If you guys loved our new Baroque Punk Blazer feature we shared on Friday (which you can check out in full here), today I’ve got a fun peek behind-the-scenes at the creation of this amazing jacket and the fun shoot that brought it to life. There were sit down meetings in coffee shops, color tests, late nights, oodles of texts send back and forth, zombie gnomes (I’ll explain), one big oops I managed to fix (see if you can spot it on the final jacket before I point it out!) and of course the fun of the final shoot.
Ready to take a peek? Let’s dive in…
While working on my initial designs, Laura and I were already in talks about the jacket. This sparrow design was maybe one of four done at this point, so we used it to mock up some color tests.
We had picked out a dye color on our first meeting, as she had decided she wanted to hand dye all our fabrics. We had initially thought our dye was going to come out more of a gray green, so when it came out a pale blue instead, we had to reevaluate our original color scheme.
Laura mailed me a swatch of hand dyed fabric, which I embroidered with three different brown/blue thread colors, to test out our new color ideas. When she got it back, she did a second test dye (you can see where there’s a darker are of color around the two right sparrows) to find out how the fabric and the embroidery thread would react. The embroidery thread, being a rayon floss, took only the slightest hint of dye, which was perfect to pull all the colors together. Laura found some matching lining for the jacket, and some awesome buttons, and we had our colors.
It was time to start making the jacket.
A large packet of fabric arrived a day or so later, with all of it marked and dyed the first initial light blue pass. She had carefully marked on the fabric where the pattern for each piece was, so I could know where to put the embroidery to get it to lay right on the jacket.
The first embroidery I tackled was the roses high up on the shoulders. I took the same rose design, but in two sizes, and mirrored the smaller one to create a cascading effect. You can see left, is how I laid out my patterns, and right, the finished embroidery.
When laying out the second rose shoulder, I made by big mistake. I was loading and reloading many of the same files, and didn’t realize that my machine had kept the previous mirrored layout of one of our roses. In another classic example of machine embroidery mishaps, I made the other big mistake of leaving the room while your project is embroidering. Yup, even I still make this mistake. And trust me, I know better.
By the time I got back, the rose had embroidered itself sideways, and it was far enough along that there was no saving it. Alone in the studio, I tried my best impression of an angry sailor, then let it finish and stared at it dejectedly for a long time.
Thankfully, the next day I remembered a key part of the jacket’s styling was this raw, layered effect. Laura and I had talked about the idea of countering the jackets modern, clearn styling with a raw tapestry of fabric strips, to really bring the texture of the jacket and the embroidery forward, as well as add a bit of punk to the mix. I had already layered a raw strip of fabric under the first rose…could I perhaps?
Yes I could!
I patched over the first rose, cut away the excess bulk underneath, then embroidered a brand new rose on top of it, in the right orientation this time. Crisis averted! You have to get creative with these things sometimes.
Here’s hoping that no one noticed when you looked at the blazer the first time. Right? Right.
I continued on with the sleeves, measuring downward to try to get the right placement with the pistols. Thankfully, these didn’t require any mirroring or fancy effects, but you can bet I was on my guard at this point.
The back of the jacket was a bit more experimental. I knew I wanted a cascade of designs, and I wanted a slight overlap, to create the impression of one large embroidered tapestry. I tried out all kinds of layouts, sending ideas back and forth to Laura. We finally settled on this one, featuring our sparrow, skull and the heart locket design. I got to work setting up my hoops.
Even on our big fancy industrial machines in back (we call this one Victor) these things take awhile, so I kept myself occupied by playing a little Plants and Zombies. It was also in part to keep myself distracted from the creepy banging noises our office makes at night when you’re alone in there. I tried going on our facebook page to get some comfort from the fans, and I was promptly told it was likely a serial killer, gnomes, zombies, or serial killer zombie gnomes, and I would likely die that evening. Great.
I went back to killing virtual zombies with cute plants and hoped that would dissuade any observing ceiling zombies that I was not to be trifled with. It appears to have worked.
Finally, the last of the embroidery was done. The pieces had all been laid out and layered on, and I had not left the room, embroidered something on sideways, or been eaten by zombie gnomes since. I packaged up the fabric and dropped it off to Laura the next day.
Laura took some lovely in-progress shots so you could see just how the jacket took shape. This is it before its second dye bath. You can see she’s attached the sleeves and started to shape the coat and lapels.
Once the main sewing on the coat was done, jacket, embroidery and all went in for a second dye. This helped darken the coat to bring it a deeper, grungier color, and pulled just a little of the blue dye into the brown embroidery, which worked beautifully to pull everything together and allow the colors to sit just right next to each other.
Here’s the coat after the second dye bath, starting to get some final touches to the collar and label. If you want to know just how crazy good Laura is at this stuff, this was pretty much done in a day.
Nearly done! Just some hems and some button work and the jacket is there.
A final shot of the back. The coat is completed, and Laura can finally go get some sleep for the big shoot the next day.
We all meet up over the weekend at the studio of Burt Edwards Photography. Laura is there with the jacket, and I meet our lovely model, Lucie Mulligan, who will be rocking our coat for this shoot. I had a blast modeling for our last project, but I find I’m much better behind the camera. Best to leave these things to the professionals these days, eh?
I brought back our rockstar stylist from our last shoot, Sara Capers, who made me look like a model, so I knew she had to be good. She got to work transforming our all-American beauty into the elegant punk she needed to be.
Many of you have been commenting on the hair, and I have to agree Sara did an absolutely amazing job. We were looking at everything from updos, warrior braids, mohawks, and ’50s greaser hairstyles, and she managed to pull all those ideas into one rocking hairstyle. You can see it in progress above.
Once everything was set, Lucie got to work looking hardcore and somehow still refined in that beautiful jacket, and Burt did an amazing job photographing it so all those lovely embroidery details wouldn’t get lost.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Want to see the full results? Check out the original post to see all the amazing photos and hear the inspiration behind this new embroidery series. I hope you enjoyed this little peek into all the hard work and talent that went into bringing this project to life!