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The 2020 Competition is now over.
The 2021 Theme will be chosen by our Members in April!

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 Creative Rebirth Creative Rebirth

Creative Rebirth Creative Rebirth

Creative Rebirth

 

Creative Rebirth

Poppaea Bicknell, Middlesex, UK

IG: poppaea

Model/Photographer: Poppaea Bicknell

MUA/Assistant: Emily Haigh

Filming: James Webber

 

The Design

My interpretation of this year's theme of “Renewal” is a very personal one, as I wanted to create a piece that symbolised a rebirth of my creativity after a long period of laying dormant. My design is based on the classic iconography of the phoenix rising from the ashes, combined with the patterns and colours of the monarch butterfly - both of which are symbols of rebirth and renewal.

The main inspiration for my design is a piece of tambour beading that I created back in 2003 - whilst studying costume design at university - of a monarch butterfly. This was the last time in my life that I felt truly creatively fulfilled, so I wanted to use this image as a symbol of my personal creativity. The design of the corset is mainly based on the pattern of a monarch butterfly’s wing, but is also reminiscent of the shape of a phoenix feather and of flames rising up the body. I also wanted to capture the idea of a swarm of monarchs, on the neckpiece and head, reminiscent of the stunning monarch migration that occurs every year in Central America.

I also wanted to include an aspect of sustainability in this project, so I found an old prom dress on eBay in exactly the shade of burnt-orange raw silk that I wanted to use as my main fabric. All other materials used in the construction of the corset and skirt (apart from final embellishments) I already had in my stash.

 

The Construction

For this piece I wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone by using several new techniques. This is the first corset pattern I’ve ever made that uses non-vertical seamlines and it was quite a challenge to get right. I created three mock ups before making the final piece, and my final pattern consisted of 30 pieces. This was also the first time I’ve added hip fins to a corset, as I was keen to get that exaggerated shape. The hip fins are all inserted into the hip curve seams, rather than being attached afterwards. I couldn’t have overcome these new challenges without the help of the wonderful Barbara Pesendorfer; her incredible tutorials on creative pattern development, neck corsets and personal advice on hips fins was invaluable.

The corset is constructed from silk dupion, fused to coutil, and has a cotton floating lining. There are 30 steel bones inside, all the channels for which had to be hand sewn, as I did not want to break up the design of the seam lines with topstitched boning channels. This was certainly the most time-consuming part of the process. Really, my biggest challenge when creating this piece was time as, although I had my concept and design worked out early on in the process, I was not able to start construction on the final piece until the new year. That meant I didn’t have enough time to embellish the top of the corset as much as I would have liked.

 

Materials Used

  • burnt-orange raw silk dupion (upcycled from an eBay dress)
  • black herringbone coutil
  • black soft cotton
  • black tulle
  • bondaweb
  • black satin bias binding
  • black cotton bias tape
  • spiral steel boning
  • sprung steel boning
  • ridgeline
  • black eyelets
  • black double satin ribbon
  • black & white 4mm rhinestones
  • rooster feather trim in orange, red & black
  • feather monarch butterflies

 

What was it like to compete this year? What would you say to someone who is on the fence about entering next year?

I was quite intimidated to enter the competition, as I’ve always been quite insecure about my ideas and work, but seeing all the wonderful entries from last year's contest really helped inspire me and build my confidence to enter. I would say that, even if you’re unsure about entering, you should just give it a go. Especially if the chosen theme strikes a nerve with you, as it did for me this year. You should grab the opportunity to get your ideas out there! 

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galadriel
This one is my absolute favourite this year. I thought it was spectacularly beautiful, but when I read the story it became even more meaningful. Cobgratulations on a beautiful piece of work.
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poppaea
Thank you so much for your kind words! I am so glad that you appreciate the full story behind this piece, as it was so very personal. And I'm so honoured that you feel it's your favourite. That means the absolute world to me! Thank you!! :)
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Beatrice
What a piece! Love the vibrant colours and the beautiful details, it really stands out!
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poppaea
Thank you Beatrice!
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Kristina H
My first thought when I clicked on your thumbnail photo was Gorgeous monarch butterfly!! Well done. Beautiful vivid colors.
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poppaea
Thank you Kristina, I'm so glad that my idea came through in the way I had hoped!
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certainsundries
Gorgeous job!
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poppaea
Thank you very much :)
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bernadettebanner
This is so clever—I love how the angled panels of the corset so evoke the wing pattern of a butterfly!
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poppaea
Thank you so much Bernadette. I wanted to replicate the lines of the Monarch's wings as closely as I could - it took a long time to work out the pattern, and several mock ups - but I'm really pleased with how it came out!
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Laurel A Price
The creativity in the work and the amount of detailing is incredible! I am just in jaw-dropping awe every time I look at it! I keep going back and forth from your comments and the photos as I was reading, I just love the effect that all the little details bring.

