I had made the sketch for a dragonfly corset quite a while ago, well before I owned the laser-engraver or the software skills required to make this corset a reality. When I was starting to think about a design for the Foundations Revealed competition it struck me that this design was quite reminiscent of a fairy outfit from the Midsummer Night's Dream ballet and that it would look quite amazing if I were to add a tutu…. Little did I know what I was getting into at this point. This competition was the excuse and opportunity to experiment and make something outside my comfort zone.
I started with a gently curved short overbust corset pattern, which I drafted to look like a ballet bodice. In order to make this costume a reality I had to teach myself some significant Illustrator skills to be able to make vector files to send to our laser engraver. I wanted to preserve the light veins of the dragonfly wings but at the same time I needed the wings to be stable enough to sew into. I ended up using a polyester viscose satin, which in hindsight proved a little fragile. I wanted the wings to be iridescent and colourful, like true fairy wings. So I built up the wings out of a layer of silk which I hand painted in oil slick colours with silk dye. On top of that I placed an iridescent green-blue organza, and on top of that, the lasercut wings. I tacked the layers together by hand and hand-appliquéd them to the bodice.
A while back I had a metal finishing company do a custom test run of a rainbow PVD (Physical Vapor Deposition) coating on some corset busks. Unfortunately it did not turn out durable enough on the loops and pins, but on the main part of the busks it looked cool, so I took one of the trial rainbow coated spoonbusks and used it for this corset. As an experiment I wanted to see if a cut out of the fabric covering the busk would stand up to wear. It did not; the delicate cutout tore before the first shoot. I intend to search on in future projects for different fabrics that can stand up better to laser cut holes.
I had my heart set on a flat pancake tutu. Although this would cover part of the corset, I wanted it to look like it was all one outfit. By adding wings, both on the tutu itself and on the basque, I think I accomplished that. I had not initially anticipated the complexity of construction that goes into an actual pancake tutu. As I also wanted to show off the corset on its own, I ended up making a second romantic tutu, in which I also used the iridescent organza as the bottom layer. It shines through the black and light blue tulle really nicely. As a finishing touched, I embellished the corset and tutu with iridescent glass beads.