Making a Floral Regency Dress, Part One

It’s been almost two weeks since my last post, which is pretty awful. I had a month where I was feeling very uninspired and didn’t get very much done. Then my family was traveling and I ended up going almost two weeks without sewing, for me that’s kind of crazy since I usually sew everyday.

But i’m back in the swing of things now! I have a few new projects already started, and plans for several more. I’m feeling really enthusiastic about all of them so I think this next month will be a lot more productive. And the more productive I am, the more blog posts I write, so I should be getting back to my twice a week schedule soon.

As much as I want to post about the things i’m actively working on, I should probably start by blogging about the dress I finished almost a month ago.

I’ve already written about making the bonnet that goes with this dress, that post can be read here. But today i’ll be talking about the process of making the actual dress.

This dress was inspired by a set of curtains. Yes, this is another curtain dress. When I was in Ikea I saw this set which reminded me of Chintz print dresses from the early 1800s.


The more I’ve worked on this project the more modern I think this fabric looks. It definitely has a different color palette than chintz dresses had a couple hundred years ago, and the pattern is a little more abstract. I still really like the fabric, but i’m not sure if it was the best choice for a historical project.


After I bought the curtains I began searching for inspiration online. Almost a year ago I pinned a few photos of this dress, which I decided to use as my main reference point for this project. I also used this blog post for more reference images, since it has many detailed photos of the back of regency bodices.


Then I got to draping the pattern. This was quite tricky to drape since I wanted a low neckline, but not too low. And I wanted a tightly gathered bust, but not so tightly gathered that it looked bulky. It was difficult to balance those things but after a lot of fiddling I had something I was happy with!




When it was removed from the dress form it looked like this. I ironed it, then copied it onto paper and added seam allowances.


And here is the paper pattern.


After making a mock up I decided I was happy with the pattern. So I cut each piece out twice, once from the curtain fabric, and again from a white linen which will be used as lining.


Then the front side of the bodice was gathered down by hand.


When the gathering was finished the back panel and strap got sewn on.

I did a quick little fit test here before moving on.


Then the raw edge around the armhole got turned over and sewn down.


Here you can see the peculiar patterning on the back. This was very common on regency dresses and I actually really like how it looks. The only thing I don’t like is drafting sleeves that fit into those funny arm holes…


I went ahead and sewed together my lining. Then it was gathered and had the edges around the armholes turned over.


Now it was time for the dreaded sleeves. But for once this went surprisingly well! I drafted a pattern with a few measurements and a lot of guess work and didn’t have to make any alterations! The mock up fit perfectly. So that was awesome.


The sleeves got cut out and darts were sewn in.


Then the bottom edge was turned under.


And the back seam was done up with french seams.


The sleeves got sewn on by hand with little whip stitches.


Now it was time for lining. I pinned the lining to the neckline of the bodice with the right sides facing each other, then stitched a half inch away from the edge. When it was turned the right way out the neckline had a finished edge. Then I topstitched around the neckline by hand, to keep the lining in place.

The lining at the back, bottom, and around the armholes was left open. Eventually the lining around the armholes was whip stitched down, so it covers the top edge of the sleeves, which was left raw. The back and bottom edges can’t be sewn down until the back closures and skirt are attached, so that will be done later on.


Here it is with the lining sewn in!


And here it is on my dress form. As I said, I don’t love this print for a historical costume, but I am pretty pleased with how this bodice turned out. Two of my recent (as in within the last year) big project failures have been Regency era pieces, so i’m happy to finally have one go as planned!

And as a bonus, it’s really comfortable compared to most of my historical dresses.



Thanks for reading – I think I will have a fabric haul up on Friday!


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Making a Damask Print Medieval Dress, Part Two

It took me almost a month to get to this point, but it’s finally time to talk about the sleeves for this dress! I’m not sure why this project has dragged on so long, it’s such a simple design. But it’s almost done now! Which is great because I have new projects I want to get started on.

Part one of making this costume can be read here, and a video about making the sleeves is posted here!

This is one of the sleeves cut out. The hem is thirty inches long which is pretty massive for sleeves!


Speaking of hems, they got turned under by three quarters of an inch and sewn down by hand.


The back seam was sewn as a half inch french seam. Even though these sleeves will be lined this fabric frays so much that I felt this was necessary.


I took a minute to rest the sleeves on the dress form and they actually looked pretty good! I really like the shape.


I pinned the fake fur trim onto the hem of each sleeve then sewed it on with a slip stitch. I whip stitched the fur together at the back instead of seaming it, which worked surprisingly well, you can’t even see it. I did this because the fur is super thick and I didn’t want to add the bulk by sewing it as a regular seam.



Now it was time for the lining. I cut the lining out using the same sleeve pattern. They were cut from the really thin cotton which was also used to line the bodice.


I also cut out two 2″ wide strips of cotton, which were cut on the fabrics bias. Then the edges got folded inward to create one inch wide bias tape.


Then the back seam was done up. This pattern had a one inch seam allowance included so the top layer could be sewn with a french seam. But the lining doesn’t fray much at all, so I sewed it as a regular one inch seam.


The lining was tucked inside the sleeve and they were sewn together at the top edge. After I did that I realized I had forgot something kind of important – the opening on the right sleeve. Without this you can’t actually get into the bodice…

So I pulled out my seam ripper and opened the top three inches of the sleeve. I ironed the edge so it was folded over and repeated the process with the lining. Then I whip stitched the lining around the opening to keep it in place. This opening lines up with the laced side of the bodice and gives enough room for the bodice to get over my shoulders.


With that fixed, I carried on by sewing the bias tape onto the tops of the sleeves. This was done just to cover the raw edge.


The bottom edge of the lining was folded inward and pinned to the top edge of the fake fur trim.


It got sewn down with whip stitches and the sleeves were done!



Here they are on the dress form. I think the fur trim should be a little wider, the proportions are a little weird in my opinion. But it’s being used as trim, not as a cuff, so I think it’s okay. I was originally worried about how the fur would look with this fabric, since there isn’t much contrast it could have really clashed. But I’ve decided that I like the combination, so that’s good!


