Fishing Net Fancy



Rachel Zanoni


(click images to to enlarge)

Other Credits

Photo credits for fishnet dress: Benevolent Boyfriend Photo credits for chemise: Ruth Zanoni

Outline the story …

I entered this contest because of the theme. I love fairytales; Italo Calvino’s Italian Folktales is a childhood favorite. It was a lifeline to what seemed a distant Italian heritage, and my favorite stories have always had strong female women in them. Catherine, Sly Country Lass, is a smart ass. The king wishes to speak with her after hearing the advice she has given her father, a farmer, and asks her to show up “neither naked nor clothed”. She shows up draped in a fishing net. She goes on to win the heart and respect of the king. Through her wisdom, she gains the agency to make decisions in his court.
Thus my main dilemma: I don’t want to post images of me practically naked online. My answer was to draw on history: a chemise a la reine would allow me to be ‘clothed’ in my undergarments, while maintain that sense of nudity. Catherine doesn't have the funds to make something nice, so her dress would be pulled together from the fish net her father brought and the burlap sacks found on the farm. She also would have preferred to maintain the fishnet for later use, and as a peasant, would have preferred adjustable clothing. Thus, I turned the garment into a wrap dress and minimized cutting of the fabric. I imagine her taking what she had and turning it into a ‘fancy court dress’ after her long workdays on the farm. Not nice exactly… but trying.

Outline the construction…

The chemise is the first project I’ve made. I generated the pattern using a website—I chose to have ¾ length sleeve. It’s white linen. The neckline is felled, and the rest of the seams were backstitched using white linen thread.
I bought a yard of burlap, cut it into 7” strips, whip stitched the raw edges of the strips for the waistline. I sewed them together and attached them to the fishnet using whip stitches. Although I sewed straight (zigzagged across the squares) across the net, the fabric wasn’t rectangular. I pleated the burlap/fishnet and sewed a burlap red ribbon on top in such a way that it could fasten the waist. For the neckline, I wove another red ribbon (it’s cotton, the first ribbon I ever wove on my inkle loom) through the net to gather it. I took a length of red burlap and folded it into a rose. I sewed the rose to pin down the extra bulk of the neck ruffle, which was asymmetrical due to the fabric shape. The thread was size 10 cotton crochet thread.
I decided last minute to participate, and so I finished this in less than a month. I also only just began sewing, and so this my third project. There was a lot of learning and experimentation and crazed laughter—the fabric was the hardest part because it complicated EVERYTHING from gathering to sewing seams.
All of the sewing was done by hand. I bought the hoop skirt.




  1. Avatar Sparrow on March 11, 2021 at 5:50 pm

    What a clever idea!

    • Avatar Rachel Zanoni on March 14, 2021 at 1:03 am

      Thank you! And thank you for being the first commenter. I found out the entries had been posted by the email that you had commented ❤️

  2. Avatar Elisie on March 11, 2021 at 7:18 pm

    That is both clever and really cool! I love the look of the net! The entire outfit feels glamorous despite being made with very unglamours fabrics. Well done!

    • Avatar Rachel Zanoni on March 14, 2021 at 12:50 am

      Thank you so much! I’m really glad to hear that I struck that balance.

  3. Avatar Liesbeth on March 11, 2021 at 7:24 pm

    This is amazing! The dress made me think about one of my favourite fairy tales immediately, and then your description confirmed that it’s exactly the one I was thinking of. It’s so well thought out (and I love the little splashes of red).

    • Avatar Rachel Zanoni on March 14, 2021 at 12:49 am

      Which one? I’ve read of this riddle in the Italian folktale mentioned as well as Tatterhood, which I love just as much

  4. Avatar Missy on March 12, 2021 at 1:57 am

    This is such a look! You’ve made it so beautiful and striking, despite the challenges you describe. Looks like it would be at home at the Met Gala or something!

