Here’s my run-down on the finishwork on my goldwork and silk Christmas ornament that I made for a swap…
First, I gathered all the supplies I’d need to finish the Christmas ornament: threads, batting (which I didn’t use after all), fabric, scissors, etc.
I wasn’t quite sure about which fabric to use for the back. I had some cranberry colored silk shantung, some burgandy velvet, and a dusty pink striped fabric. The ornament actually has quite a bit of pink in it!
Next, I took the ornament off the frame and cut off the excess linen.
Next, I measured and cut out two pieces of acid-free mat board. I planned to cover one with the fabric for the back of the ornament, and the other I would mount the front on. Stay tuned, though – I changed my approach on this much later.
Then I cut out the corners on the linen, so that I could fold the linen more easily onto the mat board. I wasn’t exactly sure about this whole part, which kind of bugged me.
I didn’t want bulk corners, so I trimmed out little triangles, thinking that would help reduce the bulk. Well, of course it didn’t work – there was an overhang – so I cut squares out of the corners instead.
I folded the edges under, using a strip adhesive sold for scrapbooking (archival and permanent) to hold the fabric securely to the mat board. To do this part, I put the ornament face-down, and placed the mat board over the back of it. I put the adhesive on all four sides of the back of the mat board, then pulled one side of the ornament up and smoothed it onto the sticky strip on the back of the mat board. Then I did the opposite side, making sure to pull the ornament enough to give good tension, but not too much. Then I did the remaining two sides opposite each other.
It “worked” … but I wasn’t quite happy with it. The point was just to adhere the fabric so that it would remain in place while I stitched the front and back together. But I didn’t like the thickness of the top piece, and I really didn’t like the fact that the white linen was slightly visible on some sides. I tried to console myself with the fact that the edge would be covered with cording. But it was a lame attempt at consolation. I had to backtrack later. So stick with me, here…
At that point, the front was mounted, though not quite to my satisfaction, and it was time to move on to the back. I debated over fabrics and finally decided on a burgandy-ish scrap of something sort of resembling velvet but feeling more like a stretchy velveteen. Whatever. It worked – the color was right, and though it doesn’t have the shine of silk, I think it was more important that the color was right!
Now it was time to go through the same process of mounting the backing fabric.
I cut out the square to the right size, placed the other piece of mat board on it, and glued the edges as I had done for the top of the ornament. I liked the thick back with the mat board much better.
When I put the two pieces together, I was still concerned about the thickness of the top. I just didn’t like it. But I forged on! I should’ve taken a break at that point and thought about it.
My next step was to consider what to use for cording and trim. This, of course, is where the thickness of the piece started to bother me even more. I would have liked to just put a cord around it and cover up the place where the front and back were joined, but golly, that would have to be a huge cord!
I went through my stash to pick out possible threads for cords. I was sure I would have all manner of types of thread and colors suitable for this project. Not so, not so. This is what comes of working from stash. You have to take what you can get! I had a silk chenille (on the right) that looked about right; a soie gobelin that looked about right, and two colors of soie d’alger that are in the ornament.
I tried making individual cords from all of them. I even tried making one big fat cord from several combined, with a gold colored Trebizond thrown in for the fun of it.
But none of it really worked, and I settled, instead, for a plain soie d’alger that I used to couch some of the gold passing on the ornament front.
Then I turned my thoughts to tassel making. For a small tassel, the soie gobelin was really the only suitable thread. The chenille was too thick, and the soie d’alger would end up really fuzzy. The resulting tassel, by the way, stunk, so I improvised something else, which you will see later.
Next, I sewed the front and back of the ornament together, using a regular slip stitch, since I’d be covering that up with a cord, anyway. I didn’t like the thickness, especially of the front. I didn’t like the fact that so much of the white linen was showing, especially because I knew the cord probably wouldn’t cover that up all the way around. Aaaargh! SO…
At this point, I took the ornament apart, took the front off, took the mat board out, and mounted the ornament on a smaller cut piece of white (archival) card stock. The resulting edge of white was still there, but much thinner. That was much better. I sewed it up, then started with the cording.
I didn’t take a full picture of the tassel. I should have, then you would understand better. For one thing, it was just too “pinky-orange” – just a shade off from the colors in the ornament. For another thing, it was having a terribly bad hair day. Soie gobelin is probably not the best thread choice for making a small tassel – it might work better on a larger tassel, where length would give some weight to the threads. On a small tassel, the thread ends flipped all over the place and looked messy and awful. Couple that with the slightly off color, and… well. It just didn’t work. I got rid of it.
Here’s the cording, after the first round of slip stitching just to get it attached. I used a little piece of gold Trebizond at the top for the hanger, which I ran through between the front and ornament backing, and secured in place as I stitched the cording on.
Next, I addressed myself to the problem of the tassel. I didn’t want to leave the soie d’alger twist hanging there – though I probably could have knotted it and left it. It didn’t look bad. But I wanted more than that! I actually wanted a Big, Fat, Pretty Tassel!!! (Note to self: plan ahead!!)
Instead, I opted for a tiny tail of little gold beads.
Once I had the beads on, I finished off the threads from the cord by running them individually into the cording (up the sides) and then, I gave the cording one more round of slip stitching to secure it and pull it a little bit more over the white.
My tree’s not up yet, so no tree shot!
I suppose that, despite the strange tail of gold beads, she’ll do ok! I would have liked a heavier tassel for the finish. This picture above was taken from a weird angle, but the ornament actually does hang ok. I though the tassel would be essential for balance, but I could’ve left off a tail altogether. The beads look a little… well… I don’t know. They look kind of dorky. They have a nice gleamy sparkle to them that goes with the goldwork, but perhaps I should’ve left them off?
Overall, though, I was pleased with the final result, though I do think I’m going to have to make a concerted effort this coming year to polish up my finishing skills!
I hope the recipient likes it!
Looking for More?
If you want to follow this project from start to finish, here are all the articles about it, in chronological order:
Projects in Planning Stages – where you’ll see the first sketch of the project
Which Direction? Deciding on the design orientation.
Ornament Progress – some silk shading and goldwork
More Christmas Ornament Progress – goldwork along the frame
Finishing the Goldwork on the Frame
Goldwork & Silk Ornament – Almost Finished! Adding spangles and beads
Finishing a Goldwork & Silk Ornament – and the mistakes I made!
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