Corset pattern/kit: Sew Curvy Model, Makeup, Hair, Kimono, & Corset, and photo editing by Maeri Certo Photos by Matthew Shadrake
I named my project Psyche, because in Greek myth, she was sometimes portrayed as a maiden with the wings of a butterfly. This outfit came about in stages, but all of it from a desire to teach myself new skills and pay homage to things from my childhood. My great aunt had butterflies under glass in her kitchen, and that inspired the corset. The kimono was made/painted for a friend’s masquerade wedding, but I wanted to keep my wings from being a hazard to other people or objects around me, and thought that kimono sleeves would make a lovely set of wings. The mask was made for the wedding outfit as well. The front designs are stenciled on, and the back wing design is a combination of handmade stencils and free hand painting.
I used a Sophia underbust kit from Sew Curvy, as it was the most convenient & cost effective way for me to get the base supplies for my design. I had toyed with using corset mesh, but needed to keep within a certain budget. I found lots of help and inspiration in the Learn Corset Making group on Facebook, with advice & support coming from a number of the mentors and corsetieres I admire.
The biggest challenge I’ve had to overcome during this process was re-finding my motivation after my mom died in the midst of my designing & planning. My materials include herringbone coutil, bias tape purchased locally for contrast, steel boning, and organza & bead embellishments. The kimono is hand-painted silk dupioni. Process shots are available at my Instagram account.
What was it like to compete this year? What would you say to someone who is on the fence about entering next year?
It was actually pretty therapeutic after my mom's death, to do something new to me, and work with materials I'd not used before (the coutil). I stressed a bit in the planning phase, trying to decide what to make to go with the corset and worrying about affording the supplies, but I'm really glad I did it. For anyone on the fence next year, I would say that simply making the time for yourself to make something for the contest is an act of self-care and reminding yourself to make time for your interests/passions-- and no matter the result, that's always a worthwhile thing.
Lovely idea to use a kimono to evoke the idea of wings. The whole outfit is dreamy - beautiful work!
Those organza butterflies look like watercolor- light and dreamy. The pastels against the black and white contrast are very eye catching, providing visual appeal.
Thank you!! I debated taking pictures at the Cleveland Art Museum, in front of a panel of Monet’s waterlillies, but they don’t love unscheduled photoshoots, so we used the Italian Garden down the street. So it’s delightful to me that you think they look like watercolors!
This is really magical, I like the graphic nature of the prints with the flowing kimono drapes and almost watercolour effect of the corset butterflies
Really beautiful, I love the light and flowing kimono, and the black and pastel embellishments are so striking.
I really like that you chose to make those 3D butterfly wings. It was great to see them flutter in the wind you captured in your video.
Such beautiful colours and the paintings on the Kimono have turned out great too! I can only imagine, how hard it must have been to carry on with this project after such a terrible loss, but it was totally worth it and I found your thoughts about why people should enter the contest very moving in this context as well. Thank you for sharing the background story of this beautiful project with us!
Thank you so much. I choked up reading your comments.
This is a great interpretation. The outfit seems so wearable for any number of special events. The corset is beautiful. The stenciling is stunning and I agree, it looks like watercolors. The butterfly also symbolizes change rebirth and renewal.
I'd love to learn how you created your butterflies.
Mlilith, rebirth and hope were parts of why I wanted to do a butterfly, rather than a mantis, scarab, etc... in the Pandora myth, the hope still captured in the box is sometimes potrayed as a butterfly, and I’ve loved that image since I was a child!
As for how I made the butterflies— I spent several hours tracing the shape from a stencil, with the fabric pinned in several layers, so I was cutting quite a few at one time, and cut out my pieces with my Nonna’s embroidery nippers I inherited. I would estimate that I probably spent almost as long cutting the two different sizes of butterflies out as I did actually sewing the corset! The smaller, lighter blue ones are 3-4 layers each, and the other colors are all 2 layers of organza each, sewn on with clear thread and then beaded by hand as well. (I love hand sewing and hand details!)
Thank you for the kind words! I made the organza butterflies by folding the fabric so that I had about seven layers or so, traced the design (which I did in two different sizes), pinned the layers together, then cut out using embroidery nippers. Then I layered them together on the corset. The purples and the darker blue are layered in pairs and the lighter blue were layered 3-4 pieces each to bring out the color better. So e of the darker ones, I layered blue & purple together, to keep things interesting. I’d say my little bugs took around 6 hours to cut them all (there are a TON of them)!
What a moving story, Maeri, I'm grateful for you that you have had something to work on to see you through a time of grieving. The butterflies only become more meaningful, from fluttering in Nonna's kitchen to your fluttering sleeves, to the transformation of a passing. It all seems to fit together. Thank you for sharing your story, and what a beautiful outfit you have to commemorate it!
Very very pretty. I love the movement of the butterflies. The hand painting on the kimono is amazing. The corset belt is a perfect contrast to the flowing gown. You will feel and look fabulous wearing this.
lovely- the combination of these colors is great: the big contrast of white and black frame perfectly these fine blue and lilac butterflies. And the kimono- sleeves as wings work perfect!
An extraordinary accomplishment during what must have been a difficult time. Beautiful flow and form!
Oh I love the butterflies, and your message about self care <3
There's a gorgeous lightness about your whole piece and very wearable too