The Moon Lady



Mary Jo Ernst


(click images to to enlarge)

Other Credits

model: Shanon Lersch photos: Brandon Dahlquist

Outline the story …

Since the beginning of time humans have looked to the heavens for guidance. Every culture has their own tale of a Goddess that rules the Moon. The Chinese version has several interpretations involving a young maiden, Chang-e stealing and drinking an immortal potion from her husband and escapes to the Moon to live there eternally .My literary inspiration is Amy Tan's beautiful story "The Moon Lady". It is a tale told by Grandmother Nai-Nai to her young granddaughters. She weaves a visual account of her childhood life-changing visit to the Moon Lady during the Moon Festival. Her Amah tells them that the Moon Lady grants wishes once a year for this night only, and the wish must be pure of heart and not selfish desires. During the excitement with her family activities and rushing to the event , she becomes separated from her family and experiences several frightening sequences. She overcomes them , but misses the chance to meet The Moon Lady. She is sad but once Nai-Nai is reunited with her family she realizes she is fierce like her sign , The Tiger and decides she could make her own wishes come true. Amy Tan pushes back on misogynistic themes that dominate ancient tales of powerful women. I chose Chang'e "The Moon Lady " as my character because she turns her regret for being selfish into action by profoundly help others by granting secret wishes. The story encourages the reader to believe in something not visible through self reliance.

Outline the construction…

Apparently you CAN teach and old dog new tricks! As a professional dressmaker I consider myself a decent seamstress, however this endeavor threw down many challenges While I have used boning and supports in the past, this is my first real corset The exactness of construction and fit is completely opposite of my "design as I go with client input" that I have used for 28 years I started with a commercial pattern and after one mock I made some major pattern changes and drafted a new one The bodice is made from a faded indigo cotton which looks like the night sky The rest of the bodice is made from midnight and grey silk wool The main emphasis on the corset is the handsketched and painted Moon Lady with stars draping down from her gown, In repose, on the hand beaded crescent Moon To convey the wishes theme I collected wishes from friends and image transferred them to the half moon organza "clouds" , grey Alencon lace clouds were added to the torso with a few twinkling crystals Vertical lines were accented with metallic midnight yarn stitched on to further suggest a galaxy I added 4 beaded galaxy shapes at the bottom/ The top layer of the skirt is the wish clouds , then a layer of grey netting with star beads hanging down, and finally a fringed grey lace miniskirt inside After years of sewing and feeling unmotivated this technical challenge and artistry renewed my passion for design.




  1. Kitty Mortensen Kitty Mortensen on March 11, 2021 at 9:29 pm

    This is stunning, I love the adornments and colour-scheme. the hips are very haute couture. stunningly beautiful

  2. Avatar Gabrielle Amey on March 12, 2021 at 3:02 am

    The moon on the front of your corset with the Moon Lady is simply stunning!

    • Avatar Mary Jo Ernst on March 13, 2021 at 12:27 am

      Thanks It took me several tests to figure out how to blend my sketching into sewing the design

  3. Avatar Rebecca on March 12, 2021 at 3:27 am

    hi there, mjernstcorsetiere! craftyroo (aka Rebecca, aka Icarus) here to say that this project is beautifully envisioned and executed! I love your moon lady! best of luck to you <3

    • Avatar Mary jo ernst on March 13, 2021 at 12:29 am

      Thank you for your support and friendship! Meeting people like you has been the best part of entering into this competition

      • Avatar Rebecca on April 3, 2021 at 9:51 pm

        thought i’d come by, offer a fist bump of solidarity. good work , mme corsetiere!

  4. Avatar Ashley Taylor Anderson on March 12, 2021 at 3:50 am

    Wow! The details of the lady are incredible. Amazing work.

  5. Avatar Meloartistic on March 12, 2021 at 4:00 am

    This garment is magical; I could only imagine how much better it looks in person. The colors and the details are as dreamy as you can get.

  6. Avatar Kittycat on March 12, 2021 at 9:55 am

    This is so, so beautiful. I love everything about it

  7. Avatar Hannah on March 12, 2021 at 11:06 am

    Its absolutely gorgeous! The detail and beading are amazing. I love it.

