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!

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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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Progress Report: July & August 2015

It’s been almost two months since my last one, which means it’s time for another progress report!

I got a lot done in the past two months, and i’m happy with what I got done, but it doesn’t feel like enough. I had a little mid year crisis in July, where I felt like I hadn’t accomplished anything. Six costumes in seven months isn’t bad, but i’m not particularly happy or proud of any of those projects. So I sulked about that for a bit, then got super motivated and completed five projects. Which is awesome, but would be more awesome if I didn’t feel like I need to make up for the previous seven months where I got so little done.

I’m mostly over that now, and i’m feeling enthusiastic about new projects, so I think it was just a temporary sewing slump. I felt this way around the same time last year too. I guess July isn’t a good month for me!

Anyway, onto what I got done in july and august, and what I plan to do in the coming months! I promise the rest of this post is happier than that intro!

I started and finished my Heinrich inspired dress. I also made two headpieces to go with it. I mentioned in my last progress report that I wanted to make this and I’m so happy that I did. This really got me out of my “sewing slump” and left me with enough enthusiasm to finish up some frustrating projects.

I’m really pleased with how this turned out, I wasn’t at first but now I really love it.


A couple weeks later I decided to take on another fast but relatively elaborate project, which is based off of a portrait of Ana de Mendoza. I’m very pleased with this costume as well, I think it and my Heinrich inspired dress are tied for my favorite projects of this year (so far). I really like both of them, and I like wearing them.

Ana de Mendoza 3

I also made a dress out of ikea curtains – I don’t know if this really counts because I made it in a day, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to mention! I like how this turned out, but I definitely prefer my more elaborate historical ensembles.


I also finished off two projects that had been dragging on, and they are both short fashion-y dresses.

This month I came to the realization that I need to take a step back from the fashion and fantasy projects. I started doing them as a fun “break” from the complicated historical pieces but they really aren’t. I don’t enjoy making them as much, they aren’t valuable in my portfolio, and they tend to be just as time consuming and expensive to make as something like my Heinrich dress.

In fact, my Cinderella dress took over two months and the Forest Sprite took a solid two weeks of on and off work. My Ana de Mendoza costume and Heinrich dress were each made in less than a week.

I have a couple more fashion projects planned, but they will be hugely different in silhouette and design from anything i’ve done before.  Or they will be truly simple projects I can make in a day, like my ikea curtain dress. No more of making these short fluffy dresses just for the sake of it!

 Here is my Cinderella dress! This took ages, everything that could go wrong went wrong and it was a battle to get it finished. But I made it to the end, and it turned out pretty cute!

cinderella 3

The other fashion project was a Forest Sprite costume, inspired by materials that were on sale at Michaels. This wasn’t fun to work on for various reasons (one of which being my allergy to burlap and moss…two materials that are prominently featured in this costume) which i’ll go into more when I blog about the process.


I also got photos of a couple projects. One of those is my brown menswear ensemble.


And another is the Forest Sprite. I haven’t finished editing this set, so i’ll be a couple weeks before I post them, but here is one i’ve finished.


I mentioned last month that I wanted to take some painting-esque photos of my Tudor costume. I attempted to do that – I even set up a backdrop and lighting! It kind of worked, but the fake drapery I used looked really bad and my room was too small to include the hem of the dress in the photos. I plan to attempt this again, but I have to make proper velvet curtains and hang a curtain rod in my room…so it might be a while before that happens.

I think my photo goal for this month is to take photos with flowers. I have a half dozen costumes which haven’t been photographed outside my sewing room that would look really nice in a garden. I want to accomplish that before autumn and winter come. The only problem is finding a garden that would allow it.


Now, lets talk about things I’ve started and should be finishing soon.

I’m mostly done with a regency gown. I really love the fit and shape this has, and i’m excited to complete it. The only thing I don’t like (and it’s a big one) is my material choice. This dress is also made out of a set of Ikea curtains, when I bought them the print reminded me a lot of this chintz dress that I love. Once I turned them into a dress I began to realize how modern this floral print looks, and now I’m less happy with it.

But i’ll carry on and get it done! Hopefully blog posts about this will be up soon.


I’ve also been working on the 18th century project I mentioned in my last progress report. I raised the waistline of the skirt (the hem is straight, so it has to be pulled up from the top to sit evenly over the panniers) and pleated it. I had planned on beading the lace elaborately, and I started with a ten inch test section. Unfortunately it looked really bad, and I much preferred the look of the lace without it. So I removed the beading and have decided to leave it this way.

