Photography: Jennifer Giampetro
I have always been inspired by butterflies. They are such beautiful, elegant, graceful creatures, and the way they transform from lowly caterpillars into flying things of beauty is amazing. I am a recovered alcoholic, and the butterfly is a personal symbol of my recovery, transforming into the beautiful butterfly that I am now as a sober person.
I have long wanted to make a bustle evening gown so decided this would be perfect for my contest entry. The overskirt of the gown is inspired by the Blue Morpho butterfly, while the pale green bodice and underskirt are the shades of the chrysalis form of the butterfly.
I made every item that I am wearing, from the undergarments to the corset to the gown. I made two chemises and neither worked with my gown, so I used a tank top for my photo shoot. The corset is taken from Jill Salen's book, and was the first time I did a corded corset. I had to do very little alteration to the pattern.
The fashion layer is a lovely silk with butterflies, bees, and dragonflies. I flossed all the boning channels. The bodice and underskirt are made of pale green Duchess satin, and the bodice is lined with a butterfly print cotton. The underskirt has a ruched trim. Fitting the bodice was challenging as I didn't have anyone to help me. I hand embroidered around all my eyelets to mimic hand sewn eyelets. I created fabric origami butterflies to decorate the shoulder and my headband.
The overskirt is two layers of moiré, blue on the outside with black ruffled trim with pearls, to match the colors of the butterfly. The inside layer is a brown moiré with hand painted eye and ribbon trim to match the underside of the butterfly's wings. The overskirt had very confusing directions and it took me a lot of playing with paper and fabric mockups to figure out the burnous pleat in the back. Working with the large volume of fabric (with cats around!) was also a challenge. All patterns are from Ageless Patterns, which have very minimal sewing directions.
This is my first time entering. I almost didn't enter because I've seen photos of other people's work and feel that I don't stand a chance, but I enjoyed the challenge of creating this gown and decided to go for it. I worked too hard on the gown not to enter it.