a few nights to learn the “art”.  I intended to airbrush the stabilizer but unfortunately, the stabilizer just pilled when hit with the force of the air.  Plan B:  I ended up painting the entire multi-yards of stabilizer with 2 layers of silver metallic and then topping it with a 3rd layer of Caribbean blue metallic paint, then sponging away the blue paint to allow the silver metallic undercoat to shine through.  Then hours of quilting with Sulky’s Holoshimmer thread followed.  If I had one broken strand of thread, I re-painted the stabilizer and started over again.  The fabric was unforgiving and showed every needle hole!

My husband and I are celebrating our 30th anniversary this year and nearly every year of our married life, we’ve enjoyed winter vacations somewhere in the Caribbean.  The highlight of every day is watching the incredible corals of the sunset melt into the amazing blue of the Caribbean waters.  When I heard that the theme of the 2008 show was Rendezvous, I immediately knew that my garment would be called “Caribbean Sunset”.   So when my plans for airbrushing the stabilizer were dashed, I transferred my newly learned airbrushing skill to misting the lining with incredible colors of that familiar sunset.

Then came the challenge of sewing my painted stabilizer into a coat.  It worked much like leather.  One wrong move and the needle holes were permanently set into the fabric and I had to paint a NEW piece of stabilizer, recut the pieces, and then sew them into the coat.

I pride myself on beautiful construction.  The seam allowances of the coat are meticulously finished with a Hong Kong seam finish, then stitched with decorative stitches and lustrous rayon thread.

 

Then came the Fiber Bubbles collar, cuffs and border.  The Fiber Bubbles are my own original idea which I developed and am proud of.  I fully intended to use the technique in this garment.  The only drawback is that it is unbelievably time consuming. 

I know, it doesn’t look like it would take that much time but believe me…it does.  Somewhere around 250 hours later, my Fiber Bubbles were completed and ready to be cut into garment pieces.  But Fiber Bubbles are very thick and they don’t like to lay properly. 

The collar and border were both ripped out twice before I figured out that the collar wanted to be lined with lining but the border wanted to be lined with coat fabric.  It still curled out.  With painstaking tiny, stab hand stitching I was able to get the Fiber Bubbles to behave like a well mannered child! 

And then it was time to focus on the dress.  I kind of had a vision in my head but it took 6 different dress designs (YES, I sewed SIX evening gowns) before I got the right look.  Then the seams on the gown wanted to pucker after I sewed the shiboried streamers in place.  I used stretch silk Carmeuse with the unfortunate quality being “stretch”.  The hand beading of the streamers (25 hours worth) did the trick. 

Next came the invisible zipper which should be so easy, right?  Four sections had to meet perfectly in the center of the zipper and it took 16 tries until I NAILED it.  Keep in mind, the silk Carmeuse stretched each time so I recut those four sections each time out of $26/yard fabric!  In only four VERY long days (approximately 40 hours)  and with time running out , I finally executed a beautifully constructed zipper. 

The part of the dress I really stressed about was the chiffon, bias skirt.  It went together like a charm!  And then I accidentally laid the chiffon skirt too closely to a soldering iron which happened to be turned on, resulting in the iron burning through two layers of my beautifully completed silk chiffon skirt!  Back to work! 

And finally the hem.  I discovered that the silk bias hem was impossible to run through the serger.  You name the technique, I tried it!  So…how do you feel about a hand rolled hem?  At this point the thought of a minor 25 more hours of hand rolling that hem was nothing to me!

So I hope you enjoy “Caribbean Sunset”.  When I applied for this honor I wrote that I looked forward to putting my heart and soul into creating the “Masterpiece of a Lifetime”.  This garment has become a part of me!                  

 

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Diane Gloystein ~ Design On A Whim
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