Many years ago I was obsessed with this dress by Luly Yang Couture:
I thought it was fabulous, I desperately wanted it, and I went so far as to custom-paint panels of yellow chiffon with diluted fabric paint (stretched over custom canvas stretchers) to match the butterfly-wing skirt panels so I could make one myself. But I never finished it, and I never had any place to wear it anyway, so it languished in the back of my closet, stuffed into a paper grocery bag with my other unfinished projects. And now, of course, replica dresses are available online and Spoonflower is a thing (and has basically the exact design available that I’d have wanted) so I wouldn’t have to hand-paint the fabric anyway. But I still have no place to wear it…
About four years ago I dug it out to use in a Halloween costume, stitching the panels to a red crinoline and painting a black bustier top with a hasty orange/yellow/gold design to tie in the colors and be a butterfly fairy. And then it went back in the closet.
However, when it was announced that the Costume College 2018 pool party theme would be “Realm of the Goblin King” it was clear to me that it was time to revive the costume, at least to give the fabulous skirt another outing. But the bodice would have to be re-done, because my quickie paint job was looking pretty amateurish in the harsh light of day.
Rather than try to replace it with a plain black corset (which would be boring) I decided to try repurposing the original, making it look more like an insect’s body and kind of like armor by covering it with craft foam pieces. I’d covered a corset with craft foam before, so I was hopeful that this would work.
Accordingly, I laced the corset onto my dress form and started cutting out paper pieces to cover it with shapes that were (hopefully) reminiscent of an insect body. I pinned them in place to see how they’d fit and overlap on the corset when worn. Once they were set I used the paper as a stencil to cut out my foam, using a seam ripper to trace along the edges and indent the foam as a cutting line. I numbered the pieces so I’d be able to keep track of which order they’d be placed in on the corset.
While the corset was still on the dress form, I used hot glue to stick the foam directly to the fabric. Hot glue works fantastically on craft foam– sometimes too well, as I discovered when I made some errors in placement and was unable to remove the foam without ripping it. That required some extra “intentional design features” to cover up some spots, but I think it worked out all right.
After the corset was completely covered in foam pieces, I sealed them with multiple (I think five?) layers of Mod Podge to stiffen them a bit and give them some shine. Then I took some metallic gold paint and dry-brushed it over the corset to highlight the edges of the foam plates.
Done! The finished corset is comfortable, flexible, and looks much better than my original version. With the skirt it made a great costume for the pool party, though I still wish I could find an excuse to buy one of those replicas of the Luly Yang dress… (sigh)
(Thanks to Fresh Frippery for the great photo!)
Note: My favorite inexpensive metallic craft paint is DecoArt Dazzling Metallics. The paint is actually reasonably metallic, and not just the gold color– it comes in several shades. It’s definitely got more shine and shimmer than most other craft paints, so if you want to avoid the hassle of gold leaf or Rub ‘n Buff, (which also look fabulous but which requires extra steps to seal), I would go with this brand.