Tag Archives: Embroidery

Mozart Reimagined Preorders Now Live on Kickstarter!

14 Sep

Hello friends! After ten years, Mozart Reimagined is now available for Pre-Order on Kickstarter!

You can watch some preview videos below, or just click on over to Kickstarter to learn more!

I hope you will all enjoy this labor of love!

If you feel passionately about my project, I would really appreciate it if you would share the Kickstarter link ( https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/948510266/mozart-reimagined-photography-book-by-tyson-vick )on your social media sites (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, etc.!) You can use the hashtags #tysonvickphotography and #mozartreimagined if you like to tag your posts. It would help out immensely. Thank you all for your support over the years! I’m excited to finally be producing the book!

La Clemenza di Tito – The Gown That Became Vitellia’s

12 Jan

When I first decided to start making costumes from my Mozart Project, it was because I felt I could better bring to life the operas through photography with fantastical and historical costumes. At that time I had already taken a few photos, but felt that I could do better — produce better images — and on many occasions I did re-shoots to more accurately capture my vision. I made a red gown for one of those re-shoots, but never got around to using it. The shoot fell through or never worked out, and so the dress remained.

With only one photo left to take for the project, I decided I would just use that dress, no matter what Historical context it belonged in, just because I spent so much time and money on it. Therefore, this is the dress that Vitellia wears in my “La Clemenza di Tito” images.

Elizabeth shows off Vitellia's gown, make-up and headdress.

Elizabeth shows off Vitellia’s gown, make-up and headdress.

With no connections to Ancient Rome outside of the headdress, the gown actually seems to have a bit of a Medieval flair. Using it on Vitellia was simply a choice based on having a complex gown in the closet, made and never used. Very little thought went into how to make it work Historically, or anything. I did, however, base the headdress on ancient Roman headdresses.

When I was building this dress, my goal was to do elegant ribbon embroidery!

I bought and used numerous silk, polyester and blended ribbons to do the 3-D embroidery. I used beads and pearls, and the one thing I remember about creating this dress was that it started costing more than it was worth. I chose polyester for the gown, and the embroidery started to inflate in price 2-3 times more than the cost of the dress fabric, and as anybody with any sense knows, this is both bad and slightly inept, because the dress grows disproportionate in value if I ever wanted to resell. “Here’s a gown that cost $45 in fabric and has hundreds of dollars and hours sunk into the embroidery! Want to buy it?”

Not only was the cost of the embroidery growing out of control, it began taking so many days. I literally drained my bank account to do the embroidery, and spent at least four days just going to the store search for and buying more embroidery floss. It was awful, and I actually just gave up, calling my mom and saying, the dress is a money pit and I’m done!

I left the dress as you see it in the image directly below…

The dress from center front.

The dress from center front before the embroidery was finished.

Years later, when Catey Lockhart signed on to be my apprentice, I saw a good opportunity to finish the dress. I added thick knitting ribbon on the apex of the bosom, a spot I had initially wanted to fill with more ribbonwork flowers. I also bought a brooch shaped like leaves to finish out the center. Catey added freshwater pearls all along the bottom of the dress, which, frankly, you’ll never see.

Front detail of the ribbon embroidered dress used for Vitellia.

Front detail of the ribbon embroidered dress used for Vitellia.

Looking at the dress now, I feel that it is clearly an early work — it was my third or fourth full scale gown — and all I see is embroidery that never quite got to the point I wanted it. Something that makes me feel better, however, is that my mother loves this dress. She loves the details and the colors, and because I could never resell it (money pit), I can gladly give it to her and allow her to enjoy it for the rest of her years!

A Sleeve detail (left) and back detail (right)

A Sleeve detail (left) and back detail (right)

The sad end to this story is that my embroidery days are over. I cannot physically do it because it makes my eyes hurt, and has caused my sight to go blurry and caused at least two trips to the eye doctor. While 3-D embroidery is cool looking, and has a great texture, this was my one foray into the technique. This was the final reason for using this anachronistic costume in the “La Clemenza di Tito” photo… I wanted this health-threatening, never-ending money-pit to have some sort of payoff!

Please subscribe to this blog, because, for those of you who follow me know, I will be producing a book featuring my images in 2015 and am eager to share all of the progress with you as it happens!

Bastien und Bastienne – The Costumes

3 Nov

This one is a real treat! Rococo costumes for kids!

