After a brief hiatus for the holidays, we’re back with part 7 of my series on my winning look for the Her Universe Fashion Show 2023. In this installment, I’ll be going over how I did the bow on my Totally Minnie gown.
Even though this was one of the last parts to go on the dress, the bow was one of the first things I did because I already had the black satin (originally purchased for something else that I’ll eventually get to) so I could work on it while my brain was processing other parts.
When I did the rocker dress test run, I had a bow on that one as well. I never actually attached that bow with more than safety pins which was good because then I could use it for scale on this dress. Verdict? Far too small.
So I bumped it up a bit. First version was still too small. Time to bump it up one more time. And this time I really cranked it. I was almost worried it was going to be too big, but, as they say, go big or go home.
For the rocker dress, the flaps behind are very visible. For this one, I didn’t want it quite like that. I wanted them somewhat visible but mostly not. Like Minnie’s bow.
I also wanted this bow to have some depth. I did that by adding wire inside. The entire bow is like a big tube that is folded on itself with a smaller tube around the center. Before I closed up the tube after turning it inside out and before I put the smaller loop around it, I inserted a wire frame. This allowed me to shape it and give it that “big bow” look.
I can’t say there was anything particularly scientific or mathy to this part. I mostly held the wire up to the bow to see how long I needed and cut it. I used 2 lengths — one for the top and one for the bottom of the bow. I did end up having to stitch them to the edges or they would collapse in. I used tiny little catch stitches that were hidden between the rhinestones.
I’m actually particularly proud of the rhinestones for the bow. I wanted it to sparkle, but I wanted it to be more interesting so I did a gradient of different size and color rhinestones going into the center to give the bow even more depth. I’ve seen people who can just place rhinestones and make it look gloriously random. I am not one of those people. To make something look beautifully random, I have to plan it out. I’m this way with quilts, too.
In order to do this, I went back to my trusty rhinestone templates. I laid out all the different rhinestone sizes how I wanted them in Silhouette Studio and then cut it out. It took a few tries and I had to rotate the direction of the gradient. But I’m so so happy with how it turned out.
Unfortunately, filling it with rhinestones didn’t work as well as it does when they’re all one size (see the rhinestone post), so I ended up having to place them in the template myself. But even with that, doing the heat press application was way faster than it would have been for me to apply all of them by hand. And this allowed me to nicely randomize the colors as well.
I got all of my rhinestones from Rhinestone Guy who has pretty good prices, but will also let you order in small amounts, and also ships super fast which was so appreciated when I was realized that I needed about 4x the rhinestones I had originally purchased. I used all Preciosa rhinestones and would definitely use again. Very happy with the quality and the service from Rhinestone Guy. Here’s the list of the sizes, colors and amounts I used for the bow:
- SS34 – Jet (72) and Jet Hematite (72)
- SS30 – Jet (72) and Jet Hematite (72)
- SS20 – Jet (72) and Jet Hematite (72)
- SS16 – Jet (288), Jet Silver Flare (144), Crystal Biarritz (144), Crystal Nightfall (144), Jet Hematite (288)
Yes, there were about 1400 rhinestones on just the bow. This really made me appreciate how far (or rather how not far) a gross of rhinestones goes.
I used up almost all of the non-jet/jet hematite rhinestones on the gradient part. And then I used up almost all of my remaining jet rhinestones on the center loop which I did in uniform rows for contrast with the more organic gradient.
For the “back” of the bow curve and the edges of the back bow flaps (the only parts visible of those two areas), I did just the top part of the gradient. Those ended up being mostly the jet hematite as I had run out of the other colors at that point but they were less seen so it was fine. A definite lesson learned was order at least twice as many rhinestones as you think you’ll need. Maybe more. You can always find a way to use extra rhinestones.
But I love how it turned out in the end. I sewed on pin backings to attach it because I needed to transport it separately to prevent it getting squashed. For the actual show I also had to add some large safety pins. The pin backings were insufficient. It’s a big bow. It’s got some heft. But I’m glad it’s removable because I will definitely be using this with another dress eventually. It’s too good to sit in the closet.
To finish the post, here’s an action shot with the bow front and center. Also one of the rare shots where you can actually see my leg coming through the slit in the dress!