Bedazzling Beetle wing gown and accessories



Amanda Stewart


Outline the story …

I've always loved the iridescence of beetle wings, and had wanted to make a beetle wing dress for several years before I finally had a reason to do so. I have wanted to go to the UK for ages, and in the fall of 2022, I finally was able to. As one of the stops I was making was the Jane Austen festival, I wanted to have something fabulous to wear, so as to not look like a country mouse when at the ball. I came across this lovely fashion plate, and while I don't believe it was originally intended to be embroidered with wings, I think it worked quite well.

The shoes are inspired by a pair that are in the Bata shoe museum, and the reticule was an amalgamation of several similar designs of extant reticules. Diadem and mask were historically inspired, though not 100% accurate, and the fan was pre-purchased and then sequined up.

Surprisingly, the wings are easily obtained from a seller on Etsy. I purchased in bulk, and had to punch my own holes and cut off the gooey bug bits from where the wing casing attaches to the beetle, while sorting by size and into left and rights(fun times with OCD). Thankfully, they had pre cut out sequins as well with holes, so I didn't have to fiddle with those. I did get a hole punch to create circles for the centers of the medallions though(pro tip if you want to make your own).

Outline the construction…

The Fabric for the dress is a lovely semi-sheer silk cotton that I purchased from a Facebook destash group that had palm trees embroidered on it, so I had to get creative with cutting out my skirt panels. Thankfully trim hides all the French seams, and the bottom ruffles conceal the shorter length.

Each of the motifs on the ruffles took between 20-30 minutes, There's 112 motifs between the two bottom ruffles and the sleeve ones. I decided to scallop the ruffles as many extant examples had them, and fyi, cutting them out by hand was not fun. After the embroidery was done and edges cut, I French seamed them together, and hand gathered them to the base skirt From there, the puffed section was added, and then came the full sized wings

Did I do the smart thing and attach the braid first and then the wings? Nope, I decided to do it at the same time, because who wants to stitch over the same area twice more than they have to. Trim was great though, it has bumps that made it easy to count for spacing wings, and I alternated left and right casings.

After finishing those, I added the flower puffs to the skirt, and attached it to the bodice, which has a silk cotton lining, a gathered layer of the main fabric, and then the embroidered panels on top.

All the gold braid, wings, sequins, and goldwork are done by hand, with evil, lookatitthewrongwayanditbreaks gold thread.




  1. Avatar Sarah Sarah Coombs on April 26, 2023 at 10:15 pm

    EEEEEEEE you made a full beetle-wing embroidered outfit, that is so cool!! I love the extant historical examples I’ve seen of beetle-wing dresses, and this deserves a spot in a museum right along side them!

    • Avatar Amanda Amanda Stewart on May 4, 2023 at 4:56 pm

      Thank you so much, that’s terribly kind of you to say. It was definitely an adventure, and there are things I’d do differently, but it’s certainly one of my favorite dresses I’ve made.

  2. Avatar Mariana Kishida on June 3, 2023 at 12:00 am

    Stunning work! Beautiful materials, arranged into a beautiful, elegant ensemble. It’s such detailed work, must have taken you so much time!

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