Fabric & Flower Haul

So this is a haul in place of a progress report.  I was sick for the beginning of September, and worked on my Monarch Series for all of August so I don’t have much to report. I’ve done hauls before and gotten really positive feedback, and this time I bought a lot of things I wouldn’t usually reach for, and I have reasons behind them all so I thought it would be fun to write about!

The other day I went to Joann’s and Michaels since I had a whole bunch of coupons and there were several appealing sales going on. I ended up getting almost everything I wanted, and left with enough fabric to complete four future projects….and ten yards of trim.

The first thing I wanted were fall fashion fabrics. I had seen these a few days ago and decided against buying any. Mostly because they only had a few yards of each type, and if I have less then five yards of a fabric it’s unlikely to get used since my projects are all so large.

Of course after I left the store I remembered that I already have fabrics that would match these perfectly. Bright red suiting I have leftover from my mountie costume, black and grey plaid I bought last year and haven’t used, and six yards of very dark grey suiting.

I’m still not sure what these will get turned into, but I think they would make really lovely skirts and sashes. Maybe something red coat inspired? I definitely want to get back into doing military and menswear inspired projects so perhaps these will be the motivation I need.

These fabrics are all really nice, they feel like lovely wool (even though i’m 100% sure they are cheap polyester) and with the sale they were only $5 a yard which is less then what I would pay in NYC.


Here is the black and grey fabric I already have, paired with the new addition.


Next up I wanted to get fabric for a Renaissance skirt. I know I need to branch out and make things from different time periods, but my Monarch series has been such a stretch for me that I want to have something fun and familiar in progress on the side.

Besides I already have four yards of chocolate brown knit, two yards of printed brown material, and pheasant feathers with flecks of brown in them. I wanted fabric that would match what I already had, and there wasn’t much to pick from. After a lot of searching I found a roll of pin tucked taffeta hiding in the back that was perfect! I love the texture and sheen it has, and it’s really soft too. Quite nice quality considering where it came from.

Trims were all 50% off so I ended up buying eight yards of matching brown lace.


On the more boring side of things I picked up two yards of white eyelet lace (for a bonnet), and  two packs of silver eyelets.


Then I bought fabric which looks quite boring but is actually for a very exciting project. Five yards of matte tulle, and half a yard of silver mesh.


I’m actually making a Halloween inspired project. It’s not a Halloween costume since I celebrate Halloween in my pajamas, eating candy corn, and handing out candy to neighbor hood children. When I make a post devoted to this project i’ll go into more detail, but for now i’ll say I don’t condone the excitement towards the “holiday”.

However I had this idea. And when I saw Michaels had Halloween decor 40% off I needed to make the idea a reality. I’m not sure why but I really want to do  something that is silly, tacky, and strange.

It’s going to use some of the techniques seen in my other flower dresses but this one will be a lot more obnoxious.


The base fabrics are going to be the black tulle and mesh, but I have this horribly tacky purple fabric that I think i’m going to turn into a cape. I also have some bat print material that will be an overlay on the bodice.


Now onto what I bought at Michaels! I’m quite annoyed because the items I wanted were listed as being on sale but apparently were excluded because they are “seasonal floral decor” not “seasonal home decor”  so I passed up some of the items I wanted and ended up spending more then I had planned.

I’m still really happy with what I got though. The main Item I wanted were glitter dipped black roses. These didn’t photograph very nicely – partially because i’m shooting against a window. Hopefully in the skirt they will look much better!



Then I got some black maple leaves which have glitter spiders on them. I’m not sure why I find these so adorable but I really, really do.



I got these glittery bats and pumpkins! These are probably my favorite items. Weirdly enough these were the only items I didn’t expect to be on sale, and they scanned up at clearance prices…I would have made different decisions if the sales were labeled better.


I got twenty four glitter spiders which will “crawl” across the dress.


And three clip on spiders for the headpiece.


That was it for Halloween decor, but you may notice my selections are all a bit dark. That’s because most of the non black decorations were green or purple, and I wanted to stick to my black/orange/silver theme. Luckily and aisle over they had Christmas decorations on sale, which ended up being exactly what I needed!

