Cockade A Doodle Doo!

A few weeks back, I took a class with Candace Kling, an astonishing textile artist, based in the Bay Area.  She's an enchantress and master-craftsperson, who specializes in works made of ribbon.

This class was a personal reward, for having completed two months of gargantuan hand-sewing.  (More on that in an upcoming blog post.)  It did seem really crazy, to celebrate the end of a gigantic sewing endeavor with a hand sewing class.  What can I say?  I'm a glutton for punishment.

Not that this class was a punishment.  Quite the contrary.  It was mind-expanding, in a Moebius-strip, bend-the-fabric-of-space-and-time sort of way.  (I love this sort of thing.)

What was particularly delightful about this class was the emphasis on historic models.  Candace brought along some lovely vintage pieces, and we worked from vintage instructions that she had de-mystified.  So, I was learning a new-old skill.  I can't think of anything better.

Armed with my new thoughts about ribbon manipulation, I set about making a number of fanciful prize ribbons for the artisans who worked on the aforementioned Massive Sewing Project.  These folks were CHAMPIONS, and I wanted to honor the work they'd done.

In some cases, I picked ribbons that directly referenced the materials we'd been working with.  Our project was made of hundreds of square feet of jute erosion cloth, and this ribbon was a miniature (and sparkly) version of that material.

In other cases, the material was a bit of an in-joke. This cockade -- made of safety reflective ribbon -- was for Emma, who had actual made an entire men's jacket out of reflective cloth.

I'm particularly pleased by this one, and may actually make another of this style for myself.

Some cockades had no particular meaning, and were simply pretty-looking.

I did not get photos of all the cockades I made.  I got a little flustered the way out the door to the opening night dinner, because just before I left work, I found out I was going to be dining at a table with Rita Moreno. (She's every bit as lovely and gracious as one might hope she would be. I was understandably starstruck, but we had a nice conversation about the shows we've worked on together.)

I have no idea what my team thought of this strange gesture on my part, but they all said appropriately polite and kind things when I gave them their prize ribbons.

I had another goal in mind when I made these cockades:  I wanted to offer them as a fledgling entry into the Historical Sew Monthly Blog Thingamajig.  I've been reading the blogs of the folks who participate in this endeavor for ages, and finally concluded that I should join in the fun.  I love vintage fashions, and I want to expand my skills.   I hope they don't throw me to the curb, when they see my work.

The Challenge:  Tucks and Pleating
Material:  Various ribbons, pin-backs, felt.
Pattern: From facsimile reprints of 1920s ribbon-art books. 
Year: I can't find the copyright date of the original books at the moment, but some time in the 1920s.
Notions: Copper toothless alligator clips, vintage buttons from stash (thanks again Annalisa!), cardboard layout board, upholstery thread, and so many pins.
How historically accurate is it?: The construction is very accurate, some of the ribbons could have been purchased in the 1920s, and some are entirely modern.  The pin backs are modern, and kind of horrible, but that's all I could find.
Hours to complete: I took a six-hour class with Candace Kling, the cockades themselves were made over the course of a couple of nights.
First worn: Given as gift to celebrate opening night of Macbeth (the aforementioned Massive Sewing Project) at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre.
Total cost: $80 for Candace Kling's class, $22 for the copper clips, $100 for ribbons used on this project and in the class, $9 for needles and thread.  $211 altogether.  This may seem really extravagant, but when we open a show of this size, I try to give special gifts. 


Celia Hart said…
How very satisfying!
Unknown said…
Lovely! I keep returning to ribbon embroidery books but have not yet tried it.

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