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.


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 😀

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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 😀