The sleeves got gathered slightly at the top, then sewed to the bodice. The seam allowance at the sleeve tops got whip stitched to the lining so the interior looks super smooth.


The outside looks pretty okay too!



I like how this is coming out, and i’ve liked working on it, but i’m kind of over it. I have so many future plans (a couple which are from a similar time period) and i’m itching to work on those. So i’m a bit fed up with this project even though it’s going smoothly. Luckily it should be done soon, then I can start on wonderful new things!

Thanks for reading!


Posted by on September 25, 2015 in Historically Inspired, The Making Of


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Making a Cotton Sateen Regency Bonnet

Usually I post about making a dress, then post about making matching accessories. But today I felt like blogging about making this bonnet, so i’m doing things a little backwards.

I’ve recently finished a regency themed dress made from a red and white floral fabric. I showed a little preview of it in my last progress report, and a blog post about the process will be up in the coming weeks. The dress has a bright print but is very simple in design, which makes it an excellent candidate for accessories. I decided to pair it with a bonnet made from cotton sateen and a pair of white shoes. This post will be about making the bonnet and decorating the shoes.

I’m not very familiar with bonnets from the early 1800s so I did a bit of research. It seems cotton caps were more common than bonnets, but I didn’t think those would be very flattering on me or look nice with the dress. After a lot of searching I found reference images that I liked. The first is on the bottom left of this print and the second is shown here. My plan was to combine the brim from the second image with the cap/banding of the first image.

Here is my sketch illustrating that plan…I draw really badly sometimes.


The brim and back of the bonnet are made from interfacing with wire in the edges. The outside will be covered with red cotton sateen and the interior will be white. I also chose to make the cap portion flexible and made entirely from fabric, with no base.


And I have some fake flowers and pearls which I wanted to use as decoration.


With a bit of a plan in mind it was time to get to work!

I never really know where to start when it comes to bonnets, so I tried to drape the brim shape on a wig head. That process looked a bit like this…


When it was removed from the form it looked like this!


I made it a little bit larger to account for the fact that my wig head is smaller than my head.


And I had a pattern! It looked about right when I held it up to my head, so I used the pattern as a guide and cut out the interfacing. This is heavy duty felt weight interfacing, which i’ve used for headpieces in the past. I should have used buckram, but I still haven’t ordered any.

(it’s on my list, i’ll get to it someday…)

The interfacing sat weirdly on my head, it looked much different and way larger than the newsprint layer. So I cut several inches off each side. I don’t regret doing this, but I wish I hadn’t cut off so much. My bonnet ended up being a little bit too small and sits farther back on my head than I would like.


Using my sketch as a guide I drafted a back panel which will cup my neck and attach to the brim. This also got cut out of interfacing.


Then I whip stitched wire to each edge. This allows the bonnet to be shaped.


To cover up the wire and texture of the interfacing I sewed flannel over the top side of each piece. I did a really awful job of this, but that’s okay, no one will see it.


The top layer of the back piece are bands of cotton sateen. I made these bands by sewing three inch wide strips of cotton sateen into tubes, then turning them right side out and ironing them.


The bands got sewn on but I left the top and bottom edge open. The lining got tucked into the open edges and sewn down. Eyelet lace will eventually be sewn under the bottom band, and the top band will hide the raw edge of the lace used for the cap. So  these were left open for the time being.


This is the interior.


I decided on the wider eyelet lace since it matched the color of the dress better (the other was a little too yellow) it was pinned underneath the bottom band.


And all sewn down! It looks a little ripply right now, but when it’s bent more tension is put on the bands and they look smooth.


I skipped a few steps here, oops The brim was covered with flannel and cotton sateen. Then I cut out a piece of poplin to the same size as the brim with a half inch seam allowance across the bottom edge. I didn’t like how the poplin looked on its own, so I covered it with a gathered layer of silk organza. Then the bottom edge was tucked underneath and pinned to hide the raw edge. Here you can see it pinned in place.


I whip stitched around the top edge and the sides to secure the layers in place, but I left the bottom edge open.



I made a little bit of bias tape (I had maybe an inch leftover when this was done!) out of some lace. I sewed this around the top and side edges to finish them nicely.



Now the two pieces were mostly done and could be sewn together. Here they are pinned in place. I sewed them together with thread that was doubled up. I was sewing through two layers of stiffened felt so I used a big needles and pliers to help guide it.


And when that was done I cut out the cap. I took a few measurements and then guessed what the shape and size should be. Not the most professional method but it worked!


The bottom edge was gathered slightly then tucked between the top band and the layer of lining. I sewed it in place with small whip stitches.


Then the top  layers was gathered slightly towards the center and pinned between the brim and the brim lining.



Here is a shot of how it looked inside.


And after everything had been sewn down! After all that work it was finally starting to look like a bonnet.



I made up some ties from strips of cotton sateen. These got sewn just inside the interior of the bonnet. And then it was time for decorating!

The roses I planned on using for decorating were a bright orangey red which didn’t really match. So I used a watercolor brush and some copic inks to darken the edges to a deeper shade.The one in the middle/slightly towards the left is unpainted so you can see the difference.


I glued those on along with the pearly strands of white flowers, and it was done!



I think this bonnet is very pretty, and i’m happy with the shape and construction. But I made it too small, so I don’t love how it sits on my head. I also need to add another tie, or combs to the back because it is really unflattering on my jaw when it is tied tightly, but it tends to shift and fall when it’s tied loosely.

I attempted to take photos of this worn but the lighting went to crap and I didn’t end up with usable images. But I did get a bit of video footage of me wearing it (I was filming it for a costume spotlight) and that can be watched here!

Now onto the shoes. I actually plan on making a pair of Regency slippers from leather and velvet in the near future, since I want them to match a dress i’ll be starting soon. But I didn’t make these shoes, I bought them from amazon, you can see the listing here.

