The dress didn’t start off as a dance dress. It was originally a plain blue, jersey dress, which Meroe bought. She must have been able to see its potential, because on a hanger it doesn’t look much at all. Once it’s put on a dress form, though, it looks much better. When I took these photographs I was in the process of sewing a bra into it, hence the black straps.
|The original dress|
Meroe wanted a blue and silver colour scheme, with small sections of beading in the ruched areas, and most of the decoration on the bodice and around the hips.
I found a brooch and some earrings which I thought would be a good starting point for the design. To these I added various types of beads, blue and silver sequins, and some sew-on embroidery stones.
I originally planned to trim all the edges of the bodice with rope beading, but came to the conclusion that this would look too much. There was also the problem that if I beaded the edges of the wide horizontal back strap, the vertical straps would rub against the beading, and possibly break it. Instead I left the edges of the back strap plain, and concentrated on decorating the area in the centre. As well as proving a focal point, this also had the advantage of covering any bumps where the bra strap fastened underneath!
|The back completed|
Another of the small jewellery pieces was attached to the bodice immediately below the bust, and as with the back panel, different combinations of beads and sequins were sewn on to form radiating lines of varying lengths.
|The top completed|
A third piece was placed on the back of the skirt, towards the left hip, and the same starburst effect added.
The brooch was placed at the top of the vertical drape, and the top part of it was outlined with silver beads. The outline then continued down the drape in broken sections. The brooch formed the focal point of the design and again, rows of beads and sequins radiated from it.
|The brooch decoration|
With hindsight, I would have chosen a different design for the decoration, namely one without straight lines. The rope beading around the edges wasn’t a problem, but it was very difficult to keep the radiating lines straight on stretch fabric, and to keep enough give in the stitching so that they wouldn’t pucker when the dress was put on. I had to keep putting the dress on the dress form, to mark the lines and to check that what I had completed so far was correct, then take it off to do a bit more. At one point I even tried sewing it while it was on the dress form!
|The completed dress|
Finally, though, here’s a picture of Meroe wearing the dress.