Bastien und Bastienne is an early Mozart opera written by a child (Mozart) for children to perform. It is adorable, and when illustrating it, I decided to cast children as the models and make Rococo costumes for children. A brother and sister portrayed the two characters in my final photo.

Bastien und Bastienne Title, by Tyson Vick.

Bastien und Bastienne Title, by Tyson Vick.

Being one of my early forays into costuming, my mother helped me out with these while she was teaching me to sew, and she actually made the boy’s outfit entirely. I made the girl’s outfit entirely, and did the embroidery on both.

I hope you will check out my mom’s Etsy store Sewing With Twila. She specializes in making things for infants and children.



Making a Rococo gown in the style of Marie Antoinette for a little girl was a fun experience. I wanted every costume piece to look cute and pastoral, because the opera is about shepherds, but rococo shepherds, so I wanted it to have that ornate, over-the-top Rococo shepherd feel. The outfits are made out of pink and ivory silk. The ribbon details and flower-embroidery is done with polyester, however.

Rococo gown in the style of Marie Antoinette for a child.

Rococo gown in the style of Marie Antoinette for a child.

I used stiff interfacing instead of boning (or, heaven forbid, nothing) in the bodice. They used to corset children, but I wasn’t playing on that level, then, and I’m still pretty sure I wouldn’t want to corset a child for a photo.

A close up of the details on Bastienne's gown.

A close up of the details on Bastienne’s gown.

I made Ribbon flowers for the bodice using the techniques described in Elegant Ribbonwork by  Helen Gibb. Ribbon flowers were one of my earliest interests, but after some intense work with them, I am physically unable to work on them anymore, as my eyesight always fails when I do. I lose my sight for days after any embroidery work, and I have had to come up with alternate embellishing techniques.

The back of the gown.

The back of the gown.

The gown laces up the back. The costume is actually being worn with an adult size pannier hoop.

Bastienne's hat was made out of a flower basket.

Bastienne’s hat was made out of a flower basket.

I made a little hat out of flower basket for Bastienne. I think it turned out pretty cute.



The boy’s outfit is matched in every detail to the girl’s. It has the same silk colors, the same ribbon embroidery and reflects the title of the opera “Bastien und Bastienne” which is just the masculine and feminine versions of the same name. Similar to Joseph and Josephina.

The boy's costume, here modeled by Olivia, matches the girl's in every detail.

The boy’s costume, here modeled by Olivia, matches the girl’s in every detail.

My young cousin, Olivia, modeled these two costumes for Etsy when she was 8 years old.

A close up of the details, including ribbon embroidery.

A close up of the details, including ribbon embroidery.

I embroidered up the entire sides of this little coat, and it turned out very prettily.

Back view of boy's rococo outfit.

Back view of boy’s rococo outfit.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this look at my costumes for Bastien und Bastienne!

Subscribe to make sure the next costume post comes straight to your inbox!

One Delightful Day – December 27th

30 Dec

On December 27th I took my Der Schauspieldirektor photos.

Some of my close friends came to do the shoot with me. Lizzie, who has worked on numerous Mozart shoots, helped find locations and did the make-up. Her mother Gina and her Sister Jenny, as well as Jenny’s King Charles Spaniel, Burly,  modeled.

Gina in Costume as Madame Silberklang.

Jenny in Costume as Madame Herz.

The Historic Philipsburg Opera House Theater which features backdrops from the 1880s, kindly allowed us to shoot inside their building. We used the light forest back-drop for our shoot.

Setting up Inside the Philipsburg Opera House Theater. Original backdrop from the 1880s created by artist Edgar Paxson.

This winter, it was colder in the theater than outside!

Lizzie does make-up on her sister, Jenny.

Jenny touches up her make-up.

Me and Burly.

Lizzie does make-up on her mother, Gina.


Burly is terrified of Opera.

Rival Singers.

Previous Posts About this Shoot:

  1. My first post follows the making of the corsets for both ladies.
  2. The second post takes a look at my embroidery process, and brief reviews of some of the movies I viewed while sewing.
  3. The third post shows how I put together my Jacket and Gilet.
  4. My fourth post shows the inspiration and final pigeon breasted drawstring-front jacket.
  5. The fifth post talks about the hats I created, and features a step-by-step construction process.

Der Schauspieldirektor – Costume Diary, Part 3

10 Dec

My first costume is nearly complete! All that is left is the hat!

I have created an embroidered Jacket and Gilet (a sort of waistcoat) for my upcoming Der Schauspieldirektor photo shoot. In my last post I wrote all about the embroidery on this jacket and gilet, and in the post before that I shared the making of my corsets for this shoot.