They are these super glittery sprigs that ended up being less then a dollar each! I love them so much. Such a good glitter/dollar value. I got eight of the orange ones and two of the silver.



So that’s everything! Quite the shopping spree. I’m officially putting myself back on another two month shopping ban, because I have enough supplies for like ten different projects now, and I don’t have any excuse to keep buying stuff….until December when I have Christmas money, then it’s totally justifiable.

Thanks for reading! I’ll have a “The making of” post soon.

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Posted by on September 19, 2014 in All about Fabric


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Making a Fall Flower Fairy, Part One

Sorry for my lack of updates! I had my wisdom teeth out and my recovery wasn’t fun. It took me almost two weeks to get back to sewing, and then I got distracted by new projects…

But now i’m focused again and updates should be back to the regular two times a week!

A couple months ago I made a flower dress inspired by Spring and Summer, though I didn’t completely love the finished dress I did really enjoy making it. Before it was even finished I had ideas from more dresses using the same technique, so it’s not too surprising that I decided to make another very similar dress.

This time I’m going with an Autumn theme, using flowers from Ashlands fall collection.

I purchased these a few weeks ago when they were 40% off, but I had a 20% off the entire purchase coupon too. I was just in Michaels the other day and they were all 60% off which means they will be on clearance soon – if you are interested in getting fall flowers now is the time to do so!


Fall flowers are probably my favorite, even though I dislike orange and yellow I love how the warm rich tones look together. Fall in general is pretty great, it starts to cool off, candy corn becomes available, it’s the season of pumpkin pie, and it becomes socially acceptable to wear dark lipstick.



My original design for this dress looked like this! I wanted to make the bodice reminiscent of oak leaves, which was a neat idea in theory, but I later on decided I wanted the dress to have sleeves, so I changed it to be a simpler design. The skirt plan was pretty simple, a three quarter circle skirt with asymmetrical flower designs and a tulle overlay to create a bubble hem.


Step one was drafting the skirt. It’s a simple three eighths of a circle pattern, which will become a three quarter circle skirt when cut on a fold.


Then I cut the pattern out! For this project I decided to use  golden mirror organza as the bottom layer, and two tone chiffon for the top.


Like last time, both of these layers were basted together by hand. Then I ironed them and sewed horsehair into the hem. I did a really terrible job on this hem because I decided I didn’t need to use pins. It won’t be visible in the end so I didn’t bother to redo it, but it’s pretty cringey!


There was also a slight ironing problem which led to me burning a massive hole into the chiffon layer.

But that’s okay! I’ll cover it with flowers and no one will even know.


Once the skirt was hemmed and pressed I laid it flat and organized my flowers around it.


Then it was time for flower arranging! This is my favorite part but also the most difficult. I got a lot of questions about it last time, so i’m going to go a bit more in depth about the process.

I worked in ten or twelve inch sections because that’s how big my glue proof surface was. I like working in small increments though, it makes it easier.

I like to start off by laying the big flowers first. In this case that was a yellow sunflower.


Then I pick a color scheme for that section and chose flowers with those tones – in this case I was going for orange and red. I place the medium flowers next, then fill extra space in with smaller ones. I lay every section out completely before gluing so I don’t get stuck with an arrangement I don’t like.

Also, if you are concerned about not having enough flowers, figure out ahead of time how many you can use per an increment. I counted up all my “statement” (large) flowers ahead of time to make sure I had enough to use at least three in each section.


Once you like how they look, glue them down. Remember to press each flower into the fabric for several seconds so the glue can bond to the material.

If there are any gaps in your arrangement fill them in with smaller flowers, petals, or leaves that match the flower colors.

(this isn’t the same section as above but I think you get the idea!)


At the very end I went through and bent each section, here you can really see the gaps.

Though things may look fine when flat that doesn’t mean they will look that way when draped over a skirt form, or manipulated in any way. The skirt is likely going to move at some point, so to make it look better I filled all of these in with more flowers.


