Majestic Oak



Holly Delaney

(click images to to enlarge)

Outline the story …

“Trees are poems that the earth writes upon the sky” – Kahlil Gebran

After living in or near a city for most of my life, my husband and I retired and moved to the Texas Hill Country. We have four large, several hundred-year-old oak trees in our backyard. These oak trees became a symbol of my love of nature and retirement! When the 2023 contest theme of Nature was announced, oak trees immediately came to mind.

My design lies somewhere between “couture” and “costume”. The green corset represents the tree’s canopy, using the leaf motif literally in the leaf cutouts, and more by suggestion with the cut edges of the corset. The beading represents dew on the leaves on a spring morning.

The blouse’s skin tone color fades away to make the leaves on the sleeves stand out. Each season is represented by the leaves on the sleeves; light green for spring, darker green for summer, ocher for early fall, and rust for late autumn, falling down the sleeves as the seasons change. The leaf-lace motif on the collar hints at the leaves to come in the early spring.
The mermaid-style skirt with the bark-like crinkle satin represents the tree trunk; the flares on the skirt act like the roots that anchor the tree.

“Love the trees until their leaves fall off, then encourage them to try again next year” – Chad Sugg

Outline the construction…

The Corset: I used the cupped Overbust Corset pattern by Sin and Satin (modified with a cup pattern I copied from a bra). The corset was constructed with two layers, coutil fused to green crepe-backed satin, and is steel boned. The leaf-shaped edges and leaf applique were patterned from oak leaves I collected, edges were zig-zagged and hand-beaded.

I relied heavily on the instructions and advice from Barbara Pesendorfer and Lowana O’Shea’s corset-making course on Foundations Revealed. The Competition Mentoring calls with Brooklynne Michelle and Lowana O’Shea were very helpful as well.

The blouse: Made from Butterick 4659 with sleeves from McCalls 7732, moving the shoulder of the blouse up to the natural shoulder line. The fabric was crepe-back satin for the body, with organza sleeves and chiffon used for the multi-colored leaves on the sleeves. The leaves were made using real oak leaves as patterns, copied onto two layers of chiffon fused together, zig-zagged for the leaf border and veins, then cut out and hand sewn onto the sleeves. The Medici-type collar was made with the original collar pattern, on which a line of oak leaves was drawn, zig-zagged, and clipped into a lace pattern. I constructed an armature for the collar using plastic boning, drilling holes into the upright and horizontal pieces, and sewing the two together.

The skirt: Made using the mermaid skirt from It is made from black crinkle satin, with a cotton bag lining.




  1. Avatar Gloria on April 27, 2023 at 1:47 am

    Beautifully imagined and constructed. Loved the texture of fabric used in the skirt that brought the bark to life. Thought the flare at the skirt hem mimicking the spreading base of a tree was a simple but effective design element.

  2. Avatar Diane on April 28, 2023 at 4:10 am

    The detail of the dress (the leaves!) and the thought and meaning behind each detail were poetic. The theme of nature was truly met in this complicated and fantastic piece. Incredibly well constructed and creative. And your first time with any corset is the hardest type: Good on you!

  3. Avatar Jitka Jitka Pelíšková on April 29, 2023 at 5:24 pm

    Hi Holly, your creation is so beautiful! I’m glad you had enough time to make the blouse, the collar was a great idea.

  4. Avatar Anna-Catherine Sendgikoski on May 7, 2023 at 6:43 pm

    This is so cute! Very inventive and lovely! Very well executed!

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