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Yásira: The Making-Of

August 13, 2016

I can’t remember how I came up with the idea to dress as the Yásira. I can remember when and where, sitting on our blanket at Castlefest last year, with Sahi and Xavie, but where did the idea come from? Maybe from Xavie talking about her idea of a Green Angel Tower costume?

Anyway. Here’s the description from Stone of Farewell:

At first the Yásira seemed like nothing so much as a grand and oddly shaped tent, a tent whose center pole mounted fifty ells into the air, made of a fabric more shifting and colorful than any of Jao é- Tinukai’i’s other beautiful structures. It took another two dozen paces before Simon realized that the center pole was a gigantic ash tree with wide- spreading branches, whose crown rose into the forest sky high above the Yásira itself. He drew another hundred paces closer before he saw why the fabric of the vast tent shimmered so.


Trailing to the ground from the ash tree’s widest branches were a thousand threads, so slender that they seemed little more than parallel glints of light as they fell a hand- span apart all around the tree. Clinging to these strands from top to bottom, lazily fanning their iridescent wings, huddling so closely that they overlapped each other like the shingles on some impossible roof were . . . a million, million butterflies. They were of every color imaginable, orange and wine- red, oxblood and tangerine, cerulean blue, daffodil yellow, velvet black as the night sky. The quiet whisper of their wings was everywhere, as if the warm summer air itself had been given voice. They moved sluggishly, as though near sleep, but were otherwise bound in no way that Simon could see. Countless chips of vibrant moving color, the butterflies shattered the sunlight like an incomparable treasuryof living gems.

So it was obvious I would need two things: a dress with a pattern of ash leaves, and a ridiculous amount of butterflies.

It took a long time to figure out how to even make the butterflies – I needed something that would not be ruined by sitting on it, reasonably quick to make, not too heavy, not too expensive and waterproof in case it rained.

It was one of the women from my dance group who had a good suggestion (and a sample butterfly): plastic bottles, nail polish and waterproof pens.


So I bought myself a few… I think they are called glass lacquer pens. And tried making a few butterflies this way:



So I started collecting lots of plastic bottles, lids, containers…


… and making a lot of butterflies…




In February, Sahi came to visit with her sharpies and lots of nail polish. Because that’s what Smarchers do, they travel from the Netherlands to Austria for a weekend, to put nail polish on invisible butterflies. And we even convinced Peter that, yes, he can do that too. And he poked holes in a whole lot of them.



There were a couple more colouring sessions after that – sometimes, it was just me, sometimes me and my best friend, and for two days, my classmate K. helped me colour while we were in class (don’t worry, we were still paying attention.)

And then, with only a week or so remaining until Castlefest, it was high time to make the dress!

I want to point out I’m not great at sewing. And I hadn’t been able to find a pattern I liked, so I just tried to copy a dress I already have. I half-made a trial dress out of some cheap fabric I had bought for things like this…


…then decided that had worked well enough and bought some green fabric and spray paint, and went to pick leaves from all the ash trees in the neighbourhood:




Pretty spontaneously, I also decided to add a scarf so I’d have something to put on my head, to prevent sunburn on my scalp.

I’ll not go into all the things that went wrong while making the dress, but eventually it was finished, it fit, and it has pockets, which dresses all too often do not have. And it’ll be a nice dress to wear normally, not just as part of a costume.


When I’d discussed my costume idea with her, my mother had gone digging through her cabinets and pulled out some organza that she’d bought for I-don’t-know-what, so I used that to make a skirt to sew the butterflies to.

Except I ran out of time to actually sew them on, so instead I stapled most of them. While on the train, and while waiting at the train station in Munich.


There’s a lot of things that weren’t perfect. Parts of the dress weren’t properly finished, because I ran out of time, the hem of the butterfly skirt was fraying, butterflies were constantly falling off because the organza was slipping out of the staples, and the idea of putting a hoop in the skirt to keep the skirt spread out and the butterflies from getting tangled together was good in theory and not so good in pracise (difficult to sit, especially on the ground, difficult to use the toilet, and a little too small – I was using a hoop that had been in my mosquito net – so it kept hitting my ankles when I walked).

But I still think it’s a pretty awesome costume.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 14, 2016 08:17

    That green ash-leaf dress is really neat all by itself! Congrats on all the work on the costume!

    • August 14, 2016 12:10

      I wanted to make something that I would be able to use outside of Castlefest too, and that worked out pretty well.

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