JoEllen: I’m a fantasy gown designer based in Los Angeles. What started as a hobby back in Texas where I grew up, making fantasy costumes for my sister and me, turned into a full time career. Back in 2002 I made cosplay outfits for the two of us to wear together to conventions. My costumes began to attract a lot attention and people offered to pay me to make their dream cosplays!
Fast forward sixteen years, I live in Los Angeles and have a studio with a small team of talented seamstresses who have created hundreds of fantasy gowns (specializing in Fantasy Bridal Gowns) for clients who appreciate my personal style. We have published my original sewing patterns with Simplicity Patterns, and recently self-published an exclusive Moonpetal sewing pattern available on our Etsy shop.
I have a deep love for ombré fabrics and I’m always including them in my designs. The problem is the colors I have in mind are next to impossible to find in the L.A. Fabric District, so I Googled “print your own fabric” and Spoonflower came up – game changer! Now I can have the exact colored fabrics that have been swimming in my mind!
About the Twilight Lily Dress
When I was commissioned to make the Twilight Lily Dress, the client asked that I only use a few elements from past gowns (the silhouette and armor bits). Other than that, she let me go crazy on the design and gave me creative freedom to do whatever I had in mind! I wanted to create the feeling of a gilded lily blooming from a pond. The fabric fades from the magenta blossom to the white of the water’s reflection to the teal & blue of the water. The elegant armor is covered with teal and blue crystals that twinkle like waterdrops.
For this gown, we used a white satin with an overlay of the Twilight Lily fabric. The gown has spiral steel boning in the corset and it laces up the back. We created a long train that pools around her, making her look as though she is rising out of a lily pond. We created her filigree armor and decorated it with golden chains and gems.
I order the Twilight Lily print in both Satin and Chiffon. The Chiffon turned out exactly how I wanted, the color is incredibly rich just like my design! I like the Chiffon because the airiness of the fabric allows the print to bleed through the back side, and the ombré colors meld into each other smoothly. The Satin is still beautiful, but the transition of color is not as smooth as the Chiffon.
If you’re wanting ombré fabric, Chiffon is where it’s at! Just know that it’s a translucent fabric, so whatever colored fabric you put underneath is going to either brighten or dull down the vibrance of color. For this gown, it’s entirely lined with white satin so it makes the ombré glow at full vibrance!
Designing in the Studio
There is a ritual to my work. At home, my husband and I are lucky to have a guest room that doubles as my office where I can design away from the studio. I put on a Chillstep station, brew a cup of coffee, light candles, and fill the air with scented oils in my diffuser, after selecting a fitting “scent theme” for the design I’m working on! I design on a Wacom Cintiq w/ Photoshop. I usually spend 4-8 hours on one design until I get it to a point that I feel good about it. We then email my design to the customer, along with a list of details and fabrics I plan to use for their gown. Once I get the green light, I take the design to my studio for our amazing seamstress Alex to strategize over. After that, I shop in the Fabric District for supplies and order my ombré fabrics through Spoonflower!
We loved getting to know the inspiration behind JoEllen’s twilight dress and hope you did too! If you’re inspired to try out one of her ombré designs but a handmade gown feels like a big commitment, we’ve got you covered with a Chiffon scarf tutorial. It’s the perfect beginner-friendly project that will soon be your go-to summer accessory.
About the Guest Blogger
Originally from the small town of New Caney, Texas, JoEllen moved to Los Angeles where her whimsical studio resides. She taught herself to sew and now teaches others her methods and style through Simplicity Patterns and is a faerie godmother to brides who share a love for fantasy! You can find even more of JoEllen’s work over on her instragram feed at @fireflypath.