The “Junon” dress, is French for Juno who is an ancient Roman goddess she is known as the one who makes the child see the light of day. The dress is like an upside down blooming flower with shiny sequins petals that shimmer under the spotlight. The creamy silk net gown with embroidered sequins is one of the most popular designs in Christian Dior’s collection of Autumn/Winter 1949-1950.
Considered among the most outstanding dresses Dior has ever designed, the strapless bodice is overstated with clear crystal beads and a thin trim of fabric along the neckline and waistline, creating a slimming effect on the waist. Shimmering blue, green, and rust sequins are greatly encrusted at the hem but progressively fade as they travel up the gradually fading petal of the skirt, which appears to be shaped in imitation of eyeless peacock feathers, referencing the bird that is closely linked with the patron goddess of Rome. The use of graduation draws attention towards the voluptuous skirt, which makes the lower body appear wider and fuller with its horizontal hemlines. This complements the tiny waist line above the skirt and highlights the hourglass figure. The silk net fabric invokes a sense of lightness and angelic appeal when the iridescent sequins catch the light.
One of the tools of the trade that all of these designers used for their haute couture designs was the tambour hook for the tambour embroidery. The tambour hook is not a typical needle but rather a very fine hook that is used to punch through the preferred fabric for embroidery. This hook is used for tambour beading which is the name of the method for this particular type of embroidery. Tambour comes from the word drum in this case the drum is represented by the fabric being pulled by a frame. This particular method is favored by those who practice haute couture since threading is nonstop and it is relatively easier and faster to stitch. This technique was created in Europe in the late 1700’s.
The frame typically consists of wood but can be made of other materials and also varies in sizes depending on the individual needs of the project and the designer. Then the fabric is pulled by the frame and held in place and in position for the designer to work on. Then the designer might sketch on the fabric to have an outline of the design that will be produced. There is only one type of stich that must be learned to master the use of the hook and to become very efficient. The hook is punched through the tightly stretched fabric to catch a fine thread from beneath and draw it up, creating a linked, chain-like stitch. This is repeated until all the embroidery pieces are attached to the fabric according to the designer’s plan.
The handbook La Broderie de Lunéville by Mick Fouriscot and Roland Gravilier, offers a detailed explanation of how to use the embroidery frame for the tambour embroidery method;
The assembly of the fabric on the loom:
- Sew the embroidery fabric on the first seam.
- Mark with two pins where the fabric will come to position on the second stitch.
- Sew the embroidery fabric on the second stitch.
- Slide the slats into the mortises.
- To stretch the embroidery fabric, push the studs apart and nail them in place.
- Lay the first zipper, holding it with pins, starting at the top left. Proceed in the same way with the second pull.
For lightweight fabrics, edge the fabric before attaching the pull tabs.
- Hold your hook well vertically with your right hand.
- Stitch the hook straight into the canvas (fig.1).
- Place your left hand under the loom and slide the wire into the hook (fig.2).
- When pulling on the hook, pull the thread above the fabric to form a loop on the spot (fig.3).
- Rotate the half-turn hook (fig.4) so that it is directed in the direction of work (fig.5).
- Draw in the canvas to make the next point (fig.6).
- Continue this way (fig. 7 to 13).
- 1 to 13 show a line of points running from left to right.
In my reproduction project I would like to make one of the embroidered sequins petal. I first make my own embroidery frame by re-using old bed woods. I follow the assembly of the fabric on the loom steps to sew the embroidery fabric onto the frame. I use both traditional hand sewing method and tambour embroidery method to apply sequins onto fabric (total 50 hrs).