Tuesday 22 March 2011

Planet Of Fire waistcoat - matching fabrics

Now I’ve done my fully worked test of the waistcoat, I need to find the right fabrics to make it from.

The back and the lining are nice and easy - just various linens and lightweight aged cottons.

It's the fronts that's gonna be the problem.

Before I saw the waistcoat at first-hand, I did find a similar fabric at one of my favouite Soho fabric shops (see left).
This is machine woven, which is not how the real waistcoat is made.

I’ll have to look a bit harder.

Looking around I have found a number of suppliers for the right type of fabric with hand-stitched designs, but nothing quite elaborate or close enough to use.
A lot of what I've found use a limited palette of around three or four colours. Looking a the real thing there're are a good Wight, maybe ten in there, making it difficult to match off the shelf.

There may be an alternative, which radical as it sounds, could really be the only option: find somewhere to get it redone, hand-stitched to match.

This type of design is TYPICAL of work done in India, so I need to find a company who deals with weavers there, or find a direct link to one myself.

Initial enquiries appear promising, having found a website that specialises in Crewel Work, and boasts the ability to make custom orders. Perfect.
Coromandel Crewel Fabric | Crewel Embroidery | Home
However, discussing it further, they demand that clients take a minimum of 200 metres out of a 500 metre run, and since what I need is so specific, they want me to take the entire 500 metres!
Are they mad?

Despondent I look further, and find precisely what I need - a company in India who can work direct from good quality images provided, and do it to a more reasonable minimum run - AND they'll do a test metre so i can see and check out their work and ability to match what I give them. Even better!!

Having negotiated the price and terms, I next need to assemble a high quality image of the to fronts so the have usable source reference to do their thing.

This is where a scanner, Photoshop and the wonders of the Internet come into their own!

I scan the fabric in sections, making sure it is as flat and not distorted, before piecing it together in layers in Photoshop.

Once it’s all united, I draw a 1cm grid in Illustrator and add this to the image file, to give the stitchers a very good size and layout guide, plus I indicate the seam allowance areas I need for assembly.

I supply them with the files, and they seem happy with what I sent, so I requested a test metre, which after a month, has arrived (see below).

They have concentrated on the area covered by the waistcoat’s fronts, but if you look very closely you can see where the embroiderers have expanded the design in pencil outline, but have not actually stitched it, particularly in the top right hand corner (see left).

Finally, here is a quick comparison between the real waistcoat and the work I have had done.

A couple of the colours need to be revised, but overall I am very happy with the results.

Check back again soon to see some more comparison images of both sides of the waistcoat.

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