    • Avatar Rachel Zanoni on March 14, 2021 at 12:48 am

      Thank you so much! That’s an amazing compliment 🥰

  5. Avatar Simona Gentile on March 12, 2021 at 11:36 am

    Let me just say, I am so proud of you!!! You had a wonderful idea, developed the concept in detail and followed through all the difficulties! You ploughed through, resulting in a not only smart and clever piece, but a gorgeous and meaningful gown! Good job!!! ♥️

    • Avatar Rachel Zanoni on March 14, 2021 at 1:12 am

      Thank you for telling me to do the thing even if it is ambitious and sitting with me while I wrote this. And telling me that pleating is easy… multiple times.

  6. Avatar Marie on March 12, 2021 at 8:33 pm

    The tale is one of my favourite and your whole concept is amazing! The dress is beautiful, and I can’t imagine the trouble of sewing with that type of fabric. Well done!

    • Avatar Rachel Zanoni on March 12, 2021 at 9:01 pm

      The nature of the fabric DEFINITELY necessitated hand sewing lol 😅

  7. Avatar Laurie on March 12, 2021 at 8:44 pm

    Interesting! Nicely done. Great photos.

    • Avatar Rachel Zanoni on March 14, 2021 at 1:01 am

      Thanks! I am very grateful to my partner for taking these in the snow—they look so much better than the wood shots I had planned.

  8. Avatar Amy Sakovich on March 13, 2021 at 12:18 am

    I l ove the little details, like the flower. Plus, the story sounds so interesting! You clearly took inspiration from the character in your ingenuity.

    • Avatar Rachel Zanoni on March 14, 2021 at 1:04 am

      Thank you! The flower was a last minute final touch. It’s all triangle folds.

  9. Avatar Stephanie Murison on March 13, 2021 at 12:36 am

    This is so creative! I love the way you’ve handled the challenge of this really unconventional fabric to make such a unique dress, it fits the story so perfectly!

    • Avatar Rachel Zanoni on March 14, 2021 at 12:59 am

      Thanks! I looked online and all the fishnet dresses were like fishnet stockings so maybe this is an actual first? I tried a couple different methods of sewing and this ‘anchoring’ onto burlap worked best for the design as well as construction. For anyone who wants to work with fishing net, I definitely recommend loading thread on a tatting shuttle and whipstitching/tatting it together. That was my favorite method for sewing the fishing net to itself.

  10. Avatar Andrea Olinte on March 13, 2021 at 10:36 am

    That was a suprise look – a good one. Amazing idea and realisation.

    • Avatar Rachel Zanoni on March 14, 2021 at 12:53 am

      If you don’t mind my asking, surprise how?

  11. Avatar Elowen Blackthorn on March 13, 2021 at 2:39 pm

    This is fabulously creative and I love how you’ve drawn on fairy tale, historical clothing, notable moments in fashion history, and Avant Garde fashion to create this, awesome work!

  12. Avatar Rachel Zanoni on March 14, 2021 at 1:00 am


  13. Avatar Annette Fitzgerald on March 14, 2021 at 9:42 pm

    Beautyfull. That’s also one of my favorite fairytale. I think you found a great way to put it into a wearable garment

    • Avatar Rachel Zanoni on March 15, 2021 at 9:59 pm

      Thank you so much!

  14. Avatar Valerie Meachum on March 15, 2021 at 1:38 am

    Brilliant design, so well thought through and beautifully executed!

    • Avatar Rachel Zanoni on March 15, 2021 at 10:00 pm

      Thanks! It means a lot to me that you like the execution ❤️

  15. Avatar AnnaCatherine Sendgikoski on March 20, 2021 at 4:58 am

    Wow, such a nicely done and imaginative garment. I love it! Thank you so much!

  16. Avatar Mary on March 29, 2021 at 4:41 pm

    Very well done!. You should be very proud. You chose an extremely difficult and unconventional fabric, which meant you had to learn how to deal with it and adapt all through out the creation process. I hope you took pictures of the creation all through out the making of it. It would make a wonderful teaching tool.
    Reading your description I could imagine her knitting some of the net pieces herself, probably learning that craft from her father. A wonderful imaginative design for this fairy tale. Well done!

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.