Thursday, November 27, 2014

Christmas Tree Dress 2014 DIY - The Countess' New Gown

Dovima in Balenciaga, December 1950. Photo: Richard Avedon
This year's inspiration for the Countess' Christmas gown came from a photograph of Dovima in a Crystobal Balenciaga gown. Dovima could wear a burlap potato sack and make it look glamorous, so in the spirit of the 1950s supermodel, I designed a bustier gown with a full skirt for my spirit friend.

 After protecting my mannequin, I used chicken wire to create a stiff skirt to support the heavy and full skirt of greenery. 

 Starting from the bottom, I weave the branches through the chicken wire.

So my trees wouldn't suffer too much, I used different types of evergreen.

I like the different shades of green.

Evergreen branches are not slimming so I did some clipping.

To give more definition to the bodice, I used a thin black wire and wrapped it around the 
waist and rib cage.

 I covered the shoulder and neck with pages of an the old hymn book. I gave the the Countess a statement necklace using dried orange peels shaped like roses. 

Here we are, all natural except for the needle pine in the skirt, the sparkly leaves and cranberries in the necklace.

Just like a real Christmas tree, the house smells wonderful.

The Christmas gown won't stay in the house for very long - too tempting for the dogs. 
It will have to go outside on the front porch where it will stay green and fresh for the squirrels to hide their walnuts.

Come back later for the Countess' headdress.


Mark Ruffner said...

Dear Anyes,

That hymn book has been getting quite a workout. I'm sure there's a good pun somewhere there, but I'll refrain.

This might just be my favorite of all your Countess Creations. I like the gradation of green and could imagine that an actual dress could be created with green dyed silk and perhaps appliqued pine needles of something akin to loose ric rack. Or am I going overboard?

The Dusty Victorian said...

Hello Mark,
LOL - Yes, the hymn book came in very handy for these last projects. Thank you so much for your kind words, it's my favourite as well - experience counts for something.
Like you, I can see it in fabric so we are both overboard.
Always a pleasure,

Ivy and Elephants said...

Oh, this is just toooo good!!!
The Countess looks amazing, you totally blow me away! Would love to have you link to our party, hope you can make it!

The Dusty Victorian said...

Hello Patti,
Thrilled to talk to you again. Thank you for your kind words and glad you enjoy the post. I added it to your wonderful list. Sorry about the sideway shot - don't know why it appeared that way in your thumbnails. I wanted to delete it and start over, but couldn't. Anyway, Thank you to the invite, very honoured to be amongst lovely company.

Gina @ VictorianWannaBe said...

OH MY GOSH ANYES!!! That dress is amazing! The finished look literally took my breath away!! So gorgeous! I can see a squirrel or two liking it but if the Cardinal's would flock to it that would be beautiful, don't you think?
Take care,

The Dusty Victorian said...

Hello Gina,
Thank you so much. It's not Victorian but has the romance. You must be psychic, just yesterday, I placed my bird feeder in the tree near the front stairs. Let's hope they visit.

Life Images by Jill said...

oh this is so gorgeous! I love it. Perhaps I should do this with my old dressmaker's model. I am sending this over to my floral artist friend. She will love it.
I am visiting today from What's It Wednesday.

Marigene said...

Your evergreen gown is awesome...♥♥♥ it!

Ivy and Elephants said...

Thank you so much for sharing with us at Ivy and Elephants, you were featured this week! Please stop by and grab a featured button.

Maureen Wyatt said...

I'm in love with the Christmas countess! Pinning and sharing.

Liz@ Infuse With Liz said...

That's quite an amazing idea and it came out wonderful. I saw this featured at Ivy and Elephants and had to come visit! That is quite a process you went through to create this! I can see a big red satin sash at her waist! Love your inspiration photo- she was quite an elegant model wasn't she!

Barbara @ 21 Rosemary Lane said...