This is what it looked like when it was mostly finished. I went back in later and added a few more to create more asymmetrical interest.


And on the dress form!


Now for the tulle! The tulle layer is a huge rectangle. The tulle length should be a little longer then the size of the skirt hem, and the width should be a bit more then twice the skirt length. Mine ended up being 44″x144″, and since I wanted the colors to be a bit more muted, I decided to use two layers of tulle instead of one.


To keep things easier to manage I basted my two layers of tulle together.


Then I gathered one edge and sewed it onto the waist of the skirt.

Oh, before I did this I removed all glue trails and lint from both layers of fabric.


Then the other edge gets gathered, looped over, and sewn to the other side of the skirt waist. Or if you’re like me and accidentally make the tulle layer too long, it may look like this…


After trimming the extra tulle my skirt looked like this!


And here it is with the matching bodice!



I love it so much. I like the colors I used this time around way more then the red and white. I think it looks far more interesting and way less juvenile.

Thanks for reading!

Also, I did create a video that shows the process of making this dress. If you are interested it can be watched below or accessed through this link!

(videos do not show up in most emails)


Posted by on September 16, 2014 in Original Designs, The Making Of


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Making a Gothic Butterfly Crown

Do you ever wake up with an overwhelming urge to make a gothic butterfly crown or is that just me? Because last week that was the exact thought I had upon waking, and I was determined to do it.

I have mixed feelings about the finished crown, I think it’s neat but I know it could have turned out better. This project is really different from what I normally make, it involved a lot of experimenting so it’s a miracle the end result is even wearable! I think if I were to remake this it would turn out much better, so the issue wasn’t with the method, it’s with the execution.

I filmed the process of making this, so if you want to see how I did it in live action you can watch the video below or click here! If you are interested in actually learning how to make this crown I would suggest you keep reading, since far more information is provided in this post than in the video.

(playable videos do not show up in most emails)

I’m still trying to figure out how to ensure the lighting, angle, and focus of the camera remains the same throughout each clip. The camera I use to take progress photos is the one I use to film, so every time I need to take a picture I have to disrupt the video. I’m also using only natural light and it’s not very dependable. Hopefully I’ll improve on both of these things in the future.

Anyway! I wanted this to be drastically different from my last butterfly crown so I had to get creative. I decided using a darker color scheme, less butterflies, and arches would do a good job of making it unique.I didn’t draw out a sketch or anything, but I knew what I wanted it to look like in my head which was good enough!

I started by measuring my head, then added almost two inches to account for a wig or elaborate hair style. Later on i’ll be making a headband which will match that measurement exactly.

I wanted to mount six wire arches onto that headband, which meant they each needed to be 3.5″ at the base. I played around with a ruler and french curve until I had an arch shape I liked, then cut it out of thick paper…which in this case was a snickerdoodle box.

Then I used tin snips to cut floral wire into pieces that were long enough to make into arches. I bent each piece of wire around the paper arch base until they held the shape I wanted.


Despite my best efforts I couldn’t get them all to be smooth and perfect. If I could go back I would spend way more time trying to get them as close as I could, because in the finished piece the wiggly wire is what bothers me the most!

After they were all archified(?) I painted them black. Once they were painted I used the tin snips to trim the ends so they were all the right size.


I cut a piece of ribbon that was twenty one inches long with a bit of space at each end. I marked spots every three and a half inches, then glued down each arch with heaps of hot glue.

This was set aside for a bit, the glue needs a while to harden and you have to make the headband to mount them on.


I decided to make my headband out of quarter inch wide plastic fabric covered boning. This will serve as a base for everything and was cut to the measurement I decided on earlier (twenty one inches).

On it’s own that would look pretty ugly, so I cut a strip of velvet to serve as a slip cover. The strip was almost three inches wide and twenty two inches long.


Each edge of the velvet was hemmed. I did this by hand with a running stitch because I was too lazy to make a black bobbin for my sewing machine.

Then I slip stitched the boning to the velvet, about an eighth of an inch away from the edge. I did this very quickly and poorly but that’s okay, it won’t be visible later on.


