Danielle Wilson

clothing design

Little Birds- Peacock

Danielle Wilson2 Comments
Last year I made 4 dresses for an editorial shoot for Milk magazine. Each dress was made by hand and each involved different fabric manipulating techniques. I thought it would be fun to share some of the behind-the-scenes of the processes I used.

Today I am sharing a look at the peacock inspired dress I made. This might be my favorite look because I am a sucker for color, and this rich deep green makes my heart flutter.

sketch by Chaunté Vaughn

sketch by Chaunté Vaughn

For this look, again I started with Chaunté's sketch which was based on their concept for the shoot. After meeting with them to finalize the concept about a week before the shoot, I immediately went home and ordered dozens of yards of fabric. The peacock needed to look rich, iridescent and luxe, and that called for silk. Many yards of it! I used a very lightweight silk Habotai, which has a lovely rich-- but not shiny, sheen.

So this process was pretty straightforward. I used Dupont Silk Dyes and painted them on to my silk. I first stretched it across a large PVC frame that I had constructed, and used clamps to keep it taught. This is to keep the dye from pooling or creating unwanted marks where it contacts the surface below.  I used several shades of blues and greens to achieve this kind of painterly peacock effect.

It's important to keep the fabric damp while you paint if you want to avoid harsh lines. But really, it's so fun to kind of experiment. There is no one way to do this. I tend to fret over doing things the "right" way, and often that keeps me from getting started at all. But that was the beauty of this project. I had no time to fret! Just jumped in and went for it.

Dharma Trading is a great resource for dyeing. I used their instructions as a jumping off point, and kind of improvised a bit too. Normally you need to steam silk for several minutes in a steam bath in order to properly set the dye. I skipped this step because my piece was so large I couldn't roll it in a way that would avoid setting wrinkles into it in the process. So, instead I put it into the dryer for a while, and then pressed it with my iron. It set the dye, but not as stably as steaming it would have.

I really really love the way this fabric turned out. In fact, I might just remake this into something for myself.  The way the colors so subtly change from green to blue looks so rich and delicious.

Since I didn't know ahead of time the size or measurements of the models, I designed the dresses to be kind of adjustable. I drafted the pattern for this dress myself and I made it two pieces so we could shorten or lengthen it at the bodice. I also made the lining of the bodice a Lycra knit so it would hug her body properly, but have give to accommodate for different sizes.

I love the drama of this dress but I have to admit that when I decided to make one shoulder bare, I was so caught up in thinking about the silhouette-- which I thought looked much cleaner, more balanced, and more dramatic without a strap. But I totally forgot about the fact that my model was 11! Hah! Still, all in all I could not be more pleased with how this look turned out. 

See the editorial in Milk magazine here

My original post here (with more behind the scenes of the shoot)

Model Sydney Burnham

Produced by The House That Lars Built

Shoot photos by Chaunté Vaughn

Little Birds- Flamingo

Danielle Wilson1 Comment
Last year I made 4 dresses for an editorial shoot for Milk magazine. Each dress was made by hand and each involved different fabric manipulating techniques. I thought it would be fun to share some of the behind the scenes of the processes I used.

The shoot was produced by Brittany Watson Jepsen-- The House That Lars Built, and photographed by Chaunté Vaughn. I came on board very late in the process-- 10 days before the shoot, when they had a pretty solid concept in place already. Chaunté is quite an amazing artist in addition to being a great photographer, and she had already sketched ideas for 3 of the dresses, based on their concept. I felt like I understood the vision, and it was up to me to interpret and realize the essence of it in 3 dimensional form, and bring these ideas to life. And I had about 7 days to do it. Eeeek! I pulled it off, but-- spoiler alert, I used a lot of fabric glue.

sketch by Chaunté Vaughn

sketch by Chaunté Vaughn

So lets start with the flamingo. Each dress was bird inspired, but we didn't want them to look like bird costumes. We were going for lush, luxury, lots of texture and depth.

So the secret to making the fabric "feathers" for this dress, is all in the fabric. I used a stiff cotton organdy. Cotton organdy is generally used as an underlining in couture sewing. It has been specially treated to keep its somewhat rigid shape. I actually used two different weights of organdy, just to have more variation in texture and translucency. I tore it into squares about 4"x 4", then dyed half pink and half a more peachy color. I used several shades (tan, pink, and orange) of regular liquid RIT dye for this. I like using the liquid dye because you can mix as you go, adjusting the colors as needed. And because it didn't need to be colorfast in the washing machine, I didn't have to worry about proper dying techniques here. Instead of waiting for each piece to dry, I used my iron to both press and dry them at the same time, returning the stiff texture to the fabric in the process.  It moved along pretty quickly once I got going. Then, I dipped just the edges in darker shades of the same colors, and ironed them dry again. 

Next I cut 8 lines like bike spokes (sorry I don't have a photo-- it was the middle of the night and I was in a hurry!) out from the center of each square, but left the center in tact.  I trimmed off the pointed tips and made each flap more petal shaped. Finally, I placed a pink petal square on top of a peach petal square, and secured them using fabric glue in the center. Before the glue dried I sort of pinched and twisted the centers so the petals came forward and out and then I let them dry that way.

And then I repeated that process about a thousand more times! I have a hard time letting people help me but Brittany and her team even pitched in gluing together a few hundred of these too!

I made a simple knit shift dress using cotton lycra fabric that I also dyed, and then used fabric glue to attach the flowers to it. I used a t-shirt stuffed with batting, and then covered in plastic as a make-shift dress form so the dress kept its shape and didn't stick to itself while the glue dried. I kept thinking I had made enough flowers, but once I started attaching them to the dress it became clear that I needed many many more! Those suckers are packed in there!

