Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Lizzie In Progress - And A Hard Week

I've not posted for a while as we've had some tough times. The beautiful 10 day old son of my best friends sadly passed away. He fought against all odds, overcoming everything he could. But his tiny, premature size meant he could fight no more. And the very much loved Travis Jon Luke Michael has left a very loving family behind him to miss him in the worst way.
Everything happened so fast, from when he arrived unexpectedly, to the changes in his health day to day and hour to hour, to him being taken so suddenly, that I've not felt like making anything at all. And haven't got very much done to Lizzie at all. I was also asked to decorate a frame for Travis's portrait so that all those that had never had chance to see him could see his pretty face with it's long eyelashes at his funeral, which was yesterday. So I've been concentrating on completing that over the past week. I've not shared it here as it's such a personal thing for the family. I've spent today trying to get myself back to some sort of normal before returning to work tomorrow. I hope that Sarah, Liam and Thom can find the strength somewhere to carry on. And all my love is with them.

The work I have done to Lizzie has been mostly on the embroidery for her overskirt.

It's been a pleasure to work with such beautiful fabrics as the silks I've been using for Lizzie. It's so tactile and easy to use that I've had no trouble creating anything that I've wanted to. From her silk cotton highly gathered chemisette, and her soft cream silk underskirt with an embroidered hem in silk threads. All have come together quite naturally for a change. With no battles or fights as can usually happen. I really think that, for once, Lizzie really wants to be made as I can see her in my mind.

This is a corner of her open overskirt, that's not quite finished yet. I still have a few more details to add, and another row around the hem to finish off.

This overskirt will be fully gathered at Lizzie's waist when I'm done. Open in the front to show her underskirt, with a slight train in the back.

The lovely stripped green silk I've used for Lizzie's gown has a slightly stiffer texture. And I crush treated it first before I began her gown to try and give her a softer, more antique look that's also more in keeping with the time when she would have lived. I really can't imagine anyone being able to keep one of these huge voluminous dresses perfectly ironed. Especially an artist that didn't always have a lot of money or popularity.

It's quite easy to crush treat this slightly stiffer type of silk. Giving it the look of Princess Diana's wedding dress as I remember it from my childhood.

Firstly soak the silk in warm water to get rid of some of the fabric size.
Then soak in fabric softener, making sure to squeeze the silk to make sure it gets into all the folds.Then quickly rinse in more warm water.
Be quite rough and squeeze, twist and ring out all the excess water.

Stretch the fabric back into shape and hang somewhere to dry naturally.
While still a little damp iron really well.
Wet the fabric again and then iron dry so that you get the nice tight creases that don't look like you've just screwed up the fabric and left it in a mess.

I've only ever been able to get this to work on pure silk, so I'm not sure if it will work on synthetic or not. But I'm pretty sure that I get the effect because of the silk itself and the way it reacts.

I've also finished off the embroidery on Lizzie's bodice, which will have a pointed waist as well once her over-skirt is added. As well as the embroidery and tapestry trims on her sleeves. She already has that slightly medieval, but still Victorian, look as I've found favoured by the artists at the time. Which was later still very popular with the Aesthetic movement.

I'm hoping to get the rest of the embroidery finished this week. So I'll hopefully have more to show you soon :)


  1. Natasha, thanks for the how-to's on how to crush the silk. I have an old silk dress I purchased at Goodwill a few months ago and it looked as if that dress had never been worn, let alone dry cleaned or washed. It's very stiff, but now with your great suggestion, I'll treat it this week.

    Have a wonderful week.


  2. Always glad to be useful Georgina :) Thanks!
    Just to add that the more you wet and crush it, the finer and smaller the creases get. I've got more picture if you want them to see haw it all looks first. Just let me know :)

  3. So sorry about your friend's loss...there is nothing harder then the death of a child. My heart goes out to them.

    I can't wait to see this doll finished...Lizzie Siddal was so incredibly beautiful. I love your WIP reports, they're so detailed. Well done!