{JennylaFleur: Dress Diaries}

Mr Butterfly: a beaded embellishment

Mr. Butterfly
a beaded embellishment

Based on a hair comb from the film Titanic

glass beads, silk twill, Nymo threads

From a dress that never was. I used the
Machine Washable Beadwork Technique I learned from the Medieval Beadwork Pages.
Total beading time: 31 hours.

Completed February 2005.
Applied to my Flying Robe April 2012.



The Results:


February 2005
The finished butterfly, waiting for a new home.





The Gown That Never Was


My original inspiration for this project was a 1911 evening gown. In the end the gown itself never materialized (lack of time, motivation, a series of unfortunate pattern-making attempts and such lameness on my part) but I did complete Mr. Butterfly. Darling isn't he? Someday I will give him a proper home...

My original inspiration was a c1911 gown from AntiqueDress.com. My accompanying sketch isn't great but it gives you an idea of what I was thinking. I especially loved the idea of having one large piece of beading and leaving the rest simple. The gown was to be orange so I decided the beaded motif should be blue/turquoise to add contrast and a "pop" to the color scheme. I chose beads that set off the orange beautifully.


January 22 2005

I've finalized the beading design. I've been surfing online looking for a butterfly motif that I liked without much luck. Then I remembered the butterfly comb Rose wears in Titanic and how much I liked that design. I mean, how appropriate for my 1911 dress?!


I was able to find a decent pic of the Titanic comb on AntiqueDress.com. I took the pic, printed it out, traced the outline in marker, scanned it back into the computer and began enlarging and tweaking the design to fit my needs. My finial draft is pretty much a straight copy of the comb. I simply added the bottom wings, took out a few of the sections inside the wings (beads take up room!) and got rid of the little tail. I'll add a couple of tassels there instead (like my inspiration dress).

I'm pretty happy with my color scheme too. I should have plenty amber/brown/orange beads to use, I just need to buy the blues. I'm not going to use the turquoise in the picture; they were just ones I had in the house to show the general effect. I'll likely use the small dark brown (root beer – on the very left) for the outline, the caramel (second from the left) to fill the peach area in the color study and the rust beads in the fringe. I'd like to add the pearls to the top and sleeve of the gown so some of those may end up in the fringe as well. I'd forgotten I had those rust rhinestones until tonight; I'll have to find a place for those… maybe in the butterfly's body or on the bodice somewhere.

I have wasted way too much time on this today, but what can I say – I was having fun! *wicked grin*

January 30 2005

Last night I started work on the beaded butterfly. It's taken me a little while to figure out what fabric I wanted to use. The motif eventually will be mounted to the orange fabric. I thought about using the orange underneath but in the end I decided upon some winter white silk twill. I didn't like what the orange did to the color of the beads, it made them blend and a bit drab. The white on the other hand made the colors stand out and pop a bit more, especially the silver lined ones.

It's been a while since I've had a beading project and I am thoroughly enjoying myself with this one. I don't as yet have the blue beads but as it's best to work from the center out anyway, I have plenty to do before I have to worry about it. I found some light blue beads that I like but the medium blue are proving elusive. I have one more place to check locally and then I'll have to start looking online. I'm really too picky! :P

January 31 2005


I've been working quite steadily on the butterfly and having much fun in the process. It's kind of addicting actually, I have to force myself to put the needle down. *sigh* I love these little needlework projects. As you can see it's starting to look like something now. Adding the color really helped. As Daddy commented tonight "it was looking a little brown there for a while". :>

As always the pics don't do it justice. Next time I'll try to take some pics in the daylight, maybe that will help. I am totally in love with the aquamarine beads in the tips. The beads are silver-lined so in person they almost glow. Very cool.

The second blue in that one section was just a test. I wasn't that hip on it but after looking at the pics I definitely don't like it. In person it actually looks a little darker, in the pics it looks about the same color. I need a darker blue, something with more contrast. Oh well. The bead search continues on then...

