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Making a Structured Chemise a la Reine, Part Two

Making a Structured Chemise a la Reine, Part Two

The adventure of making a horribly inaccurate chemise a la reine continues! Part one shows the process of making the sleeves and skirt and can be read here.

Step one was making a pattern. I actually used the pattern for my “Glittery Gothic” dress as a base, then added seams and changed the neckline. I made a mock up of this before finalizing the pattern but still ended up running into problems with the fit.

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The bodice is made from two layers of polyester shantung, the lower layer serves as a base for the boning and doubles as lining. This is the lower layer, you can tell because all the channels are marked out in colored pencil!

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I made the boning channel from bias cut strips of shantung. This was a bad idea. At the time I had forgotten how much shantung puckers.

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Even after spending half an hour with my iron on the highest setting and a spray bottle of starch I couldn’t get all the puckers out. Such evil fabric.

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After I was done ironing I sewed the pieces together and pressed the seams open. Then I made marks one inch away from the neckline, these serve as a guide for getting an even half inch hem.

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The boning was inserted and each raw edge got pinned in place. I used a large running stitch to sew all the edges down.

I repeated this process with the top layer of fabric, but used much smaller stitches to secure the edges.

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Then I cut long strips of shantung and hemmed one edge – I used my sewing machine to hem this, which is quite the rarity for me these days! I gathered the top to create a long ruffle which eventually got sewn on to the bodice neckline.

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Then the lining was pinned in place. Since I did all the steps in the right order the lining covers the raw edge of the ruffles. I sewed the lining in with small whip stitches but made sure to leave the lower edge open.

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Look at how pretty it is!

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I embroidered eyelets up the back, then attached the sleeves. I used my usual method of combining the running stitch and whip stitch together to make sure they are really secure.

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Now that it had sleeves and eyelets I could try it on! At this point I realized the major fit issue, it’s too small at the shoulders and pulls in an uncomfortable way. It doesn’t look that bad, and I can deal with it, but i’m sad I didn’t notice it sooner.

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The ruffle on this dress was kind of crazy so I used long stitches to tack it down.

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Then it was time to add the skirt! I left the bottom of the bodice open intentionally so I could slip the skirt underneath the lining and keep things looking pretty. I sewed the skirt to the lining with a running stitch, then whip stitched it to the front and back.

It’s hard to explain but the end result looks nice!

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All the dress needed was a sash! I made this from a bias cut piece of silk taffeta. I did rolled hems on both edges and hand stitched them in place to avoid puckering.

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This is the finished dress on my dress form.

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And this is how it looks on me!

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I really love the shape of this dress, and aside from the problems with the shoulders i’m quite happy with it! I would still like to make a more accurate version at some point, but this definitely satisfied my urge to make a Chemise a la Reine.

I paired it with a black wig. I curled the wig with a 3/4″ curling iron, then recoiled most of the curls and secured them with bobby pins. I teased the front sections until I liked the volume and pinned them in place. I decorated the wig with fake flowers and things since I didn’t have enough fabric leftover for a headpiece.

I like the finished ensemble. The colors make me think of snow and wintery things!

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Thanks for reading!

 
 

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Making a 1840s Floral Red Dress, Part Two

I’m a few days late but here is the second part of making this floral lacy dress! Part one shows the process of making the bodice and can be read here. Today i’ll be talking about how I made the sleeves and skirt.

I went back and forth about what type of sleeves to make for this dress. I love huge frilly sleeves but the neckline of this dress has so much detail that big sleeves would take away from it. So instead I settled on small sleeves with a little bit of lace, which ended up being very similar to the ones shown in the painting I used for inspiration!

To create a pattern I measured the arm hole, measured my arm, and used a lot  of guess work when it came to the length and slopes.

I made a mock up from broadcloth and liked how they looked enough to turn them into a paper pattern which was used to cut them from my floral fabric!

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I also cut the pattern from muslin. I pinned the muslin and floral fabric together, then sewed around the top and sides. This created three finished edges and saved me from making bias tape and sewing french seams later on.

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I folded the fabrics inward by a half inch on the lowest edge to create the appearance of a finished edge and pressed them in place. Then I pinned lace in between the two layers.

