Diaphanous Flower Dress, Part One

I don’t like summer.

I know, it’s an absolute sin to say that. But I don’t like the heat, or the sun, or the bugs. Ugh, the bugs…

I’m definitely not the person who makes facebook statuses complaining about cold weather and overcast days – in fact I savor them. When summer comes around I sadly pack my fuzzy pajama pants, sweaters, and hot chocolate packets away for a few months and wish for colder temperatures.

If I think really hard about it I can come up with two things I do like about summer. There is an adorable family of tiny bunnies that live on our lawn throughout the season, and craft stores put all there summer items on clearance sales to make room for fall merchandise.

I figure I should take advantage of one of the things I like in this god awful season, and since the bunnies won’t let me get within ten feet of them, summer clearance sales were my only option.

The majority of these came from Michales, I made a huge order during an independence day sale when they were all 50% off.

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Then I bought even more flowers from Joann’s, which were on clearance for less then a dollar a piece.

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And I followed that by buying even MORE from Michaels summer clearance, at seventy cents a piece.

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I bought these heaps of flowers with a project in mind, I wanted to sew them into the hem of a dress and overlay them with a sheer fabric to make them look a little less fake.

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Originally I wanted to use chiffon, but I quickly realized it was too opaque. I thought about using organza, but didn’t like the texture. I ended up deciding on two layers of tulle as an overlay, with organza and chiffon as a base for the flowers.

I wanted to pair the skirt  with a corset bodice made from tulle, which unfortunately isn’t really possible. After some experimenting I realized I could use silk organza to create a solid structure for the bodice, then overlay that with chiffon and tulle. I would still have the sheer factor, but it would be much more durable.

The skirt is just a simple circle skirt, I really had no clue how long to make this. I wanted to pair it over a fluffy petticoat, which would make the skirt appear shorter…but I wasn’t sure if the weight of flowers would collapse the petticoat. I didn’t want it to be down to my knees, but I didn’t want it to be too short either so I took a guess and made a 22 inch circle skirt pattern.

I didn’t have enough chiffon for a full circle skirt, so my skirt is actually a 3/4 circle.

The pattern below is half that size, when cut on a fold it forms the correct size.

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I cut my skirt from a layer of organza, then again from chiffon, and basted (by hand) the layers together. Chiffon, tulle, and organza are all very slippy, not very well behaved fabrics so pretty much everything had to be basted before machine sewing pieces together.

Once that was done I sewed half inch horsehair braid into the hem, which is why it looks so wavy! At first I was worried it wouldn’t lay flat thanks to this, but the weight of the flowers ended up keeping it smooth. What a relief!

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I pulled all the flower blossoms off of the stems. In some cases I had to use tin snips or scissors, but most of them were easy to remove.

Then I poured them all onto my skirt – which made a dramatic picture but was a really bad idea. I got heaps of flower related lint onto my fabric and spent ages with a lint roller getting it all off (super fun).

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I got organized and set aside all the leaves, which I had saved. I might do something with them later on…

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I used a heavy duty glue gun made by Westward to attach all of these onto the skirt. The model I used takes 1/2″ glue sticks which makes the process much faster. I had better luck with applying hot glue to the flowers themselves then the fabric.

If you try this at home please do a test with whatever fabric you are using to make sure the hot glue won’t melt straight through it! The hot glue did melt the polyester chiffon I used as a top layer, but the silk organza (underneath it) did not melt.

I also clipped the plastic bits off the flowers before gluing them down. These plastic bits keep the stem and petals attached together, so it’s important to only snip it right before gluing them – the glue melts the plastic and keeps everything together which is why it isn’t a problem later on.

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Also I did do this on a rug but I used a set heavy duty melt proof lid underneath the portions I was working on. If you are working with sheer materials, don’t use cardboard or paper as a protective layer, the glue will take the paper with it. You’ll end up with brown paper bits all over your fabric which isn’t attractive.

After maybe half an hour of gluing I had a lot done! At this point I wasn’t very happy with the skirt. I felt it looked really tacky and I was honestly pretty upset by it.

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I ended up adding daisies to fill in any gaps (there were many) and adding many more hydrangeas to create a gradient of sorts. After that, I was much happier, so I moved on to the tulle overlay!

After sewing them hem and everything my skirt length was twenty inches, so I cut two layers of tulle that were forty inches long and one hundred and twenty inches wide.