I’m a bit bummed about this, but I think it was the right decision. Since it won’t have pink and gold beads on it I feel like this dress will better suit the colors in winter (it will be paired with a red riding coat). I’m still going to finish sewing on all the lace and plan on drafting the sleeves for the bodice in the next month or so, but i’m not in any rush to finish.


The final thing I have in progress is a stomacher i’m working on embroidering (I stole the pattern from photobucket, I hope that doesn’t offend anyone). Before this i’d never embroidered before, so it’s been a learning process. I’m terrible at making this symmetrical, but aside from that i’ve really enjoyed it!


I work on it whenever I have TV to watch. It’s nice having a small handsewing project I can do on my lap. I usually use a whiteboard as a table that rests on my knees, and Guin sits next to me while I work. I’ve been really into crappy reality shows on the History channel and watching Friends on netflix.


The design for the project which will use that stomacher is still a mystery. I want to make a 17th century ensemble (I have enough 18th and 16th century project planned) but they didn’t have colorful embroidered stomachers during that time. I think i’ll ignore historical accuracy and go with the silhouette of the 1630’s with the colors and fabrics from the 1560’s. It won’t be accurate, but it will be pretty!

Even though the design doesn’t exist yet, i’ve bought fabrics for it!



During Joanns student discount month I picked up supplies for a fashion project – I know what I said earlier, but this one has a very different shape and i’m really excited about it. I’m not making it because I want a break from historical things, i’m making it because i’m enthusiastic about the design. It’s going to be a mermaid inspired dress made from glittery and sheer materials, and decorated with rhinestones and shells.



I’ve mentioned these a couple times (and already used two sets…) but here are the ikea curtains in their original form. Two of them have already been turned into dresses, and i’m hoping to do the same with the final set later on this month. It’s a beautiful lightweight cotton gauze that is very soft . When I saw it I knew immediately that I wanted to make a Chemise a la Reine of it.

I’d really like to get that started (and finished) soon since it’s a summery style of dress, but I don’t have the materials for a matching sash or hat. So I might put this off for another month or two.


I have a lot of plans and hopes for the next couple months – an early 1800s velvet court dress, another menswear project, an embroidered 18th century gown, and lots of others. But the two that I really must finish are a damask print medieval dress and a short lace dress, which i’ll be wearing to my uncles wedding. I’ll have more info on the lace dress soon, but here are the materials for the medieval one. This will be my next “The making  of” project on youtube, so I need to get started on it soon!


I’m not completely set on a design yet, but it’s mostly based off this painting of Eleanor of Portugal and the women’s dresses below. Whatever I end up doing will be worn with a gold headpiece, I bought some gold mesh especially for it.


And the final thing I wanted to mention is that i’ve opened an etsy store. I really want to sell spiked headpieces like the ones I made to go with my Heinrich dress. I have all the supplies for it, so now I just have to make a bunch of them and figure out how to work paypal, then i’ll be in business!


And that’s it for today – this post became much longer than I had intended, but I had a lot to share. A “The making of” post should be up early next week!

Thanks for reading!


Posted by on August 7, 2015 in Uncategorized



Making a Dress out of Ikea Curtains

I recently went to ikea. Going to ikea is usually a fun experience, because I enjoy places with a lot of stuff I don’t need but find very appealing because it is cheap and aesthetically pleasing. I got a new rug for my sewing room, and a little wire cart for under my desk. But the most exciting purchase were the curtains I got.

I don’t need curtains. I don’t plan on using any of the sets as curtains. The reason I bought them is because the curtains are effectively very large panels of fabric. About five and a half yards of fabric, in fact, which is enough to make a dress! That’s what i’ll be doing today. This entire dress is made from a pair of curtains and a zipper, which cost a grand total of $16. And it only took me five hours to make!


I sort of gave up on photographing this project part way through. I made this dress for my youtube channel, and wasn’t even sure if I would blog about it, which is why the pictures are limited. But there should be enough for you to understand the process!

Here is the material. These are EIVOR curtains.


Two 57″ x 98″ panels – that is soo much fabric, it ends up being less than $3 a yard.


It’s a stiff cotton fabric and it feels a lot like the broadcloth you get at fabric stores. This isn’t a print I would usually go for, but I thought it was really cute. It’s a large sketchy black pattern of branches, leaves, and birds.