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Then the lace was into place, this is what the sleeve interior looks like! I usually don’t make sleeves that allow for this method (It can’t be done on puffy sleeves without adding a lot of bulk) which sucks because it’s so easy and looks so nice.

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I did up the only remaining seam and the sleeves were done!

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I sewed them in place with small straight stitches, then went around the outside with a whip stitch to make sure they are secure.

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After the sleeves were done I sewed together my lining and pinned it in place. Aside from attaching the panel of buttons I think this is the only machine sewing on this costume.

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The lining was completely hand sewn in place. Once that was done the bodice was finished! The lining on this isn’t perfect but it’s pretty close, it’s the damn basque waist that always screws me up.

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Since the bodice is done it’s time to talk about the skirt! Like my last two 19th century dresses, the skirt is made up of one big rectangle. Because I didn’t have that much fabric this skirt is only one hundred inches wide, which makes it look a little weird over petticoats.

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I marked out the hem line in pen.

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I did a sort of strange hem on this dress, the selvage was rolled over and basted in place, then the new edge of the fabric was rolled over to create a two inch hem. I used a cross stitch for securing this hem, since it’s kind of fun to do and you don’t see any stitches from the exterior of the garment!

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Then I gathered the top of the skirt. They aren’t large enough to be called cartridge pleats, but I used the same method just with quarter inch wide stitches. There are two rows of gathers, each a half inch apart. I left sixteen inches ungathered in the front, which was turned into a four inch wide box pleat.

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I pinned the skirt onto the bodice and sewed it in place with a whip stitch. This took ages and I ran into so many problems, my  thread was so tangly and broke a half dozen times during this process.

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After the skirt was stitched on I sewed it up with a french seam, I left a six inch opening in the back to make this dress easy to get into. The opening closes with five small snaps.

Once the back was all figured out the dress was done! I’m really pleased with this dress. It’s so girly and lacy, just looking at it makes me smile. I’m also proud that I managed to make this dress from start to finish in forty eight hours, without sacrificing the quality of the finished garment.

I think I might do more forty eight hour challenges in the future, hopefully they will all be as satisfying as this one!

I have a whole bunch of photos of this dress laying flat, but no worn images just yet. I’ll post those next week along with a write up on how I made a matching headpiece.

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Thanks for reading!

 

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Making a Structured Chemise a la Reine, Part One

Today i’m starting a new series. This series actually started on October 1st when I began working on this dress, I just haven’t talked about it until today.

I’ve come up with the idea to pair centuries of fashion with months, then focus on that time period all month long. This month is “18th Century October” and if all goes well I’ll try to do “19th Century November”

My goal for this month is to make two dresses. But i’m hoping to make a frock coat too.

Dress number one is a really inaccurate Chemise a la Reine. These are usually loose garments made from very lightweight muslin or cotton, they are built like chemises (made from large rectangles), and tie at the waist and sleeves to create body definition. They usually had a drawstring at the neck and ties up the front or back.

I’ve wanted to make one for a long time. Just because I like the story behind how they came to exist. Unfortunately I didn’t have the materials on hand, or the ability to get them any time soon – finding light enough weight muslin is surprisingly difficult!

So I decided to make a more structured version out of fabrics I had around. Structured versions of the Chemise a la Reine did exist, but certainly not to this extent. I am completely aware this is horribly inaccurate and i’m sorry to anyone who is offended by it! Hopefully I can make a more accurate version in the future.

For this dress i’m using five yards of white polyester shantung and a half yard of blue silk taffeta, which makes the overall cost for this project around $20.

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Today i’ll be talking about making the sleeves and skirt, a little backwards from how I usually do it but for this dress I actually started with the skirt and sleeves!

The skirt is one very large rectangle, it was 58″ by 126″.

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I originally did a half inch rolled hem. I decided on this because I thought this fabric was only 56″ wide which didn’t give me much room for a hem!

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Of course after I spent over two hours hemming it by hand I realized the mistake, my fabric was actually 58 inches wide! A few days later I stitched it up to be two and a half inches shorter.

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On another note, I have NEVER pricked myself so many times when working on a costume, even when hemming I kept jabbing my thumb! The same thing happened when I was sewing the lining in.

