The Silver Birch Bride
Penny Muncaster-Jewell

The Silver Birch Bride waits for her secret midnight wedding under the silvery full moon. Her beautiful cape is made from approximately 1400 leaves. Each leaf was digitized and embroidered individually, cut out then rejoined to make the base fabric. The leaves were stitched in a variety of sizes, fabrics using different colors of Sulky metallic thread. The fabrics were various shades of crystallite organza (white, gold, silver, and grey), my own hand-dyed blue silk, silver lame and even some hologram material for additional glitz. Additional free-floating leaves were added so that as the garment is worn the leaves will rustle like a tree in a gentle breeze. The cape was finished off with a collar composed of a circle of embroidered leaves.

The dress fabric was selected because it resembled the bark of a silver birch tree. The dress bodice was fitted by creating a free format design of leaves with a graceful low-cut back and sensuous curved line of free falling leaves to create a sense of movement to the dress. Additional leaves were then individually stitched to the dramatically draped train. The tiara was made from additional leaves to complete her elegant bridal ensemble. No patterns were used for the outfit, which is an original design created by draping on a dress form.

Some of the leaves were digitized using a unique stitch I developed for computerized embroidery based on the mossing stitch developed by Ken Smith, an Australian Free Motion Embroiderer. I used the Brother PE-Design software to digitize the leaves. It leaves took over 30 minutes to stitch out one leaf. Overall nearly 1600 individual leaves were embroidered and used in the ensemble. The leaves used 103 small spools of Sulky metallic and 10 large spools of Sulky silver, which is over 16 miles of thread, and 28 yards of fabric were used for the leaves. Each leaf is composed of two layers of fabric. Sulky invisible thread was used to create the cape’s base fabric and to attach the leaves to the cape, dress and tiara.

The Sky is not the limit, nor are the stars. It’s your imagination!