As I said, this isn’t a print I would usually go for, so I wasn’t entirely sure what to make with it. I decided to browse etsy for ideas. I ended up searching for 1950s summer dresses, since they often have cute, but simple designs, which suit a large print. I found two that I really liked, they can be seen here and here.

Here is one of the images from the listing (photo belongs MinxouriVintage, not me) in case it gets removed and isn’t visible later on. I thought this neckline was pretty, and the bows on the straps won me over completely.


So I used some scraps of a batik fabric and draped a pattern on my dress form which I felt looked similar. I know it looks pretty shoddy here, but I ironed it, cleaned up the edges, and transferred it onto paper.


After all that it looked like this! Much nicer!


I cut the bodice out twice. One layer will be the front, the other will be the lining. Since this fabric isn’t completely opaque the print on the lining layer is visible from the outside. I could have used a pure white cotton lining instead, but I liked being able to see the print. It ads a shadowy effect which I think is cool.



I marked the darts onto the wrong side of the fabric. Then they got pinned and sewed in place.


…And that was where I gave up on photographing the process. So we skip a lot of steps! I pinned the layers together, so the right sides were facing each other. Then I sewed around the neckline and center back with a half inch seam allowance. I turned the bodice so the right sides are facing out and top stitched around the neckline.

Then I made bias tape from one and a half inch wide strips of bias cut fabric. I folded the edges inward and pinned them over the arm holes. I made the bias tape sixteen or so inches longer than the arm hole. Eight inches hang off of either side and will serve as straps.


I sewed the bias tape on and that was pretty much it for the bodice! The straps got tied into bows and it was done.


The skirt is three twenty three inch long panels, which are the full width of the curtains (fifty seven inches).


I sewed them together, then hemmed the bottom edge. I did this by machine for once, hoping to save time. The edge was turned over by a half inch, then by one inch, to get a clean finish.

The top was gathered down by machine as well. I pushed the fabric under the foot as I went and ran it through the machine several times to get it down to the twenty eight inches it needed to be.


The skirt was pinned to the bodice and I sewed the waist seam. I also covered the raw edge with bias tape.


The final step was adding a zipper and sewing up the back seam. Then it was done!




And here it is worn. It looks cute without a petticoat, but for these pictures I wore a cheap leg avenue petti – I got mine on ebay but i’m pretty sure that is the same one.

I like this dress a lot, especially considering it only took $16 and five hours to make!





Thanks for reading!


Posted by on August 4, 2015 in The Making Of, Uncategorized


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Making a Grey Taffeta Hat

We’re onto the final post about my Ana de Mendoza costume! This piece of the costume was the most time consuming, but it ended up being my favorite part so I think the effort was worth it.

In the painting this costume is based off of Ana is seen wearing a large hat – I tried to research women’s hats of this style from the 16th century but came up with very little information. So I decided to make it up! Sometimes I’m all about research, and I’ll try to read as many blogs and books as I can find before taking on a project. But for this one I was a little impatient, and I wanted to skip that part and get straight to it. So I did. How hard can making a hat be?

I started by drafting a pattern. I made mine a circle at first, then realized it should probably be more of an oval shape. So I trimmed the sides of the brim and crown to make them slightly less circular.

It took me a few tries but eventually I came to a size I liked. Looking back I would have made the crown slightly smaller (maybe by a half inch) so it would have more of a tapered profile, but i’m pretty happy with how this pattern worked.


Then I cut all the pieces out from fusible felt interfacing. I chose this because i’m still out of buckram, and this stuff is available at Joanns. Buckram has to be ordered online and I was far too impatient for that!

I didn’t need the felt to be fusible, but it’s the same price as non-fusible felt interfacing and the glue makes it a bit stiffer. I figured that would be a good thing when making a hat of this size.

I originally added seam allowances to the crown and brim. I figured I could clip these the way you would a curved seam and have them tuck into each other, which would add stability to the hat. I did something similar when making my buckram bonnet and it worked really well. But this material is way thicker than buckram, and this technique would prevent the crown from fitting in place, so I trimmed the seam allowance off.


Then I sewed on the wire! It went around the edge of the crown and brim. I felt like the brim was really floppy still, so I added another piece two inches away from the first one. This was all whip stitched in place by hand, with heavy duty upholstery thread.


