The Blue Morpho by Laurence Li  The Blue Morpho by Laurence Li  The Blue Morpho by Laurence Li   The Blue Morpho by Laurence Li


The Blue Morpho

Laurence Li, Taiwan


The Design

When I saw that the theme was Insects, my mind immediately went to a gorgeous ball gown inspired by the Blue Morpho butterfly, created by designer Luly Yang. Since I don't have much occasion to wear ball gowns, I set out to create a cocktail version of the dress. The main design elements were, of course, the namesake Blue Morpho butterfly's wings, overlapped and draped to act as a skirt, almost reminiscent of petals. I made a total of seven blue wings, but instead of printing the design on the wings, I pieced blue and black fabric into wings, and embroidered the butterfly's veins onto the wings with my sewing machine. The skirt is topped off by a mysterious layer of black tulle. The focus of the bodice is the underbust corset, made from satin in a shimmering dark blue hue, and edged with black bias tape to match the wings and the rest of the simple princess bodice.


The Construction

Construction wise, my entry is composed of a dress and an underbust corset. The dress has a lined, sleeveless bodice with princess seams, while the skirt is composed of seven overlapped wings with a tulle overlay, and multiple layers of tulle and crinoline underneath to give it volume.

The underbust corset has a synthetic satin as fashion fabric, and one layer of cotton drill as the strength layer. I used a two-part metal busk 20cm long at the front, with mostly spiral steel boning except for a pair of spring steels at the back. This was my first time ever making a corset; I've only sewn some dresses and coats before. I used Sidney Eileen's free underbust corset pattern and tutorial..

After measuring myself, I found that I needed to take about 1cm off the top and a couple of centimetres off the waist, which I was able to do thanks to Eileen's tutorial. Taking into account the fact that I was a corset-making novice, I decided to use the welt-seam method to construct my underbust, seeing as it was more forgiving of errors. The bones went into the welts smoothly enough, and I edged the corset with black single-fold bias tape, sewing the inside down by hand. Then I set in the grommets by hand, making the two at the waistline closer together. Laced it up, and the corset was done!

Then came the dress, which took me much longer than anticipated because I had to draft the whole thing from scratch. I found a shimmering bright blue fabric to use for the wings, and pieced them with a peach satin fabric to form the wing. I debated using fabric paints to draw on the veins of the wings, but felt that it wouldn't hold up in the wash, so I decided to draw the veins on using a dense zig-zag on my sewing machine.

I made two wing templates for the skirt, one from the top and bottom wings of the butterfly. The wings were supported by many layers of tulle circle skirts, lined at the most inside with a bemberg lining. I didn't want the bodice to distract from the underbust corset, so I drafted a simple sleeveless bodice with princess seams and made it from a slinky black polyester, lined with bemberg as well. The blue of the wings was a little too bright, so I took a tulle circle and gathered it into an overlay. Add the corset, and the ensemble is complete!


What was it like to compete this year? What would you say to someone who is on the fence about entering next year?

The rules and guidelines were just clear enough so I had an idea of what to make, but was not so restricting that it hampered creativity. To anyone on the fence, I'd say just do it! Although leave plenty of time for yourself to complete the project.

Who doesn't love layers of tulle?? The corset gives a beautiful silhouette to that lovely dress - def one for a cocktail party. Lovely work.
Claire Green
I love the different coloured tulles on the skirt!
I would wear that skirt to any party in a heartbeat! The separate wings make it look classy but fun.
Lovely fabric layering here, the veins on the wings look so pretty and a wonderful start with your first corset!
Lovely design, and I love how the blue of the corset and the wings really stands out. That skirt is fantastic!
I love the black tulle overlay on your skirt. This would be a great cocktail party outfit!
Wow, that must have been so much work, creating all these layers for the skirt!
It definitely has payed off though - such a beautiful effect and I think it's a great interpretation of the theme.

Who can resist the color of the blue morpho? Your coctail dress is a lovely realisation and allows you to be a morph yourself. These wing-layers are beautiful- and mounted on much tull... an absollute eye-catcher on every party- nobody will have such a unique dress!
You did a great job drafting ~ I know how difficult that can be. Your dress is lovely, but I particularly like the way the back of the skirt overlaps. It definitely has a butterfly feel!
Carol Hughey
I love that you took the theme and made a very wearable fun outfit. It's well thought out and well done. You can enjoy wearing it I out often! So fun!! Well done!
The wings!!! Inspirational! Such a wearable, beautiful ensemble!
I so appreciate your bravery entering your first ever corset in this competition, Laurence! You've done a lovely job of getting it done, photographed, and entered, and I hope you've found a new creative obsession!
This is beautiful! I’m currently travelling and have seen a bunch of Morpho butterflies in the wild. You’ve captured them with the skirt!
I love the layering of the whole design and the lines of the bodice.
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