How the Garden Dress Came to Be

for posterity, and those who are really curious… or anybody interested into peeking into the working methods of a manic artist…. i present this little creation story.

it was february or march of 2008. someone on the raglan tiny group gave a shout out looking to buy some coveralls for some garden work. “ooh,” thought venal entrepreneur me, “i should make some of those!”
what does this have to do with garden dresses? not a whole lot, yet. keep reading.
so i pulled out my cowboy jeans i had made back in the fall. added a bib piece, and some shoulder straps (by the way, they cross in the back, and that was really HARD to do!), and voila: overalls. the start of them, anyway. it needed some garden boots, so i pulled out the beekeeper outfit i had made for awen, which had legs and boots ripped from my snowsuits… and changed the brown workboots to those garish green and yellow garden boots that i have seen a million times, but can’t seem to find images of any more.
then i wasn’t happy with the denim texture and the cheap prim pockets. so i went to cg textures (, grabbed a couple denim, seam, and pocket images, worked them up in photoshop in light, medium, and dark variants…. checked them all out on the beta grid and kept one set that tinted well. (the light or medium, i forget which.)
i ripped the cowboy shirts for plaid farmer shirts, and the basic gardener outfit was set.

it was during this month that my partner awenbunny, who usually does the ladies’ lines, was off on vacation. so it slowly sank in that i would have to make the dresses myself!
looking at the overalls, i figured the dresses ought to have some matching features. like: those shoulder straps that cross in the back (did i mention how hard those were to make?), plaid designs, and a bib and pocket on the front. i pulled out the cowboy skirts awen had made, because those had little bib-like things on the front. (now, if there’s anybody’s work i ripped off, it’s awen’s! but then, i had her permission.)
the more i kept looking at the his and her garden outfits, the more i kept thinking of those kitschy american garden decorations of the farmer pair. they are just flat wood cutouts painted with a guy in coveralls and straw hat from the back, and the missus from the back, bending over in the garden with her huge goofy bloomers showing as her dress lifts up. so i decided it would be a riot to make huge goofy bloomers with little pink hearts and frilly edges under the dress. oh, and to top it all off, to have the clunky green garden boots on as well!

then i went nuts with details. teeny tiny clothing tags, ribbons and bows, bib pocket appliques, willow creek logos on the buttons and tiny copper clasps with those 3-curve hook things on the shoulder straps. hey, the shoulder straps crossing in the back, too! the kitschy farmer guy garden stand-up usually had a red hanky in his pocket, so i put that in. and seed packets; i located a few old time seed packet and almanac images with expired copyright dates, plus i photoshopped a seed catalogue image to make a new one. and the tools, and the garden gloves, and the flower pots. oh, and the watering can that waters when you click it!

now, i have been accused (albeit indirectly) of copying or stealing someone’s idea for this garden dress. to be honest, i had no idea this someone had a garden dress, nor did i see it or a picture of it until after this dust-up over it. and to make it perfectly clear:

1: this someone does not OWN the idea of a garden dress. any more than i ‘own’ the idea of snowmobiles.

2: i got the idea for a garden dress the same place this someone did — out in the wide world, where garden dresses have existed for… i don’t know, as long as there have been gardens and dresses?

if i ‘stole’ it from anyone, i’ve listed them in this article:
1: the person who asked for coveralls
2: awenbunny lisle
3: american kitsch

and there you have it!