When the Leaves Fall


... I turn them into a dress!
I have been working on my fall-inspired dress for about a month now. I purchased the fabric leaves last year, but I never got to using them for room decor. With all the beautiful colors, I thought it would be a fun project to use them as details of a dress, to become a living and walking embodiment of the season!



In terms of design, I wanted a simple dress that I could wear over a blouse. I needed it to be lightweight, so it could easily be lifted by a full petticoat, but still durable enough to have the leaves sewn onto it. For this project, soft tulle seemed to be the best choice for the main material. I used two layers of it to make the dress. Additionally, since the highlight of the project was using leaves to create that fallen foliage effect, I thought adding this vine trim as straps would complete the look I was going for. 




I did not have a strict deadline in mind when I started this project, though I was aiming to finish in time for the beginning of fall. It was easy and relaxed sewing, while I simultaneously binge-watched The Office, my go-to TV show whenever I felt under the weather. Being productive with sewing and watching my favorite show has always had the effect of making me feel better. However, I think I have developed this rather odd habit of "distracted viewing". I honestly cannot sit down to watch a show. I need to be doing something else while I watched a show. Otherwise, I would feel uneasy and a bit bored focusing my attention on the screen.

That said, I did not finish the dress in time. But I was able to start pinning on the leaves, and had enough of them on to demonstrate what I was trying to do! I felt good about it but, and this is going to be one of the many buts when it came to sewing this dress, I thought the color gradient would look better if I had some green. Below was the first pinning:


I was happy that people liked it! But I could not convince myself to go on pinning the rest of the darker leaves. I definitely wanted a bit of gorgeous green to make for a better transition. And so, I unpinned what I had on before and ordered a new batch of these green/ yellow-green fabric leaves. I got to work as soon as I received them.




I loved the colors, and I knew I made the right decision. After pinning, I moved on to sewing on the leaves. I thought I would pin and sew my way to completion, even if I did not yet understand how I would neatly attach the leaves. I would just find out as I go. In the beginning it seemed an easy albeit time consuming task as I was sewing by hand. But I was really looking forward to finishing the dress within a couple of days. And then, I saw this:



The photos above should effectively tell the story of what happened! It was frustrating to once again undo what I have worked on but I guess this was some learning curve I had to experience. I knew having the random stitches would have sped up my process but I also knew I would regret not doing my best to make the inside as presentable as the outside. Following the venation of the leaves required more time, but I liked the result a lot more. Instead of haphazard lines, I had a little star stitches, and I was happy.


I have been working on and off the dress for over a month now. At one point, I needed to see something else apart from all the orange and red, so I resumed sewing this other work in progress. It was a break from the fall dress project, but still a productive one at that since I am also close to finishing the said dress:

And yet once again, I found myself needing another break but this time from all the lavender.

I began the week with the motivation to wrap it up and and finally move on to shooting the dress. I was in my momentum of hand-sewing, and I really loved how the dress was transforming as I attached the leaves. I kept thinking to myself that with just a little bit more time and patience, I would get it all done. But then, I ran out of leaves.

Admittedly, it was a frustrating situation. But I have made myself a promise that I would always try to reflect if such a situation was worth the anxiety to begin with. I have this funny way of asking myself, "Is this the end of the world for you, Cyril?" Of course, the answer was no! As silly as the question was, it has always helped me manage my stress, and just re-center myself and my energy into something else.

Needless to say, while I wait for the additional leaves to arrive, I have started working on a new (and a lot simpler) project for Halloween. It is adapted from a tutorial I made long ago. I can't wait to share it with you guys!


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