Tuesday, February 17, 2015

A Midsummer Night's Dream: The Dress

Dress:  Esther Boller
Photography + Styling:  Esther Boller
Model:  Brittani

The design inspiration for this dress comes from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream; a story that’s inspired many artists in the past - from directors to illustrators and writers. Mostly inspired by the 1935 black and white film’s adaptation of the play, I began to think about the era of the 1930s as well.  I took design elements of that era, including art deco seam detailing, and combined them with the soft, romantic, textural elements that were influenced by nature. 

The garment was constructed using the process of draping; using 30 different pattern pieces.   Each piece was individually draped on a mannequin and then transferred onto paper and later corrected.  Below are photos of the initial design lines and later at the half-pinned muslin stage.  This is when only have of the pattern is cut out and pinned to the mannequin to double check shape and alignment before cutting out a full pattern.
The seams were finished using the french seam technique so that the seams wouldn't unravel later.  The raw edges were finished by hand sewing strips of chiffon that were cut on bias and later folded and pressed.

The embellished elements were designed and made by laser cutting silk chiffon.  Which guys - lazer cutting is the BOMB!    At first when I was developing my initial concept I was hand cutting and burning each edge with a lighter so it wouldn't fray.  When I showed it to my professor she laughed, calling it a "handmade, filthy piece of trash" and told me that I should lazer cut them instead.   The light bulb went off, and I will never go back to hand cutting again

The little frayed puffs are hand cut circles of  polyester organza which I then rubbed in my hands to create a frayed effect.  They were later hand stitched onto the style lines of the seams. 

Through this project I learned so many new techniques, and I can't speak more highly of my professor, Sachi.  Sachi is the most dedicated professor I have ever met.  I respect her so much for her skill and knowledge and was so grateful for the amount of time that she poured into our class.  I'm hoping to take as many classes with her as possible!   Below is a photo of my class on the final day of critique. 
I've just started my final project for this quarter this week.  I can't wait to share that project with you next!  Till then, happy sewing!

P.S.  This dress is also for sale in my Etsy Shop!


  1. how beautiful! both the dress and the photos. i really love the seam detailing! xx

  2. that dress is absolutely gorgeous and dreamy.
    you did well.
    [love those little tufts sewn into the seams!]

  3. Fashion professors = the most honest, blunt assessments on things you will ever, ever receive.

    This dress is gorgeous. I bet it feels incredibly light on.

  4. Ethereal and so beautifully constructed. Love the frayed circles. Did you use one of those little cutting machines, like a Cricut or something different? Would love ot hear the process. The embellishment is unique and accents the garment perfectly.

  5. This turned out so cool! Thanks for sharing it with us!

  6. Good lord that's gorgeous. Beautifully done!

  7. Absolutely stunning! Your workmanship and attention to detail is just superb :)

  8. I know exactly what you mean about laser cutting machines - they are awesome! I did this one project on them, cutting silk chiffon collars in lacy flower designs and layering them up so you could see through the different patterns, it made things cleaner and easier and much more beautiful looking. Then I experimented around with cutting leaves and other items - even pastry! I know that sounds crazy, but I was given free reign and I was so excited ;). You should try out the leaves idea, they look incredible when you get it right.

    Your dress design is gorgeous, I love hearing about the French seams and whatnot - truly stunning inside and out :).

    Zoe xX

    1. Oh, and I just had a thought - it seems that you like to watch old, magical movies for inspiration - I think you would love the movie "The Red Shoes"!

      It is a masterpiece of 1940's cinema, with beautiful costume and set design, and an enthralling plot.

      Best wishes to you :)

  9. Such delicate and ethereal. And this color of blue sky, beautiful

  10. Like what everyone said, that's a really pretty dress. That should be something worth giving to daughters, who are on their way to their proms, homecomings and other school dances. Glad to know that those are available and very accessible. Thanks for sharing that, Esther! All the best to you!

    Roman Walsh @ Your Firm Everywhere Now

  11. Gorgeous dress and pictures! Thank you for sharing this! <3


  12. Really, really, beautiful dress. Well done!


  13. Wow, I love those frayed puffs! I'm not normally a fan of polyester, or organza's amazing capacity to fray, but I feel like you've totally changed my perspective by taking something I hated and making it so beautiful! Although I'm really a total noob about sewing, I'm now picturing a skirt with puff-details inspired by you. Count me in as your newest follower!

  14. This dress is so pretty on you, and love how you’ve showed how to transition the same dress from day to night – would love to see more posts like this!

  15. That dress are very beautifull. Nice color and design for all occasions.