Diamant Grandè Meets The Sugar Plum Fairy

by Jessica Long, @namaste_embroidery
    Sometimes new threads can inspire a whole project. So, I was excited to get some of DMC’s new Diamant Grandè metallic threads in the mail. When I first saw these spools of thick, shiny floss in silvery and golden hues my immediate thought was of the holidays. Glittery tree ornaments, silver stars, golden bells and copper kettles! However, I also thought a favorite holiday tradition: watching the Nutcracker Ballet. Once upon a time, I studied ballet. I always loved the intricate costumes, satin pointe shoes, glittery tiaras, and bedazzled tutus. What a perfect challenge for these metallic threads.

    I started with a simple pencil sketch that I created while watching clips of the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy on YouTube. Ultimately, I designed my own tutu, but I was inspired by the lovely Royal Ballet costume worn by Lauren Cuthbertson. I chose to stitch on black fabric as I believe it is the best canvas for showing off these metallic threads. To transfer the pencil-sketched design, I used an embroidery transfer pencil. This black cotton is thin enough to see through. Using a bright window, or lightbox, you can trace a design to it. The markings of the embroidery transfer pencil are erasable. There is no need to worry about any mistakes! They can be removed later with a damp cloth. Now on to the fun part!

    The key to working with metallic threads is to accept them for what they are. Do not try to force them to behave like cotton six-strand embroidery floss. They are not cotton and that’s okay! I’m sure if DMC could make cotton floss this shiny, they would! Diamant Metallic Hand Embroidery Thread is made from either polyester or a polyester and viscose (rayon) blend. Specifically, colors G225 and G317 are 100% polyester. This makes the thread feel stiffer than the soft six-stranded cotton. They also tend to unravel at the ends. I just try to be sure to anchor securely and snip away frayed ends as needed. If you find your threads twisting, you can simply hold your work upside down with the needle dangling. Gravity will help remove those twists! 
    I started at the top of the bodice, using G225 and chain stitch. Then I made the three backstitch lines down the center. From there I used a fun stitch called interlaced herringbone to create the lacing effect down the center. I continued with some straight stitches, more backstitch and couching.

    For the tutu, I finally got to use Pekinese stitch! Pekinese stitch is a fun loopy stitch that has not found its way into my patterns until now. 
    I can not believe how shiny and bright that G168 looks! For the crown, I used chain stitch, detached chain stitch and straight stitches. 
    I love it all looks together

    When I finished the stitching, I rinsed my fabric to remove the pencil marks. Once the fabric dried, I used to get into the stray cat (always stitch with a friend!) In doing so, I also pulled some of my Pekinese stitches out of alignment! Using a pair of tweezers I was able to go out and check my metallic threads were laying perfect. 

    I think this design would look super cute in a small hoop with a ribbon to hang from a Christmas tree. It could be used to paint the sparkle of the floss. I can imagine a whole series of ballet costumes in the future. The white and black swans from Swan Lake may be next!

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