Friday, March 6, 2015

DIY: A Waterlilies Dress (and Jacket Refurb!) after Monet

Y'all know those people who go on vacations and come back and wanna show you their One Million Photos of One Million Boring Thangs? Well, this here post is kinda like that in that I've got One Million Photos for y'all. Hopefully they won't be as much of a snoozefest as yo mama's trip to Vegas to play the slots complete with pictures of the buffet bars and awkward drunken middle-aged lady dancing in rando fountains. Ahem. 
But when you spend what feels like One Million Years on a dress, you kinda wanna share the daylights outta it, you know? Therefore, I present to you A Water Lilies Dress after Monet in a gazillion pics or less.
By now, if you've hung around this here blog for a wee while (and for that, I thank you kindly), you know I kinda have a thing for creating dresses after famous artists and their works. My most recent one was this Mondrian number but then there's also been a Starry Night, a Warhol frock, a couple of Kandinsky's, a Great Wave,  a The Scream number, this Keith Haring jacket and skirt, and a Lichtenstein dealio. There are still a ton of artist-inspired dress ideas rolling around in my itty bitty head. 
However, when I saw that watery print fabric, seen on the skirt portion of the dress, I immediately thought of Monet's water lilies. Now, I picked up two yards of that fabric and the violet and chartreuse well over a year ago. It wasn't until the last couple of weeks, when I've had One Million Snow Days (have you noticed that One Million is a theme in this here post?) that I had time to dive in and start stitchin'. One of the reasons I hesitated for so long was cuz I knew I'd not only have to stitch up the dress but then do some needle felting after the fact. That's a whole lotta work and I'm a whole lotta lazy. But with endless hours of free time on my hands, I decided to jump right in. 

By the way, I used that lovely vintage Butterick for the dress. The pattern was super simple, especially the bodice as it had raglan sleeves, my personal fave. I also thought the wrapped waistband was clever and fun. 

Once the dress was created, I started sketching the water lilies in chalk and commenced needle felting. If you've no clue what needle felting is all about, might I suggest you take a visit here and here
Because there was so much color in the ensemble, I decided not to go with Monet's pink water lilies but the white ones. I was particularly inspired by this lovely painting of his. 
I found that needle felting was a great medium for recreating the same look and feel as Monet's works. Sadly, my style is much too tight. I wish I could better immolate the looseness of Monet's work. Although, wasn't dude like near blind when he was painting these works? Note to self: next time, take out contacts. Except I'm using a tool with three razor sharp serrated needles and I'm near blind. SoooooOOOooo scratch that. 
 Most frequently asked question about Needle Felting: 

How do you wash your clothing?

I don't. Hence the smell.

Okay, so sometimes I do. Since it's wool, which shrinks when agitated (that's how you do wet felting. And why your 100% wool sweater shrunk in the wash), I wash by hand in cold water with Woolite. 
 I dunno if I was successful or not but what I was trying to do was not simply place one million water lilies all over the skirt portion but to create a composition. That's why I started with the one lone flower and lily off to the (viewer) right and gradually angled upward toward your left. Make sense? Can you tell I had a plan in mind? I dunno if it worked or not. I do know that I'm so over needle felting that Ima gonna pretend it's just right.
I love a good wide belt. I thought I'd give you a sneak peak at the side view and the back of this dress. I think that band is one of my fave things about this pattern. I can't decide if I love the neckline curve detail. It's kinda growing on me.
 With the art teacherin' conference coming at the end of this month (OMG, so soon! Yikes! I've got four presentations that I'd love you to attend, y'all. More details on those dates and times coming soon. This blog post has enough going on already), I knew I'd wanna wear this dress. However, I'm kinda cold natured so I thought I'd want a jacket to go with this number. 
 In the "re-do me" portion of my closet (Yes there is such a thing. No, I never ever get rid of anything.), I found this Target jacket that I'd scooped up on super sale a while back. Like, I'm talking 4 years ago a while back. I'd never worn the the thing because it looked like this:
I loved the buttons, the gathered fabric at the collar and opening and those presh sleeves. I have ALWAYS HATED that length. Every time I put it on, I found it so unflattering. But the color matched my dress's bodice perfectly. So I decided to make a bolero outta the thing. (P.S. Welcome to my uber messy sewing room! There's so much fabric, books and crapola in that room that I'm just waiting for the day that the weight of all my stuff sends me crashing thru to the dining room). 

