Fostering Creativity

Art Inspired van Gogh Dress

“I don’t know anything with certainty, but seeing the stars makes me dream.” 
― Vincent van Gogh

So here it is only Wednesday and I’m posting my outfit. And I was worried I wouldn’t get it done in time. Let me just say how excited I was for the theme this week: art inspired. I had so many different ideas come rushing to my mind! I went to the art category on pinterest to peruse art that others love, and asked my friends and family who their favorite artists were. So many great suggestions! But, then I started wondering who I would say my favorite artist was. Honest answer, I love my brother Jacob’s artwork.

This is what I found in my Christmas card this year. The Fellowship, Harry, Hermione and Ron, and the 11th Doctor with the TARDIS. Epic! He has this style all his own, and I just adore it. I’ve been trying to come up with a good theme for Mackay’s room so that Jacob can do some artwork for me, but I’m having a hard time pinning down my ideas.

Anyway, I was thinking about so many artists, and my first idea was to find an outfit in a painting and replicate it. I was really loving some of the little girls in Sophie Gengembre Anderson’s paintings.

In the end, I decided I wanted to challenge myself more than just trying to replicate an outfit.

So I was back to square one, trying to pick an artist. And then I started thinking van Gogh. I had just recently rewatched Vincent and The Doctor, and thought van Gogh was certainly a possibility. So maybe I would make Mack an outfit based on the clothes Vincent wears in his self-portraits, but then I was going back to the same idea of replicating the clothing in a painting. So i turned again to pinterest and did a search for van Gogh.

I of course listened to Vincent while I was doing this, and have listened to it about a million times while working on my outfit.

I found my inspiration in a few things. First off, The Starry Night. It’s probably van Gogh’s most popular painting, and I have always loved it. Although it wasn’t until I took my art history classes that I figured out what the cypress tree was. Sad, but true.

My next bit of inspiration was this dress, which is just gorgeous. The sunflowers were a big thing in Vincent and the Doctor, so I wanted to incorporate them. This is probably my favorite of his sunflower paintings, because I love the blue and green.
Lastly from that search I gleaned this nifty color palate. You’ll have to click on the link to see it, but I used it to help decide on colors of embroidery thread.
Now for the dress. (let me just say, I use pinterest a ton) Looking through my “someday when I have a girl” board, knowing I wanted to be able to make a dress with more than just one color, I found my inspiration at an etsy store, Adelaide’s Boutique. I especially loved this dress, which sold just recently.
And now, after that long– and possibly too in-depth– look into my creative process, I start actually making the dress. I had this soft navy blue that is almost like flannel, that we had bought to make my dad a rod case, a strip of yellow jersey knit, and some off-white muslin.
I started off with the Polky Knots Dress Tutorial, which is what I used for the shirt in this outfit. Here’s where it got a little complicated. Not a lot, just a little. I lengthened the bodice by 3.5 inches rather than the 2.5 the tutorial suggests, for the seam allowances. Then I drew an a-line for the skirt (the top of the piece is 6.75 inches, the bottom is 10). From top to bottom the pattern was 25 inches, including the seam allowances, which makes the finished dress closer to 22 inches in length. Just in case you were curious.
This picture sort of shows where the seams go…
The finished product! Though I should have picked a different background, because the muslin got really washed out against the white walls.
Here’s a close up of the middle band. I cut it out in the jersey and also in the muslin, so that the jersey wouldn’t stretch and make the dress look funny.


I used on of the fancy edging stitches my new sewing machine has. Love! I also used this for the hem of the skirt, but did navy on navy so it wouldn’t distract from the embroidery.


There’s a nice big bow in the back
(really hard to tie when it’s not on a person)
The neckline. I’m so glad peasant necklines are so forgiving. You can’t see all the errors because of the gathering.


I was originally going to gather the sleeves as well, but in the end I
decided I like them without the elastic just fine.
The skirt.
Oh how I love the skirt!
I spent a lot of time on it, but let me tell you, every single stitch was worth it.
I am not an artist, but somehow I found that when I was drawing on fabric with my tailor’s chalk imagining what I would eventually be embroidering, things worked out really well. I mean, really well. I could never have drawn this on paper. I am so impressed with myself! I love that the stitches lend themselves so well to van Gogh’s short brush strokes.
Close ups of the moon and stars. No two stars were made with exactly the same color combination. It’s harder to see the definition the moon has in this picture, but the moon is a really pretty orange, while the surrounding stitches are two different shades of yellow.


The swirls. I just can’t fathom how these turned out so perfectly. I call them clouds, but I have no idea if that’s exactly what they’re supposed to be in the painting.


White, a very light blue, a darker light blue, two shades of yellow, and a dark blue.
And the sunflower. The credit for this goes to my husband. My first attempt turned out really limp and awkward. Nathan suggested I sew around the petals. So I used the edge of the foot as a guideline, and because I ended up sewing on two different biases, the petals curled perfectly.
The finished product! I’m so happy I took the risk to do something that was so embroidery intensive. I’ve pricked my fingers enough to want to swear off it permanently, but I’m so pleased with the result.
“What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?” 

― Vincent van Gogh

I also linked this dress at:


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