I have wanted to make a nuno felted dress for a while now. I knew it would be a big project, but I finally decided now was the time. It's not done yet, but here is what I've been doing in my studio this week...
I jumped into this project with both feet and an open mind. I tell folks that felting is partly Science, partly Math, but mostly a whole lotta Magic. While I may begin a project with a vision, I've learned to keep that loose, and give each piece the space necessary to allow that magic to seep in and do its thing. It is part of what makes each design special, and honestly, it also saves me the frustration of something not coming out exactly like I had envisioned in my mind. Trust me, it wasn't always like this, I used to get really disappointed when the end product wasn't exactly what I had seen in my mind's eye before I started it. But felting has taught me to let go, to allow the creative magic to happen, and to fall in love with the end product and all of its individuality and uniqueness.
So I'm ready to allow this dress to evolve as it wants to. But I had to get started somewhere, with some baseline. I began with a design I've been using and tweaking for shorter tops as my pattern for the silk layer. I also made the decision that I would work with the fibers in their natural colors.
Initially seeing it's evolution, "wedding gown" did come to mind, but now that I'm living in the South, I have also come to realize a lot more people down here wear white than what I am typically used to. So whether this piece finds its home with a future bride or with someone who simply appreciates it, I think leaving it natural was a good choice.
One of the things I love about nuno felting is that there is no "right" side or "wrong" side to a finished piece, each side has its own unique texture and visual design. It's part of what makes these pieces so versatile. You can wear them so many ways, which means you can wear them so many more times. Because I am designing this dress without a specific occasion or customer in mind, I want to allow it to have as much versatility as possible, and I think I'll be able to do that, partly by choice and partly by "magic".
The dress is a classic pull-over style in a midi length. I've left the shoulders and neckline conservative. But that's what is so great about working in this medium, I can lower the neckline if I decide that's what it needs before I'm finished. While letting the dress and myself rest, stepping back to see where I would go with it next, I noticed several other pieces hanging in the corner where I had safely put them aside. As add-ons they take the dress to another level, and might be the details I'm looking for as finishing touches. But I'm not done yet, I've got another add-on option I want to experiment with later today. So who knows, we'll see where it wants to go as it continues to evolve.
Soon, I will be putting this piece on a "fit model" to see where it needs additional tweaking. I don't sew my pieces, I felt my seams together, so that means additional felting to shrink it where I think it needs it. Then there will be a final "fulling" process to shock the wool fibers, I'll rinse it out, allow it to dry, and do some final hand stitching detail work. When complete, I believe it should fit a size 8/10/12 and at that time I'll post final measurements and purchase availability.
As I mentioned in today's blog title, I wanted to challenge myself ...and this project has been, and continues to be, just that.