Of course this has nothing to do with my hand sewing ability, and everything to do with the fact I was working with white fabric. White fabric loves to get stained. I kept my workspace really clean to avoid any staining, which is why the fabric kept making me prick myself.

That’s just how white fabric works.

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Anyway! Then the skirt was gathered down to be twenty eight inches at the waist, I left one inch on each side free of gathers so I could do the back up with a french seam. Polyester shantung frays a lot so this was pretty much my only option.

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Here it is draped over my dress form. I used a small bumroll, a quilted petticoat (gathered at the top), and a tulle/cotton (a-line) petticoat to achieve this shape. I’m so happy with it, it’s got a lot of volume without being too much.

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That was pretty much it for the skirt, so it’s time to talk about the sleeves! I made a pattern that looks like this, it’s a slightly altered rectangle that is thirty three inches wide at the largest point.

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The fabric versions looked like this! I drew lines in the center where they had to be gathered down.

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The sleeves were also gathered at the wrist, and later on I’ll gather the tops. Once inch of material was left ungathered because i’ll also be sewing these up with a french seam.

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Once that was done I made the “ties” from blue taffeta. Since this is an inaccurate structured version these aren’t actually ties, they are sewn directly on.

Each one was cut to be one inch wide, then the edges were folded over and ironed down to create a half inch wide band.

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These got sewn on with tiny stitches, silk taffeta puckers like crazy, as you can see below. But when worn these bands look smooth and lovely!

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Then the tops of each sleeve were gathered.

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And then it was time to add the cuffs. These were made from two inch wide strips of shantung. I folded the raw edges towards the center, pressed them in place, then pressed the finished edges together. This created half inch wide strips with two finished edges…the same way double fold bias tape is made!

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These also got sewn on with very tiny stitches!

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The sleeves weren’t done yet, the tops were still pretty ugly and frayed a lot. To fix that I made more bias tape from shantung and sewed that on to hide the raw edge.

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All that was left was to sew up the seam! These were supposed to be french seams but I goofed up and sewed them like regular seams (right sides together) then trimmed the edge before realizing I had done it wrong.

Shantung frays too much for me to rip the stitches out, so I sewed another seam a half inch further in and covered the raw edge with bias tape.

And no one will ever have to know about the mistake….

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Here are the finished sleeves!

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Next week i’ll talk about making the bodice and stitching it all together.

Thanks for reading!

 

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Making a Glittery Gothic Dress, Part Two

This is the second part in my glittery gothic adventures, part one talks about the bodice and can be read here!

Since I didn’t have very many flowers I decided to make this skirt a half circle instead of a three quarter circle (like my previous flower dresses). Looking back on it I regret this because it didn’t create a very nice silhouette, this type of dress really works better with a fuller skirt!

 I cut the pattern from black broadcloth, but since all my flowers were black they didn’t really pop against the fabric, they blended in and looked terrible.

My solution was spray painting the hem silver to get a grey foggy effect. I think it worked really nicely, it looks interesting but keeps with the spooky/black theme, which normal grey fabric wouldn’t.

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 Even though I was happy with the paint job on the skirt I had no clue what direction to take this project in. It sat on my dress form for several days looking like this and I debated about scrapping the idea and giving up.

Part of the problem was the bat wing bodice (which was a huge failure) but just in general I wasn’t sure how to arrange the flowers and decorations in a way that wouldn’t look silly. My attempts with pinning things on to get a feel for how they would look just made things worse since it looked so bad.

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 I still wanted to move forward with this project so I decided to dive in and hope for the best. Just because one or two flowers looked bad doesn’t mean twenty will…or so I hoped!

Step one was hemming it, I used black two inch horsehair braid to add a bit of lift to the skirt. My sewing machine foot left tracks in the paint which was weird since I left it to dry for several days!

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DSC_9154The skirt totally retaliated by getting paint all over my hand and machine. I really wouldn’t recommend the whole spray painting fabric method because the paint seems to stick to everything else rather then the fabric, and it’s tough to get off.

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Then it was time for flowers. Despite my worries I was really excited about this, everything was so sparkly it was hard not to feel giddy!

I arranged this all on a table because I knew if I tried to do this on my rug I would never get all the glitter off.

