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Pet Microorganisms

Added May 22, 2010

by ashchaser

Nashville, Tenne...






This frock was a work in progress from early Februrary to the end of April for my sewing course; inspired by the collages and other work of Dadaists such as Duchamp, Tzara, Hausmann, and many others.
In order to translate the “spirit of the moment” feel of this art movement onto fabric form I created a Dada poem from a completely random assortment of words from papers. The result was a 3 line piece from which I picked my favorite sentence (She’s advancing and employing pet microorganisms like famed concepts) which I then screenprinted onto 4 1/2 yds of plain unbleached muslin.
Before this project I had never before screenprinted, yet was urged to by a friend who liked my idea and also attends and art school with an amazing print lab. It took about 6 hours from start to finish, one botched screen, and every blob of black paint we could find, but it was so worth it!
The result was a very unique assortment of words that vaguely represent the collages made from newspapers, all out of my handwriting in different sizes.

Next I dyed the fabric with coffee and tea for a very long time, and then after giving up found out that a mortant such as cream of tartar would have helped precondition my material and help dye colors stick (on natural fabrics).

At the time I thought 4 1/2 yds would be enough for a 3 1/2yd dress (Vogue 1102) yet after much puzzlework and early cutting I found that this was NOT enough! Therefore I decided to shorten the giant skirt and add another layer of muslin underneath, slightly less dyed than the first batch. I was not thrilled about this change at first, yet am extremely pleased with the way it drapes, plus I would not have been able to add the secret welt pocket!!!

When putting this together I was supposed to make it appear deconstructed, so made all but the side seams right side out and frayed them. To achieve this “messy” look I seam ripped for hours, and it probably would have taken less time to finish them properly, but the effect is AWESOME.
Lastly I added a frayed black ribbon to break up the waistline, and created a fabric flower from the printed muslin.
I may sell this on Etsy or not, I have not decided, but for now I will be wandering around in it smelling flowers and possibly skipping.

Material Notes

Plain unbleached muslin was screenprinted with a design I hand drew out on transparencies, burned into a screen, and printed in a checker pattern first to avoid messups. Without the teaching of my friend Patrick Fields I would not have been able to achieve the great aesthetic of this fabric, and am so thankful for the new skill!
I would very much like to use this process in the future to create more custom prints.



Related Techniques


Garment Type
Bohemian, Casual, Classic, Evening Wear, Geek, Other, Punk, Vintage

16 Comments Sign in to add a post

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    May 26, 2010, 07.41 PMby ashchaser

    Thank you so much everyone! I spent way too much time on this dress and am glad that others love it too!

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    May 24, 2010, 09.52 AMby msgems

    Oooh love it! You did a really great job. I like the frayed bits – so worth sitting there for hours with your seam ripper!

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    May 24, 2010, 03.22 AMby ladysophie

    Oh this dress is really cool!! Its so unique and different! Well done!

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    May 23, 2010, 08.30 PMby flowergirl22

    i love the dress inspiration, I have just signed up for a Btec Level 3 in fine art, part of this will be designing a dress. starts in september

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    May 23, 2010, 02.52 PMby Jodi Wade

    I would definitely skip in that dress too! I like it a lot.

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    May 23, 2010, 01.47 PMby seussian

    I think I’m in heaven!! I LOVE this dress! I want to steal it . : ) Please keep going and sewing, God bless you, M

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    May 23, 2010, 11.04 AMby keren

    I think it’s amazing! I love it! It looks so free and just awesome. I love the text and the color and the double layer on the skirt, the frayed edges and the hair flower, the waistline and the ribbon at the back.

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    May 23, 2010, 09.56 AMby juditab

    Love it! :)

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    May 23, 2010, 06.56 AMby louisebarbara

    this is awesome

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    May 23, 2010, 04.35 AMby jem1022

    it reminds me of a look from the Balenciaga A/W 2010 collection… so cute yet so simple with the words… from what you written, thats a lot of work, but it shows…

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    May 23, 2010, 03.11 AMby rifka

    Fantastic. I love the fraying at the waistline and the how the open back dips. All your work really paid off, it’s so perfectly not perfect.

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    May 22, 2010, 11.38 PMby ashchaser

    thank you! I really learned how to go with the flow on this one, making mistakes look purposeful and whatnot. Such an experiment!

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    May 22, 2010, 08.40 PMby marloncosta


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    May 22, 2010, 08.34 PMby sew4my3

    Oh my! I think you may be on to something with this design! This is just gorgeous and a beautiful work of art!

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    May 22, 2010, 07.49 PMby sewella

    I love this amazing creation and I immensely enjoyed the story of the process behind it!

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    May 22, 2010, 07.12 PMby jrodehickey

    The solution you found for for your fabric shortage makes this dress amazing!

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