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Perelandra is a fantasy fiber art sculpture that is technically wearable, but is more of a sculpture that happens to take the form of a dress. Inspired by renaissance costuming, leafy mother nature, and flower faeries.

This dress takes inspiration from the dramatic silhouette created by Elizabethan garb when it is merged with organic, plant-like forms. Tight corset and voluminous farthingales merge with hundreds upon hundreds of colorful, individually embroidered leaves, roots, and tentacles.

The neckpiece of colorful, spiky leaves that swirl above the head are a surrealistic play off of Elizabethan ruffs and lace colors. The mannered and regular folding of fabric turns into a frenzy of wild leaves, full of color and movement that envelope the wearer. This neckpiece is detachable- so it can be worn with the dress (secured to the front of the dress with ties), or can be worn separately (you know, for when going to the grocery store, or writing in your blog ;)) The armature of the leafy neckpiece is fabricated out of a thick, heavy gauge sterling silver half-round wire, and is secured by a silver leaf brooch, created by me by pressing a sheet of silver through numerous repetitions with hydraulic press and plexiglass mold. The veined leaves are individually embroidered and hand sewn onto a springy steel wire and then connected to the silver armature so they give the illusion of defying gravity.

Both the corset and skirt are covered with hundreds upon hundreds (upon hundreds) of colorful, individually embroidered leaves made out of various crushed polyester voile, silk dupioni, and bright cotton batik and other patterned fabrics. From the leaves of the skirt emerge large tentacle-like red roots that trail on the ground.

The front of the leafy skirt opens up to reveal a red silk dupioni underskirt covered with hundreds of colorful, wet-felted balls of yarn, along with plastic bobbles, and small balls of wool yarn. With yummy candy colors, these balls allude to pollen. In the middle of the skirt is a silver acorn vessel, inspired by pomanders. I create this little vessel by angle raising two sheets of silver, with hammer and anvil, and let the hammer blows remain for a textured effect. The top and bottom tip of the acorn are painted with a light sienna oil paint patina. The acorn pomander can actually be opened by using a simple twist mechanism with a pressure fir inside the piece. Inside the acorn is a rich red patina sealed with wax.

Many techniques come together to create this wearable art, including wet felting, machine and hand embroidery, machine and hand sewing, metalsmithing, appliqué, corset and farthingale making, pattern making, and draping.

Materials include: Linen, silk dupioni, cotton chintz, crushed polyester voile, cotton batik, upholstery fabric, silver wire, silver sheeting, steel corset making supplies, steel farthingale supports, vintage corduroy, poly-fiberfill, and some oil and acrylic paints.

Dimensions: 6ft depth x 6ft width x 7ft tall (1.83m x 1.93m x 2.13m)

If interested, I will convo you about shipping costs & options.

Just some additional info on where my ideas come from:

My artwork merges my interests in Renaissance period clothing and nature-based folklore and myth. Utilizing sewing and other techniques, I explore historical clothing, the personification of nature, feminine archetypes, and the transformational potential inherent in clothing.

I am very interested in the relationship between nature and human culture (manifest here in clothing), and engaging in a dialogue between contemporary and historical ideas of human constructs and the natural world. The idea of beauty is also fascinating to me, and I'm specifically interested in beauty as it relates to historic and folkloric ideas of feminine power.

I love the idea of the Green Man- a personification of nature, covered and spewing out leaves and vines. I'm also inspired by faerie folklore, whereby each plant or flower is given it's own supernatural identity and energy in the form of a faerie, clothed in leaves and blooms and the stolen artifacts of humans.

Using sewing, I merge historical clothing and faerie folklore by using shapes that suggest both plant-like and human body elements, but yet adhering to silhouettes of historical garments. Using forms in Medieval and Renaissance clothing, I recreate them using a more organic, plant-like design. The dagged edges of a veil become like a forest of colorful, overgrown leaves, cascading from a hat. The suggestion of human body, or organ-like elements can also communicate a plant's searching roots, choking vines, pollen, or even parasitic elements.

Please contact me if you are interested in purchasing- I will have to calculate the shipping for you! Thank-you!

All images © Betsie Withey

Perelandra- A Fantasy Fiber Art Sculptural Dress

$10,000.00 USD
Only 1 available
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  • Handmade item
  • Materials: linen, silk dupioni, cotton chintz, crushed polyester voile, cotton batik, upholstery fabric, silver wire, silver sheeting, steel corset making supplies, steel farthingale supports, vintage corduroy, poly fiberfill, and some oil and acrylic paints
  • Ships worldwide from Rhode Island, United States
  • Feedback: 556 reviews
  • Favorited by: 1242 people