Remember the strip of ribbon with all the arches attached? That gets glued down directly to the boning. I had to use lot’s of glue because these two things don’t like sticking to each other!


The lower edge of velvet got folded up so it touches the top and hides any ugly bits! I used a slip stitch to sew the two edges together.

Hot glue will not work for this step, sewing it will give you the best results. If you are unable you could try fabric glue and use binder clips to keep everything together until it dries.


When I was sewing I also stitched the two ends together to create a circlet. At this point you have a functional crown with fancy arches – super exciting! Mine was in a really odd shape, so later on I used heat to bend it into something more circular.


I had a selection of beads already out which I was using for embellishing a bodice, but worked fabulously for this crown as well. I also had some cross pendants (from the beading section of Joanns) which I painted black.


I used a heavy duty black thread and strung beads from the base of the arch, to the middle, to the base on the opposite side. Then I went in and attached the crosses to the center of the arch.


I was originally going to embellish the base of the crown but felt it would look messy. Instead I used orange beads, fake pearls, and rhinestones to create little bits that dangled from where each arch meets.

DSC_8412 Then I glued butterflies over the join point for each arch, and added a few on the tops of the arches. I used large Ashland nature center feather butterflies for this step, they come in a few different colors and can be purchased at  Michaels.

The finished crown looks like this:



And when worn it’s like so! I experimented a lot with makeup for these photos and I don’t think it worked out to well, but I do like how the crown and bodice look.




Thanks for reading!


Posted by on September 5, 2014 in The Making Of


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Isabel de Requesens, Photos

Don’t get top excited by the title, these photos are crappy in my sewing room shots! I would really like to set up a proper backdrop with drapery and candles and fancy lighting but for now these will have to do. As per usual the costume was made, worn, and photographed by me.

Getting these shots was more difficult then usual since I can’t lift my arms in this dress. The struggle I went through just to focus the camera was pretty intense.

If you haven’t seen them already, I have five blog posts and two videos which go through the process of making this costume, they can all be found here!






I’m really pleased with how this turned out. I might have to remake the hat at some point since it’s still not holding it’s shape that well, but for now it’s fine.

Thanks for reading…er, in this case, looking! I should have a “The making of” post up soon.


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Monarch Collection – Making a Butterfly Bodice

Todays post is about a new project! It’s actually the first piece in a mini collection, which was inspired by monarch butterflies. I mentioned this in my progress report for last month, but since then I’ve had more ideas and plan on expanding the series to be much larger. I’ll be making a post all about the inspiration/fabric choices/sketches/concept art soon but for now I have a regular the making of post.

This particular design came to me right before bed. I wanted it to be a very literal representation of a butterfly but a little more practical then sticking a butterfly design on a bodice. I also wanted to incorporate beading and piping, since I love both of those techniques but couldn’t fit them anywhere else in the collection.

Eventually I came up with this.


When it came to drafting I realized the proportions wouldn’t work quite like I had planned. The bodice also had a heaviness that didn’t work well with a skirt, so I switched that to be a pair of velvet shorts instead.


The drafting process went surprisingly well considering it’s a somewhat complicated design. I managed to draft it in two pieces, without any darts or side seams. This was great because it meant my design wouldn’t be broken up at all. I drew out the markings I wanted before removing it from the form.



 Once removed from the dress form it looked like this.


I used this as reference to create the lining pattern, which looks like this. The lines are boning placement.


Then I cut the fabric apart using the lines I had drawn as a guide. Each line represented a change in fabric, or where piping would go, which is why it couldn’t be made as a single piece. The end result was kind of confusing…


 The finished pattern was pretty confusing too.

DSC_8295 I started by cutting out all the orange pieces.  I used a crayon and clear ruler to mark a one inch line all the way around the backside of each piece.


The fabric was folded over until the raw edge touched the line, then pinned and eventually sewn in place with tiny stitches done by hand. This meant every edge was finished with a half inch seam allowance.


I did the same thing for the velvet pieces.