They aren’t very comfortable or well made, but for $18 I wasn’t expecting a lot. I bought them because I really liked the pointed toe, and found the silhouette to be quite similar to shoes from the early 1800s.


Funnily enough the model of these shoes is “Angie – 18” which is my name and current age, which is kind of a weird coincidence!


I made some bias tape from cotton sateen. It was folded in half and glued down around the foot opening with the creased edge being visible. I used E6000 to secure it and a few dozen binder clips to keep it in place while the glue dried. The raw edge was trimmed with pinking shears and dipped in fray check to prevent it from unraveling in the future.

Then I made cute little bows for the front.


Here they are with the bows attached! I glued on some of the pearl/white fake flowers as well. I’m really happy with how these look.

I just wish I had used a little more precision with the glue gun! There is some visible glue which i’m not very proud of. I might try and fix that in the future, but even if I don’t it’s not a big deal. I doubt anyone will be getting that close to my feet, or even see these underneath my dress!



And that’s it for the accessories! I’ll talk about the dress that goes with them soon.

Thanks for reading!


Posted by on September 17, 2015 in 19th century, The Making Of


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Making a Black Lace Dress, Part Three


We are onto the third and final blog post about this dress! Part one shows the process of making the bodice, part two shows the skirt, and this part will cover making the collar and adding the final touches. I also have video “progress logs” about this project posted here.

The most unique part of this dress is the collar.  This was a big part of what attracted me to the dress I used as inspiration, and what I was most excited to replicate. Unfortunately my materials didn’t let me do that.

I had planned on making the collar from ruched lace. That didn’t go so well. Since the lace print consists of solid floral designs and sheer mesh I ended up with areas completely opaque, and others that were very sheer. Even though it was gathered properly it looked uneven and messy. My only other option was using the point d’esprit netting for the collar, but I didn’t like how it looked gathered either. The stiffness of this netting makes it bulky when it’s gathered, which isn’t very flattering in the arm area.

So after a very frustrating evening I gave up on my pretty draped neckline and chose to pleat the netting instead. This way the netting will lay flat and won’t add bulk, it just looks nothing like what I had planned.

I pleated large rectangles down by eye – I didn’t want to leave any visible marks on the mesh so I tried my best to make them even without the help of a ruler.

Before attaching the collar I sewed the black lace around the neckline, with only the scalloped edge extending past the bodice. Once the collar is sewn on only the scalloped edge will be visible. I did this partially to created some contrast, since the netting is similar to my skin tone, and also to imitate the way the scalloped edge of black lace meets the netting on the skirt.


I sacrificed some skin from my knuckles (holy mother of pin pricks this process was not fun) and spent an hour pinning and arranging the collar in a way I liked.


I put it on my dress form and was surprisingly happy with it. Does it look anything like I had planned? Nope. But once I got over that, I started to appreciate it for what it is, not what it was supposed to be. That isn’t ideal, but sometimes it happens. And what matters is that in the end I had a dress I really liked!


It  looked surprisingly like the sketch I made for this project before studying the Mairlyn dress. I sort of forgot about this, and chose to go in a different direction after sketching this, but the dress looks almost identical to it! I guess sometimes your first instincts for what to do with fabric are the best ones.


I sewed the collar on and tacked the pleats down with a whole bunch of hidden stitches. I also gathered the collar slightly on each side of the armholes, which makes it sit a little nicer on my arms.



Here it is worn. This was my first time trying it on so I was a bit nervous! Luckily the collar looked pretty, more symmetrical than I had expected, and it fit my arms. Those were the three things I was concerned about and to have them all be non-issues was a pleasant surprise.


Now it was time for rhinestones! A little while ago Creative Crystal sent me the bejeweler pro tool, which is for hotfix rhinestones. It is supposed to pick them up, melt the glue, then drop the crystal when it’s pressed against the surface you are embellishing. When I decided to buy rhinestones for this project I chose to buy them from the same store so I could give it a try.

I bought two hundred 3mm crystals, and two hundred 4mm ones. The 8mm ones were sent to me along with the tool, and they are all in the shade Jet. This project has pretty low fabric costs (maybe $30? the lace and netting were cheap) so I could justify spending the $27 for swarovski crystals…though I definitely won’t make a habit of it!

I felt the tool worked really well for the 3mm ones, it picked them up and melted the glue very quickly. The 4mm ones were kind of a hassle, the tool wouldn’t pick the stones up at all so they had to be placed by hand before using the tool to heat them. But the process was definitely cleaner and faster than it would be if I was using E6000 and the stones felt very secure once attached. So I kind of have mixed, but mostly positive feelings towards it.


I placed a bunch of 3mm ones underneath the collar.


And you can’t really tell, but 4mm crystals were placed in the center of each dot on the scalloped lace that trims the neckline.


But most of the stones went into the skirt. I placed them somewhat randomly on the lower four inches of the lace. They look really pretty in certain lights, but aren’t as noticeable as I had hoped. I think it’s my own fault for buying black stones and placing them on black fabric, but still, i’m a bit disappointed!


With the skirt and bodice done it was time to focus on attaching them to each other. But before doing that I cut out the lining and assembled it.


Then I pinned the lining into the bodice.I only stitched it down around the neckline, the lower edge and back edges were left open and will be sewn down once the skirt and zipper are attached.


It was at this point I realized the bodice wasn’t quite as symmetrical as I had thought. From the front it looked pretty good, but the pleats did not line up in the back. Luckily I had the perfect solution: Use a bow and cover that shit up. This isn’t the most professional solution, but I had wanted to put a bow on the back of this dress from the beginning.  I just placed it a little bit higher so it has a benefit other than being adorable.

The bow attaches with two hooks/bars after the bodice is zipped up, so if you are some  strange person who is offended by bows you can take comfort in the fact that it’s detachable.


I sewed the back of the skirt up with a french seam. I left the top eight inches open, since that is where the zipper will be.


Apparently I don’t have any photos of the zipper or attaching the skirt. But the process was pretty straightforward, the skirt was whip stitched to the interior of the bodice, then the lining was folded over the raw edge and sewn down. I sewed the zipper in but the zipper was three inches too short. Which is a stupid thing to have happen.

