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Friday, June 17, 2011

A Monet Inspired, Silk, Hand Beaded, DIY Evening Purse

Last week I was cleaning out my workroom and came across two things I'd like to share with you. One is this hand beaded evening purse I made years ago. I love this purse and have only used it a couple of times because it's so special. Because I don't really know how to sew well with a machine I kept it simple in shape and did a lot of hand sewing to add in the strap, zipper and lining.

I loved the color palette of this purse. It is very Claude Monet, water lilies, impressionistic to me. Calm, serene and beautiful.

The beading however was easy because this was the other thing I found, the sampler from a class I took years ago at a really cute shop called Rosemille that used to be located in Willow Glen, CA now relocated to Stillwater MN. The store offered all kinds of design classes and Kenneth D. King, a couture designer from San Francisco, was teaching a beading class so I signed up.

Kenneth was super fun and he brought his very sweet Cocker Spaniel Daisy with him while he taught the class. That made me a fan of his right off the bat since I love dogs so much. Daisy was friendly and very well mannered. Kitai in the same situation would be a terrible distraction squeaking his rubber chicken, trying to sit on people's laps and running around the room with a fit of crazy zoomies. LOL

Kenneth was already famous when I took that class probably around 15 years ago. His resume is impressive and begins in 1985 when he began creating original design, one of a kind hats and home furnishings that were picked up by Maxfields in Los Angeles. Soon celebrities like Elton John, Cloris Leachman, Don Johnson and Geena Davis became collectors of his work.

From there he moved into clothing creating stunning couture that featured both strong sculptural aspects combined with intricate and innovate detail work. His work is very flirty!

"Kenneth D. King Design is a small haute couture house that has a distinct aesthetic identity. King produces one-of-a-kind, made to measure pieces for women and men, as well as limited-edition pieces for boutiques."

Here are close ups of some of the beading techniques I learned that day in Kenneth's class. Come to think of it I think this is the only design class I've ever taken. It was fun. I really should find more to try when I have some free time.

Front and Back

So one day I thought to myself I should use as many techniques as possible from that class and put them all into a single item. Because I don't know how to sew clothes a pillow or a purse were my two options because I could sew squares and rectangles. LOL

I used dupioni silk and my sewing machine to create the body of the purse.

Beginning from the top, this is the beaded strap. I used sets of three to five glass delica beads (size 15/0) to create the tiny clusters of blue and lavender beads from end to end and all around the fabric strap which was a piece of trim I bought off a spool.

Along the top line I combined a row of vintage, orchid colored, translucent sequins with a beaded fringe of size 8/0 glass seed beads and Swarovski Austrian Crystals.

Across the center of the purse I used pressed glass petal shaped beads and delica seed beads to create this blooming, trailing vine. I think I sketched the pattern on paper first then transferred it to the fabric but it was so long ago I honestly don't remember for sure.

In the center of each flower is a 6mm, dark purple bluish, Swarovski Crystal Marguerite bead.

And along the bottom was a small strip of sea-foam colored fabric trim that I embellished with minuscule vintage sequins and delica glass beads, larger fish scale vintage sequins that had the holes coming off a tab on one side instead of being in the middle of the sequin and another beaded fringe using the same pressed glass beads as I'd used on the flowers but this time hanging from the bottom of the purse and set in place with more size 8/0 seed beads.

After putting so much work into the beading I thought I better finish the purse properly so I hand-sewed this zipper in. I'd never done this before so it took a few tries.

After putting the zipper in place I then hand-sewed in a lining in a contrasting shade of dupioni silk.

Not too shabby for a first attempt at a beaded evening bag. But it was a lot of work. I started but never finished another. I'll have to find it and work on it on a rainy day.

There is no question that Kenneth is an outstanding designer but one of the most memorable things about him to me has always been the way he creatively marketed his first book. The man is brilliant! His book Cool Couture has the most interesting beginning of any book I've ever heard of.

After writing the book and filling it with photos and diagrams about sewing techniques, this is what the publisher came up with for the cover and the title Designer Techniques was so mundane. Ugh. Seriously? Yawn. It was pretty awful as far as Kenneth was concerned. But the publisher had final say and this is the cover the book was shipped with.

End of story?

Not so fast.

Being the creative force that he is Kenneth found a way to work around the publisher by producing his own book jacket with the title "Cool Tricks" and shipped it for free to the stores that were carrying his book. I'd imagine every shop was happy to switch out the covers because Kenneth's was fun and fresh and his title Cool Tricks was so much more original and appealing and really reflected him, his aesthetic and personality.

When I purchased his book I received both covers which is why I could photograph both of them for you for this post! Since then the book has been updated, republished and was renamed Cool Couture.


If you'd like to take classes from Kenneth you will find him in NYC where he relocated years ago shortly after I met him. He now has 15 other sewing instruction (CD) books and you can learn more about his upcoming classes and his books on his website by CLICKING HERE.

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