The Elle Dress

Elle's Dress - Betsuni

Project Lead: Elle Nguyen

To tell you the truth, the design for the Elle Dress was an experiment.

For the longest time, I’ve been searching for a summer dress but I haven’t been able to find anything that compliments my shape, is super comfortable, and super fun to wear. So, I started playing with different silhouettes that I already love – fitted tops, short sleeves, and A-line skirts.

Another issue, however, popped up as Ames and I were shopping for fabrics. Fabric stores are dangerous for us, specifically our budgets – we tend to grab fabrics that we love but don’t have an existing project to pair it with. This spring season was especially dangerous – We found so many cute designs and one of them featured a picturesque scenery of a waterfront city.

How was I going to draft a dress pattern
that would show off the entire scenery,
especially on my petite figure?

The Fabric

I laid out the fabric onto the table and decided to divide up the scenery into “city” and “trees”. The trees would decorate the top part of the dress and the cityscape would be fanned out on the skirt part of the dress.

Fabric pattern issue solved! Next, the silhouette …

The Design

I have always been a fan of the sweetheart neckline – the name itself is so cute! This wide neckline lets the warm sun kiss my skin, but also keeps me cool on those hot, hot days. Also, for summer frolics, I prefer a sleeveless dress, so I can plunge my arms into water pools or overstuffed picnic baskets without getting my sleeves dirty. Unfortunately, my boxy body shape requires sleeves to create that hourglass illusion. So, I drafted a super cute peephole sleeve cuff that would widened the shoulder line.

The skirt was a bit of a nightmare – I drafted and tested the skirt pattern twice and still ended up mucking about with the fabric skirt three more times. The problem was the cityscape artwork – I couldn’t draft a conventional flare skirt pattern because the cityscape wouldn’t curve with the design. I also couldn’t divided up the cityscape to create a multi-panel skirt because the panels would look too mismatched. After reworking and reworking the skirt, I found a happy medium that let me keeps the entire cityscape and produced a cute flared skirt. The best part? I have pockets!

Custom fashion design allows for whimsical dreams to come dream … with a little bit of hard work and persistence. Fortunately, that’s our focus here at Betsuni – Design. Fashion. Anything Handmade.


Elle’s Mandala

I have always envision my life as a painting – each event in my life is a artistic ray stemming out of my center of being. Each event shapes my entire being and my entire being is the sum of so many different elements – like mandala art!

A mandala is a representation of the universe – it begins with a circle and extends outward with different patterns and designs in an infinite numbers of way. This is why I fell in love with mandala art – its originality and never-ending possibilities allows me to create different artwork that represents my universe at any given time.

I create my mandala artwork on my mobile phone using the Autodesk Sketchbook app and a stylus. I doodle. I rearrange. I remove. I release all of my everything into the little digital canvas and when I’m nearly satisfied, I transfer the result into Adobe Illustration and tweak it some more.

I try my best not to go insanely detailed at this stage to allow me (and other participating artists) creative freedom when I start the painting process. Also, since I engrave the graphic, smaller details tend to blur or disappear into ashes when I transfer the digital design onto a wooden canvas.

I rarely begin painting from the center circle of my mandala – I tend to choose plainer offshoots where I can add more details with a black fine tip marker. I water down my acrylic paint color to a pale pastel and add on more layers to create an almost watercolor effect –  a blurry representation of my feelings and memories. Then I mark up the design with little repetitive lines and curls to unite the colors and pull the body of the element back to the center circle.

Unlike other artwork I have done, I find myself coming back to indulge in my mandala art. I use them to relax, to dream, or to reflect.

Have you had a chance to indulge in mandala art yet? We have workshops! Check out:  Arts Workshops

News Projects

Vul-Con Win for Betsuni!

Every year at Vul-Con (a Star Trek convention in Vulcan, Alberta), there is always something that surprises me and keeps me coming back – usually it is the people, but sometimes it’s just the pull of the little town feeling. Vulcan is  just outside Calgary and has a rich history dating back further than the Star Trek fanfare it is known for today.

So, after coming to the event for the last four years, I decided that it is probably time that I get into uniform – despite my sci-fi geekdom, I haven’t truly gotten into the spirit of this convention just yet but became inspired to cosplay when I came across a Starfleet jacket design on Pinterest (Original Artwork by GaugeX). This was the piece that called to me.  Sleek in design and subtle enough to be a jacket that I could wear even outside of my cosplay world. I just knew we had to make it.