This has got to be one of the coolest things I have ever seen! Fantastic job and what an imagination! Thank you so much for sharing your amazing creation!
XO Barbara

The Dusty Victorian said...

Dear Patti, Jill, Marigene, Maureen Liz and Barbara,
Thank you to all for dropping in and for your very kind words. A special thank you to Patti for featuring my Christmas tree gown. So pleased you enjoyed my work, you made my day... no my month.

Curtains in My Tree said...

That is over the top Gorgeous
What a smart idea
You could win a prize with that dress LOL

Curtains in My Tree said...

I don't think my previous remark about your gorgeous creations made
it through the remark page.
It is just over the top
I seen you on Ivy & Elephants

The Dusty Victorian said...

Hello Janice,
Thank you so much for the beautiful compliments - too sweet. You have a lovely blog and real treasures!
Thank you for dropping in.

Suzan Sweatman said...

Well this is just over the top beautiful!!!
Someone told me to put leaves on mine and I couldn't " visualize " it - this is magnificent -
Pinning now - and thanks so much for sharing!

The Dusty Victorian said...

Thank you so much Suzan. Had a quick peek at your blog, it looks fantastic and really fun. I will come back when I have more time and have a good look.
Thanks for dropping in,

Creations by Marie Antoinette and Edie Marie said...

Absolutely incredible! Fit for a forest queen!! I've enjoyed browsing though all your creations.

Thank you for sharing your talent with all of us!

Christmas blessings, Edie Marie

Sooner Laura said...

Possibly the most amazing use of greenery I've every seen! I love it!

The Dusty Victorian said...

Dear Edie Marie,
Thank you so much! Oooh, I like 'Forest Queen', great name for this dress. Congratulations on your magazine feature, well deserve.

The Dusty Victorian said...

Hello Laura,
Thank you so much for your very kind words. Your post on San Francisco was delightful. It was our honey destination and we absolutely loved the city. Thank you for sharing these wonderful shots.

Angie at Home said...

Just stumbled on your blog and this dress Blew Me Away. How amazing......

Happy Holidays.


The Dusty Victorian said...

Good morning Angie,
So glad you stumbled in and very pleased you enjoyed the gown - thank you so much.
All my best for the holidays,

Denisha Seals said...

OMG OMG OMG THIS CHRISTMAS TREE IS GORGEOUS!!!! DO YOU MAKE THEM TO SELL? What do you do when the season is over? OMG I GOTTA TRA BUT SCARED....have you ever kept a tree or use artificial trees?

The Dusty Victorian said...

Hello Denisha, welcome to the DV.
Thank you so much for your enthusiasm, you made my day. To answer your questions;1) Well, if someone knocked on my front door and offered me $500.00 (or more), I would say, "cash please, thank you very much" LOL. 2)When the season is over, I dismantle it because my daughter and I use the seamstress mannequin for sewing projects (the mannequin is quite pricy). 3) No, I never kept one beyond springtime, by that time, it was dry and all shades of rust colour - interesting, but not as pretty. 3) No, because I really like the look of natural materials and I really believe that things should bio-degrade in a reasonable amount of time. Besides, I like creating a new dress every Christmas.
This being said, using artificial greenery would work as well. You should design your own gown, don't be scared, I'm sure it will be fabulous.
Thanks for dropping in,

Nicole said...

Inspiring! I have a vintage dress form that has seen better days and a useless artificial tree (I lost its base in a recent move). Kept both for some reason, and now I have the reason! Already bought the chicken wire and painted the top and base of the dress form today. Going to give it a whirl over this long weekend! THANKS!

The Dusty Victorian said...

Hello Nicole,
So glad my dress inspired you to do your own Christmas dress by repurposing your form and your old tree.
To inspirer people to be creative is the best complement. Much success with your project. I'm sure it will be beautiful.
Thank you so much for dropping in to the DV.

Anonymous said...

This is amazing , you've inspired me to try this . Thanks you 😊


The Dusty Victorian said...

