Man, sewing blogs and forums are on fire over the two Chado Ralph Rucci patterns added by Vogue last week!
I got mine yesterday, and the instruction sheet reveals this pattern to be even more interesting than I imagined. The embellishment is beautiful, and it’s typical Rucci; he has often used self-fabric braid and bullion stitches in his couture collections.
In the example above bullions are used to connect the irregular pattern pieces.
On Vogue 1048 bullion stitches attach the braid to the hem of the dress; and I can say from experience that this is a stitch you should definitely practice in a hoop before you try it free hand. It’s considered an advanced hand embroidery stitch, and like all hand embroidery sucess relies on thread tension and consistency. Also, on a technical note, a bullion stitch is impossible to do neatly with anything other than a milliner needle.
Milliner needles have very small eyes and are the same diameter all along the length; they don’t taper much at the point. They are hard to thread, so I always use a threader. Milliners come in different sizes, a thicker one will make a fatter bullion.
The small eye makes it much easier to pull the wrapped threads off of the needle and onto the inner supporting thread when forming the bullion, and you should make the exact same number of wraps for each bullion. Here’s a link to a bullion stitch tutorial that is much more thorough than the one in the pattern instructions. You’ll see how to form the stitch correctly, and there are examples of bullion stitches done incorrectly. However there is one glaring mistake to note: the wrong type of needle is shown in the tutorial! They show a tapestry needle (note the long and wide eye) – trust me, if you try to use a tapestry needle, or any needle other than a milliner for a bullion you won’t be able to pull the thread wraps off the needle.
I have one other major disagreement with the instruction sheet, which implies that buttonhole twist is a good thread for bullions. It’s fine to use that for the topstiching, but the best looking bullions are made from a single strand, non-divisible thread such as floche. Regular six strand floss can be substituted, but use three strands instead of six. Nordic Needle is a good source for floche and milliner needles.
On the braid, 2mm cord or rattail might be a substitute for the fashion fabric bias tubes if the thought of cranking out yards and yards of hand made bias tubing is a little daunting to you (it is to me!)
I’m still thinking about how my version will look; I think this dress in a dark wash denim with jute topstitching, ball buttons and braid would be great. Rucci rarely uses prints, but I can see this in seersucker with white topstitching, ball buttons and braid (Ann has a great green and white seersucker on Gorgeous Fabrics). Rattail cord has a shiney surface so there I’d stick with a polished cotton or a linen for contrast and tone-on-tone color between the embellishment and the fashion fabric.
This design is really beautiful and I hope it’s a sign that Vogue has finally got their mojo back for the designer pattern collection.