As a final touch, I dyed goose feathers in shades of peach and pink and attached them throughout the flower feathers to give more dimension and texture.

See the editorial in Milk magazine here

My original post here (with more behind the scenes of the shoot)

Model Swayzie King

Produced by The House That Lars Built,

Shoot photos by Chaunté Vaughn

Little Birds-- milk magazine editorial

Design WorkDanielle Wilson26 Comments

Photos by Chaunté Vaughn

Recently I collaborated with the ever creative Brittany Watson Jepsen of The House That Lars Built, and fabulous photographer Chaunté Vaughn, on an editorial featured in Milk Magazine. Milk is a children's fashion magazine and a source of endless inspiration for me, so I'm enormously proud to have my designs featured there.  Like all good collaborations the shoot was a team effort, but for my part I created 4 dresses, each inspired by a beautiful bird and brought to life using various textiles and fabric-manipulating techniques.

Photo by Chaunté Vaughn

Photo by Chaunté Vaughn

Photo by Chaunté Vaughn

Photo by Chaunté Vaughn

Photo by Chaunté Vaughn

I was very excited to come on board to work with Brittany and Chaunté, and so inspired by the concept they'd developed-- sort of high fashion, bird-inspired, lush and colorful. The only catch was that the project timeline was short! Like, I had one week to order fabric and supplies and make all these dresses a reality. But I thrive under pressure, and so I jumped in.

Photo by Chaunté Vaughn

Photo by Chaunté Vaughn

Photo by Chaunté Vaughn

Photo by Chaunté Vaughn

Photo by Chaunté Vaughn

Photo by Chaunté Vaughn

They took a huge leap of faith getting me involved because we had never worked together before, and they really didn't know what I'd show up with on the day of the shoot! But they had enough faith in my taste and ability to ask anyway. I am so glad they did.

Photo by Chaunté Vaughn

Photo by Chaunté Vaughn

Photo by Chaunté Vaughn

Photo by Chaunté Vaughn

Photo by Chaunté Vaughn

The thing about these dresses is that they aren't the kind of thing I've had the occasion to make in the past, but they are exactly the kind of thing I get excited about making-- dream about making. So I hoped if I could pull off the ideas in my head, the results would not be disappointing.

Photo by Chaunté Vaughn

Photo by Chaunté Vaughn

photo by Chaunté Vaughn

Photo by Chaunté Vaughn

 Photo by Chaunté Vaughn 

I get really excited about using textiles in interesting ways. I wanted the dresses to have colors that were rich and complex, with layers of subtle variation. I wanted exaggerated volume that still looked light and effortless.  I wanted textures that felt substantial and intriguing, that would demonstrate bird-like qualities without being too literal. And I wanted them to all balance with, and play off each other. 

Photo by Danielle Wilson

I had experimented a lot in the past with dying and painting on fabric, and had some supplies on hand that would lend themselves well to realizing the vision for these dresses. So I gathered those and then I ordered another 20 yards of silks and cottons, and crossed my fingers! 

Creating these dresses was quite an intimate process. From yards and yards of hand-painted silk in just the shade I'd imagined, to rows of hand-dyed ruffles thoughtfully tacked into place, to hundreds of tiny fabric flowers individually painted in multiple shades and carefully formed, every detail of these dresses was considered. I put my heart into them, and I am proud of the way they turned out.

Photo by Danielle Wilson

Chaunté and Brittany prepping the amazing tree-house courtesy of QP Designs in Provo, UT

We shot at this amazing tree-house in Provo. I've been dreaming of my own tree-house since I was a little girl (seriously-- I have a whole pinterest board dedicated to them) so this location was pure magic for me.

Model Swayzie King getting her hair and makeup done by Shannon Laidlaw

I brought a tent to the photoshoot, because I am a ridiculous human. But if being a mother has taught me anything, it's that anticipating and preparing for every possible scenario for disaster means that maybe you might avoid like half of them. We were actually supposed to shoot the previous day but it was raining buckets and water on any of these fabrics would have been disaster--they would have melted. I wasn't taking any chances. (In fact they did go ahead and photograph the Parrot indoors the day before but I wasn't there, which is why I have no behind the scenes photos of gorgeous Blythe)

Model Sydney Burnham laying on branches to get the perfect shot.

Brittany and her team did such an amazing job styling this photo shoot. Her vision, and attention to detail really blows my mind. Everything she did, from carefully choosing models whose skin and hair tones would be perfectly complimented by the clothes, to the placement of objects, to the balance of light and color and form, is just beyond. She's really good at what she does.

Brittany and Chaunté behind the scenes with model Isabelle Aaron

Chaunté is obviously a master of her craft as well. I mean, clearly these photos she took are gorgeous. Stunning. But Chuanté and Brittany really worked together to bring about the entire vision for this project. Chaunté even created inspiration sketches for the dresses I made, which I 'll be sharing in a separate post that will give a little more info on my process for creating each dress.

Photo by Danielle Wilson

It was such an honor to be a part of this project and get to work with everyone who was involved. I'm so happy to be able to finally share it with you. I hope you enjoy it!

Here is a little video Chaunté put together:

Go HERE for the Editorial in Milk (click EN in the upper left corner to translate to English)

"Little Birds" Credits

Photographer- Chaunté Vaughn

Producer/Stylist- The House That Lars Built

Clothing Design/Construction- Danielle Wilson

Beauty- Shannon Laidlaw

Peacock Model- Sydney Burnham

Flamingo Model- Swayzie King

Parrot Model- Blythe Snowden

Swan Model- Isabelle Aaron

Location- QP Collections Provo, UT