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Create Your Best Walking Skirt Yet

Cathy Hay - About Foundations Revealed


"I created Foundations Revealed to help us all work together to realise our wildest wardrobe dreams."

Since 2007, we have been helping aspiring costumers, historybounders, corsetieres and dressmakers around the world to live their best creative lives. Founder Cathy Hay and the Foundations Revealed team are passionate about helping makers to learn together, stay inspired and positive, maximise their skills and realise their sewing dreams.




The Natural World


Nature has been a source of inspiration for designers and creators for millennia. You could choose to recreate a special location, the changing seasons, a natural phenomenon, or the texture and colour of your favourite flower. Escape into nature and be uplifted by twisted branches, crashing waves, dew-covered spider’s webs, and falling autumn leaves. This is your chance to showcase how nature inspires you.



I love flowers! I add flowers to almost everything I make.

For this corset dress, flowers come into play in several ways. Firstly, through the flower embroidered silk. The bottom of the dress is also made to look like a flower. It is made of big flower petals in several layers. The petals gets bigger throughout the layers.



I dreamed of an old mansion and its abandoned garden with Art Nouveau forged gates overgrown with wild datura. Nature captured in blacksmith’s skill. Blacksmith’s skill captured by Nature. But I wanted to perform this kind of aesthetic not in an obvious gothic manner but more in coquettish Marie Antoinette manner (because it’s much harder for me, everything I make tends to look gloomy).



Aesthetic dresses and reform dresses or artistic dresses, as this type of loose Art Nouveau era dresses are called, have fascinated me so much that I wanted to make my own. They are such lovely, artful, elegant and comfortable garments. I made this dress back in the end of the year 2021 and I think it matches perfectly to the competition theme The Natural World. I fell in love with the embroidered rose trim when I saw it and I knew it would make a lovely decoration for an Art Nouveau dress with it's beautiful design. The trim was my starting point in designing the dress.



As an artisan, what connects me the most to nature are the wonderful materials that it provides for me to pour my creativity into. I wanted my entry to be an ode to the natural fibers that have protected and decorated people for millennia. To achieve this, I set myself challenges: to create an outfit entirely in the naturalistic colours of the raw materials and that every element from fabric to thread to button must be 100% natural and therefore biodegradable once the days of these clothes are over. I wish to repay nature's generosity by ensuring that my creation will not pollute it.



I was inspired by the nature-themed origins of a fantastical outfit described in the Chinese version of the Cinderella legend. In the story, the pauper-turned princess, Ye Xian, receives a "sea-green gown" and a "cloak of kingfisher feathers" from her guardian fish spirit so that she may attend the New Year festival. In keeping with the ancient Chinese source, and also because of the fluid drape of chiffon that is typically used, I decided to make a historically-inspired 對襟襦裙 hanfu.



"That is one good thing about this world... There are always sure to be more springs." - L.M. Montgomery

When I think of nature I can’t help but think of spring, my favorite season, with fresh green growth and beautiful pink blossoms reaching for the sun. I wanted to make something dreamy, fresh and joyful and combine it with my love of the latter half of the 18th century. Something that would perfectly fit a spring, rococo garden! While I did aim for a silhouette that evoked the late 18th century I chose not to focus on historical accuracy while coming up with the design and instead focused on what fabrics and techniques would best fit my vision.



The dappled rays of sun filter through the tree’s fluttering leaves… Can I capture this sunlight and weave it into a garment? Specifically, my 1890s walking ensemble?! The answer is a resounding yes. I am happy to say that I was able to imprint nature and sunlight into the very fiber of my submission this year.

While walking ensembles from the later 1800s mainly used appliques and embroidery to create this effect, I decided to experiment with a truly old school darkroom photography process—“cyanotype”—to create these patterns. This process was invented in 1842 and was very popular during the 1890s. Just think, people were probably taking cyanotype photographs while wearing a walking suit just like this one.



