Wild Card Prize - Beautiful interpretation of a poem, great problem-solving to create the text fabric

The Eliot Dress



Ashley Yea


(click images to to enlarge)

Other Credits

Paul Karetnikov-Photography

Outline the story …

The Eliot dress is based on one of my favorite poems of all time, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by T.S. Eliot. The dress is a manifestation of the protagonist’s internal struggles for romantic desire, acceptance, and companionship in a crumbling world. I loved the idea of placing the actual words on the dress, to physically expose his racing mind, all wrapped up in a beautifully unattainable package. The character recreated for this year’s theme is essentially the un-named, implied woman, who ultimately seems unlikely to share his humanity in the end, with his constant procrastination and hesitancy in asking her out. Despite his desire to reject traditional norms in society, his social awkwardness, and his modern, over-intellectualized thoughts, his humanity is continually challenged as he exists in a bizarre, empty, and transitory world. Much of the emotion in this poem is even more relevant today. With the current growing inequality in society, humanity and morality is constantly challenged. Who doesn’t wrestle with societal expectations, social awkwardness, and fighting morality within themselves at all points in life? This dress embodies the uncertainty in navigating through a disintegrating world, where the occasional glimpses of beauty can be found.

Outline the construction…

This dress is completely self-drafted, draped, and has pockets! The three main challenges were corset construction, draping, and wording on the skirt. For the draping, I wanted the skirt to emulate the pages of a book, and after much experimentation, various sized circular flounces lined with wide horsehair braid achieved that appearance.

The corset bodice top is self-drafted and fully boned. The challenge was being fully supported due to a lowcut front and back. I used power netting to stabilize the front and reinforced the back with boning at the edges.

For the words, I wanted a cost effective, consistent, and high-quality method to transfer such a large amount of text. After testing several possibilities, I discovered that dye sublimation was the key to achieving this goal. Dye sublimation is a process where dried ink passes directly to the gaseous state through heat and force creating a permanent bond. Industry sublimation printers cost in the thousands, and I converted a regular store-bought ink printer to permanently hold sublimation ink. Overall, it was challenging to find the correct heat and pressure to apply to the fabric to avoid destroying it as I had to sometimes overlap printed sections on to the fabric. Despite my preference for using natural fiber, since sublimation ink only works with polyester fabric or blends, much of this dress is made from polyester. I believe the cleanness and cost effectiveness of the sublimation transfer adds a myriad of possibilities for its continued use in future projects.




  1. Avatar Mandy Vedder on March 11, 2021 at 9:27 pm

    The process of dye sublimation sounds mind-boggling and yet you’ve managed to create such clear lines on the letters! You’ve done an astonishing job on this dress. I love absolutely everything about it.

  2. Avatar Stef McKnight on March 12, 2021 at 8:04 am

    I agree with the above comment – the dye sublimation sounds mind boggling! The final output looks wonderful and the skirt definitely resembles pages in a book.

  3. Kitty Mortensen Kitty Mortensen on March 12, 2021 at 8:57 am

    That corset! The attention to detail! Your Images! Its just all SO breathtaking! Marvellous work- big congratulations on this entry ! <3

  4. Avatar Ali Moore on March 16, 2021 at 12:57 am

    So inspired and intrigued by the experimental process used here! It absolutely evokes text transmuted to a garment. Just delightful!

  5. Avatar Carly Van Groeningen on March 19, 2021 at 11:30 am

    What a stunning gown, and so clever in doing your own dye sublimation for the writing!

  6. Avatar Mandi on March 20, 2021 at 12:52 pm

    I love you put the actual words on the gown itself. It looks effortless, which I am absolutely sure, it was not. Fabulous entry!

  7. Avatar Jess on March 24, 2021 at 6:02 pm

    This is just simply stunning! I would love to learn more about your converted printer someday- I’m so impressed with your ingenuity!

  8. Avatar Stephanie Murison on March 25, 2021 at 3:29 am

    I’m just echoing everyone else here, but the idea of printing the words onto the fabric and experimenting with the dying process was such a creative idea! I also love the texture of the skirt, and that gorgeous pink corset, it looks like a couture wedding dress!

  9. Avatar Maeri Certo on March 26, 2021 at 1:54 pm

    What a great concept! I can only imagine the amount of trial and error it took to get the printer set up just right for this, but what a clever adaptation of tools!

  10. Avatar Kikkii von Fustian on March 27, 2021 at 11:05 pm

    This would honestly be really to see at the MET Gala! I love the concept, very beautiful <3

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.