At this point I just wanted it done, so I closed the top few inches with hooks. Then I sewed the lining to cover the edges of the zipper. The final step was sewing in the petticoat topper, which is what you see below.


And it was done!







Here are some worn photos of it. After taking these I decided it needed a necklace, so I bought one from Macy’s which I will wear to the wedding. The shoes are lace with scalloped edging, which makes them perfect. They were purchased from DSW. The hair clips are from H&M, the earrings are PBS Downton Abbey Collection,  and the lipstick is Colourpop liquid lipstick in Creeper. I had lace nail decals from jamberry as well, but you can’t really see them.

Black Lace Dress 3

The bow is a little crooked in this picture, but that is an easy fix.

Black Lace Dress 1

Black Lace Dress 2

And that’s it! I think this will be the last fashiony thing I make for a while. Even though I love how this turned out, I didn’t enjoy the process as much as I would have liked. I’m definitely ready to get back to historical stuff – maybe with a silly Halloween project mixed in.

Thanks for reading!


Posted by on September 11, 2015 in Original Designs, The Making Of


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Making a Black Lace Dress, Part Two

Today i’m blogging about making the skirt to match the black lace bodice which I posted about last week. This part of the project went better than the bodice, and ended up being pretty easy!

 The pattern is a simple 18.5″ long three quarter circle skirt. The finished length after seams will be seventeen inches, which is pretty short, but there will be a six inch ruffle sewn onto the hem so hopefully it will rest just above my knees.


The skirt was cut out of the polyester shantung I used for the bodice. I had just barely enough left!


 I sewed a layer of black petticoat net overtop so it would match the bodice. The bodice actually had two layers of petticoat net on it, but I figured the gathered black lace at the waistline of the skirt would make it look darker and balance out the color difference.

Also I didn’t have a lot of petticoat net leftover. The second layer would have been made up of three or four pieces which I didn’t think would look that good.


I was going to do a normal rolled hem on this but I ended up having just enough one inch wide horsehair left. So I used that instead. I sewed the horsehair on by machine, then turned the hem over and sewed it down by hand with whip stitches.


With the circle skirt done I switched over to working on the petticoat topper and ruffle. The petticoat i’m wearing under this is  my cheap leg avenue one, since I plan on traveling with this dress and that one can be squished into a small plastic bag. But that petticoat is shorter than this skirt and doesn’t have the level of volume I wanted.

Which is where the petticoat topper comes in! It adds the length I want and a bit more poof. And it gets sewn into the dress so the dress could even be worn without a petticoat and still have a bit of volume.

I cut twelve and eleven inch wide strips for the petticoat topper, and six and a half inch wide strips for the ruffle on the hem of the circle skirt. All of these were cut from a beige point d’esprit netting I got from Joanns. I was pretty impressed with this netting – I think I paid less than $3 a yard for it and it was really soft and easy to work with, while still creating a good amount of volume.


Anyway! The eleven inch wide strips got gathered down and sewn onto the twelve inch wide strips.


And then the top was gathered down and tah-dah! It doesn’t look like much here but trust me, it helps with the skirt shape.


Then the six inch wide strips were sewn together and the twelve yard length was gathered down.


That is some ruffly goodness right there. I left all of these strips unhemmed because I prefer the look of that. This netting is soft enough that it isn’t scratchy, and it doesn’t fray, so it doesn’t really need to be hemmed anyway.


The ruffle got pinned on.


And topstitched on. I could have sewn it on by hand but I didn’t think anyone would really notice.


Here it is on the dress form – It looks a little uneven but I promise it isn’t!


With that done I cut out the lace overlay. This was nineteen inches long and three yards wide. I figured after the top was gathered down it would fall just below the hem of the circle skirt and make a nice transition into the netting.

I did that, and it kind of worked but I didn’t like the result.


So I ripped the gathers out and pinned the scalloped edge of the lace onto the point where the netting attaches to the circle skirt. Then I roughly pinned the top to the waistline.  I realize this looks messy right now, but I liked this soo much better!


I sewed the lace onto the hem.


Then gathered the top down and sewed it onto the waistline of the circle skirt.


I thought it looked really lovely, but there was a slight problem.


The scalloped edge kept flipping up and that looked bad.


So I spent an hour hand sewing the scalloped edge onto the netting.



And then it was done! Or almost done. I still have to glue on the rhinestones but everything else is finished. I love how this turned out. I think the fabrics look lovely together and it’s so pretty and delicate. I was worried the lace would look cheap (I think I paid like $6 a yard for it? so it was cheap) and that my dress would end up looking cheap. But that concern went away after getting it to this point.

Like the last blog post, this one has a video counterpart which can be watched here.


And that’s it! Part three should be up on Friday and will talk about the collar.

Thanks for reading!


Posted by on September 8, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Making a Black Lace Dress, Part One

In a couple weeks my uncle is getting married. That means i’ll being going to a semi-formal event and need to wear a semi-formal dress. I’ve made a few of those before but they all either obnoxious, too formal, or white, which wouldn’t be very appropriate! I could have bought a dress, but for the first time in forever I had the opportunity to make a dress and actually wear it somewhere, and I felt like I owed it to myself to do just that.

I bought the fabrics before I had a design in mind. I had fifty percent off coupons and thought the fabrics looked pretty together so I picked up three yards of black lace and four yards of point d’esprit netting. I also ended up buying shoes to match the lace before actually making the dress, so those are pictured below as well.



I had some black cotton sateen, ivory shantung (leftover from my Royal Milk Tea costume), and quilters cotton  laying around as well. The material costs on this dress were pretty low so I splurged and ordered four hundred swarovski crystals in the color “jet”.

Now I had my materials, but I didn’t have a design.

I wanted an A-line silhouette with a structured bodice since I think that flatters me best. I sketched up a simple strapless dress with a lace overlay, which was nice but very boring. The shape of it made me think of vintage dresses from the mid 1900s, so I started browsing pinterest in search of inspiration. Eventually I came across something I really, really, liked. It’s the dress Marilyn Monroe wore to the oscars in 1951.

