Flyaway Butterfly Gala…from imagination to tatting shuttles

I have been wanting to create this design for some time now. I thought I would take the time to share how something like this develops from the spark in the brain to the clicking of the shuttles to complete fruition. I enjoy making the Gala designs immensely. Quite possibly more than any other jewelry designing…maybe. The Gala Couture are bib or statement necklaces intended to be a tribute to a time of year, a season, a sense of something. In this case, it is a tribute to my beloved butterflies; PIXIE, Vivien, Sara, Daphne and Emma. The idea was butterflies flowing around your throat in a release, turning this way and that. A flow. And a delicate invasion frozen in time. The idea was in my head. The trick is to get it to my shuttles.


I was first concerned about the sizing and shape of the selected butterflies and how they should connect to one another as well as the overall shape of the design. I looked through my current work to find various representations of each and made simplistic outlines of them on paper. After copying the b-flies and cutting out the shapes, I manipulated them on paper until I came out with this concept:

Thread sizing is written beside the b-flies along with color. I wanted the heaviest shade at the bottom with a gentle gradient to silver/white at the top. Black, charcoal, silver and white were the chosen shades. Chic, neutral and sophisticated. No beading was tatted into the actual b-flies, I wanted them to steal the show! Now that I have a map, it’s down to tatting. Hours of tatting.


My sizing was off a little but I was pleased with the result. Here is the collection, initially after a few more hours of sewing in ends, adding Hematite beading to all the bodies and making antennae. On the left it is shown with my favorite tools; tapestry and quilting needles, needle threader, a tiny crochet hook, exceptionally sharp Ghinger embroidery scissors and my wooden awl for pulling picots into shape and flattening knots inside a flat velour lined box that allows me to store works in progress away from curious kitties.


The design lacked stability and I was concerned that the necklace would not lay properly without something anchoring the design in place. I don’t want my patrons to have to fix or play with my work to get it right. It should be easily worn. So I decided to add sheer black organdy to the back of the larger b-flies. This became a task all in itself. I traced the shape of the b-flies on paper and used the paper shape to cut out the organdy. Next I needed to tack the organdy in order to sew it straight to the b-flies in the right shape so they would not go askew. I wanted them to fly away not create chaos. I used a bright yellow floss so it could be removed easily when I was finished and there would be no question that it was the tacking thread. After hand sewing the organdy to specific points that not only anchored the b-flies, was undetectable and added a few more Hematite beads, I trimmed it very…VERY carefully around the outside edge. I wanted it to show through Emma at the bottom and both Daphne b-flies without showing through the picots. I decided to create a plunge in the organdy in the middle of the b-flies.


After all of this work I realized that my Gala was not long enough on one side to create the shape I wanted and there were a few points that seemed a bit bare. The design was unbalanced and was heavy on one side. In come the PIXIES! I worked three more wee PIXIE Butterflies into the design, added beads and antennae as I secured them to the design. And the work is not over! Next I created two silver organdy bands for the necklace. While the glue was setting inside the ribbon ends, I flipped the Gala over and added an anti-fray compound to all edges of the black organdy. I straightened, trimmed and molded the antennae and made sure there are no weaknesses. I pulled picots and wings into shape adding a small amount of an invisible fluid here and there for moderate stiffness to retain the shape of the design. I went over the work about three times in this manner molding the Gala into the effect I wanted. Voila!


A labor of love, this one of a kind creation was well worth the time. The total length is about 15″ including the plunge with a 2″ extender to make it easy to adjust. I am seen wearing it above with a plunging blouse and below with a black corset top. I am particularly small (4’11”) and after seeing this on my best friend who has a wider chest and neck, I think this will be well suited for anyone larger than me…which is pretty much everyone. The width and length of the actual butterflies is 5.75″ x 6.5″ respectively. The wingspan at the bottom of Emma is 3.5″. A true statement piece I am very happy with the end result of my idea. There will be more Butterfly Galas as Abagail and Sophie were not included in this one. If you have any questions visit the official Etsy listing for all the specs: Flyaway on Etsy

I hope you enjoyed this peak into my creative process. Thanks for listening!



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