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!