Friday, July 14, 2017

Once Upon a Runway: The Butterfly Dress

Hello, friends!

This post is one I am super excited to share with you. I'm sure I've mentioned it in the past a few times, but now that I finally have the time to write up a proper post, I can share and show all the details of this dress, and the crazy journey to its completion.

Today, we're going over the dress I made for the 2017 Liberty University FACS Fashion Show: Once Upon a Runway.

So, what jumpstarted the creation of this dress and my involvement in the fashion show? I went to the first meeting for the show, back in October of 2016, where the theme was announced and all the details were given to prospective designers. If there was any doubts in my mind whether I would take part or not, they left in a big hurry when the theme was revealed to be "Once Upon a Time" (all things fairytale, basically). Come on!!! For the girl who wants to make costumes for a living, I couldn't have thought of a better theme myself. :D

I went through several options for my inspiration piece (ranging from The Nutcracker ballet to the legend of Robin Hood), but, thanks to some encouragement from a fellow designer, I ended up going with my first choice and gut instinct: a butterfly dress, inspired by the traditional Chinese fairytale, "Butterfly Lovers."

Now, the fairytale itself is a little strange (as many fairytales go), but all that really mattered was the butterfly part. ;D SO, once I finally decided on the fairytale and the Blue Morpho butterfly as my inspiration. I got to designing...

I went through several illustrations in various mediums before I settled on a final drawing:

watermarked because, i dunno, would someone steal my concept??
So, we've got a design, now to start on the fun part: making the design a reality!!!

First up, I got to choose a model to wear my design at one of the casting sessions held for us designers. I met the sweetest, most amazing, beautiful girl named Berkley there (I'm pretty sure it was a divine appointment -- she was SUCH a blessing to me throughout the whole two semesters!!), and after she agreed to be my model and I officially selected her, I got her measurements and began draping the pattern for the dress.

The mockup took a couple evenings to perfect, and next up, it was time to make the lining, which I would try on my model to ensure the pattern fit perfectly before going ahead to the actual dress fabric. I decided to do only a partial lining, just for the top, to save myself some heartache. ;)

I used a yard of some lovely gray polyester lining I already had on hand, cut out the pieces, then basted them together by hand, so I could get those seams just right with the slippery fabric.

After trying it on my model, I was ready to purchase fabric for the actual dress! After doing a ton of research (and I mean, a TON), I finally settled on 5 yards of a gorgeous silver cotton velveteen (which is known for being easier to work with than silk velvet -- YAY), plus a brown cotton lawn with little thread tufts scattered throughout the fabric, both from  The velveteen would be used for the main dress (you know how a butterfly's body is kinda fuzzy? That's the effect I was going for ;D), and the cotton lawn would be for the backside of the wings/cape. Later on, I finally found the *perfect* fabric for the inside of the butterfly cape wings from Joann: a poly-blend satin in the most glorious shade of blue, with an absolutely gorgeous drape and hand.

samples of the fabrics used in the design, for the design boards on display at the show.
Now to finally start putting this dress together!


After the dress was complete and hemmed up all pretty, it was time to get started on the wing cape.

I cut out both the brown backing and the blue lining in the general shape of butterfly wings, then I got to painting the black veins on the blue fabric (which was quite the process. quite the LONG and STRESSFUL process. but oh so worth it in the end :D).

After the wings were all done, I sewed the backing and lining together (with the raw edges tucked inside, of course), and added wire to the top edges of the wings so they could be held out taught.

All that was left after that was to add snaps to the cape and dress at the top of the shoulder so they could be worn together seamlessly.

And that, my friends, is the end of the process of making the dress and the end of this post! Check back next week for the final pictures and videos of the dress, and the tale of everything that happened at the fashion show itself!!

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