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  • Ayal Armon

Anatomy of a dress.


It started with an idea after I saw some very embellished bowl gown on Pinterest and evolved in to the dress you see in the photo above. Little did I know what I was getting myself into, but by the time I realized it, it was too late to back up.

So, I saw the dress and decided to make my own version, but make it very subtle and the vision I had in my head was the dress looking very pale and kind of hazy.

I drafted the pattern and made a muslin for the top part to make sure the fitting was right.

I had two yards of ivory silk dupioni, but i thought the dress need some crispness so I ordered silk taffeta from a site in India, where I ordered silk in the past.

While waiting for the shipment to arrive, I concentrated on learning how to do silk ribbon embroidery. I did in the past a few roses on a front of a dress and liked the results, but this was a big project.

Ordered some books with lots on how to pictures and started practicing.

I also created a stencil to be used for the panels of the skirt.

The package finally arrived and instead of a light cream with gold sheen, it was KHAKI. Yep ready for uniforms but not this dress.

Searched etsy and found a nice light butter color silk taffeta.

Waited some more, it arrived. CRAP.

It had no sheen and looked like nothing I have envisioned. SOOOOOOO, back to the silk dupioni, and using the new taffeta for lining.

The dress looked good but I wanted extra security for the top. So I added a pleated band across the shoulder and the bust line.

That seemed to do the trick and held everything in place.

Since I wanted to create a hazy look to the dress, I airbrushed all along the bottom half of the skirt with lavender textile color. I had a friend, Bill Kibler hold the dress while I was spraying.

The look was very subtle and you kind of notice it in the light.

Now it was time for the real work to begin. The ribbon embroidery. I opted to use a pinwheel technique, since the results a flat flowers which I liked, the thing is that most silk embroidery is done from front to back but since at this point the dress was finished I did not have access to the back except for an opening in the center back. I had to devise a way of working on the surface. It took a while but eventually I managed to do it by using Fabritec to hold one end and secure the seams on the top, the right side of the fabric. That took about three weeks.

I ordered silk ribbons in 4mm and 7mm. Since I dyed the ribbons I opted to order mostly white and when not found off white or light pink. All in all I ordered around 300 yards of ribbons.

I used textile dyes to dye the ribbons and kept a written formula of each color so if need be I can get the same color for more ribbons.

Than the roses making process started. some roses had a one color center and then got another color for the outside edges.

After a week or two of doing it I questioned myself what on earth posses me to do this project. Of course since I was talking to myself I used a lot more colorful language.

But I persisted. It was too late to back off.

Once I got into the rhythm it became kind of mechanical. The ribbons would twist on their own which created the petal effect. I worked on each panel at a time and moved along each panel at a time.

Once all the ribbon flowers were in I opted to add more flowers made of mulberry paper and was contemplating on how to go about the leaves. Ribbons? Painted? or what.

I decided not to add stems since it would make it too much. My friend bill showed me some paper flowers that he got and they were the right size so mulberry paper flowers and leaves it would be.

Unfortunately all the leaves that I found were in dark green and too big. Finally I found some the right size and of course in dark green. By that time I experimented and found out that I can bleach those leaves and dye them to the light teal color that I wanted.

The flowers were dyed to match the colors of the silk ribbons roses and the leaves were bleaches. I even found bleach that supposedly smells like lavender.

It does not.

Once all the flowers and leaves were ready I started gluing them in.

I also added small roses that I bought a while ago and dyed them in purples.

It all started coming together and I was relieved to finish the project.

The project took almost three months to complete.

The gloves and head dress were added and the outfit was all done and ready for show.

The doll and outfits are available for purchase for $2500.00

If interested contact me.

I wrote this blog about this dress after one person who saw it at the IT convention was interested to purchase it until he found out about the price and was incensed that I charge so much for something like that when everything else in the convention was a lot cheaper.

So this is for all that wonder why such a price.


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© Ayal Armon