The felt doesn’t have a very nice texture, and I was worried it would show through the polyester taffeta I wanted to cover it with. So I placed a layer of flannel between the taffeta and felt. This added a LOT of weight to the hat, but I think it improved the appearance a lot as well.


I used binder clips to hold the fabric in place while I was sewing around the edges.


I repeated this process for all the other pieces as well. The crown was harder to cover because it’s smaller, I managed to do it but it sure doesn’t look pretty on the inside!

Then all the pieces were sewn together, which was not an easy task. My fingers did not appreciate the struggle this involved.

After an hour I had a hat! It’s rough around the edges (literally, the edges are really rough) but I was pleased with it. I got to try it on for the first time and luckily the proportions were perfect – it doesn’t really resemble the one in the painting, but that’s ok. I like the shape and size of my creation better.

I didn’t take photos of this part earlier, but once the taffeta was sewn onto the top side of the brim, I stitched a printed denim on the inside to serve as lining. This was right by the cutting counter and caught my eye. I bought a yard and a half because I liked it so much. Even though you don’t really see it when the hat is worn, I like that this adds a bit of texture.

Here you can see how messy the interior looks, It took a lot of thread to make it look smooth from the outside…


When I was sewing the pieces together I noticed something kind of bad. There was so much tension on the polyester taffeta that every stitch binding the pieces together caused little tears in the fabric, which revealed dots of red flannel beneath it. Probably not bad enough that anyone else would notice, but I couldn’t stand it!

So I cut strips of wool suiting, which doesn’t fray, and wrapped those around the edges.


It got sewn down. My fingers were once again, upset by this process, but that’s okay.


Here is a photo of it worn! It doesn’t fit on my head that well, but I can walk without it moving around. I think a hat like this is more for decorative purposes than anything else, as shown by the way Ana’s is precariously balanced on top of her hairstyle in the painting.


I liked how the wool trim looked better than the tiny tears, but from the top of the hat it was a little puckery. So I hid that with a bit of braided blue trim.


Then I made a matching sash out of silk chiffon. The sash on the top is for the hat, the two smaller ones were ties I made for the sleeves. All of these had the edges carefully turned over and sewn down by hand. No easy task when working with small strips of bias cut silk chiffon!


I tied that around my hat and into a big bow. Then the top and bottom portions were stitched down so it won’t be going anywhere.


I lined the interior with white cotton gauze, but I extended my lining too far out and it was visible when the hat was worn. So I sewed a three quarter inch wide strip of wool around the cotton, which hid this.


Now it was time for embellishments! And feathers! I bought four white ostrich feathers from Joanns and a pack of spiky black geese feathers.


I glued them down in an arrangement I liked. On the left side, which doesn’t have a bow, I hid the ugly bases of the feathers with a bunch of light grey fake pearls.


And that’s it for my beautiful hat! I really love this thing. It’s made me realize how much headpieces complete historical ensembles, and how they can really bring to life a simple costume. I consider millinery to be a little bit out of my skill set and it seems intimidating to learn. But the fact I figured out the process of making this on my own, even without research, has been a big motivator for me.

I have a few costumes coming up that should be worn with hats, bonnets, and a 15th century hennin. I think i’ll put the effort into making them all, and hopefully be happier with the finished costumes.




I also made an eyepatch for this ensemble. I used a sticky note for a pattern and scraps of the fusible interfacing for a base. This eyepatch has a very specific shape, with a sharply pointed bottom. I think I spent longer trying to pattern/shape this than I did on the hat! I wanted it to be perfect.


I ironed the damask print denim onto one side, then tucked all the edges over and sewed them down. I was originally going to use cotton as a backing, but I switched to black wool suiting since I figured the white gauze might be visible.


I sewed some coated black cord overtop and it was done!



And that’s it for this costume. I’m so pleased with it. I think this might be my favorite costume that i’ve made this year. I was so determined to spend months making costumes I’m really proud of, but so far I like my week long projects a lot more than the ones that took months. Funny how that works out, huh?

If you want to see this in motion I filmed a short video on it (it really didn’t come out how I intended, but I know some people might prefer it to photos) which can be watched here.

Ana de Mendoza2

Ana de Mendoza

Ana de Mendoza 3

And that’s it! Thank you for reading!


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Making Lace Sleeves

I wasn’t sure what to title this. It is supposed to be a chemise to wear underneath my grey taffeta kirtle, but I didn’t have very much cotton gauze left. So it ended up being a shirt with lacy sleeves.