Hello Julie,
So pleased that you're going to do your own Christmas tree dress. Honoured that I was the inspiration.
Thank you so much for dropping in.

Pam said...

I made one a few years back from my Christmas tree, it came out lovely. The following year I flocked it because like you said it got all pink and the needles started to fall. The flocking gave it one more year of looking good. Mine was featured in Faerie Magazine two years ago. I just love how you used different greenery, mine was on a wire form I didn't even think of using what you did but yours is just over the top gorgeous

I've added a holiday wire ribbon and some different colored bells they lookes cool too.

The Dusty Victorian said...

Hello Pam,
Thank you for dropping in and for your lovely complement. Your Christmas tree dress sounds like it was simply fantastic. I'm sure you've inspired many. I love that everyone has their own style and puts their own twist on the idea. Yes, your festive ribbon and bells must have been the perfect finishing touches.
All my best,

Anonymous said...

How do I keep the tree from drying out without water?

The Dusty Victorian said...

Hello Anonymous,
I always place my tree dresses outside. They stay green all winter without any watering. If indoors, I would make the dress close to Christmas and spray/mist it every day, ensuring that the floor underneath is protected. I recommend putting the dress outside as soon as Christmas is over. Note that mine have no lights or anything that would become a fire hazard indoors or outdoors.

Anonymous said...


The Dusty Victorian said...

Hello Anonymous. I wrapped/covered it in plastic garbage bags and circled the mannequin to refine its shape using packing tape.

Tasha said...

I am in love with this dress! I just ran across it and I know that I am a year late lol. I'm so doing this for my tree this year. One question, how did you secure/ attach the chicken wire to the mannequin?

The Dusty Victorian said...

Hello Tasha,
I simply wrapped the chicken wire tightly around the body and wired the edges together at the back. Chicken wire is frexible and kind of stretchy, you just pull it and it will hug the body. Thanks for the interest.

Song Writer said...

This is gorgeous! If it's already been asked/answered, forgive me; can this type of dress be worn??? I'm getting married during the holidays - a surprise wedding - and I love the idea of a high waisted Christmas tree skirt... not to sit and eat in, but just for the statement entrance, and a walk through. Do you think it can be done???

The Dusty Victorian said...

Hello Song Writer,
Thank you for your kind words. My dress can't be worn, it's only meant to be decorative and sculptural.
But I believe if there's a will there's a way. You just need to find someone that is willing to work with you to make it a reality. Best of luck!

Emily Wagner-Davis said...

This is SO GREAT! I really want to make a version of this for my apartment this year.

How much chicken wire did you purchase for it?


Deborah Devine said...

I love your Christmas Tree made from real pine boughs. Last week I created one using silk ferns in addition to the Christmas pine greens. Check it out if you are interested:
It's a Woodland Fairy Christmas Tree.
Deborah @ Sew Much to Give

Debby Beachy said...

Just love it!

The Dusty Victorian said...

Thanks so much Debby, glad you enjoy it.

Kimberly said...

Hi!  I’m an editor for and am writing to request permission to use a photo from this post. I just love your gorgeous Christmas tree dress!

We hope to feature this in an upcoming round up of ours about unique and alternative Christmas trees.  We would include a backlink and clear credit to you via the name of your blog.  

Additionally, we routinely publish round-up style posts on our site and if you’re willing to allow us to use one photo from other posts you’ve done,  we would love to add you to our directory of sites to feature.  As a bonus, your site would then be on our radar for possible Facebook shares as well.  

Please let me know if this is satisfactory.  Thanks for your consideration!

Kimberly Mueller

The Dusty Victorian said...

Good Morning Kimberly,
Thank you for the honour and for being so considerate in asking permission beforehand.
Yes you have my permission with appropriate accreditation as mentioned in your request.
Looking forward to seing your blogpost.
Kindest regards and best wishes.