 Then I made four and a half yards of piping from cord and velvet material. I ironed the piping open, then pinned and hand sewed it to the edges of the orange panels. This is very difficult to explain but the end result looked like this!

Soon after taking this photo I sewed the front seam together and finished the edges of the black panel on the righthand side. I did this with the same one inch foldover method.


Then I looked through my bead collection and came across some fake pearls, round black beads, and some dark seed beads which would compliment the project perfectly.


I didn’t make too much effort to keep things symmetrical, but I probably should have. I freehanded everything, which made it much faster, this step took a little less then ninety minutes to complete.


Once the beading was done I moved on to boning and lining. The garment definitely needed boning since the wigs had a tendency to fold over instead of sticking up.

I used hooping wire for boning, three pieces in each side. Not enough to get any reduction, but enough to give the garment some structure. I used cotton for lining and ribbon to create boning channels – I actually ran of of 3/4 inch ribbon part way through so I have two different channel sizes. Oops.


This is probably the prettiest lining job i’ve ever done. It was sewn in entirely by hand shortly after taking this photo.


I added eyelets and it was done! I ended up running out of this thread color before I could reinforce all the eyelets so I’ll  have to go back and finish them off whenever I get around to buying more in that shade.

For now it’s fine, wearable and pretty adorable if I do say so myself.

It felt like it was a pretty quick and easy project, but looking back it took about 18 hours over a three day period. This is mostly because the garment was almost entirely hand sewn.




Thanks for reading!


Posted by on August 21, 2014 in Original Designs, The Making Of


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Recreating Renaissance Fashion, Isabel de Requesens

I was doing so well with my twice weekly updates until now.

My only excuse is that this week was busy. I make a point to leave the house as little as possible, but I had nine days in a row where I had to make myself presentable and talk to people. I’ve also been trying to kickstart a lot of new projects which has been my main focus, I didn’t  try hard enough to find quiet time to write and edit anything exciting.

But I did get a few post outlines done, because I’m going to be prewriting a lot of things for the end of August, which is when i’m getting my wisdom teeth out.

Anyway, sorry for the delays! Regular posting should be back to normal. This post is the last in my Isabel series and focuses on making a ugly hat.

I looked around for Renaissance beret patterns but most of them focused on the gathered variant, which I didn’t want. So I decided to make my own – beret patterns are really easy to draft, but it’s a little tricky to figure out the sizing. Luckily my first educated guess was perfect so I didn’t have to make any changes.


Then I cut out my pattern from velvet and reinforced the pieces with a lightweight fusible interfacing.


The hat was way too floppy and refused to hold it’s shape. I tried adding boning, which failed miserably, then I had the bright idea to add horsehair to the seam. Nope. Bad Idea. Didn’t go well, it destroyed everything.


I tossed that hat and luckily had just enough fabric left to make another one. This time around I lined the hat with quilt batting hoping it would add enough volume to hold it’s shape, but not too much that would make it look like a fuzzy CD balanced on my head (the effect boning gave).

I basted the quilt batting and velvet layers together.


Then I basted the two pieces together and tried it on, and it was perfect!


I used a strip of lace to finish the…hem? I guess it’s a hem. The opening.


Then I rolled that over and sewed it down with a whip stitch and blanket stitch combo. I did this by hand so I could “ease” it open without puckering the fabric too badly.


I used my machine to fully secure the two pieces together, and then I had a fully functioning hat!

There is some puckering at the opening, but that’s inevitable. It’s also not visible when worn.


Then it was time for the beading – I didn’t follow the pattern from the painting identically, but it’s pretty close! I used beads I had on hand, aside from the weird rhinestone square ones, which I picked up from Michaels. I’d like to replace these with something more historical looking in the future, but they were the closest I could find without making an etsy order.


I started on the nipple center part first, which I created by sewing down an 8mm pearl and stitching seed beads around it. I probably should have used more opaque beads because the red is really visible through these, oops!


After that I freehanded the rest of it.


And that’s pretty much it. It was a nice little afternoon project that took around two hours from start to finish!