I think it’s beautiful. I wanted to make something really similar to it, as in identical but with a shorter hem and contrasting fabrics. I titled my progress folder “Mairlyn” because of that.

But things really didn’t go as planned. I  made some decisions which took the design in a different direction, and my materials were way stiffer and more opaque which prevented the airy ruched collar. So my dress looks nothing like this one, at all, but I still love this dress and wanted to share it because look at it. It’s so pretty.

Step one was draping the bodice. One of my favorite details about the dress I used for inspiration is the illusion neckline created with flesh toned fabric. I figured I could do something similar, which is why there is a line about an inch away from the edge around the bodice neckline.




I wanted this bodice to be really structured so I cut it into several different pieces which allows me to add boning into the seams.

I copied all the pieces onto tracing paper and added seam allowances so I could assemble my first mock up.


Here is the fabric after being removed from the dress form.


And the pattern it got turned into.


I made my first mock up and it went really well. So well that I decided not to bother making another mock up. I regret this decision because I think the finished bodice would fit a lot better if I had made a second mockup and did a test run with the boning.

Since my mock up didn’t have boning in the bra cups they slouched down a bit and made the neckline look a lot deeper than it actually was.


Because the neckline was lower than I expected I decided to remove the illusion neckline aspect of the bodice. It was revealing enough without that, and even though it wouldn’t cause more skin to show it would hint at it, and I didn’t think that was necessary.

So I made some pattern alterations and added more seam allowance. Now I had a pattern that looked like this!


Like most structured bodices this will be made up of three layers. The top layer is made from the fashion fabrics, the base layer where boning and structure is placed, and the final layer is lining to hide anything ugly on the interior.

I started by making the base layer. Since the top layer will be stiff I didn’t want to add bulk by having a base layer made from heavy materials. So I chose a medium weight quilters cotton. All the boning channels will be backed with canvas and it will be stitched directly to the top layer of fabric so i’m not worried about it stretching or warping overtime, even though it is a lighter fabric than what would usually be used as a base.

I cut all the pieces out and marked the boning channels. Then they were sewn together with three quarter inch seams.


I clipped the bust seams just below the line where underwire will be added, then I turned the seam allowance inward and pinned them down. Once these are sewn I will have boning channels I can feed plastic boning into. Plastic boning won’t compress the bust, but it will prevent the fabric from turning over or collapsing down, which happens a lot on strapless bodices if you have a small bust.


Then I created the rest of the boning channels. I used spiral steel boning and bias tape to create underwire beneath the bust. Ribbon backed with canvas was sewn on to create channels for the really thick, stiff, steel bones. Some seams were folded inward to create channels for the flimsier bones, which are either plastic or spiral steel.


Here the bodice is with all the bones added and the bra cups pinned in. These were bra cups I bought for my Royal Milk Tea costume ages ago – I threw that costume away a long time ago but salvaged the trims, boning, and notions. When I installed these in that costume I had no clue how to draft a bodice to fit them, or how to sew them in. They ended up being really uneven and that bodice gaped horribly at the neckline, you see straight down it.

Those were bad times. But i’ve learned a lot since then, and this time they got sewn in properly!


Here is how the base layer looked when I tried it on. I was so ridiculously pleased with this fit. There was a bit of warped boning in the back – this is the fault of a spiral steel bone. This was my first time using spiral steel and i’ve decided it’s pretty damn useless, plastic boning holds its shape better, is easier to move in, and a lot easier to install.

Aside from that, I thought this looked pretty great.


Here it is laid flat. The underwire doesn’t look great here, but it sits smoothly against the body when it’s worn.

There were a couple things I noticed during the fitting. The first was that the neckline was way higher (like, a whole inch higher) than I was expecting. As I said earlier, this is because my mock up didn’t have boning in it so it slouched down. With the boning holding the material up it sits much higher on the body. This is good and bad. It means the neckline is high enough for me to feel comfortable adding the illusion neckline back in (yay!) but I think the neckline is a little bit too high. If I ever use this pattern again I would chop a half inch off.

The other thing is that it’s slightly too long in the waist. By maybe a quarter inch. Which means it digs into my hips a little. But this dress will be worn over petticoats, which should provide a bit of padding and prevent anything from bruising or bleeding (I hope).


Since the illusion neckline is back I made a quick alteration to the two front panels of my bodice. On the left you can see the original pattern, and on the right you can see the altered version.


Finally we are onto the top layer of the bodice! I cut everything out from polyester shantung, then pinned two layers of petticoat net overtop. I didn’t like how bright the ivory was beneath the black lace, this helps dull that a bit.


…And now we skip a few steps! I sewed the netting overtop of the shantung, then basted a layer of lace on top. The only panels that didn’t get an overlay are the top pieces of the front panels. I left this material plain so it would better match my skin tone.

All the pieces got sewn together with three quarter inch seams.


I didn’t do the smoothest job on those curvy seams at the bust, but that’ll be hidden by the collar so it’s okay.


I traced around the neckline and measured an inch and a half away from the traced line, this created a facing which got sewn onto the right side of the bodice.


I turned the facing over and sewed it down to get a finished edge. I tucked the base layer between the facing and top layer of fabric, then stitched it to the facing.  To further secure the base layer in place I sewed the lower edge of the top layer to the base layer and turned them over to get a finished edge.

I hope that paragraph makes at least a little bit of sense.


I created a paper guide for where topstitching should be around the bust. I used pins as a guideline and carefully stitched across them by hand to secure the two layers together.


When it came to actually trying on the bodice I ran into a little problem. It wasn’t too small, but it was too small to zip up (there is totally a difference). If I added a lace up back it would have been fine, but I didn’t want to do that. I tried adding extensions onto the back of the bodice but then it was too big and the boning gaped away from my body.

Finally I figured out a solution: Make a little girdle/waistband thing that goes on before the bodice to cinch my waist in, then zip the bodice up.

