Alteration of Morning Glory



Sarah Jo Martens


(click images to to enlarge)

Other Credits

Taran Schatz Photography

Outline the story …

The transforming gown is inspired by the color-changing Morning Glory Pool in Yellowstone National Park Named for its distinctive indigo hues and trumpet flower shape when the hot pool was discovered in the 1880s, the modern-day visitor would be perplexed by its now acidic orange and greens, as I was when I visited the quiet pool A placard nearby describes the history of the pool and how it had become a victim of carelessness The pool was en route to the more popular Old Faithful Geyser, and the hot vents at the base of Morning Glory were blocked by trash, coins, and debris from the passing visitors This altered the temperature, causing thermophilic bacteria to create mats of intense orange colors.

The history of the pool returned to me as I thought about the intense but delicate beauty of nature, and the impact that human interaction has had I wanted to challenge myself by creating an engineered gown that would, like the pool, transform from blue as it was originally, to acid orange and green as it shortly became My design to bring that to life starts with an 1880s bustle dress, heavily drawing from the colors and motif of the morning glory flower: indigo, purple, blue, and white The jacket would then remove to reveal an 1893 trumpet-shaped, fan-tailed evening gown, dyed to resemble the changed colors of the pool, releasing from its folds The design would also come entirely from my stash including repurposed materials to cut waste

Outline the construction…

The inner orange gown is drafted from an 1893 pattern. Fitting from the historical pattern was a tad challenging, but after 3 mockups were fitting nicely over a corset. The skirt, bodice, bias, and trims are yellow silk satin, individually dip-dyed to create a smooth blend from deep orange to acid green. Green mesh was draped and tacked in place once the bodice was completed. The skirt is embroidered with 80 flowers connected by vines that also gradually shift orange hues as they trail up the skirt. A repurposed wedding dress train lace adorns the hemline to mimic the crystalization around the Morning Glory Pool.

The outer blue bodice is drafted from an 1880s pattern and is constructed of navy blue cotton, then dyed indigo and purple, scrap velvet, and dyed buttons from the same wedding dress as the lace. The bustle skirt is created by lining the 1893 orange skirt with pieced blue silk and an elaborate system of ribbon loops at the hemline and between the skirt layers to create the pleats and folds. The 38 loop points were held by 15 pairs of magnets between the skirt and a floating waistband on the purple bodice. Engineering these connection points was extremely difficult and required multiple iterations to create the correct outer look that would allow me to move before releasing the orange skirt by removing the jacket seamlessly.

The ensemble includes a cotton pleated skirt and a bustle cage that collapses as the jacket is removed.




  1. Avatar Sarah Sarah Coombs on April 26, 2023 at 11:43 pm

    The first time I was looking through all of the entries, I was puzzled (at first) as to how you’d gotten away with submitting two dresses….and then I realized what I was looking at!
    Your concept is BRILLIANT! What a way to combine the Victorian tradition of using the same skirt with both a day and an evening bodice, and melding it with a flower that transforms from night to day!! A beautiful and creative execution of both period dress and the theme!

    • Avatar Sarah Jo on May 3, 2023 at 5:50 pm

      Thank you for noticing all the detailed thought! It was really difficult to show the transformation element in photographs so I hope folks take the time to watch the video to see the transition. With the skirt being so heavy and the silk sliding like water, its a really fast change (which is amazing), but difficult to even film. The rigging took 15 minutes or more for me to do on my own while wearing, so we were only able to get one shot while on location unfortunately. But! I have a slo-mo video from my studio that I’ll have to get up somewhere.

      It was such an challenging process to work out both in the construction and actual transformation mechanics, but extremely satisfying. Thank you again!!

  2. Avatar Christiane Christiane Edel on May 3, 2023 at 5:44 pm

    Wow, this is stunning! You have to show us the collapsing bustle cage one day, I’m intrigued how that works.

    • Avatar Sarah Jo on May 3, 2023 at 5:57 pm

      Thank you! I followed a youtube tutorial and PDF pattern from Enchanted Rose Costume as the starting point for the cage. I had to remove a number of the support braces so that it could fold down, so I’ll definitely say it didn’t support the skirt as high as I would’ve liked. The cage has a ribbon across the top of each hoop that then looped through the skirt waistband and hooked over a set of magnets connected at the back waistband of the skirt and jacket. When the jacket was removed, the ribbon was released and the weight of the silk skirt folded the hoops down. I also had to wear it over the pleated underskirt so the ribbon wouldn’t get stuck in the waistband of two skirts. It took a lot of troubleshooting and there’s a bunch of improvements I’d like to do to make it work better in the future 🙂

  3. Avatar Dawn-Marie deLara on May 7, 2023 at 5:32 pm

    Just WOW!

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