  8. Avatar Maria Jones on March 12, 2021 at 9:24 pm

    Gorgeous! I love that the detail extends to the inside

    • Avatar Mary Jo ernst on March 19, 2021 at 11:02 am

      Thanks People kept sending their wishes so I had to honor them and find a way to include them

  9. Avatar Amanda on March 13, 2021 at 1:24 am

    This is so sweet! The moon and all the little details made me smile.

    • Avatar Mary jo ernst on March 19, 2021 at 11:04 am

      Thanks It took many tests to figure out the best way to handsketch the Moon Lady and stitch her to my beaded crescent moon

  10. Avatar Lindsey on March 13, 2021 at 2:06 am


    • Avatar Mary jo ernst on March 19, 2021 at 11:05 am

      Thank you . The details are the fun part so it is hard yo know when to stop!

  11. Avatar Inge Sahuleka on March 13, 2021 at 6:14 am

    Even the inside is decorated! Wonderful Mary Jo!
    I can look at all details for ages.
    PS Love how we meet here too, in addition to the shared drawing/sketching/ink love on Insta.

    • Avatar Mary jo Ernst on March 15, 2021 at 2:30 am

      It is such a great connection! Sewing AND fountain pens and ink . Love your entry as well , it is amazing

  12. Avatar Carly Van Groeningen on March 13, 2021 at 10:26 am

    Beautiful work, I adore all the details and wishes.

  13. Avatar Lorna on March 13, 2021 at 7:10 pm

    Just love how this turned out, i followed on instagram as you posted, such beautiful work. Such exquisite details. Congratulations

    • Avatar MAry Jo Ernst on March 19, 2021 at 10:54 am

      Thanks for following along!

  14. Avatar Maeri Certo on March 17, 2021 at 1:22 pm

    Your details are incredible, but especially powerful are the wishes incorporated into your piece. Beautiful interpretation– well done!

    • Avatar Mary Jo Ernst on March 19, 2021 at 10:55 am

      Thanks It was fun to collect the wishes from
      Friends and family

  15. Avatar Katie Hernandez on March 17, 2021 at 5:56 pm

    Beautiful! I love the color combinations and the fact that the quotes/inscriptions are on the inside as well as out. Wonderful work.

    • Avatar Mary jo Ernst on March 19, 2021 at 10:58 am

      Thanks People kept sending wishes and I felt a responsibility to include them so I added written ones to the inside

  16. Avatar Tanaka on March 18, 2021 at 4:10 pm

    This is absolutely gorgeous, there are so many wonderful elements, and they all work together so well. I love the ‘organza clouds’ especially at the neckline, and the shape of the corset is really unique and lovely. Amazing job!!!

    • Avatar Mary jo ernst on March 19, 2021 at 10:59 am

      The organza clouds at the neckline really ties together the floating air space . Thanks

  17. Avatar Xenofon on March 18, 2021 at 6:20 pm

    This is amazing! I appreciate the details. Especially the writing on the inside. Great job!

    • Avatar Mary Jo Ernst on March 19, 2021 at 11:00 am

      Thanks , people kept sending me their wishes so I added them to the inside so that I may include them into my outfit

  18. Avatar Laurie on March 20, 2021 at 9:24 pm

    Gorgeous! Beautiful colours and detailing!

    • Avatar Mary Jo ernst on March 21, 2021 at 5:09 pm

      Thank you , it was a joyful challenge

  19. Avatar Kaity Bower on March 22, 2021 at 1:20 am

    Definitely one of my favorite entries! Watching this be revealed has been so cool! Just brilliant design and execution.

  20. Avatar Peta Pendlebury on March 22, 2021 at 10:55 am

    This is really beautiful and you have answered a question for me. I was trying to work out how to put Elizabethan text onto a lining in a way I was happy with for a project and gave up – I didn’t know about the image transfer paper and will now go searching. Thank you.

    • Avatar mary jo ernst on March 22, 2021 at 10:57 pm

      The image transfer paper worked great You have to put your text in reverse so it prints the correct way The inside “ text “ was hand written with an acrylic paint pen I highly recommend the Molotow brand paint pens I used a 1.5 mm tip for this one . Good luck !

    • Avatar mary jo ernst on March 22, 2021 at 10:59 pm

      Message me on my instagram account MJErnstCouturier and i will screen shot the one I used It is special for artwork etc and not as thick as the photo paper ones

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.