Making a Fall Flower Fairy, Part One

Sorry for my lack of updates! I had my wisdom teeth out and my recovery wasn’t fun. It took me almost two weeks to get back to sewing, and then I got distracted by new projects…

But now i’m focused again and updates should be back to the regular two times a week!

A couple months ago I made a flower dress inspired by Spring and Summer, though I didn’t completely love the finished dress I did really enjoy making it. Before it was even finished I had ideas from more dresses using the same technique, so it’s not too surprising that I decided to make another very similar dress.

This time I’m going with an Autumn theme, using flowers from Ashlands fall collection.

I purchased these a few weeks ago when they were 40% off, but I had a 20% off the entire purchase coupon too. I was just in Michaels the other day and they were all 60% off which means they will be on clearance soon – if you are interested in getting fall flowers now is the time to do so!

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Fall flowers are probably my favorite, even though I dislike orange and yellow I love how the warm rich tones look together. Fall in general is pretty great, it starts to cool off, candy corn becomes available, it’s the season of pumpkin pie, and it becomes socially acceptable to wear dark lipstick.

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My original design for this dress looked like this! I wanted to make the bodice reminiscent of oak leaves, which was a neat idea in theory, but I later on decided I wanted the dress to have sleeves, so I changed it to be a simpler design. The skirt plan was pretty simple, a three quarter circle skirt with asymmetrical flower designs and a tulle overlay to create a bubble hem.

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Step one was drafting the skirt. It’s a simple three eighths of a circle pattern, which will become a three quarter circle skirt when cut on a fold.

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Then I cut the pattern out! For this project I decided to use  golden mirror organza as the bottom layer, and two tone chiffon for the top.

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Like last time, both of these layers were basted together by hand. Then I ironed them and sewed horsehair into the hem. I did a really terrible job on this hem because I decided I didn’t need to use pins. It won’t be visible in the end so I didn’t bother to redo it, but it’s pretty cringey!

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There was also a slight ironing problem which led to me burning a massive hole into the chiffon layer.

But that’s okay! I’ll cover it with flowers and no one will even know.

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Once the skirt was hemmed and pressed I laid it flat and organized my flowers around it.

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Then it was time for flower arranging! This is my favorite part but also the most difficult. I got a lot of questions about it last time, so i’m going to go a bit more in depth about the process.

I worked in ten or twelve inch sections because that’s how big my glue proof surface was. I like working in small increments though, it makes it easier.

I like to start off by laying the big flowers first. In this case that was a yellow sunflower.

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Then I pick a color scheme for that section and chose flowers with those tones – in this case I was going for orange and red. I place the medium flowers next, then fill extra space in with smaller ones. I lay every section out completely before gluing so I don’t get stuck with an arrangement I don’t like.

Also, if you are concerned about not having enough flowers, figure out ahead of time how many you can use per an increment. I counted up all my “statement” (large) flowers ahead of time to make sure I had enough to use at least three in each section.

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Once you like how they look, glue them down. Remember to press each flower into the fabric for several seconds so the glue can bond to the material.

If there are any gaps in your arrangement fill them in with smaller flowers, petals, or leaves that match the flower colors.

(this isn’t the same section as above but I think you get the idea!)

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At the very end I went through and bent each section, here you can really see the gaps.

Though things may look fine when flat that doesn’t mean they will look that way when draped over a skirt form, or manipulated in any way. The skirt is likely going to move at some point, so to make it look better I filled all of these in with more flowers.

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This is what it looked like when it was mostly finished. I went back in later and added a few more to create more asymmetrical interest.

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And on the dress form!

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Now for the tulle! The tulle layer is a huge rectangle. The tulle length should be a little longer then the size of the skirt hem, and the width should be a bit more then twice the skirt length. Mine ended up being 44″x144″, and since I wanted the colors to be a bit more muted, I decided to use two layers of tulle instead of one.

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To keep things easier to manage I basted my two layers of tulle together.

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Then I gathered one edge and sewed it onto the waist of the skirt.

Oh, before I did this I removed all glue trails and lint from both layers of fabric.