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Then I started gluing stuff on. It took me a while to get the hang of it, working with flowers that were all the same color was a bigger challenge than I had expected, but in a fun way. I had to pay more attention and plan things out a bit more to get them to look the way I wanted.

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Here is what it looked like with all the flowers added! I’m really happy with it. It isn’t quite what I had imagined but I think it came together really nicely, it’s tacky but not in a really obnoxious way, which is impressive considering the materials I was working with!

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Then it was time for tulle. I used a piece that was five yards wide and twice as long as the waist-to-hem measurement of the skirt.

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Once it was cut out I gathered each edge and secured them at the waist of the skirt.

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Here is what it looks like with all the tulle sewn on!

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But the skirt still wasn’t finished. Though I really liked how it was decorated  the silhouette still wasn’t very nice. It looked too small and sad. To try and oomf it up a bit (that’s a technical term) I decided to add gathered pieces of bat material. Doesn’t that sound like a fantastic idea?

This would add more volume on the sides of the skirt without covering any of the decorations . It also helped blend the skirt and bodice together since the bodice has a bat fabric overlay but the skirt does not. Plus I can say it’s super loosely inspired by panniers which go nicely with my stay inspired bodice shape.

To make these I had to steal fabric from my failed Morticia costume, which I made last year around this time. The fabric was actually cut and sewn into the skirt as godets and seam ripping them out was a huge pain!

They were already cut into diamonds, which made triangles when they were folded in half. I didn’t want to make them any smaller so I decided to leave them in this shape and gather the tops down.

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It worked surprisingly well!

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I sewed those onto the waist of the skirt, then sewed the bodice to the skirt.

DSC_9197The skirt got sewn up the back and it was done! On and I paired it with a sash made from iridescent black/silver mesh. I like these photos since they were taken in front of a window and you can see the glitter!

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And here are some poor mirror shots that show it full length.

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DSC_9198That’s about it for this costume! I also made a headpiece and necklace but I didn’t take many (any) photos of the process. I will have a video tutorial about them so maybe i’ll post a link whenever I get it uploaded.

And I tried to get photos of the whole ensemble but everything went wrong and after three hours I was left with zero usable photos. Tomorrow i’m going to try again and hopefully get some better shots to show it all together!

Thanks for reading!

 
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Posted by on October 9, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Making a 1840s Floral Red Dress, Part One

This project was really spontaneous. Usually i’m a planner and I think about things for days or weeks before starting on them, but this project is an exception. I was feeling overwhelmed by other projects and wanted a break, but I still wanted to be productive. So I decided to make something new, and to try and make it from start to finish in forty eight hours!

I succeeded and in two days I had a fabulous [18]40’s dress.

The dress is a bit odd. Probably because I made it on a whim and spent about five minutes planning it before I got to drafting. The skirt and fabric choices are the type you would see on a day dress, but it’s an evening style bodice, so it’s kind of all over the place. However I still think it’s really lovely and I adore the end result because it’s so girly and delicate!

The original inspiration was this painting, I really loved the neckline and sleeves with the lace trim. I chose to use the floral home decor fabric I got many months ago in April, along with the matching buttons and a few yards of lace I bought on etsy over two years ago.

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I started by pleating a panel of fabric for the collar, then draped everything around that.

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When I was happy with that I removed it from the dress form and made a proper paper pattern. I’m really pleased that I managed to draft this without any seams in the front…even though front seams are more historically accurate I like how it looks without them so much more.

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The first piece I tackled was the pleated neckline, because I knew it would be the most difficult part.

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After cutting it out I marked all the pleat lines with a colored pencil.

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I used my iron on the highest setting and a very potent starch/water mixture to make sure these would stay in place.

DSC_8933When the pleats were finished I cut each panel down to match the “finished collar size” pattern, which will be used to cut out the lining later on.

I sewed across the front edge of the panels to keep the pleats in place when sewing the front seam.

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To make sure they would line up I pinned them very carefully, then used a pen and ruler to mark exactly where the seam needed to be.

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I hand basted across the line I drew.

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And they lined up perfectly, yay!

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I repinned the panels together, then sewed the seam with my machine.  I pressed the seam “open” from the front and back to make everything really flat.