I have to make all the costumes for my photo shoot, and I was inspired by a page in the book “Fashion” by the The Kyoto Costume Institute which features two fancy ladies’ outfits from the 1790s.

The costumes from The Kyoto Costume Institute that have inspired the look for my current project.

After all my embroidery was complete, I began sewing my jacket together. It came together very nicely. The jacket has a front layer of silk, fusible interfacing, one layer of cotton interfacing, and a lining layer of silk with fusible interfacing. The gilet has one more layer of cotton to secure the boning. This makes the outfit look a bit plush, and I believe I used much more interfacing than the original as seen above.

The jacket sewn and turned, without sleeves.

I have a nice pattern for period sleeves that I adapted from the Simplicity Pirate Coat  #4923. I made up my own cuff pattern on the spot, and sewed the sleeves together.

The jacket sleeves getting ready to be put in.

After that was all put together, I set to work on the gilet. Because I drafted my own Gilet Pattern, and the inside had to be boned (“Do not ask for whom the bone bones, it bones for thee!” — Bender Bending Rodriguez),  I had to decide how to best sew the garment together.

One side of my gilet is seen here. I turned the who piece, boning and all, through the tiny hole at the top back, which was quite a process!

I had to decide which seams to sew together and how to turn the garment. The curved side seem, and front boning meant I could not easily sew it like a typical vest (in a Y shape). I decided to sew everything except the top arm seam, and turn everything through a tiny 3 inch hole. It took a while, and the boning had to be reset in the channels afterwards, because it twisted about during turning, but I think it was probably the best way to go about it.

Then I combined the gilet, added eyelets to lace it up, added buttons to everything, et voila!

My finished Jacket and Gilet!…

My jacket and gilet is seen here, finished. It features 30 buttons with embroidery. It was inspired by the piece from Kyoto Costume Institute.

I knew at the embroidery stage that I hadn’t rounded the bottom of the gilet to get that unique “u” shape in the original, so mine comes more to a point. But since I wasn’t aiming for exact reproduction, I am quite all right with this.

My jacket from the back. I decided on a functional back, rather than a decorative back.

When we tried the jacket on my aunt, I decided to add ties to the back of the jacket to keep the front flat against the bust without having to run a pin through the jacket.

Here is a detail of some of my embroidery and buttons on the gilet front. I embroidered and covered the buttons myself. There are 16 buttons on the gilet alone.

When placing the buttons, I tried to cover as little embroidery as possible. I only had 16 cover buttons in the size used on the gilet front, though I think it could stand two more at the top (one on each side).

A view of the lapels of my Jacket and gilet.

My lapels are a bit pointier than the original garment as well, and the gilet doesn’t open down the front as far. If I were striving for more reproduction quality, I would pay attention to these things next time. However, I think it looks very lovely.

Sleeve detail of my jacket. I used my own collection of cover-buttons, and chose this smaller size.

I am pleased with this garment, and now it is on to the next one! I will go to work as soon as I finish this post!

I will have more posts on that next time! Stay tuned!

  • Buy the Kyoto Costume Institute’s book “Fashion“.

Update – All the Posts From This Series:

  1. My first post follows the making of the corsets for both ladies.
  2. The second post takes a look at my embroidery process, and brief reviews of some of the movies I viewed while sewing.
  3. The third post shows how I put together my Jacket and Gilet.
  4. My fourth post shows the inspiration and final pigeon breasted drawstring-front jacket.
  5. The fifth post talks about the hats I created, and features a step-by-step construction process.
  6. The sixth post shows outtakes from our photo shoot and the ladies in costume.

Der Schauspieldirektor – Costume Diary, Part 2 (Now With More Embroidery!)

6 Dec

I have just finished my week long embroidery spree as I create a jacket and gilet for my up comming Der Schauspieldirektor photo shoot. You can read about the play in one of my previous posts, or follow my costuming progress in my last post on the corsets I made.

I have to make all the costumes, and I have decided to costume my models  in outfits inspired by a page in the book “Fashion” by the The Kyoto Costume Institute which features two fancy ladies outfits from the 1790s.

The costumes from The Kyoto Costume Institute that have inspired the look for my current project.

There is no pattern for the aqua blue jacket and gilet (a gilet is a sort of vest), and so I had to draft my own.  Nobody actually seems to know what the back of the garment looks like.