To do that I quilted a piece of shantung and backed it with cotton. Then I sewed in plastic boning so it wouldn’t scrunch up. Hooks/eyes were stitched into the front with upholstery thread to create a closure.


It leaves behind some pretty ugly marks, but it worked really well!


The bodice zips up nicely. Does it kind of painfully dig into my hips? Yup. Will the petticoats help pad that? I really hope so. Even if it doesn’t I should be fine, it doesn’t restrict or alter my breathing in anyway so it isn’t dangerous, it’s just uncomfortable and might leave behind some bruises.

I wish I could change a few things to make it fit better (like go back in time and make another mock up… ) but at this point those would be MAJOR changes, and I only have a few days left to get this project finished. So i’m leaving it this way for now, and i’ll suffer through for the sake of looking pretty.


I think that’s it for the bodice – the skirt, collar, and other good stuff will be coming up next week. Also I vlogged throughout the whole process. If you would like to hear me ramble on about my thoughts on this project as I make it, you can watch the videos here!

Thanks for reading!


Posted by on September 4, 2015 in Original Designs, The Making Of


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Completing the Brown Menswear Ensemble + Finished Photos

DSC_5288resize2This is the final post about making my brown menswear inspired ensemble. Part one went up almost ten months ago, and part two was posted a couple months ago. Today I’m sharing how I made the tunic and hat, along with some photos of the finished costume!

I started on this tunic ages ago, so I don’t remember the dimensions and measurements I used. But here are how the pieces looked after being cut out.

I used a lightweight cotton gauze for the tunic. I absolutely love the feel of this material, and it’s ridiculously wonderful to work. Unfortunately it’s delicate, so it isn’t a great choice for undergarments that will be worn a lot. I still chose to use it since I had some around and it was the perfect shade of off white.


The first thing I did was fold rectangles in half and gather the top edge down to make little ruffles. The smaller ones are for the wrist cuffs, and the larger one is for the collar.


The body of the tunic is made from a rectangle which is folded in half, then a neck hole is cut in the center of the folded edge. I cut a slash down the centerfront so I could easily pull the tunic over my head.


The raw edges of the slash got turned inward by a half inch, then I covered the raw edges with bias tape.


The collar and cuffs are made from two inch wide strips of fabric. The edges were all turned over by a half inch to create finished width of one inch.


I sewed the ruffle onto the top edge  of the collar.

Then the collar got sewn onto the body of the tunic. Lining was sewn in to hide any raw edges.


After the lining was sewn in I stitched one eyelet onto either side, so the collar could be closed with cord.


That finished off the body of the tunic, so I moved onto the sleeves. Both sleeves were tightly gathered at the cuff.


The cuffs were attached, then ruffles got attached to the cuffs.


After the lining was sewn in I finished the cuffs off with eyelets so they can tie closed.


And that is where my progress pictures for the tunic end. I sewed gussets onto the tops of each sleeve with french seams. Then the sleeves were sewn onto the body of the tunic with french seams. Finally the side seams were done up, and the lower edge was hemmed.

Now, onto the hat! I decided to pair my doublet with a beret. Berets are super easy and made from three pieces of fabric: A circle, a circle with a circle cut out of the center, and a rectangle. That’s it.

I cut those pieces out of a thick brown canvas. Then I used these as a guide for cutting out the top layer of my beret, which is a brown stretch jersey. Definitely not the best choice for a hat, but I used it on the doublet and I wanted them to match.


Here are the layers pinned together.


With the right sides facing each other I stitched a half inch away from the edge of the inner circle.


Then I turned the fabrics the right way out, this creates a finished opening where the hat will fit on the head. I stitched around this edge by hand.


Then the two pieces got pinned together and I sewed a half inch away from the outer edge. Once it was turned right side out I had a hat!


I turned the edges of a rectangle inward and trimmed it with some lace, then sewed that to the opening of the hat. This created a band/brim that I pinned onto my wig. I would have loved to decorate this with feathers, but the pheasant feathers I bought with this in mind were too large and the wrong shade of brown.


I paired this costume with a wig from on ebay, the shoes are from payless, and the socks are from charlotte russe. This costume is menswear inspired and I tried to mirror that with the styling – the wig is still long but it’s tied back and i’m not wearing nearly as much makeup as usual.





And that’s it! I’m not totally happy with how this turned out, but I like how different it is from my other projects. I’m planning on making another menswear inspired ensemble very soon. Hopefully my next attempt will be a bit more historically accurate because this is all over the place.

Thanks for reading!


Posted by on September 2, 2015 in Historically Inspired, The Making Of


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Making a Damask Print Medieval Dress, Part One

This is my first time blogging about a historical project in a while! I’ve missed it. Historical projects are definitely my favorite and i’m happy to be back to focusing on them.

This is a dress inspired by (and based off the shape) one Eleanor of Portugal, the Holy Roman Empress wore in this painting, which is by Hans Burgkamair the Elder. I love how unusual the style of this dress is. The simplistic design was very common in the Middle Ages, but the fuller sleeves and skirt hint at the Renaissance fashions which were just starting to become popular.

I like a lot of the more traditional medieval styles (close fitting and a lot of layers) and plan to make things similar to them in the near future, but the uniqueness of this design made me want to recreate it. I’ve decided to drop the laced collar, but the shape and neckline will be similar. I found a drawing (which is probably not very historically accurate) with similar sleeves which i’ve also used for inspiration.


I would also like to pair it with a headpiece of some sort. Not sure what exactly, but it’ll be elaborate.


My materials consist of four yards of a gold and orange damask print. I bought this in NYC but found this website which sells it for almost the same price. I also have some fake fur trim to edge the neckline and sleeves.

I’m going to alter pieces of a  failed red medieval ensemble and use them for the chemise/underdress. That is what the red fabric represents.


I have some matching red beads, rhinestones, and gold beads which will probably end up in the headpiece. I read that mesh overlays were very common on hennin so I bought some on my last trip to joanns. I also picked up four yards of quilting cotton, which will be the lining.


I think that’s everything – lets move onto making it!