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And they looked pretty damn good! Not completely perfect but pretty close.
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I set aside the collar and moved on to the main part of the bodice, which is made up of three pieces.

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On the back panels I sewed in loops of ribbon, my plan was that the bodice could be laced up, then closed with a false front of buttons and snaps.

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Once all the pieces were sewn together the ribbon became encased in the seams.

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I set my bodice aside and resumed work on the collar. The next step involved tacking the pleats down. I do this by marking out lines every three inches and pinning the pleats in place.

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Then using a matching thread color and tiny whip stitches I secure the pleats together. If done right the stitches should not be visible from the front.

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Once the tacking was finished I hemmed both edges.

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I also hemmed the lower edge and arm holes on the bodice.

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Before attaching my collar I added the lace. This lace was originally a pure, bright, blue toned white that didn’t match at all. I put it in a plastic bag with hot water and two tea bags for ten minutes until it was the ivory tone I wanted.

I draped and pinned it to the neckline until I liked how it looked, then trimmed it and repeated the process on the other side.

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Here is how it looks cleaned up, just before it was sewn down.

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 After the lace was sewn down I attached the pleated neckline.

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Lastly I attached buttons and snaps to two strips of floral material. These serve as the closures on the bodice and were stitched on to the center back.

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On the finished bodice they look like this!

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Next week I’ll talk about adding the lining, making sleeves, and the skirt.

Thanks for reading!

 

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Making a Glittery Gothic Dress, Part One

A few months ago I shared some pretty controversial news about my hatred towards Summer. Surprisingly I received a lot of positive feedback from likeminded people, which is why i’m feeling brave enough to make another statement. This time about a beloved holiday: Halloween

I don’t like it. At all.

Honestly my favorite thing about October 31st is that the craze l ends and I can stop hearing about it and seeing posts related to it. That probably sounds really bad. Like i’m some sort of halloween grinch. Sorry.

I enjoyed it when I was much younger, but I grew out of it before I was in my teens. I used to think it was pretty silly and didn’t understand why it was even considered a holiday, and I still feel that way. But it seems I’m the only one since every year people are bursting with Halloween spirit as soon as October comes along.

I know I should like it, someone passionate about costumes should appreciate a “holiday” centered around them.  However I love costumes so much that I wear them whenever I feel like it, I don’t confine my costume ideas and wear time into a single day.

All that being said – you guys know I have a huge weakness when it comes to seasonal decor. Even though I dislike halloween, and orange is my least favorite color, and gore makes me want to puke, I found myself in the Halloween section of Michaels on a fateful Monday night.

And I left with $70 of halloween, and weirdly, christmas decorations with a project in mind.

Paired with a trip to Joanns and the weirdly tempting pile of crappy polyester that is the Spirit halloween collection and the project was confirmed. I already showed my haul for this project in my progress report last month, so go browse that if you want to see the raw materials before I tore them apart for this project!

My original idea looked like this. I wanted it to be similar to my other flower dresses but with an edgy twist.

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 I wanted the bodice to be shaped like bat wings, which was a neat idea in theory but didn’t end up looking that great. Since I have a pretty small chest there wasn’t enough room to get the shapes the way I wanted.

But I figured it would be okay and moved forward with the idea.

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I actually added all the boning and hemmed the edges before realizing it just wasn’t working. It looked like something you could buy from a Halloween store and the shapes were more spidery than batty.

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So I trashed that. As in literally threw it in the trash and started over. Instead I took it in a different, simpler direction. I decided to make a vaguely 18th century stays reminiscent bodice that would give a conical shape and tie at the shoulders and up back.

The pattern looked like this.

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I managed to reuse all the boning from my failed bodice, so that was good. The boning channels were made from one inch wide strips of cotton broadcloth that had the edges folded over.

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I cut my bodice base from the same broadcloth, then marked the boning channels and “hem line” where the edge will be folded over.

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All the boning channels were sewn in place and boning was added.

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I was happy with it but it looked really cheap, which isn’t surprising since broadcloth is less than $3 a yard. To fancy it up a bit I took some black mesh and stitched it on as an overlay. This was purchased from the spirit fabric line at Joanns a few years ago, it has spiderwebs and bats stitched into the mesh, it’s really cute!

