Thursday, February 13, 2014

How To: Leafy Gown Tutorial

Making your own leafy garment can be a fun, simple way to create a magical costume or unique accessory. Hot glue, silk leaves and a lot of patience are the main ingredients, along with a little planning and a high burn tolerance (LOL).

In this tutorial, I will explain the process of planning and executing a leafy garment of your own design.

Many countless hours go into the making of the larger ball gown or tunic designs. Leave yourself plenty of time to plan and place leaves. This is not a good one for the hotel room at the Con! LOL

The first step is planning a color scheme. Do you want to be a green man character? Are you looking for an Ice Queen frosted winter theme or an Autumn array of reds, oranges and gold? Do you want a skirt bursting with spring flowers? You need a lot of leaves to cover the underlying material. I tend to buy them on clearance when the seasons change and strip them off the plastic vines or bunches by hand. Sort them by type if possible so you can distribute them purposefully through the pattern later.

It helps to choose a gown or garment which does not need a lot of adjustment in the fit, and is not a stretchy fabric. I like to work with firm, medium weight fabric with some texture  to create a solid bond with the hot glue. Sometimes I cover bridesmaid or prom dresses. You can built directly onto a hoopskirt and bra top. I suggest you start at the bottom and work your way up, overlapping the leaves like scales.

I use a glue gun and sticks of multi temp hot glue, simple tools which can be found at the craft store. I like to set the heat to high. Wearing a protective glove over my leafing hand has saved me many burns (but not all...).

For the hoopskirt gown, I pre-drew a pattern directly onto the hoopskirt fabric with a sharpie so the front insert of flowers would be evenly spaced and symmetrical. In other cases, a more random pattern is desired and the real trick is to try and maintain variety and not run out of interesting leaf options. This is where the pre-sorted piles of leaves come in handy, so you can see what you are running out of and adjust.

While gluing the leaves, I try to initially only glue the top half so I can tuck further leaves under the edges later. You can go back at the end and tack down with more glue the leaves that stick out oddly. It is better to have those jagged edges for the realism than to have a perfectly flat, glued down slab of leaves which lacks dimension.

Be patient, have fun, and go slow. If you are getting fatigued, STOP! Breaks are important. It can be tempting to try and rush a project like this, burns happen when you are getting sloppy and moving quick. Take time to step back and look at your progress frequently so you can catch anything that looks out of place before it is surrounded.

I wish you much joy in your future art, and hope to see you in a leafy creation someday! Feel free to post pics of your leafy garments here. I want to see them!

Don't feel like making one? Allow me! Visit to custom order a leafy gown today.