I completed the orange and the brick red leaves today. I thought I’d walk you through the steps in creating a leaf, to explain why a single little leaf takes nearly two hours to complete.
I didn’t think of taking photos until I was halfway done, but here is a photo at the halfway point:
You’ll need to click in for the large version to see everything.
Step 1: Baste the layers of fabric together. There are three layers: a brick-red silk organza over a deep orange peau de soie, with a backing of bright orange dupioni organza. The top two layers give the leaf wonderful depth of color, as the semi-transparent red organza shifts over the dark orange fabric underneath. The dupioni organza, which has thicker threads running at sporadic intervals in both warp and weft, is there to stiffen the leaf and give it some extra crispness, without adding bulk. It will also give an interesting visual contrast when the leaf is shaped into a slight curl.
I basted the layers together with matching rayon thread. (Traditionally it should be white silk, but orange rayon was what I had on hand).I basted it in a grid about 1″ square, three rows horizontally and three vertically.
Step 2: Transfer the design. I used a stiletto tracing wheel and white dressmakers carbon paper to transfer the pattern. The markings gradually come off as the piece is handled – if you look at the larger photo, you can see that the markings are quite faint even at this point – and most of them will be covered up with stitching in any case.
Step 3: Embroider the big veins. I used stem stitch for this, hand stitching with two strands of rayon machine embroidery thread. Using a doubled thread gives me a nice thick line with which to define the major veins.
Step 4: Embroider the smaller veins. I used a single strand of rayon machine embroidery thread, doubling up the stitches near the major veins to add weight to the lines. Towards the outsides and tips of the leaves I used only one strand, to give a sense that the lines were tapering to nothing.
I embroidered the veins first because doing so joins the three layers firmly together across most of the leaf, making the later hand-work easier.
Now we’re up to the point in the photo.
Step 5: Carefully cut out the leaf along the traced lines. Do NOT mess with it, or it will unravel.
Step 6: Using the point of a pin, apply Fray Check in a very very thin application to the edge of all three layers. Let dry.
Step 7: Hand overcast the edges of the leaf in a matching color rayon machine embroidery thread.
Whew!! No wonder it took me two hours to do each leaf.
Here is a photo of the most recently completed leaf. The photo totally doesn’t do it justice, though – it doesn’t capture the iridescence, depth of color, or the glow of the embroidery thread.
And here is what it looks like in situ:
You’ll note that the purple leaf now looks out of place, and the burgundy veins clash badly with the other two leaves. That’s OK; I’m planning to redo that leaf, probably with deep orange or tan veins to match the other two leaves.
Fortunately there are only three leaves left to do, and I have four days left! If I can get two done per day, I’ll finish the leaves on Thursday, leaving me Friday and all day Saturday to work on the lining hem and the sleeve lining/hem. I think I might just get it done in time!
Regarding Proposition 8, the appeals court has constructed the ruling so narrowly that the Supreme Court is unlikely to make any broad, sweeping conclusions about gay marriage even if it takes the case. California’s situation is unique to the state: in California, gay couples may enter into domestic partnerships which have exactly the same rights and responsibilities of marriage for heterosexual couples. This doesn’t construct a right to gay marriage in itself – the appeals court explicitly did not rule on whether gay people have a right to marriage. However, given that Prop 8 was put into place after gays and lesbians had a legal right to marry in California, and its stated goal (the voter pamphlet title was “Eliminates Rights of Same-Sex Couples to Marry”) was to prohibit gays and lesbians from marrying, it came under scrutiny under the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The court concluded that Prop 8 did nothing to change the legal landscape of marriage/domestic partnerships in California, and its sole purpose was to eliminate the title of “marriage” for same-sex couples. It then concluded that the proposition served no purpose other than to “lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians”, and struck it down.
The point here is that the ruling is very specific to California’s legal situation, and because of that, and the Supreme Court’s general preference for ruling as narrowly as possible, I think it’s quite likely that the Supreme Court will either decline to hear the case or else rule narrowly on the legal bits, not issue a broad sweeping decision about gay marriage in general. So I am cautiously optimistic that the ruling will stand, and Californian same-sex couples, at least, will have the right to marry.
And I believe in dancing in the streets. Celebrate everything! Life is short, and if we wait to the very end to celebrate, we’ll live a grim life indeed. So, even though we aren’t guaranteed victory in the end, I’m going to dance today. :-)