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After that was sewn in place I rolled all the edges over and sewed them down.

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Warning: if you have a fear of glitter I would suggest skipping this part

Then it was time for the fun part, embellishing! I saved some glittery bats, leaves, and spiders for this along with the orange and silver christmas decorations. Unlike my previous flower dresses, there aren’t any flowers in the bodice.

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I was really torn about how this looked, but it’s grown on me over time! I think it’s really strange and pretty.

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I removed any glue strings and added the tulle overlay. I was surprised to find that it looked very sheer. I was hoping it would subdue the decorations a bit and make everything a bit less intense, but that didn’t happen!

The tulle does still have a purpose though, it keeps glitter from escaping.

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The edges of the tulle were rolled over and stitched down. Then I added silver grommets to the shoulders.

These days I usually hand embroider eyelets but I thought the contrast of the silver grommets would look better in this particular garment.

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I cut strips of my batty mesh material and used those as ties at the shoulder.

To finish off the garment I sewed black bias tape around the interior to cover any ugly edges.

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Then I added grommets to the back and it was done! It didn’t turn out the way I had planned but I think it’s cute, sparkly, and tacky without looking cheap. So it meets all my goals for this project.

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Here is the bodice worn, this is a few steps further along after it had been sewed to the skirt and I added a sash.

It fits really nicely and I like how the neckline turned out!

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Next week i’ll talk about making the skirt and assembling it all together. I also have some historical projects coming up this month, if you are getting sick of fashiony stuff just wait around a bit longer!

Thanks for reading!

 
9 Comments

Posted by on October 3, 2014 in Original Designs, The Making Of

 

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Making a Fall Flower Fairy, Part Three

DSC_9101RESIZEThis is the final post in my Fall Flower Fairy series, but I should be getting photographs of this project soon, so this isn’t the last you’ll see of it! The first two posts can be found here and here.

This post will cover the process of making the headpiece and wand, but I skimped a little bit on the photographs. If you are interested in seeing the start to finish process I have a video that shows me making the accessories, and it can be watched here!

If you recall my post about making the skirt, I made the tulle layer to long and had to cut off quite a bit.

DSC_8872 I saved this bit and ended up using it as the base for this crown. I also used some Christmas ribbon and a bit of plastic boning.

As per usual I measured my head, then cut the boning a little longer than the measurement. The ribbon, which will be used to cover the boning was cut to be an inch longer.

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I started by stitching the tulle onto the ribbon, then I trimmed the edges to make everything even.

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 I folded the ribbon upward and sewed it into a channel, then threaded the boning through. When that was done I stitched the ends together and bam, I had a crown!

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 …Then I hot glued a bunch of crap onto it. That is literally the entire process. I used lot’s of fake berries, feathers, grain, and even fake pumpkins to make this look a bit more unique and less generic. I think I was successful, it certainly doesn’t look like any flower crown i’ve seen before.

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 Some nicer photos of the finished piece.

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Since i’ve used the word fairy in the title of this project I wanted to make a wand. Okay, so that’s kind of an excuse, the main reason I wanted to make a wand is because i’m terribly awkward in photos, especially when it comes to my hands. A prop is a good distraction from this.

I decided to use a walking stick as a base. My Grandpa carved this one for me when I was very young and i’ve grown so much that it’s nowhere near tall enough to be functional. It has some sentimental value, but has been collecting dust in the basement for eight years, so I was happy to find a use for it.

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It has my name carved into it and everything!

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 I used an empty ribbon spool as a base for flowers.

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…Then glued flowers onto it. I don’t know why I didn’t take any photos of this process, but clearly, I didn’t.

It was pretty straightforward, a lot of fiddling around and holding things in place for many minutes since hot glue is a lot less function when it comes to non porous materials!! Flowers kept falling off since I didn’t hold them for long enough, it  was quite the mess. But i’m happy with the end result, I think it’s cute, and certainly fit for a fairy!

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 Here are some worn photos of the whole thing together.

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DSC_9101RESIZE Thanks for reading!

 
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Posted by on September 26, 2014 in Original Designs, The Making Of

 

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