 Using a beautiful platter that a sweet teacher buddy bought for me (thank you, Heather!), I traced the curve of the plate. The other bolero I made had a similar curve to the edge and I really liked that. It was the inspiration for the bottom edge of this bad boy. 
I absolutely LOVE short jackets because they look so vintage. And they still showcase your outfit underneath. So I was pretty stinkin' happy with how this simple lil alteration turned out.
And I totally dig it with my dress! It matches those shadows in the water lilies pretty well, says me. Ima totally gonna rock this out in New Orleans at the art teacherin' conference where I plan to hang with my brand new buddy...Tim Gunn!
 So, sadly, I've been keeping secrets from you. A while back, I had the incredible opportunity to spend a lovely hour on the phone just chatting it up with the one and only Tim Gunn. I interviewed him for SchoolArts Magazine (thank you, Nancy Walkup!) and you can read the article here. There's actually much more to the interview so you can bet I'll be sharing the entire interview right here just for you very soon. I'm super excited to attend Tim's sessions at the conference. Ima be all like...
"Hey, Tim! 'Member me?" And y'all know dude's much to nice to say no. Let's just hope he doesn't secretly file for a restraining order. Again. 
And das all, folks! A Monet's Water Lilies Dress and a Jacket Refurb. 

By the way, if you need some AMAZING Monet art lessons, check out my buddy Laura's blog over at Painted Paper. So much Monet goodness, ya'll!

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  1. Anonymous3/06/2015

    OMG! So many pretties in this outfit! I pink puffy heart it!

  2. Well, you know I'm not needle felting, but still I've got a question. What do you do if a dress needs ironing after you've washed it? How do you iron it without ruining the felting? Is it simpler than I think? I've never seen you looking all wrinkly...

    I adore the color palette of this dress. How did you ever find matching shoes? And tights to perfectly match that waistband? Totally spectacular!

    1. Hey, buddy! Ironing is actually REALLY GOOD for the felting. I set my iron on it's highest, steamiest setting. What this does is further felt the wool for me! It also makes it so the felt isn't so puffy as it tends to get a lil poofy from all the fibers. Ironing helps to flatten it a bit for me. And with my crazy closet, you KNOW I'm gonna have tights and shoes to match! I have a lot of that maroony color in my wardrobe, I must really like it! xox!

  3. This ensemble is GORGEOUS!!!!! The felting just lifts this dress to the heavens! I didn't get to meet you at last years conference so I'm making it a priority this year (couldn't get into your hands on- boo!)

    1. Oh, we WILL have to meet, buddy!! I'll share with y'all soon when/where I'm presenting. We'll have to meet up :)

  4. Gorgeous. I'm showing this to my daughter later (she's my sewing apprentice now) so she can what happens when you add imagination to a pattern and fabric.

    1. What a lucky girl! I always wanted to learn to sew as a kid but lacked the resources. It wasn't until I was well into my 30's that I gave it a go. How awesome that she is learning with you! Have fun :)

  5. That dress is just gorgeous! The colours, the fit, your water lilies - just amazing. And the jacket is perfect with it.

    1. Thanks Nicole! I actually had to redo that zipper because the back neck was a lil too gap-y and the bust too lose. Now the fit is pretty tight...but I'd rather have it that way then ill-fitting. Thanks, buddy!

  6. Anonymous3/07/2015

    Cassie, I really enjoyed reading this post! Loved the dress and went to the felting site ,then read the article with Tim Gunn, you are rocking and rolling! Flipped through the rest of the magazine and found the article on Pedro Lamas and thought to myself , being inspired by your felting article, that his paintings would be perfect to translate with the felting process. I can see it ! I'm heading out the door to the large city down the road with a felting needle in mind.
    oh, and some roping.

    1. Hey Hope, thank you much for your kind words. I've not received my hard copy of the magazine yet, I can't wait to see it :) I do hope you'll give felting a shot, it's totally addictive! I'd love to see what you create :)

  7. Really gorgeous! Great job!

  8. Lovely dress, as usual! :D
    My daughter lives in Manhattan- lots of celebrity sightings, so they just take them in stride. But she ran into Tim Gunn at the Met Museum of Art gift shop. He was the only other person in the gift shop besides her. She broke her rule of not fussing over celebrities because she wanted to tell him how much she admired the way he encouraged people even when critiquing. He was so kind in person, so generous with his time, asking her about her life- she was so impressed with him! I'll make sure to check out the interview.

    PS. (I think you meant Tim's sessions at the conference, not seasons, in this post.) :D

  9. Anonymous6/26/2015

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  10. wows! I came here from Closet Case and am totally wowed out! This is a work of art. I had no idea you could needle felt on anything but wool. Clever! I love the neckline detail too - no doubts about it, please, it really frames the face nicely. And I love a good redo - I too have a cupboard full of re-do stuff! I think I get my greatest satisfaction from nicely turned out redos:))

  11. Just stumbled upon your blog. I love your sewing creations, but the skirt on this dress is ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS!!!!!! I can't believe how well you replicated the water lilies with needle felting --- genius! :)

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