A reproduction of the teal blue jacket and gilet was made by the company Reine des Centfeuilles. I used their photos of the garment they made as my reference pictures.

This image shows a reproduction of the Kyoto Jacket and Gilet created by the company Reine des Centfeuilles. The website features more views of this garment than the Kyoto 'Fashion' book, and so I used their images as reference to create my pattern.

The Reine des Centfeuilles reproduction is very beautiful, and when compared to the original, shows that they re-drafted the embroidery pattern. Much of the original KCI (Kyoto Costume Institute) garment is worn and the embroidery is missing. The sleeve is also a much smoother cut on the RdC (Reine des Centfeuilles) reproduction.

Lapel detail of the reproduction created by the company Reine des Centfeuilles.

My own embroidery is only suggested, or inspired by, the embroidery on the RdC garment. I did not have any satisfactory ways to transfer an embroidery pattern to my own garment, and so I did not feel the need to do something with such a diverse repeating pattern as the KCI and RdC jacket and gilet.

Collar detail of the reproduction created by the company Reine des Centfeuilles

I printed out these images, took some muslin, draped it on my aunt, and while looking at the image, I cut out the rough shape of the muslin (I used part of a simplicity pattern for the side and back of the gilet.) I did not document this part of my journey, because 1. Documenting my work, interrupts creative focus, and I cannot easily create while documenting my process. Unless, of course, I feel completely at ease with what I’m doing. and 2. There is no sufficient light to take pictures at my aunt’s house at night.

Here is the muslin mock-up of the jacket front. The side seams are broken because I cut off the back to use that muslin for the collar pattern.

I drafted patterns from my muslin mock-up and cut out my silk, which I then interfaced to add support to the embroidery.

The cut and interfaced pieces of my own gilet pattern in "Sea Foam" silk... (Seam Foam is a fancy way of saying teal blue.)

My first step in embroidery was choosing a color! I chose embroidery floss DMC 3033 and 712, these numbers are merely the technical way to say “Ecru”, which, itself, is just the fancy way of saying “Off-white”. Then, I started to zig-zag embroider all the edges of my cut out pieces.

I started with zig-zag embroidery around all of the edges of the pieces.

This process was completed by eye. I only measured the distance from the edge of the garment, and then I guessed at how far apart each zig and zag stitch should be. It’s not an exact science. Nobody cares how far apart the zigs and zags are… or if they do, they should probably be locked up in a home for the bewildered.

Here the zig-zag embroidery is finished on the gilet front pieces.

The zig-zag stitching took around two and a half days, and I watched, like, 10 movies while doing it. I just have to say that “Revolutionary Road” is a stupid movie, and the only difference between it and “Death of A Salesman” is that in the one, the salesman just dies normally, and in the other one he rips out his placenta and bleeds to death. Good times.

However, I can recommend the latest Pirates of the Caribbean (the one with mermaids). It is the only pirates film I enjoyed, and I particularly liked the end, where Jack is trying to escape from Penelope Cruiz, and she keeps coming up with outlandish excuses to get him to stay.

I cut out little vines out of heavy interfacing to "couch" embroider over, so that I didn't have to transfer a pattern.

I did not have a good way to transfer an embroidery pattern, and therefore did not see fit to draft the pattern from the RdC version. I decided an easy way for me to work would be to couch embroider my vines. Couching is where you take a cut out shape and then embroider over the top of the shape, encapsulating it in the embroidery floss. To make my shapes, I used heavy interfacing.

Here, the couching pieces are laid out on the gilet front. I glued them on with Aleene's dry cleanable Fabric Fusion glue.

I cut out many pieces using only two different shapes and laid them out in different formation on my jacket and gilet pieces. I then spent a few days couching over my vines.

I watched mostly “Leave it to Beaver” during this stint, with another 10-or-so movies thrown in. I just have to say that the original Rollerball is an idiot, and its non-plot is frustrating all the way through.

So, the sports players play rollerball, and the “bad guys” keep changing the rules, such as “today there will be no-time limit”, which is just as head scratchingly bad as it sounds. Can you imagine baseball or soccer with no time limit? But instead of getting bored and chillin’, like they would in real life, the Rollerballers decide to kill each other.  End film.

Maybe it was just too deep for me.

I far preferred “Dan in Real Life”, which is about a single dad with three daughters who goes to a family reunion and learns to love again. It’s cute.

Here is a close up of the couching embroidery, where you can see how the thread is sewn over the vine shapes.