It was a long process because we had to design this jacket from scratch. First, I drew it out in a sketch book to determine the pieces we would need – that part was the easiest.

Drafting wasn’t too hard either since we use the power of technology to speed our process. The problem was we have never made a jacket like this before, so we ran into a few hiccups with the measurements.  We crafted two draft patterns before starting on on the jacket itself.

If I had to speak out about one thing that I had to really focus on, it was sleeves.  Sleeve curves are one of the most difficult things that I have ever dealt with in sewing so far.  Though by the end of this, I think I got the hang of it.  Learning through deadlines really burns it into the brain.

May Anne featured on the Left in her vest and myself featured in the center

So, during the drafting and design process, I put my feelers out to see if any other club members were interested in having a costume piece made for Vul-con.

Almost immediately one of our members, May Anne reached out to us.  She commissioned us to have a vest made that resembled the vests from the Deep Space Nine series.  Suffice to say, the U.S.S. King Edward NCC-74206 was certainly looked sharp at the event this year.

Early Saturday morning, our crew met up for breakfast in our hotel. Outside, as we were eating, the local chapter of the Klingon Assault Group was swarming over and claiming the park, so my crew went to see what was happening.  As we walked up, we noticed a cluster of costumers ready for the costume contest. My crew gave me the gentle nudge I needed to step forward and represent my team.

betsuni - Star Trek Jacket by Ames Hagon
Project Lead: Ames Hagon

The costume contest judges approached and questioned each of the contestants and upon learning about the process of which Betsuni uses to cut our clothing patterns (ie. laser technology), it was clear that my design had a bit more of an edge.

I won second place in the contest
out of about thirty contestants.


Dilliam Ben Knauert, First place winning costume

First place winner of the Costume contest was Borg Fashonista, Dilliam Ben Knauert , a cosplayer who has been making costumes for himself for three years now.

Craftsmith Cosplay
Cindy Burkholder (Featured center right) and Clay DeBeurs (featured left second back)
Third place was shared between the loving couple, Cindy Burkholder and Clay DeBeurs – also members of the Klingon Assault Group and who have been cosplayers for as long as I’ve known them.

Vulcan is a place that I like to call a home away from home.  Great people, great food, and wonderful memories.  I can’t wait for next year.

Read More: Vul-Con Attracts An International Crowd – HighRiverOnline


The Maria Dress

Project Lead: Elle Nguyen
Project Assist: Ames Hagon

I picked up this project just after Ames and I started on Ames’ Pearl cosplay (Steven Universe). I was working alongside another fashion enthusiast, Maria of Make Fashion, and she mentioned that she wish she had time to make herself a dress to wear to the upcoming Make Fashion show (April 2017). I took that as an invitation and ask “Can I make you a dress?” and that was how it started.

Maria shared a inspiring Pinterest board with me and mentioned that her preferred color was Sunshine Yellow. She also loves the work of Frida Kahlo. Connecting the dots together, I sketched up a flowy shoulder-to-floor gown, accented with a satin black belt and hand painted floral designs. She gave the thumbs up and the dress making process began.

We also create the first draft on “scrap” cloth. I fitted the draft on Maria, marked the the alterations that need to be made, and altered the original design accordingly.

The funny thing about the whole process was dressing the mannequin between sewing sessions – the 6 foot mannequin has insanely slim, yet super busty measurements and the Maria dress was made for a little 5 foot lady. So parts of the dress were too short for the mannequin, leaving it look like the mannequin was getting party ready for the Calgary Stampede season 😀

A post shared by Betsuni Canada (@betsunicanada) on

I was the most anxious about hand painting the floral designs on the fabric. This was my first time painting on fabric and I rarely painted anything before – I have more experience painting walls than I do anything artistic. Hand painting the flowers, however, would really pull in Maria’s love for Frida Kahlo’s art – I needed to do this.

I used Jacquard fabric paint for all the artwork on Maria’s yellow chiffon fabric. I only painted with a medium sized pointed round paint brush and played around with different styles to create petals, leaves, and stems. I think I spent about four days figuring out how to place everything, dry and cure the paint, and fix/add more details. I obsessed and obsessed right until show day …

I’m assuming Maria was pretty happy with her dress 😀 She did a few twirls and she did wear it down the runway during the Make Fashion show – all good signs 😀