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I basted the two pieces together, then gathered one end to be the same width as the skirt waist.

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 I sewed this end onto the backside of my skirt, then gathered the other end and sewed it onto the front of the waist. This gave my skirt a “bubble” hem and also encased everything in a layer of tulle. At this point I actually loved the way it was looking, the tulle gave it the lightweight “magical” look I wanted.

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Here is a picture of it on the dress form, with the matching bodice. I’ll talk about making that next week.

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Here are some more tips if you attempt to make this:

Vacuum your workspace between every step and lint roll each fabric before sewing, if any lint gets trapped between the materials fabrics it will be nearly impossible to get out.

If you have long hair and are prone to shedding, tie it back. Trying to get hair strands that are sandwiched between organza and chiffon out with tweezers is not fun, trust me.

You can use a lint roller to remove any hot glue strands after they’ve dried, so try not to worry about them too much during the process of attaching flowers.

Make sure to use a petticoat that has “bouncy” fabrics, the weight of the flowers isn’t too bad but it will collapse most tulle petticoats. I used one that is organza with cotton ruffles, which is much less prone to deflating then tulle or net.

For the record I have no problems with people taking inspiration from or trying to recreate my designs. I think it’s pretty awesome some people like them enough to do so, just please do not claim the design (or any of my photos) as your own.

Thanks for reading!

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42 thoughts on “Diaphanous Flower Dress, Part One

  1. Alecia says:

    Love this! My daughter has decided she wants to be a vampire bride for Halloween this year, and I can really see using this technique for the skirt (but using black and red flowers, and maybe some spiders….)

  2. Robin says:

    Super cute! oh, and I am right on board with you for not liking summer and heat. Hubby keeps our AC just a little colder so we can keep out of comfy winter clothes and we go into indoor hibernation.

  3. Julia Andersen says:

    That is a really cute skirt. I may have to make something along these lines at some point, but not sure yet exactly what I would want. It would probably be Lord of the Rings themed in any case.

  4. annekecaramin says:

    Beautifully done! Please don’t take this the wrong way, but isn’t this inspired by a gif that’s been going around Tumblr for a bit? This one: https://38.media.tumblr.com/f9d5502d5fb76ac4adaeffe9f0c15cf9/tumblr_n2wnu6TCYw1r9rffqo1_400.gif The dress is by a Japanese brand called Dresscamp. I just saw a lot of similarities (especially in the skirt) and thought it was a bit strange you were so adamant about people giving you credit! To be honestthe first thing I thought when I saw this was ‘oh cool, she has seen that gif as well and made something really pretty!’ so I was a bit surprised to see nothing about possible inspiration!

    Or maybe it’s just a massive coincidence 🙂

    • Angela Clayton says:

      I’ve never seen that before, but it’s pretty lovely! I like the colors they used a lot. I mostly follow comedy or progress blogs on tumblr, not so much fashion stuff.

      I’m really pretty relaxed about credits – I just don’t like it when people watermark my photos and claim them as there own, or try to sell things they’ve made from write ups on my blog. A few of the photos of this project from my tumbr got posted on twitter with someones name plastered on top so I felt like saying something with hopes of preventing it from happening again.

      The idea of flowers near the hem was inspired by a *very* different taffeta wedding gown on project runway. The tulle/flower inspo was from a House of Worth and Phantom of the Opera gown.


      • annekecaramin says:

        Thanks for the links, those are really pretty! I completely understand about the credit thing, it can be very frustrating to see your stuff pop up all over without your name along with it (I’m an illustrator and sometimes I even get questions from people asking me to use the stuff I’ve drawn for other clients, for free. People are crazy.)

        Thanks for replying so nicely! I love what you do!

      • annekecaramin says:

        Hey calm down! I was trying to ask nicely instead of barging in like ‘omg you just totally ripped this design!’. Turns out I was wrong, and we both found some really pretty things in the end. English isn’t my first language so I sometimes find it hard to express things in a nuanced matter, but I really just thought she might have forgotten to mention where the inspiration for this came from.

    • CatetheCat says:

      I much prefer Angela’s dress. The Dresscamp version looks and moves like a sack with a bunch of flowers indiscriminately tossed into the bottom. Unbalanced and silly. Angela, you have impeccable design instincts!

