Midnight Ulysses by Carly Van Groeningen  CarlyVanGroeningen3small

Midnight Ulysses by Carly Van Groeningen 

Midnight Ulysses by Carly Van Groeningen

Midnight Ulysses by Carly Van Groeningen



Midnight Ulysses - Finalist in the Experienced category

Carly Van Groeningen, Australia (Lyris Design)

Model and MUA: Miss Twisted
Photographer: Sol Santana Photography


The Design

My design was inspired by a beautiful metallic blue leather I had been hoarding for some time. The leather was so soft and iridescent I had always been wanting to make butterfly wings from it, so the competition theme was the perfect excuse. In tropical far northern Australia, there are blue and black Ulysses butterflies, which were always my favourite growing up, and this leather made me think of sitting in the garden with my grandparents, watching the Ulysses butterflies in the twilight. The blue of the leather is a little darker still than even a twilight Ulysses, so it became the Midnight Ulysses.

I wanted the design to make delicate use of the leather butterfly wing embellishments without looking tacky, and to have large sweeping curves and a softness reminiscent of the shapes and movements of a butterfly. For this reason I went with a smoothly curving overbust corset, with the top edge irregular like the edges of a wing, and attached panniers to extend the hips out like the lower wings of a butterfly. The chiffon overskirt and floor length sleeves added softness and a floating quality as the outfit moves. The design also incorporates several Japanese inspirations from my time living there, in the form of the kimono cut sleeves and butterfly hair ornament.


The Construction

To create the delicate curves and soft shapes of a butterfly, I decided to draft the corset pattern with 18 panels. This is something new for me, as I generally draft 14 panel corsets, so it was fun to try out something different. The inner layer is a single layer of coutil, with coutil boning channels, and a floating cotton lining. The fashion layer is indigo silk satin, backed with interfacing. This was another fun challenge for me, as I generally do not like working with satin, but this silk satin was such a perfect colour, and its light sheen worked well to echo the luster of the leather and actual butterflies.

The base corset was carefully sewn together using roll pinning and internal coutil boning channels. The finished corset had 24 spiral steel bones and 6 flat steel bones (on either side of the grommets and beside the busk), a black busk and black two part grommets. I also made a suspended modesty panel, with two layers of coutil, cotton lining and silk outer, 3 vertical bones and 2 horizontal. The corset was bound in black silk dupion bias, and hand finished on the inside.

Once the base corset was complete, I could mark out the position of the lace appliqué. To achieve a pattern reminiscent of the veining of a butterfly wing but without being an outright butterfly lace (too tacky!!) I used a heavy black guipure lace with abstract veined patterns. I wanted the lace appliqué to create some extra texture and subtle butterfly influences on the corset. I then created some small, light panniers from black plastic boning, and hand sewed them onto the hips. The overskirt is made from six metres of iridescent black chiffon, gathered and hand sewn to the corset, then draped with a little more of the guipure lace.

For the wing embellishments, each wing was created from a layer of the metallic blue leather, appliqued with black faux leather for the wing patterns, backed with black faux leather, and with a layer of coutil in the center to strengthen the wing. The inner layers were cut at different sizes to create a very subtle texturing in the black sections of the wing. Though the Ulysses butterflies have large block sections of black, there is some very subtle patterning if you look closely, so this layering effect was to mimic that. I chose black faux leather, rather than real leather, for its perfect smoothness and sheen, to contrast the organic texturing of the blue leather. The blue leather was also hand painted with several shades of blue metallic paint to brighten the blue towards the center of the wings. The pieces were all cut by hand, and machine sewn together.

The wings were then carefully hand sewn to the corset, and machine sewn to the collar and sleeves. Another butterfly was attached to a hair clip with black crystal antennae, and the oufit was completed with a silk mini skirt.

More details on my blog.


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 fun! Definitely, if the theme intrigues you, enter and take the time to create something just for fun.



Yessssssssssss...... stunning
Claire Green
Wow!! so much work and thought here, The laser cutting is so delicate!
Thank you! Actually, it isn't laser cut, I had to cut it all by hand. So much work, but so worth it!
This silhouette is jaw dropping.
Those appliqués are so gorgeous and precise wow!
I love the colours and detail in the corset! I wish I could walk down the street wearing this laugh
Exquisite detailing on all those butterfly wings, and a very lovely sillhouette
marloes dadswell
I love all the detail you put into this design. Can't believe the shapes aren't laser cut! Such precision and effort must have gone into that.The dark blue was a brilliant choice together with the lace just adds such a luxurious feel.
The leather applique is beautiful and delicate.
This is so clean, professional and just...beautiful. I think it's perfect.
Absolutely stunning Carly. I would love to inspect this in person as the detail looks incredible. A real majestic piece!
a beautiful blue summer nights dream...
I love your entry so much, Carly!
Such amazing shapes and lines and beautiful use of colours and materials. And the fact that you cut all the wings by hand (!!!) still blows my mind. That must have been such an insane amount of work - but totally worth it. Amazing job, definitely!

Dianna DiNoble
Absolutely everything about this is so beautiful, the colour, fabric, texture, shape and layering. The attention to detail and balance really stands out here. I'm mostly intrigued by the contrasts of materials that you've chosen here, and how it balances with soft and hard, smooth and textured. Bravo!
Carly, I think what I love most about your entry is the balance. All those beautifully cut pieces come together in a whole that is elegant and pleasing to the eye, with everything in its place - move one element and the whole would be diminished. Such careful attention to detail, so well constructed! Well done!
Such a stunningly gorgeous stand out piece of work.
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