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Then the other edge gets gathered, looped over, and sewn to the other side of the skirt waist. Or if you’re like me and accidentally make the tulle layer too long, it may look like this…

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After trimming the extra tulle my skirt looked like this!

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And here it is with the matching bodice!

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I love it so much. I like the colors I used this time around way more then the red and white. I think it looks far more interesting and way less juvenile.

Thanks for reading!

Also, I did create a video that shows the process of making this dress. If you are interested it can be watched below or accessed through this link!

(videos do not show up in most emails)

Diaphanous Flower Dress, Part Two

Here is the second part of making my flowery dress! The first part, which talks about the skirt, can be found here!

The bodice of this dress is a simple sweetheart that drafted a few months ago for a different project. I actually planned to do a pattern making tutorial on this project, so I have nearly twenty five photos of how it was made! But this post will be long enough without those, so i’ll only show you two.

Here is the draped bodice on my dress form.

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And here is what the finished pattern looks like!

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Step one was cutting out all the pieces. This was made more difficult (by that I mean really annoying) by the fact I chose to make this bodice from sheer and slippery materials.

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Each piece was cut from two layers of tulle, a layer of chiffon, and a layer of organza. After cutting them out I hand basted all the layers together. I also used tape to keep track of which pieces go were – they sort of all look the same!

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The two front pieces were done a little bit differently, the tulle layers were assembled separately from the rest, this way I can attach flowers to the chiffon/organza layer and use the tulle as an overlay.

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The pieces are sewn together with a three quarter inch seam allowance. All the seams are pressed open, then turned under to create a quarter inch wide pocket. This finishes off the seams really nicely and creates a channel you can slip boning into.

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Here they are finished – not the most even stitching in the world, but this was my first time trying the technique, so i’m sure i’ll get better!

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I repeated the process on my front panels, then inserted plastic boning into all the channels.

Once that was done I began the process of gluing flowers onto the bodice! I started with some petals.

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I wanted to keep the flowers even on both sides, but I wasn’t aiming for perfect symmetry. Please ignore all the icky glue tails, a sweep with a lint roller removes them all!

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At this point it was time to add the tulle overlay…which looked awful. The seams in the tulle looked terrible and I wasn’t happy with it all. I also really disliked how the center seam looks, so distracting!

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I decided to cut the tulle to be all one piece, tulle has enough stretch that it doesn’t have to have a bust curve…at least not on me and my tiny bust.

For the center seam I decided to stitch a scattering of pearls and sparkly bits to create a little more visual interest, and hopefully, distract from the ugly seam.

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Then I basted my tulle layer on top. I like how this looks so much more then my original plan, just shows that you shouldn’t be afraid to change things that aren’t working out, that’s part of being an artist!

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I attached the front panels to the rest and added boning into that seam.

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I took a minute to try it on and though I could fit into it, it was a little snug and I was worried about the tulle ripping. I added an extra (very small) panel on each side which gave an extra half inch of room. A half inch was all I needed, and it fit so much better!

Then I moved on to the waistband, which is the only opaque part of this costume. I made it from white cotton sateen with an overlay of chiffon and tulle.

The pieces were basted together.

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Then the edges were turned under with a basting stitch.

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I set this aside for a bit and used lace to finish the top and bottom edge of the bodice.

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The waistband was pinned on.

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Then the top of the waistband was sewn on with very tiny hand stitches.

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The pins for the other side were removed and the skirt was sewn on.

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Then the waistband was pinned down again.

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And sewed on. It actually looked like a dress, which is great.

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I trimmed a few threads and sewed in a zipper, and the whole thing was finished!

But it was missing something. That something was an obnoxious floral headpiece. I made a simple flower crown of sorts, I don’t have any photos of how I made it, but I do have a video tutorial! It can be watched here.

The finished thing looks like this!

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And when that’s worn with the dress, the finished product looks like this.

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So that’s that! This dress didn’t come out the way I had hoped, but i’m glad that I stepped outside of my comfort zone and made it, because it was fun!

I’m also really flattered and amazed by the positive feedback i’ve gotten on this project. It makes me really happy to know you guys like it!

Thanks for reading!

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!