  5. Bsewstylish says:

    Love this dress ( though all your work is stunning)
    The effect of the chiffon over the flowers gives the dress an ethereal quality, I’ll definitely be keeping that in mind for the future.

  6. Charity says:

    I love how the skirt of the dress looks! The tulle overlay makes it look so ethereal. I’m wondering what I would have to change make a washable version of the skirt for my daughters…. it would have to be washable, because they are pretty young and very messy. Also, my husband and I both hate summer and love winter… you have plenty of company. =)

  7. Amelia says:

    Hi, I really enjoy your work. I have found a quick and easy way of get rid of glue threads from a hot glue gun, is to go over them with a hair dryer. The dryer melts them and makes everything look net and tidy….Amelia from Australia

  8. Cat says:

    I hate summer too, which is why I may or may not have already planned out my Halloween costume **whoops** Do you think I could recreate this look, but instead of red and yellow flowers, use black petals, and instead of white tulle use black tulle? Also, I don’t really sew a lot, I can do the basics, but do you think a mediocre sewer could recreate this dress if it was for only one night? Thank you so much:) Congratulations on you extraordinary masterpiece as well, you should be really proud:)

  9. Esin says:

    So pretty! You are SO talented and creative.
    Every time I see your dresses and creations I get the urge to sew something too but I need a new sewing machine first haha

  10. SunnyJIm says:

    I love how this turned out! I’ve been seeing little girl dress-up skirts with flowers between the layers for years, and loved them, but never thought to do a grown-up version. Well done!

    On a different note, if you’re ever looking for a super sheer fabric with less stiffness/more drape than tulle, check out Dharma Trading Company’s silk gauze – it’s very reasonably priced, dyes well (if necessary), and is just enough different from the tulle, organza or chiffon you can get at JoAnn to be worth mentioning. 🙂

  11. Jazmyn says:

    This is really beautiful. I’m going to masquerade and I want to stand out so I thought I would do a fairy type of dress and I was wondering how would you do it by the no-sew method, because the event is coming up quickly.

    • Angela Clayton says:

      Thank you. Unfortunately all my dresses require sewing skills, and I’ve never made a dress without sewing. Though there are certain shortcuts that can be taken with glue, lacing, and various methods I really would not suggest you attempt making an entire dress without any stitching. Certain things like gathering, bodice seams, and boning channels require sewing knowledge. Sorry!

  12. NikaChuS2 says:

    Hello, I was wondering, what kind of closure did you use on the skirt? Thank you! This dress is absolutely beautiful and the idea is wonderful :3

  13. Valentine says:

    Hi! I love your desings but I was wondering, how do you get in the dress? a zipper? if so where do you put it in the skirt??

  14. Lili says:

    Hello 🙂 I love all your dress, you are a genious! ^_^ I have a question regarding the skirt, are you using a pettitcoat underneath? Or is it only with the fabrics you used? 🙂 Thank you!

  15. Kim says:

    I love all of your tutorials. You’re very kind to share all these tutorials for people like us and it’s so kind of you to share all the secrets and techniques. Thanks a lot for all of them. You are amazing and I hope you flourish more.

    Also, this dress is super wonderful. Been wanting to make one but maybe when the flowers are on sale. haha!

    Thanks again for the wonderful tutorial and your kindness is amazing. Keep up the awesomeness!

  16. Liza says:

    How would you make the skirt longer so that it can have a more evening gown feel. Sorry I’m new at this and just wondering is making a bigger circle would work or if there is another trick to it.
    P.S. It’s really lovely

  17. Rali says:

    Honestly, I’m so in love with this dress so I decided that I’m going to try to make it for my senior prom (I hope you don’t mind). I have only a month and it’s my first time sewing anything, but I’ll still try, I’ve got nothing to losе…and your directions are very helpfull so I’m hoping that it will turn out good. But I’m thinking about putting purple flowers instead of red ones…

    • Barbara Winters says:

      My daughter and I have decided that this would make a great wedding dress. Nice to have the fabric recommendations! Very helpful. We are contemplating making it waltz length though. Do you recommend a crinoline type petticoat for that?
      Barb W

  18. Brianna Labonte says:

    I absolutely love the dress! Would there be any way of buying on from you for my senior semi? I absolutely love your work and need to show it off at the last high school event I’ll ever have! If you could please get back to me that’d be great!

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