When I was asked by Reading Progress Theatre to design and create Titania’s Frairy Queen Dress in A Midsummer Night’s Dream production, I was beyond excited. And to be perfectly honest – a bit scared too. I knew it was gonna be challenging as I usually work out of predefined patterns, only with minor alterations sometimes. As I really wanted to bring my own imagination into it, I had to be a bit more resourceful than to just simply follow a pattern. However, I could not wait to start sketching as the different ideas were coming to my mind. I definitely wanted a long dress and something very elegant, flowing and fairy tale-ish at the same time.
For inspiration, I collated pictures in an album on Pinterest from fairy tales, fairy images and couture collections of designers. I really enjoyed this inspiration gathering exercise.
I remembered the beautiful wedding dress in the latest Cinderella movie. I was in awe of that dress – did you know it took 16 seamstresses and 550 hours to complete that gown?
And what a beautiful colour combination Elie Saab’s 2015 Spring Couture collection had!
I also found myself drawn to leaf elements in fairy photos and I definitely wanted to incorporate that in the design.
I was going for a mother of pearl, peachy yellowish colour for the gown. The skirt needed to be detachable as at some point she needs to dance and wear a more comfortable, shorter dress. The top part and sleeves I imagined to be made out of a sheer, see-through stretchy fabric similar to the Cinderella dress. The sleeves flare out at the bottom from the same fabric as the long skirt. The bodice of the gown is covered in leaves to add a fairy touch to it.
Now that I had the final design agreed, I needed to look for similar patterns and figure out what and how I can combine to get a similar result. I have browsed through all of my magazines and in the end I selected three patterns to combine to get the desired look – two for the top and one for the skirts. I also found some skeleton leaves I could order from Amazon. So I was quite happy that I could actually pull this off.
My favourite Burda of all time, from 1999, had the pattern of this lovely blue top. When I was a teenager, I used to have this top from a plush white fabric. I believe it was one of my very first creations. Now for the gown, I could use this for the top to achieve a boat neckline from the sheer stretchy fabric.
Similarly, I already made this black skirt for another Bohemian style project. This time, I used it in a different way – created a shorter version for the short dress underneath and took the long version for the wrap skirt.
For the main top to match with the skirt, I took the top part of this blue/black dress from the 2011 September issue.
Fabric shopping was quite fun. After looking through Reading and London fabric shops and some online fabric stores, I decided to combine two fabrics to achieve the colour of skirt. I got some off-white flowing skirt fabric for the basis and found a transparent yellowish-pinkish organza online. The two fabrics worked really well – just as I imagined.
The leaves I ordered from Amazon turned out to be too transparent and needed to add more texture to it. I got some sparkly fabric and ironed the leaves on. In addition, I sprayed some sparkling gold glitter on them and finally cut them out.
Now all my pieces were ready to sew!
I learnt quite a lot during the making of the dress. I tend to rush through and create dresses quickly but now I took the time, slowed down and read up about sewing techniques and experimented with them to get better results. I will share my lessons learnt and progress in a following post. Small things that make a big difference :).
Oh and if you are in town, get some tickets for Progress Theatre’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream open-air production in Reading. It is worth it! 🙂