Mixed media fairy dress!

My upcycled "mixed media" fairy dress

Upcycled mixed media fairy dress with lavender tutu. © 2014 Laly Mille
Upcycled mixed media fairy dress with lavender tutu. © 2014 Laly Mille

Once upon a time, there was a good fairy who turned Cinderella's rags into a beautiful, "upcycled" ball gown...

I finished the dress! Yes I did! That was a true challenge, but so worth it. And what was even more of a challenge was: will I dare to wear it at my little sister's wedding, in front af all my relatives, far and near (gasp...)?... Well I did! And I'm so glad I did.  Weddings in France are generally not as colourful and "fluffy" as they can be in the UK or the US for instance. Wearing a lavender tutu, especially when you're not a 5 year old, but well into your thirties, well... that does require a good dose of courage.

But that was the point: stepping into my own power as an artist, a creative soul and wearing it right on my skin. The fun thing about it was that it got contagious: one of my sisters and my sister-in-law both made their dresses too, one with a tattered, upcycled look, and the other with a fluffly tutu under a tartan print dress (girls, you were both gorgeous!). We supported each other into affirming our creative selves, and I also like to think that it was our way to encourage the newly-weds to be bold and creative in the new life ahead of them...

And now, here is the finished dress...

Upcycled mixed media fairy dress with lavender tutu. © 2014 Laly Mille
Upcycled mixed media fairy dress with lavender tutu. © 2014 Laly Mille

It all started with a lovely bouquet of roses that my prince charming gave me earlier this year. It was so lovely that I decided to let it dry and keep it. As it dried, the colours became even more lovely and dreamy... At that time, discussions about the wedding and the outfits for the children were going strong. Which quite naturally led us -the mothers of these lovely angels- to start thinking about our own outfits. I started a Pinterest board to gather images I loved, and soon started dreaming of tattered dresses, vintage dresses, fairy dresses, ruffles and tutus... After that, all the other outfits I could see in the shops felt rather dull, so I started to think that maybe I could try and make my own dress...

Upcycled mixed media fairy dress with lavender tutu. © 2014 Laly Mille
Upcycled mixed media fairy dress with lavender tutu. © 2014 Laly Mille

Now I should tell you that sewing was never really my thing before. My last sewing experience was making washable diapers for my daughter 6 years ago. Just like I don't like to cook with a recipe, I really don't like to follow a sewing pattern. I had never made a dress before. So if I were to really make this one, it would have to be on my terms, following my intuition and my own creative process.

Upcycled mixed media fairy dress with lavender tutu. © 2014 Laly Mille
Upcycled mixed media fairy dress with lavender tutu. © 2014 Laly Mille

I embarked upon a real treasure hunt, looking for scraps of fabric and old clothes that had been awaiting a new life. Inspired by Zollection on Etsy, I bought a tank top with lace straps: it would be my "canvas"! I also bought a few fabric flowers, and experimented with hand dyeing... so much fun! A trip to my local thrift store provided vintage lace and ribbon.

Upcycled mixed media fairy dress with lavender tutu. © 2014 Laly Mille
Upcycled mixed media fairy dress with lavender tutu. © 2014 Laly Mille

Then I dismembered the old clothes, turing them into scraps of all sizes. And with the tank top on a hanger, I happily started pinning, pinning, pinning... I was already in love with the whole thing, so I knew there was no turning back! I invested into a dress form and pinned some more. Just as with all my paintings, I started experimenting with placement, colour and layers... Then little by little I started sewing the elements in place, some by hand, and some with the help of my sewing machine.

Upcycled mixed media fairy dress with lavender tutu. © 2014 Laly Mille
Upcycled mixed media fairy dress with lavender tutu. © 2014 Laly Mille

At the same time I was making a matching "no-sew" tutu for my little girl (tutorial HERE!). And it was so pretty that I got a little (a lot!) jealous... So I decided to order some more tulle (which I got from THIS Etsy shop), in purple, rosy mauve and lavender, and made one for myself that I attached to the bottom of the tank top, so that it would be perfectly placed just a little lower than the waistline.

Upcycled mixed media fairy dress with lavender tutu. © 2014 Laly Mille
Upcycled mixed media fairy dress with lavender tutu. © 2014 Laly Mille

I completed the outfit with a purse made from an old lace cushion cover and a T-shirt, a little bracelet made with ribbon and lace left-overs, and a well-loved grey cardigan that I adorned with tulle and ribbon for the occasion. I also made a pair of shoe clips from two flower-cluster baby headbands from the same shop where I bought the tulle.

Upcycled mixed media fairy dress with lavender tutu. © 2014 Laly Mille
Upcycled mixed media fairy dress with lavender tutu. © 2014 Laly Mille

The final touch was a Kelly Rae Roberts necklace-locket that my husband gave me for our anniversary earlier this month. The pendant reads "a charming journey". It couldn't be better suited...

Upcycled mixed media fairy dress with lavender tutu. © 2014 Laly Mille
Upcycled mixed media fairy dress with lavender tutu. © 2014 Laly Mille
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