Welcome 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.
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.
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.
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
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
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!