Dreams of the Sea





(click images to to enlarge)

Other Credits

Photography by Thorn Reilly

Outline the story …

My first thought when reading the theme announcement was a need to make a mori kei outfit. Mori kei or forest style is a modern fashion originating in Japan in the early 2000s characterized by natural materials, loose fitting layers, and colors inspired by the forest. Given the origin of the style, I also wanted to include another Japanese element, common in practical everyday textiles - sashiko. This tradition is considered an embroidery and sometimes mending technique by many, but historically was a part of daily life that strengthened both the fabric stitched and connections to family and place. So, I set out to research and learn as much of the techniques used and the ongoing tradition as I could and sourced cotton sashiko thread and other materials to create multiple garments for a mori kei outfit after falling in love with a picture of a layered vintage dress that suited the style.

To further build upon the natural world theme, I set out to make two main garments, a sleeveless dress in dark blue and an overdress in pale green to represent the sea and land. I chose related sashiko motifs for each dress , the dreams of a girl in the forest about her home and the ocean beyond. The dark blue would be covered in waves, ripples, and water creatures and the pale green covered in vines, flowers, and trees.

Outline the construction…

Entry: sleeveless dress

Materials: linen, sashiko thread, cotton lace, sewing thread

I was unable to source colorfast naturally dyed fabrics. Instead, I focused on linen and cotton in colors that could be achievable with natural dyes.

Despite my original plan, I struggled with time management throughout the whole process leading to the need to focus my attention on a single garment rather than multiple for my entry. I poured my energy into the water dress adapting the simple loose shift design from a more fitted princess seamed pattern by adding ease and removing the closure. After felling the seams by hand, I traced templates for the chosen motifs with heat reactive marking pens and started teaching myself sashiko with help from Atsushi of Sashikostory's videos on YouTube. My purchased sashiko thimbles didn't fit well, so I made my own from some scrap leather that better suited my hand.

Sashiko is simple in appearance, but the stitching techniques involved are very different than I'm accustomed to using. I struggled to maintain the correct hand positions and remember to push with my hand and smooth with my fingers rather than pull the thread through. The markings faded and the stitched patterns grew under my hands as I slowly adapted to the rhythm.

As a final touch, I whip stitched cotton lace to the hem and neckline and made a few accessories to complete the overall outfit. I will definitely add other garments to it in the future as my schedule permits.




  1. Constance MacKenzie Constance MacKenzie on May 10, 2023 at 8:01 am

    I adore the beautiful dragon fly and wave motif embroidery, the different layers and colours of linen blend so well together

    • Avatar Stephanie Stephanie Tietze (list as Piera on the entry if possible please) on May 12, 2023 at 11:41 pm

      Thank you! I have various other aquatic creatures mixed in as well along with a few water lilies. I had a lot of fun finding motifs to use.

  2. Avatar Steffi Wee on May 10, 2023 at 12:18 pm

    Such cottage core vibes! The embroidery complements the dress perfectly.

    • Avatar Stephanie Stephanie Tietze (list as Piera on the entry if possible please) on May 12, 2023 at 11:43 pm

      Thanks! I love the cottage core aesthetic and my inspiration is a similar style, so I’m glad I captured that energy.

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