I’m still working on the Ana de Mendoza costume, which is based off of this painting. If I was following the painting closely and being accurate I should have used satin or chiffon for the sleeves. But I was worried those materials, along with the grey taffeta would look really boring and flat.

So I decided to use lace instead. My lace fabric stash is a little bit limited, so I used a three yard piece of lace trim which I purchased for $5 from this etsy seller a couple months ago. This lace isn’t the best quality, it’s stretchy and has a sheen to it which screams cheap lace, but the pattern is really pretty and it’s very soft.



In case my doodles in my last post weren’t enough for you, here are more that I made about the undershirt. I’m not sure how much sense these make to other people, but they provide enough information for me!



The lace got chopped into five pieces. First I cut two inches off the top of the three yard length, this was gathered down and used on the neckline of the kirtle. The remainder was cut into four equal (twenty seven inch long) pieces. Two will be used for each sleeve.


I gathered the sleeves down to the measurements listed above.


At the ruffly ends I sewed elastic onto the interior. This isn’t historically accurate at all, but it’s way more convenient than trying to stuff your hands through tiny cuffs!


Here are the two bottom portions of the sleeves.


And one of the top portions.


I sewed them together with a running stitch.


Then sewed more elastic into that seam. Now I had cute, puffy, stretchy, sleeves! Can you think of anything better than that?


I set those aside and switched to making the cotton shirt. This is made from an eighteen by sixty inch piece of cotton gauze. It gets folded in half and a slit is cut in the folded end – this will be the head hole and make it easy to get on and off for fittings throughout the process.

I marked ten inches down from the fold on each side, this is where the sleeves will be attached.


I topstitched the sleeves on, then did up the sides with french seams. Now I could try it on! The sleeves were shorter than I had wanted but since the length was determined by the width of the lace trim i’m not too upset with myself. I think they turned out really cute and are certainly more interesting than chiffon or satin sleeves made with the same pattern.


To figure out the neckline shape I laced myself into the kirtle bodice and drew a line with chalk about one inch away from the neckline. I only did this on one side, since both sides should be the same.



Then I took it off and transferred the chalk markings to the other half of the neckline to make sure everything was even.

I’ve decided (after finishing it) that this neckline is really stupid, I should have made it flat in the center (even though the kirtle isn’t). It looks so silly! But it doesn’t show when the kirtle is worn, so I guess it doesn’t matter.


I finished the hem with some cheap, scratchy lace which i’ve been meaning to use up.


And the neckline was finished with a different lace that has a similar price tag and texture.


That’s it! Pretty ugly all by itself, but when it’s underneath my kirtle I think it looks quite nice. I ended up making a sash of pale blue silk chiffon which gets wrapped around the middle of each sleeve and into a bow!


Here is another worn photo which shows off the sleeves a little bit. They really are too short, but they are cute anyway!

Ana de Mendoza2

Thank you for reading! The blog post about the hat should be up on Friday!


Making a Grey Taffeta Kirtle

This is another project that came out of nowhere. I was about to go to bed and thought “I should make a dress based off that painting  pinned on pinterest a few months ago”.  I wrote the idea down so I wouldn’t forget in the morning, and seventy two hours later I had a dress!

This dress is actually an ensemble that consists of a kirtle, undershirt, hat, and eyepatch – that last one might sound a little odd, but it will make sense in a minute. I based this costume off of this painting, it isn’t the most exciting painting or costume but I thought it was very striking when I first saw it, and it’s obviously stuck with me. The subject of that painting is Ana de Mendoza who was a countess, duchess, princess, and prisoner at various points of her life. She wore an eyepatch after an injury left her blind in one eye (she may have lost the eye as well – sources disagree).

She has far more elaborate costumes shown in other paintings, but I decided on this one. I love the hat, the color scheme, and the simplicity to it. Plus I could make it (almost) entirely out of things I already owned, the only thing I had to buy were materials (interfacing, denim, and feathers) for the hat!

Today I’ll be showing how I made the most major piece of this costume (but not the most striking – i’d say that award goes to the hat) which is the kirtle. I made this from six yards of polyester taffeta which I got in NYC at the beginning of last year. It was four dollars a yard and is dark grey in color.

I decided to make this kirtle the “proper” way with stiffening in the bodice. My last kirtle (made for my tudor project) didn’t have any structure, instead it was worn over a pair of bodies. That led to problems later on and I didn’t want to make the same mistake this time!