February 1 2005

Oh yeah – I forgot. I've been trying to keep a log (for once) of how many hours this butterfly is taking to create. I've had several people in the past month ask me how long it takes me to make one of my costumes. Since a blank stare and stammering is not terribly impressive, I figure it's a good idea to get a number to quote. A nice fat ballpark figure at least. :>

So far I've put in about 11 hours on the beadwork. I guess this butterfly should be a good 25-30 hour project with the tassels and everything. Not counting research and supply shopping of course. I'm not even going to try and figure that effort in.

February 3 2005


I took out that yucky second blue and have progressed into the second wing. Not a terribly exciting update I know but, well it's the only costuming I've gotten done lately. :> I was mostly experimenting with taking pics of the beading in the daytime. Don't seem to make much difference, the browns still blur together a lot. Of course it is a gloomy day out – blah.

I have to wear a brace on my wrist while I bead now. My left wrist was really sore after my marathon beading on Monday so this is more preventative than anything. The brace seems to help, after wearing it for a couple of hours of beading last night my wrist isn't sore at all this morning. The brace is also making me more aware of what my wrist is doing and how it's moving as I work. I've been able to modify the way I hold and move my hand as I work, which can only be a good thing.

Not a big deal by any means but it's funny, this little experience has made me stop and ponder a few things. I now have a better appreciation of the difficulties pinkdiamond and my Grandma have/had with handwork. I'd never really thought through the mechanics of the wrist that go into handwork before, the mechanics that RA messes with so badly. I am now in even more awe of Michaela's work and accomplishments. You go girl! :>

beadwork progress: 13.5 hours

February 7 2005

I am now the proud owner of medium blue beads for my butterfly! I found a bead store in Fredericksburg (*gasp*) so yesterday I checked it out. Oh my word... it's like a real bead shop with a wall of seed beads and many other goodies! I haven't seen a bead shop that nice in a while. Very, very cool.

I started working with the beads last night and they are a bit big but I think I can make them work. I can't wait to get a few sections filled in and see the effect!

*sigh* I love this stuff.

February 9 2005


Well, I am sick. I caught whatever sickness Bridget brought home from school. In fact we are all sick, Mom, Daddy, B and I. *blah*

I spent a lot of time this weekend beading though, so the butterfly is looking pretty good despite having redo a whole section of outline I didn't like. I'm second guessing the new dark blue beads a bit now. I really wanted something more of a medium shade. This color works though and I think it will be stunning and that is the point, right? :>

Being sick isn't quite so bad when you have quiet handwork projects to work on and I now have several projects to choose from. :> Well I think I'm ready for my couch and cranberry juice again...

beadwork progress: 22 hours

February 15 2005


It's done!!!!!! *throws confetti*

Yes, I've finished the butterfly. I haven't been feeling like doing much else lately so it's done a lot sooner than I thought it would be. :> The finial tally was 31 hours. That seems a little high to me. I must be slow at this stuff. Of course, that is with redoing a few sections because I wasn't happy with them at first. *shakes head* I really must get over this perfectionism someday...

Anyway, I'm happy with the ultimate results, even if the dratted thing won't photograph very well. The next step is to trim some of the fabric away and tack it all down so the silk doesn't show, then wire the little beaded antae and create the tassels. Oh yes and make the dress to tack it onto… that might be good thing too.

February 18 2005


Finished up the butterfly appliqué (now affectionately known as Mr. Butterfly) last night. I painted a rough outline in fray check and when that was dry I trimmed the excess silk away. I then turned down the allowance so that the silk didn't show before tacking everything down by hand.


I probably should have extended the fray check into the design a bit more but I wasn't sure how passing a needle through the treated fabric would work. (Turned out to be just fine.) By the time I got to trimming tight corners I didn't want to wait for the stuff to dry so I made do with needle and thread. So lazy!


Here are some pics of Mr. Butterfly on top of my corset to give you an idea of scale. The isolated pics of beading in a hoop weren't good for seeing scale I know. The color isn't too bad in the shots either. Apparently he likes to be photographed in front of a sunny window best. I think Mr. Butterfly is darling - I couldn't be happier with the results!



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