Designed and sewn by Pat Billups of Grand Prairie, Texas, this gown won the Best Overall award in the Four Elements design challenge posed by Threads and the Association of Sewing and Design Professionals. Pat chose to interpret the element of Earth. She focused on the creation of the planet’s land masses through volcanic activity. Her flowing gown, with its full skirt and low V-neckline, also alludes to the elements of air and fire, in the smoky and flamelike effects of the neckline frill.
How the gown was created
The elegant silhouette was designed through flat-pattern techniques, which enabled Pat to integrate princess seam, gracefully shaped panels, and curved, two-piece godets that yield a rippling hem. Her goal was to devise a conical shape that represents the contour of a volcano.
Fabric choices and edge finishes
She selected a charmeuse fabric in a print that evokes lava pillows, then added a double-layer silk organza ruffle at the neckline. The stiff fabrication helps the ruffle stand up and hold an undulating shape that was created with a steam iron. All the skirt and neckline ruffle edges are finished with a serged rolled hem, to provide a clean line with some body.
Lining and understructure
The dress is lined in black silk charmeuse, which is revealed beneath the outer dress’s hemline. A separate petticoat supports the skirt’s fullness. It is based on a pull-on shapewear girdle made of power mesh; this smooths the midsection under the clingy dress. Polyester tulle forms the petticoat’s skirt.
Get more inspiration from ASDP’s talented designers, in these posts about past challenges: