The Art of Darkness

Tutorial: “The Bride” Dress


  • An article of clothing, of your choice (see below)
  • Fabric dye (optional)
  • Thread – Some that matches the color of the garment and some black for the zigzag stitching
  • Fabric paint
  • Paintbrush, sponge brush, or similar
  • Embroidery thread (optional)
  • One or more zippers (optional)
Click the thumbnails for larger images.


Start with a garment of your choice. The inspiration for this was an upcycled slip. The same idea would work fine for a man’s shirt, a skirt or pair of trousers, or any other article of clothing that you want to make all zipperneck-y. If you have a white or beige article of clothing, you can use fabric dye to change it to an ickier color. I made a dress out of bilious green satin, using McCall pattern M6333 (super-easy; start to finish was about two hours).

Draw lines

Turn the garment inside-out and use a washable fabric pencil to draw the “stitches” where you want them. Try for an organic, stitched-together-from-spare-parts look.


Fold the garment along the drawn lines with right sides together and baste with matching thread, sewing as close to the edge of the fold as possible. On the inside, the basted seam will look like this.

Finished basting

When completed, the outside will look like this.

If you wish, you can also add a random zipper or two to the garment; a big metallic or contrasting color would be the best choice. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for stitching in place.


Using black thread, zigzag stitch on the right side of the garment over the basted seams. Test on a piece of scrap fabric to get the best-looking width and spacing. (Closeup here.)


Next, use fabric paint to make the seams “bloody.” If you’re using a dressmaker’s dummy or other form, cover it with a plastic trash bag to ensure the paint doesn’t seep through and stain it. If you’re laying the dress flat, put a plastic bag or several layers of newspaper inside and paint one side at a time, waiting until dry to paint the other side.

I couldn’t find blood-colored fabric paint, so I used a bright red mixed with a couple of drops of black (be sure to mix up enough to paint the whole garment so you don’t wind up with different colors of “blood”). Don’t get too much on the brush at once, and dab at the seams instead of painting carefully along them to make the “bleeding” seem more random and natural. The finished paint will look something like this.


Heavily dilute some of the leftover paint in water and paint spots on the garment to look like seepage. Let dry.


And you’re done! If you like, you can also add safety pins at random or cinch in the waist with a belt made from a long zipper.