Dragonfly Skirt Suit, Part III: Lilypad Fascinator


To make my lilypad-shaped fascinator, I started off by picking out a remnant of celery-green fabric from my stash– it’s satin on one side and dupioni-ish on the other, and I’d originally bought it to line my Regency ribbon-rose reticule. I thought it would coordinate well with my suit– however, once I actually got it out it was clearly too pale a green to stand out next to the bright turquoise suit. I decided to try dyeing it with Jacquard Dye-Na-Flow, which is my go-to for tiny dye jobs like this since it works on both natural and synthetic fibers.

I did a few test swatches and ended up using a combination of Turquoise and Chartreuse in a 3:1 ratio. Because my fabric was super-non-absorbent (seriously, water and dye just beaded up on its surface) I had to soak it in water for a good long time to get it wet, and then painted the undiluted dye directly onto the dampened fabric. The dye still wouldn’t spread naturally, so I ended up rubbing dyed parts of the fabric onto the un-dyed parts to get it to distribute evenly. It was a hassle, but the finished shade was a nice springy green.


I traced out a lilypad shape (a slightly rounded-off Pac-Man) on paper and transferred it to some iron-on interfacing, ironing it to the shiny side of the fabric. Then I cut out around the interfacing so the edges matched exactly. I also made one more layer out of stiff green felt, because the interfaced pieces weren’t quite substantial enough.

I traced some leafy veins on the top layer of interfaced fabric, satin-stitching along them in silver thread to make them stand out a bit. Of course, just as I started the satin-stitching my sewing machine died, never to be revived (RIP Kenmore). I was grateful that I’d finished the applique on my suit and all of my major sewing, but it was still annoying– luckily I was able to borrow a friend’s machine and finish things up!


I cut some bias strips from more of the green fabric and bound the edges of the lilypad (all three layers– embroidered fabric, felt, fabric). As I did the hand-sewing on the bottom side, I ran some 16-gauge copper wire through the channel created by the binding to add more stability to the hat and allow me to do some subtle shaping. (Yes, the binding is extremely sloppy at the center point, but it’ll be covered up later.) I really like the finished effect– the binding makes it look more like a real hat, rather than a craft project.

Next up was the lily itself– I wanted to make it out of two layers of organza petals, and figured that wiring the edges would make it possible to shape them. I twisted together two six-petaled shapes out of 24-gauge craft wire and laid each one on top of a double-layer of pink organza, which was set on top of a sheet of parchment paper. I ran a very thin bead of hot glue right along the top of the wire (a few inches at a time) and pressed the wire tightly against the fabric with the tip of my fingernail. Since the glue bead was wider than the wire, the glue was able to adhere the wire to the organza, and the pressure helped the glue soak through both layers of fabric, keeping everything together. The parchment kept anything from sticking to the work surface.


Note: this process worked better than trying to sandwich the wire between the two layers of organza, since that required twice as much glue and made the next step much more difficult.

Once the wire was securely glued to the fabric I cut out the flower shape with a wide border around the wire– probably about a centimeter wide (to prevent fraying), with slits cut at the inside points to make the borders easier to fold over later. Then I whipstitched the edge of the organza over the wire using matching thread. The organza was sheer enough that the border didn’t really show all that much from the reverse side.


I layered the petal rounds on top of each other and bent them up to form a double-layered lily flower. For the center I took short pieces of yellow ribbon, knotted on each end, and coated them in a very thin layer of Elmer’s glue to stiffen them before attaching them to the center of the flower with hot glue. I liked the way the knots, like the edge binding on the lilypad, made the flower look more like a millinery project and less like a party decoration.


Then I hot-glued the lily to the center of my lilypad, and hot-glued the lilypad to a round black sinamay base, figuring it would blend in nicely with my hair. Finally, I stitched a wire comb to the bottom to keep it secure. I’ll probably do a small french braid as part of my hairstyle to give the comb something to grip onto.



3 thoughts on “Dragonfly Skirt Suit, Part III: Lilypad Fascinator

  1. Pingback: Costume College 2018! | It's All Frosting...

  2. Pingback: 1860s Embroidered Ballgown, Part VI: Finishing the Bodice | It's All Frosting...

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