The bodice i’m basing this off of does not have seams or darts in the front. Which means mine won’t either. That design element paired with the high neck meant I couldn’t drape this pattern on my dress form (its bust is bigger and doesn’t squish into flat front bodices). I ended up using the “pillowcase and pin” method which I show in this blog post.

When that was done It looked like this.


I did my best to make sense of the markings and create something a bit easier to transfer onto paper.


I ended up with this! But I made some alterations to this after creating a mock up. One of those changes was separating the pieces, since I wanted the centerfront and centerback to be cut straight with the damask print. I couldn’t get the front and back to line up while still cutting the bodice as one piece.

I also lowered the neckline, waistline, and took in the shoulder seam.


I drew a chalk line down the backside of the fabric. I made sure the line went right down the center of the damask print and laid the pattern piece against the chalkline. I traced around the edges with sharpie and repeated the process with the other side. Then I cut the pieces out and labeled them because the front and back look really similar.


I didn’t want a back closure so I decided to have eyelets going up one side. I added two and a bit inches on the sides with the eyelets. The other side has a three quarter inch seam allowance.


Somewhere along the way I decided to bind the seams instead of sewing them the normal way. To make that a little bit easier I added a medium weight interfacing where the binding would be. On the side with the eyelets I used a lighter weight interfacing, this was to prevent fraying more than anything else.

This fabric is REALLY prone to fraying,  so I left the bottom edge (the waistline) uncut while I worked on the neckline and side seams.


To get super smooth finishes on the edges (and so I wouldn’t have to worry about fraying) I made facings for the neckline and armholes. I traced the edges of the bodice onto my lining fabric, then measured one and a half inches away from the traced edge. These got pinned on with the right sides facing each other.


I sewed a half inch away from the edge at the armholes, and three quarter inches away from the neckline since I made it the tiniest bit too high.


The facings got turned over and pinned down…


Then sewn down by hand to prevent any topstitching from being visible on the front of the fabric.


With those edges finished, I moved onto the side seams. I started with the side that has eyelets.

I turned the fabric inward by three quarters of an inch and sewed half an inch away from the edge. Then folded the fabric inward by one and a quarter inch and sewed half an inch away from the edge. I topstitched a sixteenth of an inch away from the edges to secure it in place. This created two boning channels about three quarters of an inch apart. The math there doesn’t really make sense when I think about it, but I swear that is what I did!

It looked like this.


I added the boning and prepared to sew sixteen eyelets.


At this point it still kind of fit on my dress form. Okay not really. But you can get some idea of what it’ll resemble.



Now I did the eyelets. They took maybe five episodes of Treasure Quest: Snake Island to finish. That is how I measure time when hand sewing in front of the TV and it is totally valid.



I ironed the other side edges into a fold, then bound them together from the back.



A fitting made me realize having boning on one side and not the other was a bad idea. The side without boning collapsed and puckered. If I’d realized this before binding the seam I could have hidden boning in the seam allowance, but it was too late for that. So I sewed an ugly boning channel instead.

It’s so ugly. But it works.


I made up some double fold bias tape out of scraps.


The lower edge finally got cut to the right length, then bias tape was sewn overtop to hide the fraying.



 I cut out my lining (all as one piece) and pinned it in place. I sewed it down at the waistline, sides, and the lower half of the armholes. It’s much easier to sew lining in when the garment is flat, so I didn’t sew up the shoulder seam until most of the lining was in.

When everything but the lining around the neckline and shoulders were done, I did up the shoulder seam.


But I still didn’t finish sewing the lining in. I had to attach the fur first!


I did that with a whip stitch, then finished sewing in the lining.




And that’s it for the bodice! It needs sleeves and a skirt but that will come later. Here it is worn over my rose chemise I made a few months ago. I should have tied the cuffs but I forgot.

The fit could probably be a little bit better, but i’m pretty pleased with it considering how hard it is to make fitted bodices without darts or seams. It also doesn’t have any boning or interfacing (aside from the sides) in it and is worn without a foundation garment. The skirt will weight the bodice a bit and make it lay a little smoother, which will help.

I think I might add some red pearls around the neckline, just below the fur. But I also like how simple it is, so i’m conflicted. Opinions on that are welcome!



Oh, and I filmed the process of making this. If you want to watch that, it can be seen here!

Thanks for reading!


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Making a Forest Sprite Costume, Part Two

Onto part two of making the mossy dress!

When I got started on this my plan for the skirt was a little vague. There was supposed to be a petal shaped organza overlay with moss at the tips of each petal. But I didn’t like how the light green organza looked with my other materials, and I didn’t think it would match the bodice. But I wanted to incorporate a lot of texture into the skirt, and I wasn’t sure how to do that without layering fabrics.


The idea I ended up going with came to me when I was sorting through my fabrics. I had cut one inch wide strips of the ruffled jersey ages ago – probably two or more years ago, and completely forgotten about them. I liked the texture of them so much that I thought about sewing diagonal strips of them across the hem of the skirt. Then I realized I could do that with all my fabrics, which would let me incorporate the green netting from the bodice into the skirt.

So I cut a whole bunch of strips of fabric.


Before placing the strips I had to cut out my skirt. I originally cut a half circle skirt from white peachskin, then dipped it in tea for thirty seconds to darken it slightly. That failed, it turned a dirty orange color which wasn’t what I wanted.

So I cut the skirt from the same material used on the bodice, a lightweight ivory woven fabric.


Then I started pinning the strips on. I didn’t have enough of the fabrics to densely pack them, and even if I did I probably wouldn’t have done that since it would have made the skirt very heavy. Instead I placed them several inches apart.


Then sewed them all on with contrasting embroidery floss. All the sewing was done by hand with large running stitches to give the skirt a similar texture to the bodice.


I loved how this looked a lot and didn’t want to do anything to it. But this costume is moss inspired, so I didn’t have much of a choice…


I used the moss trim across the hem, then glued pieces of the real moss overtop to create a more staggered line. I also added little patches of burlap, which I did to the bodice too.



