Now that the cording is applied to the forepart, we move on to the real fun: jeweling!
I'm going to use some of the jeweled ouches I discussed here and here. These are made from square gold plated filigrees, with large square "black diamonds' in the center, surrounded by rhinestone and flat backed pearls.
I tried putting them in each of the diamond shaped openings, but that looked too static. Then I tried alternating them, but the diamond grid didn't work well for that. So I decided to go with alternating horizontal rows of filigree ouches and clusters of gold and pearl beads.
I've spent the last two weeks of evenings stitching the filigree ouches on by hand. I could have sewn them by machine, as discussed previously, but I needed something to do in front of the TV while my husband watched the parts of the Winter Olympics that weren't figure skating. (I see no point to sports that don't involve rhinestones. )
I bought these large purple marquise cut sew on jewels a while back, without knowing what I was going to do with them. I just thought they were pretty. Fortuitously, they turned out to be just the right size and shape for the small spaces in the cord grid.
That leaves the spaces in the remaining rows to be filled. I tried a lot of different ideas. I tried a quatrefoil of large pearls with a smaller filigree bead in the center:
But that seemed too simple. I tried a large gold bead surrounded by a circle of pearls, but the circular shape looked wrong next to the square ouches, and, to be indelicate, it looked sort of, well, nipple-ish!
Then I tried a large gold bead, surrounded by four large pearls alternating with smaller gold beads, and that was just right.
I tried sewing each bead on individually, but it's really hard to keep them nicely aligned and properly spaced.
Then I tried sewing on the large bead, then stringing the eight pearls and small gold beads on the thread and taking a stitch back at the beginning to form a circle, but again it was hard to align them. It was also difficult to take the thread back through the beads for reinforcement once the circle was tied down.
What worked was to sew on the central gold bead, then sew one pearl on securely, then thread the remaining 7 beads and go back through the first pearl again, forming a circle.I used very strong beading thread so I didn't need to thread them more than once.
Then I stitched over the thread in the spaces between all the beads to secure them in place.
Sewing this is a pain, because the thread keeps getting caught on the pearls and the claws of the jewel settings. The gold beads are also hard to sew because they're very reflective and they're filigree, so there are a zillion holes and it's hard to find the ones that are meant to be sewn through.
Having a very interested, and sometimes interfering, supervisor can be a problem, as well.
You'll notice I'm not working with a hoop or frame. I couldn't put the fabric in a hoop because the gold cording would be damaged. Ideally, I would have done it by mounting the fabric in a very large frame. Two reasons prevented that. The first was the lack of space to set up a frame the size of a dining table. The other is that I have a large belly and short arms, so it would have been hard to reach the center of the work. Luckily this fabric is heavy and stiff enough that beading without a hoop or frame wasn't an issue.
I would like to embellish this further by embroidering sunbursts of small oval and round pearls around each of the ouches and pearls clusters, but I'm going to have to be sensible and wait until more of the costume is completed, to see if I actually have time to do it. After all, I still have to go through all this again on a pair of sleeves!