The Oceania Eco-dress for Miss Malaysia Earth 2017

To be honest we tried not to spend most of our times leisuring about the thought of not being able to complete it on time. But we knew we wanted to upcycle used straws into a coral reef. Think of it as discarded and forgotten items being revived into something that is part of the very foundation of aquatic life. I believe it’s beautiful this way don’t you think?

We had a little straw cutting party here at Biji-biji before we initiate operation melt-it-down. Time flies when you’re doing routine work and chatting away with people you love. Here we have a very rare photo of our interns from different departments - Jelissa, KX, Sufia & the affable Dominic to help cut the straws into smithereens.

With parchment papers on both sides, pressing the iron down was easy, but controlling the design on pattern is a bit tricky. But hey, the imperfection of the mosaic-like sculpture stood better by itself, so we didn’t need paper patterns much. The result was phenomenal ( I think), true by the fact that it actually resembles the coral reef. Next step is to design the fins to fill the back piece of the dress. Do you know you can also sculpt the fins into ANY shape that you want?

We have leftover bubble wraps and plastic bags that would normally arrive with products during online purchasing. We decided to make a jellyfish out of bubble wraps on the side of the dress. I’m guessing we’re certainly going for that avant-garde silhouette, now that it seems like we have various ideas under our sleeves.

The head dress was made by our industrial design intern, Sufia who owns really mad drawing skills ( I have solid evidence, just give me a second). She really wanted this piece to signify a crown made for a princess under the sea with gills and fins on the side- Pretty neat. To clarify further on the fact that she’s an amazing artist, here’s a sneak peak at her sketch book. Oh and she’s a huge fan of K-pop as well. If there is anyone out there who’d like to join the k-pop wave , Sufia’s definitely your girl ;).

                                                                                                                                          a sketch of the headress

There are few pointers about the dress which caused interval attacks between sleep. Like the zipper MIGHT not work, the base dress is too white, the length isn’t right, is it eco-friendly enough….etc. Regardless, I was very thankful to have Ashfaq ( our awesome tailor) around to do last-minute finishings. Did I mention that he’s also very experienced in making clothes? That explains a lot about the fact that he knew how to do hem-stitching or even finishing the zipper with hand sewing. Talk about couture techniques!

the dress being stitched

The most challenging part was stitching the sculpture onto the dress, as the base fabric was quite thick. We had to hand stitch it wearing a cool ring-like thimble that can be mistaken for an accessory. Janice and her mum came over to do the fittings a couple of times to ensure that the fit was right and she is able to strut down the runway in it ! Kudos to you and your mum, Jan!

iI’d say that this is not a one-man show project, and it is not meant to be. We were super grateful towards all the help that was offered for the past few days! This includes gathering the straws, washing them, cutting them to pieces, melting them and lastly attaching it onto the garment. A lot of effort have gone into making this eco-dress possible. To all the interns, volunteers and other members in Biji-biji which I failed to mention here, this is post is also dedicated to you. A toast to your countless support and hard work in helping us realise this project!

Okay so finally the zipper works. It went up. It’s fine, Elaine. Stop hyperventilating.

Oh good news too, Ardi ( our fashion design intern) came back after his holidays! That's him helping me with the dress.

I almost forgot to explain about the hint of blue fabric, draping across the dress. Alright I admit there are actually off-cut fabrics that I had 4 years ago when I made my very first dress in college. It was so hideous( not the fabric) that I decided to throw away every trace of that memory behind me. I’m very happy that I get to repurpose this fabric, or else I can imagine it’s going to rot by itself in my closet. The blue tint represents the waves of the ocean.

In a span of 6 days, we finally did it!

IIt’s a miracle. If this is not a blessing, I don’t know what is. To end the post, here is a picture of us and Janice! Do know that we are rooting for you to be crowned the next Miss Malaysia Earth 2017!