The transforming gown is inspired by the color-changing Morning Glory Pool in Yellowstone National Park Named for its distinctive indigo hues and trumpet flower shape when the hot pool was discovered in the 1880s, the modern-day visitor would be perplexed by its now acidic orange and greens, as I was when I visited the quiet pool A placard nearby describes the history of the pool and how it had become a victim of carelessness The pool was en route to the more popular Old Faithful Geyser, and the hot vents at the base of Morning Glory were blocked by trash, coins, and debris from the passing visitors This altered the temperature, causing thermophilic bacteria to create mats of intense orange colors.



Nature is all about reproduction.

As I am pregnant with my third child, I am intimately involved in this, nature’s universal obsession. At various times over the past months, I’ve felt a sisterhood with cottonwood trees throwing clouds of fluff into the air, sea turtles risking life and limb to bury their young in the sand, or the swollen queen at the center of an ant hive pushing out egg after egg after egg. When I was planning this project, I especially noticed and appreciated the beauty of all of the seed pods around me growing full and brown or white and light or brittle and sharp. Each plant uniquely prepares to spread its precious seeds to the win in a burst of hope and energy.



While making this historical and nature inspired design, I wanted to achieve the look of a morning dew in a forest full of moss, that can be seen in parts of regions in Slovenia. With the attention to detail that went into the design, I evoked a deep sense of pride and connection to the cultural heritage of Slovenia. The process was an emotional journey as I was also researching the history of the garments in Slovenia and was learning about my ancestors. As I was making the dress, I felt a deep sense of connection to the past and to the women who had worn similar garments in the past. The design itself was inspired by the wast forests of Pokljuka. I wanted to incorporate elements of Slovene and South Slavic traditional garbs. Traditionally most of the elements of Slavic costumes have been inspired by nature itself, since the Slavic people are historically very connected to the land they come from, what they take from it and what they bring back.



Cyanotype was invented as a photography process in the 1840s. It has also been used to capture delicate botany by creating prints of pressed flowers and leaves in rich Prussian blue and white.

I deeply admire the process which feels like a mix of dye and photography, bringing me back to my college darkroom photography days.



To me, Natural world is defined by its everchanging nature and cycles that revolve around every living thing. To capture that is a feat as easy as keeping water in one's palm. To solve my problem, I decided that one look is simply not enough. Thus began a search for my muse. My mind finally settled on an image of a willow tree to which I have deep personal connection.

I wanted to portray the transition from winter to spring, from frosty stupor to lush scene full of life. And as nature itself, the design process had been everchanging and evolved over time from twirling transformation dress to modular mix and match dress with potential of adding summer and autumn looks to complete the cycle in the future.



Nature has always been an integral part of my life and a constant source of inspiration. When I started my sewing journey the most inspiring thing was learning about natural fibers and their outstanding properties. Keeping this in mind, I wanted to choose a project that would honor the theme not only in design but also with the choice of material. The other factor reflected in my design choices is sustainability. I strongly feel that when pulling inspiration from nature we should also remember how to preserve it. When designing and producing anything new I aspire to make choices that reflect that ideology. I want to make sure that the items I make are of quality materials that serve the purpose, can be mended and would ideally last a lifetime. For these reasons I have come to love historical clothing.



When I had read that the Natural World was the theme of the Competition, I thought for a dress or an accessori that wraps the person that wears it. I loved to create also something that would be gender fluid and also practical for a person with disability. Besides, a project easy to sew, because it was my first sewing project ever.



The 1890s was a period that transformed European women's relationship with the natural world. The invention of the safety bike allowed women to go further and faster, often unchaperoned. These new freedoms and mobility also came with a new conundrum -- what do you wear? The long skirts that had been in fashion were prone to getting caught in the spokes of the bike and posed a safety hazard. Bloomers were a practical choice, but women would get harassed for wearing them. Many women came up with different solutions for what was known at the time as ‘the dress problem’. One such solution was patented by Mary and Sarah Pease. This involves a skirt that transforms into a cape when you want to cycle. This skirt not only inspired my whole ensemble, it inspired me to learn to sew.



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