This moss sheds like crazy – I would shake it and hundreds of those plastic itchy spines would fall out. When this happens to costumes with glitter on them i’m 100% okay with it because glitter is like magic fairy dust. Itchy moss pieces? Not so much. To fix it I lint rolled the whole thing, then sewed a layer of tulle overtop.


For this project I bought a six inch wide spool of burlap. I cut it into two evenly sized strips, then slightly pleated the tops so I had ruffles.


I sewed ruffled jersey onto the hem of the burlap, and another layer onto the top. So I had two pretty tiers of ruffles mounted on burlap!


I sewed that ruffle onto the hem of the skirt.


Then I covered the join point between the ruffle and skirt with strips of tulle that I braided. To add even more texture I snipped the tips off the strange fake flowers I bought and glued those underneath the braided tulle trim.


To give the skirt a bit of volume I made an underskirt and trimmed it with burlap ruffles. This was a bad idea. If you think petticoat net is itchy, it trimmed with burlap is about eight times worse.

Here are the strips of petticoat net.


And the burlap ruffles.


And here they are sewn together!


I sewed that to the waistline of the skirt and sewed it up the back. Now it looked like a skirt!


I sewed the bodice onto the skirt and finished the waist seam with bias tape.

Then I sewed eyelets into the back of the bodice and a zipper into the skirt portion. Doing eyelets was a bad idea. I didn’t plan on putting them in this bodice, so they weren’t placed between bones or into heavily interfaced fabric. Which means they aren’t very strong and the bodice bunches in an ugly way at the back.

But you can’t exactly remove eyelets from a dress. And I was kind of over this project at this point, so I declared the dress complete.


To make the headpiece I bent the stem of a fake flower into a headband shape. Then I wrapped cord around each end so I could tie it in place.


I glued on the birdnests and some fake flowers and that was it! took a whole five minutes.




Here are some detail shots of the finished dress:




I have mixed feelings about this. I really like the textures and how it looks in the photos above, but it didn’t translate well from a distance and the pictures of it worn are disappointing.

I HAVE taken and edited photos of how this costume looks in a forest environment but i’m not happy with them. The lighting and location weren’t what I had wanted and I think the bodice needs some slight changes to improve its appearance from a distance.  The idea of walking around barefoot with the bugs in the woods again isn’t super appealing but I worked hard on this costume and I want to have something to show for it. Hopefully I can retake the photos soon, but in the mean time here is the one picture from the shoot that I really liked!

Forest Sprite 3

That’s it for today – and for this costume. Thank you for reading!


Posted by on August 21, 2015 in Original Designs, The Making Of


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Making a Forest Sprite Costume, Part One

My allergies have been crazy this week so it seems fitting to blog about a costume that i’m allergic to! I’m not even kidding. The only thing I learned from making this is that burlap, plastic moss, and real moss are three materials I will never be touching again.

With that cheery intro, lets talk about this project! I found some really neat fake bird nests, flowers, and moss from Michaels. They were on sale and I found the textures really interesting and unlike anything I had worked with before. So I bought them.



I decided to make a forest sprite costume. This was a challenge for me, since I wanted something that would blend in with the forest environment but also be a pretty standalone dress. I wanted the materials to be really prominent in the dress, and for it to have a lot of texture. My original plan was to have layers of petal shaped organza and tulle gathered at the waist, which is shown in this sketch. But I scrapped that idea pretty quickly.


Even though the skirt design wasn’t completely clear in my mind, I knew what I wanted the bodice to look like. So I started draping it.

I was ten minutes into the draping process when I realized I had already made a bodice very similar to the one I was trying to create. It was pretty much identical to my Fall Forest Fairy bodice. I still had the pattern for that, so I decided to reuse it. All I did was fiddle with the neckline a bit and lengthen it at the waist.


I cut the bodice out of a ivory brocade fabric. This fabric is kind of thin on its own, so I backed it with fusible interfacing.


Then I added the boning and boning channels.


I covered the edges with half inch wide home made bias tape, which was sewn on by machine. The top edge will be completely covered in moss and netting so I wasn’t too particular about how it looked before those things were added.



I covered the bottom edge with bias tape as well.


The bodice fit well enough that I felt comfortable moving on to decorating it. I wanted this to be packed full of texture so I decided to do some fancy stitchwork.

This isn’t really embroidery, it’s just a running stitch repeated every eighth of an inch. The stitching attaches floral print chiffon (I left the edges of it raw) to the sides of bodice. I didn’t do a very precise or pretty job of this – but I wasn’t trying to do either of those things. I just wanted to add texture, and I think the irregular pattern does a better job of that.



Then I pinned some mesh over the neckline. I pulled at the edges until they looked torn and frayed.


It all got sewn down by hand.



Then I added the moss. I used a mixture of moss that came on a spool, which was plastic, and moss from a bag which was real. I DID NOT know the bagged moss was real until after buying it and having it sit in a drawer for a month. It was pretty awful to work with since the ratio of green moss to sticks and dirt was about 50/50. I felt like bugs were going to crawl out while I worked with it.

But the fake moss was almost as bad. I think it’s made by spraying flocking over a wiry plastic base. Which I usually wouldn’t have a problem with but in this case the flocking was made up of tiny plastic spines which get all over your skin, into your eyes, and nose. They have a texture that makes me itch.

So this part of the process wasn’t a lot of fun. After maybe an hour I got everything oriented and glued on in a way I liked. The bodice was finished with a few burlap patches which were also hot glued on.


To completely hide the top edge of the bodice (which was the ivory fabric) I had to extend the moss into the interior of the bodice. I can’t really line it without it showing, so the moss remains pressed against my skin which adds another level of discomfort to this costume. My chest does not deserve the pain this plastic itchy moss from hell inflicts on it whenever I wear this.

But it looks really cool! So that makes it worth it. kind of.

Thats it for the magical forest spire bodice. Next week i’ll go over the process of making the skirt.


Thanks for reading!


Posted by on August 14, 2015 in Original Designs, The Making Of


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