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'Petit Four'


Materials: Cotton Thread 
Techniques: Hand Knitting, Crochet Gesso for stiffening. 
Sewing Shrinking & creasing by stitches, using quilting thread 
Size: H 115cm x W 40cm
Date Made: 2001
The inspiration for this piece came from some very attractive sweets called 'Petit Four'. I wanted to make a pretty dress that would remind me of the small sweets in a beautiful gift box. 
The Process: 

I think of each dress as being a canvas and the overall result as a kind of painting. 

I made knitted pieces one by one and then treated them first by soaking them in Gesso and then by sewing them together into a dress shape. Gesso is a very useful tool for me and I use it often when making my dresses. Soaking the knitted pieces in gesso hardens them, and keeps the stitches set into position. It also stops the knitted fabric from getting stretched downwards by the weight of dress. 

At this stage the work still consisted of fragments. There were many un-even strengths between the knitted pieces when they were sewn together. The varying qualities of the gesso, the discordant colour combinations next to each other, and differences of weight and volume between pieces needed a new balance. I choose to run many stitches across the surface of the dress, causing creases. I kept adding more and more stitches and creases until finally the shape of dress started to appear clearly. 

Through all these processes, I had in my mind's eye a picture of the over-all appearance of the dress I wanted to make and carefully controlled the development of the dress's outline to match this picture. I carried on these processes further and further, adding other knitted pieces to the surface and once more sewing them together, wrapping, creasing and adding more stitches, until the point was finally reached when the out-line of dress matched my inner image.