Unfortunately the off shoulder style of this design restricts my arm movement by a lot, so much so that i’m not sure I can take my typical tri pod shots. I haven’t actually tried, but I definitely will at some point this week. If it proves successful I’ll make a separate post with those photos.

But for now this will have to do! A few mirror selfies with a wild wig I need to tame.



As always, thanks for reading!


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Diaphanous Flower Dress, Part Two

Diaphanous Flower Dress, Part Two

Here is the second part of making my flowery dress! The first part, which talks about the skirt, can be found here!

The bodice of this dress is a simple sweetheart that drafted a few months ago for a different project. I actually planned to do a pattern making tutorial on this project, so I have nearly twenty five photos of how it was made! But this post will be long enough without those, so i’ll only show you two.

Here is the draped bodice on my dress form.


And here is what the finished pattern looks like!


Step one was cutting out all the pieces. This was made more difficult (by that I mean really annoying) by the fact I chose to make this bodice from sheer and slippery materials.


Each piece was cut from two layers of tulle, a layer of chiffon, and a layer of organza. After cutting them out I hand basted all the layers together. I also used tape to keep track of which pieces go were – they sort of all look the same!


The two front pieces were done a little bit differently, the tulle layers were assembled separately from the rest, this way I can attach flowers to the chiffon/organza layer and use the tulle as an overlay.


The pieces are sewn together with a three quarter inch seam allowance. All the seams are pressed open, then turned under to create a quarter inch wide pocket. This finishes off the seams really nicely and creates a channel you can slip boning into.


Here they are finished – not the most even stitching in the world, but this was my first time trying the technique, so i’m sure i’ll get better!


I repeated the process on my front panels, then inserted plastic boning into all the channels.

Once that was done I began the process of gluing flowers onto the bodice! I started with some petals.


I wanted to keep the flowers even on both sides, but I wasn’t aiming for perfect symmetry. Please ignore all the icky glue tails, a sweep with a lint roller removes them all!


At this point it was time to add the tulle overlay…which looked awful. The seams in the tulle looked terrible and I wasn’t happy with it all. I also really disliked how the center seam looks, so distracting!


I decided to cut the tulle to be all one piece, tulle has enough stretch that it doesn’t have to have a bust curve…at least not on me and my tiny bust.

For the center seam I decided to stitch a scattering of pearls and sparkly bits to create a little more visual interest, and hopefully, distract from the ugly seam.


Then I basted my tulle layer on top. I like how this looks so much more then my original plan, just shows that you shouldn’t be afraid to change things that aren’t working out, that’s part of being an artist!


I attached the front panels to the rest and added boning into that seam.


I took a minute to try it on and though I could fit into it, it was a little snug and I was worried about the tulle ripping. I added an extra (very small) panel on each side which gave an extra half inch of room. A half inch was all I needed, and it fit so much better!

Then I moved on to the waistband, which is the only opaque part of this costume. I made it from white cotton sateen with an overlay of chiffon and tulle.

The pieces were basted together.


Then the edges were turned under with a basting stitch.


I set this aside for a bit and used lace to finish the top and bottom edge of the bodice.


The waistband was pinned on.


Then the top of the waistband was sewn on with very tiny hand stitches.


The pins for the other side were removed and the skirt was sewn on.


Then the waistband was pinned down again.


And sewed on. It actually looked like a dress, which is great.


I trimmed a few threads and sewed in a zipper, and the whole thing was finished!

But it was missing something. That something was an obnoxious floral headpiece. I made a simple flower crown of sorts, I don’t have any photos of how I made it, but I do have a video tutorial! It can be watched here.

The finished thing looks like this!



And when that’s worn with the dress, the finished product looks like this.




So that’s that! This dress didn’t come out the way I had hoped, but i’m glad that I stepped outside of my comfort zone and made it, because it was fun!

I’m also really flattered and amazed by the positive feedback i’ve gotten on this project. It makes me really happy to know you guys like it!

Thanks for reading!


Posted by on August 7, 2014 in Original Designs, The Making Of


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