I drew a little pattern to help me remember where each flower, leaf and vine would go, and then started adding fancy things to the vines. However, I didn’t like the embroidery leaf that I did, so I cut out some interfacing leaves to couch over as well.

After sewing one leaf in, I decided to cut out some leaf shapes to couch over as well.

I then spent the rest of my days adding flowers and sprigs and watching more “Leave it to Beaver.”

The parents in “Leave it to Beaver”, Ward and June, always make me laugh. They’re really funny. I like it when Ward accidentally locks June in the closet, and when June tries to deal with her kids hanging out with white-trash. I like how sometimes Ward says sexist things and then they both snicker, as if they’re in on a joke that the writers aren’t.

This is my second time through the series, and I’m starting to get the sneaking suspicion that Ward’s dad was a physically abusive bastard. I think that Ward and June have this secret running joke about how much of a dick the guy was. Maybe it’s just the difference between the 50s and today, and I’m reading too much into it, but they never talk about Ward’s dad without smirking a little, as if they think it’s funny how much of a tool the guy was. My strongest evidence to support this theory is that they never mention the guy when Wally and the Beaver are in the same room… as if they don’t want their kids exposed to their dead grandpa’s douche-baggery…

Sneaky parents…

Here is a close up of some leaf and flower embroidery added to the couched vines.

I embroidered for many days, and no matter how many exciting adjectives I add to any given sentence about embroidery, it really just isn’t that exciting of a thing to describe.

“I nobly raised the shining embroidery needle high into the air, and then with a gallant thrust — Wham! — I plunged it deeply into the sturdily interfaced silken fibers.  The needle screamed, surging through the silk, spreading the threads aside, like when Moses parted the Red Sea. A sinewy trail of embroidery floss quickly followed behind the needles’ ever-vigilant eye, streaming through the puncture hole as if it were a snake crawling into its sinister hole beneath a gloomy rock. Suddenly, the needle turned upward in my hand, and with another violent thrust — wham! — it ripped once more through the fibers…”

In this image you will see one finished lapel, and a cuff in progress.

After 7 days of working between 8 and 12 hours a day, I finished my embroidery!

Here are the finished pieces. From Left: Gilet Front, Jacket Collar, Jacket Front.

My next step will be to sew all these things together and see if they actually make a wearable garment!

Come back again next week to find out how far I have progressed — and maybe some of these things will actually start looking like clothes!

Update – All the Posts From This Series:

  1. My first post follows the making of the corsets for both ladies.
  2. The second post takes a look at my embroidery process, and brief reviews of some of the movies I viewed while sewing.
  3. The third post shows how I put together my Jacket and Gilet.
  4. My fourth post shows the inspiration and final pigeon breasted drawstring-front jacket.
  5. The fifth post talks about the hats I created, and features a step-by-step construction process.
  6. The sixth post shows outtakes from our photo shoot and the ladies in costume.

Embroidering an 18th Century Waistcoat

3 Apr

Today I am going to show you some pictures of the process I went through in order to embroider the Count D’Almaviva’s vest (waistcoat) for my Marriage of Figaro Shoot.

Here is a picture of the finished vest:

For reference, I relied on the book “18th Century Embroidery Techniques” by Gail Marsh.

18th Century Embroidery Techniques by Gail Marsh

Photographs of the Embroidery Process:

Making and 18th Century Men's Vest

The vest fabric and lining cut out. The fabric is Plum dupioni silk. I did not use the ivory lining after some consideration, and cut another out of purple.

The collection of packaged ribbon flowers that I used for the embroidery. I used many red/purple shades.

I laid out the flowers in a pattern featured in the book "18th Century Emroidry Techniques" by Gail Marsh.

Using a white marking pencil (Which I don't reccomend. I have found a much better water soluble marking pen) I drew the embroidery pattern on the vest by eye.

I laid out a cord along the vine line, and pinned it in place. This will be "couched" over, where thread is sewn over the cord to hold it in place.

Starting the couching, I used a green thread to sew over the cord, taking the pins out after tacking the cord at each pin.

Here the vine is further along.

Next, I started adding little embroidery leaves to the vine using a slightly lighter green thread.

Once the vine is finished, I added three flowers according to the marking pencil pattern.

Here is a picture of both the left and the right, fully embroidered. I also used glass seed beads and sequins more and more towards the top.

Here is the unattached collar with the finished embroidery.

A picture of the covered button with a sequins flower.

Close up of the Finished Count D'Almaviva Plum Silk Waistcoat