I used an altered version of Norah Waugh’s bodies pattern. I made the basque waist wider and shorter, lowered the neckline, lengthened the straps, and took it in slightly. I cut the altered pattern out from canvas, which will be the base layer of the bodice.


I marked out all the boning channels and backed the fabric with cotton. Then I stitched all the channels and filled them with quarter inch wide plastic boning.


I pinned taffeta over both pieces. The curves got clipped and folded over the edges, then whip stitched down. This was really hard, taffeta does not have a lot of give to it and it did not want to go around those curves.



The interiors looked like this! The cotton layer was just to back the boning channels, so a lot of it got cut away to remove bulk.


Then I pinned a thin muslin layer to the interior, which will function as lining. I sewed this in with a whip stitch as well. But I used black thread for this, so it didn’t end up looking very pretty on the inside.


I decided I couldn’t stand how puckery the taffeta looked around the the arm holes, but at this point there was’t a lot I could do without ripping everything apart. So I cut strips of wool and sewed those over the arm holes. I think this looks quite nice, even though I doubt it’s historically accurate.

I also bound the pieces together instead of sewing them with seams. I did this because it worked better this the pattern and reduced bulk at the shoulder, which is always good!


I also started sewing the eyelets on the back side seam.


Here you can see the lining job I did (I told you it’s ugly) and how the bound edges look from the interior.


I stitched a gathered strip of lace around the neckline. Historically this would be attached to the chemise, but it’s such a pain to get the lace of an undershirt lined up with a boned bodice and I wanted to avoid the struggle. So I sewed it directly onto the bodice.


Then I added the pearls. These were once again, something I already had around. I bought these from my red and silver “Renaissance” gown (aka my totally un-researched slapped together costume that had a sleeve fall off during a photoshoot) but never used them. I sewed these around the shoulder of the bodice but didn’t put them on the back, since the wig would likely get tangled in them.

You can also see how my eyelets progressed!



For the center point, where the strands of pearls join, I put a brooch. I bought this for my birthday last year, It was a total $2.24 on ebay and suits this costume perfectly.

And when I say “perfectly” I mean it looks really pretty, not perfect from an accuracy standpoint.



With that attached, the bodice was complete and it was time for the skirt! I actually made and cut this skirt out in the middle of the night, so my photos are lackluster at best and nonexistent at worst. But here is my skirt “pattern” there are six panels which get progressively longer towards the back. Once they were all cut out and sewn together I cut the hem into an arched shape instead of the blocky/triangular one this pattern creates.


Two of the panels cut out…


And those are all the photos I have of the skirt being cut out. I told you it was bad! But you can probably imagine the rest, they all got sewn together with the wrong sides facing each other, then the seams were trimmed down to a quarter inch and sewn into french seams.

After the hem was shaped I folded the edge over by a half inch and basted it down.


Then the hem was brought up by an inch and a half and pinned in place.


I sewed it down with a cross stitch.



I knife pleated the top of the skirt down to twenty five inches.


After I sewed across the pleats I pinned the skirt to the bodice. Then I cut a seven inch slit in the skirt, which continues down from the opening in the side back of the bodice. To finish the edge I used more strips of wool.


All that got sewn on, then I pinned a strip of one inch wide bias tape over the frayed edge on the interior of the bodice. I stitched that down and it was done!


Isn’t it pretty?




I’m very happy with it! I was going to wait until Friday to post worn photos but here is a sneaky one since i’m eager to share!

Ana de Mendoza 3

Thank you for reading!


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Heinrich Mücke Inspired Dress

I try not to make separate posts for indoor pictures since they are never that great. But it’s already been a couple week since I finished this project and it might be a couple more before I have outdoor photos, so this will have to do!

Overall i’m really happy with this costume. I love the dress, headpiece, and how they look together. I’m pretty happy with how my wig and makeup turned out too! But I don’t love these pictures. I wanted the dress to be long and flowing but it’s a little too…flat.

I think next time i’ll wear it with a petticoat to get a bit more volume. I posted a video (here) of me spinning in it to get the hem laid out for photos – the volume it has in motion is something I want to carry over into photos as well. But that is an easy fix and not related to the dress itself, just the way it’s worn in the future.




And some portraits taken a few days later. I was trying out a new lighting setup, which I really liked, but I didn’t like the background. Going to change that next time!



Thanks for reading! A “The making of” post should be up on Monday!


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