Lava Dress ("Light up" Dress)

This design project was inspired by the pahoehoe lava flows of the volcanoes in Volcano's National Park in Hawaii.


The Lighting

I decided on using EL Wire after being familiar with its uses in costuming and seeing how easily it could be adapted onto clothing. I wanted to use the wiring over the whole garment, in small intricate folds, and powering such a long length would take a a large inverter and battery pack. Ultimately I settled on a custom made 45 ft length of wire broken into three segments with a two strobe inverter powered by eight AA batteries.

The Dress

Because of the unbroken appearance of the lava I decided to construct the garment out of a single cut of fabric. I used a 5 yard length of cotton spandex jegging fabric because of its texture and heavy drape. I began draping the fabric on a dress form and letting the fabric lay as it wanted, contouring and folding over the shape of the body like the real lava would shape around a rock. Each pleat and fold was hand stitched down to each other and to a boned cotton under layer.  Once the body of the garment was constructed, a small pocket was sewn into a swag at the side to hold the EL wire battery pack. All three strands of wire originate from the pocket. Each strand of EL wire was stitched down using clear fishing line.

The dress has a side invisible zipper, a back slit and a partial lining. The front of the dress features an asymmetrical shoulder drape that meets at a rounded bodice panel that is set a few inches from center front. The opposite bodice panel is also asymmetrical and gradually meets up to combine with the back shoulder drape. The back comes to an offset point under the shoulder drape. There is also a strap that is sewn beneath the shoulder drape that sits across the back shoulders.

The only part of  the fabric that was cut into was the hem.