I'm so glad that a past symbol of creativity was alive again in this project, the beauty of the monarch butterfly is captured wonderfully in your work. The hip fins are my favorite part I think, but it's hard to choose because of the beading in the corset itself and the extra dimension that the feathers add to the fins.

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poppaea
Thank you so much for your lovely comment Laurel, It really means a lot. I'm so glad that the story and symbolism behind the piece came through. And I'm so pleased that you like the hip fins! :) They were one of the biggest challenges for me and they came out pretty much as I had hoped.
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kitty mortensen
This has such a Couture look to it, it is absolutely stunning. I'm so happy you decided to enter <3
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poppaea
Thank you so much Kitty! It was seeing beautiful entries like yours last year that encouraged me to enter! :)
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kitty mortensen
*blushes* Thank you so much <3 I'm so glad that you entered, I'm so in love with your piece
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kirstymitchell
Your combination of themes makes total sense. I love how immaculate the channels are.
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poppaea
Thank you Kirsty! I'm so glad that you felt those two themes made sense together, as I really love combining ideas to create something new. And thank you for your comment about the channels, I spent an awful a lot of time making sure they were as perfect as possible!
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lyrisdesign
Gorgeous work, I love the design and the striking colours and panels. I adore the crystalled wing tips especially.
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poppaea
Thank you so much. I had hoped to add a lot more rhinestones to the bust area, but sadly time was not on my side!
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Meri Pinyol
The pattern shape really looks like a butterfly wings. It has a beautiful colours and structure.
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poppaea
Thank you so much :)
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Olivia
Such a beautiful piece of work. The corset is so striking and elegant, and the colours are lovely.

so impressed with how imaginatively you interpreted the theme, blending elements of the natural world, mythology and up-cycling all in one piece of gorgeous corsetry! Reading your story behind the creation of the piece was very moving. Amazing work :)

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poppaea
Thank you so much for your lovely comment! I'm really happy that you saw all the different things that I was trying to include with this entry. I'm especially pleased that you appreciated the up-cyling aspect, I was so thrilled when I found that old prom dress online, the fabric was just too perfect!
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chrisedel
OMG, I love this!
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poppaea
Thank you so much!! :)
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royalblack
It made me so happy to see your entry popping up in the thumbnail gallery! <3
Well done for overcoming all these challenges - the lines are beautiful and the way you have combined colours and materials is striking!

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poppaea
Thank you so much Barbara! <3 The pattern and hip fins were a huge challenge for me, and I absolutely could not have pulled them off without your advice and incredible tutorials! My main issue, besides time, was not getting the final corset as smooth as I had hoped. Clearly I got the grainlines slightly wrong on a few of the panels, but it's a lesson learned for next time :)
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lcostigliolo
This corset is amazing, you mastered the curved seams really well. I love your entry!
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poppaea
Thank you so much Luca. That means the world to me!! :)
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Lovely to hear how you have gone back to a creative period in your life and use that as inspiration. This is a stunning piece!
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poppaea
Thank you Caroline. I actually owe an awful lot to you, as it was mainly because of experimenting with your amazing corset patterns that got me back into corsetry properly, after not doing it for many years. So thank you so much for that!
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paulay71
Excellent upcycling! I love how the lines, along with the hip fins, emphasise the shaping you have achieved in your pattern.
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latelierdelafleur
The curving seams on your design are so beautiful and create a really striking visual, I was so intrigued even by the thumbnail! I adored your video showing your monarch embroidery to the final piece.
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marloes dadswell
So amazingly stunning! What a striking design you have come up with!
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jema
bold and striking design, I love that it is personal and I hope you feel truly creative now you see it completed - a terrific use of upcycling!
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kikkii
This is so beautiful! The design really embodies the butterfly wings, just lovely!
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Mhairi Calvey
This one is my favourite, such a striking design and a meaningful story behind it. Love the bold use of colours and bead work at the top of the wings too. Beautiful quality of work all round from the corset to the video. I’m so impressed with the quality of work and imagination that went into this. Wonderful work.
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Mhairi Calvey
This one is my favourite. I love the bold colours and bead work on the wings. The story behind it made it even more special. Striking and beautiful work which was cleverly and creatively put together. Incredible!
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