My Succulent inspired outfit

The Facts

Fabric: 8 yards silk organza left over from a wedding dress 11 years ago, green cotton lining, purple linen interlining from stash
Pattern: Vogue 8112 (again!) but just for top when the other top failed majestically
Year: 1940
Notions: 1 zipper, 12″ square of buckram, millinery wire, bias tape, plastic succulents & two shades of Tinfix dye
Time to complete: 12 hours, maybe more
First worn: July 2012
Wear again? Yes, but only for the *right* event!

Total Cost: $25.41 for dyes (includes shipping), $4.05 for green cotton lining, $18.93 for plastic succulents, $1.24 for zipper so $49.63 total


Many months ago I saw an image in, I swear, Vogue magazine at Angie’s house, that showed a woman standing against a succulent wall; her head piece and outfit looked one with the wall and I thought it was SO COOL!  I looked through every Vogue I could find for the last year, online as well, but no luck. When I saw “Nature” in the challenge list this was the first thing that popped into my head and once there…

…it just wouldn’t leave : ) Do I feel like a refugee from “Waltz of the Flowers” from the Nutcracker? Not really (just a little). What I really DID feel was incredibly light and flowy. This dress weighs next to nothing, the HAT weighs more!

Hat – 6.625 ounces or 192 grams

Dress – 6 ounces or 170 grams

Why succulents? I think they’re very cool, wish I could put them in my yard but alas the chickens think they’re really nifty toys. The small succulent wall behind me is one of many plantings along Main Street. I’m not sure if the same person or department who thought the Buddha/Baby head fountain was a good idea further down the block chose this as well but the wall is gorgeous.

All those plants are real, unlike the ones on my hat : )

Hats, hats, I seem obsessed with hats lately.

But let’s talk about the dress for a minute –

Each of the petals on the dress are hand painted. I knew I wanted to do a water-color style painting technique on the silk organza so I called the lovely people at Dharma Trading. It was SUCH a pleasure to talk to someone who knew what I meant when I said “Sage green” and “Plummy purple”! Each bottle of dye is 3.5 ounces and concentrated. I diluted each color before painting with it for the translucent effect I eventually got. I stretched the silk onto a frame that was approximately 24″ x 27″ and built with 2×2′s. Push pins held the silk and then I could paint on it easily and no dye ran where I didn’t want it. I painted the purple border first, added the green to the middle and then blended them. It really PAYS to buy good dyes, less expensive dyes would turn muddy and ugly when they meet. Originally I thought I’d just paint the edges with Fray-check but that made an icky, plastic-y shiny edge and inhibited the flow of the fabric.

I ended up just running all the leaves through the overlock using the rolled-hem feature. MUCH nicer! There are 6 small leaves on the top and 26 larger individual leaves that make up the three layers of the skirt. There is a green straight skirt underneath to cover up all the lady parts since I declined the tutu-and-tights look. The basic dress is cotton with a layer of painted green silk organza over the cotton for the right color. The purple center band is painted organza with a linen underlining and the entire top is lined in cotton (organza is scratchy, just no getting around that).

My new friend : )

My original idea was to made a strapless top and a cummerbund-style waist band. It looked A W F U L. I used my new favorite pattern (that I’ve used twice now) and figured the skirt was different enough that no one would notice : )

I have to say the silly little hat is my favorite element. It is also the piece that had people looking at me like I was some nutcase that escaped from the sanitarium for the day. Anyone ever see “King of Hearts”? Yeah…like that…

My hat : )

I’ve got my head down so you can see the top of the hat with the succulents, they sort of “flow” into the wall…

…and this is the back of my head, you can just see the clip holding my (windblown) hair. Those purple/green cascade-y things are something we found on our morning walk, they take the place of a veil or bow and cover the clips that hold the hat on. Yes, one of the succulents on my hat has a flower stem, it gives me height : ) and I feel like a Who which is kind of fun.

Granted this isn’t the kind of dress you can just throw on for any old event, it requires one extra special outing. I have nothing planned like that in the near future, I may have to throw a party JUST so I can wear this dress! It’s a very pretty piece of art, for now it can live on my mannequin when she’s otherwise not engaged and dress up a corner of my dining room. The hat, on the other hand, has to be put away because there is something about those plastic succulents that attract cats like catnip.

Someone certainly has a sense of humor in this town, this is the companion piece to my new friend above : )

Nifty added note – I sent a photo of the completed dress to Dharma Trading and they featured it on their facebook page the week it came out on Sew Weekly!

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