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Christmas Angel Costume

I wanted to make another Christmas Costume, and this year I decided to make something inspired by Angels. The idea is based around a Christmas Angel my family had when I was younger, it was lit from within with christmas lights and had a lovely glow.

I made my dress from organza, a few dozen yards of tulle, gold ribbon, wreath mesh, glittery garlands, fabric poinsettias, and LED lights. The method I used to make this dress is similar to how I made my flower dresses, just on a much larger scale.

It has a half circle base for the skirt, which is heavily embellished with all sorts of glittery things and finished off with four meters of LED lights. The lights were sewn on by hand, and the battery packs are stitched into pockets in the back seam.

The bodice is a simple fitted bodice, lightly boned with a lace up back and braided tulle neckline.

I have two blog posts about the process, along with two videos.

Making the Skirt (video)

Making the Bodice (video)

Christmas Angel Costume, Photos


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Christmas Angel Costume, Photos

I have some photos to post today! Finally the weather conditions were perfect for photographing my Christmas Angel costume. My dad and I went to a Christmas tree farm in December and photographed it, but it was so bright out (even on an overcast day) that you couldn’t tell the dress had lights in it! And the lights are the key feature of this dress. So I decided that the only good environment for photographing it was a stormy, snowy day.

We’ve had a few of those in NY this week. Last week we got thirty inches which was a little bit too much snow to walk about in a ball gown. Luckily a lot of it has melted and iced over, which makes it easier to wade through.

Yesterday we got six hours of icy rain – but just before the light faded it turned to gorgeous snow. Which led to a mad dash of trying to put on makeup, a wig, and a huge dress is less than half an hour. I succeeded…kind of! I had lipstick all over my teeth and part of the dress was stuck in the waistband and the petticoat looks lopsided, but we did get some photos before it got dark!

I think the photos I took inside are a better representation of what this costume looks like, but these ones certainly have a nicer backdrop and atmosphere!

Big thanks to my dad for taking the pictures for me!

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Thanks for reading!

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2015 in Fashion & Fantasy

 

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Making a Christmas Angel Costume, Part Two

This is going to be a continuation to my last post, where I talked about making a glittery, light up, christmas skirt. Though this may be significantly less interesting because it doesn’t involve lights or glitter. Boo.

I wanted the bodice to be really simple. There is so much going on in the bottom of the dress and I wanted that to be the highlight, my plan for the bodice was something structured with an overlay of gathered tulle.

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Step one was drafting it, I didn’t do the most precise job…

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 But it worked out just fine, and once removed from my dress form it looked like this.

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I ironed all the pieces, then turned it into a paper pattern. When the pattern was done I made a mock up.

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It looked pretty good, the only fault was that it was too large! But that was an easy fix, and once I made it I was ready to move onto my real fabric.

I decided to use ivory shantung for this, I had a good amount of it laying around from a past project, and it has the right weight for a bodice. I cut my pattern out twice since I was using it for the top layer and for lining.

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 Here is what the top layer looked like laid out.

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They all got sewn together and in just a few minutes I had a functional bodice!

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As lovely as that was, my priority was making the lining, so I set that aside. For the lining I marked boning channels out on each piece, then I cut strips of shantung, turned the edges inward, and pinned them between the lines.

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Then they all got stitched down.

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The pieces got assembled, then the channels were filled. I used a mixture of hooping wire and plastic boning, not because it’s the best, but because i’m lazy and neither of those have to be filed/tipped.

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After the boning I turned all the edges over a half inch.

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Now I went back to the top layer! It was time to add the tulle overlay. To make this I sewed together three pieces of sixty inch wide tulle.

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I gathered the top edge down by hand, then stitched it to the bodice.

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After that the edge was turned over and sewn down. I also sewed the top edge to the lining.

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 The bottom edge got gathered as well, then sewed down.

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 I tried it on and there was a little issue. It definitely looked christmasy, but only because it gave me the shape of a snowman! The tulle puffed out and desperately needed to be tacked down or something.

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But before I got to tacking it down, I ran into another little issue. I placed the bodice on the dress form, along side the skirt, and realized something – they didn’t match.

Now in my defense I made the bodice before the skirt, and in my head I was thinking “The skirt will be made from ivory fabrics, so the bodice should be too!” which makes sense. But the skirt is actually made from ivory organza with an overly of ivory tulle – both fabrics are sheer, so the main color that shines through is the white from the petticoat worn underneath it.

Because of that the skirt is a really strange shade. It doesn’t help that the ivory tulle is especially yellow colored, and the white tulle (used for the petticoat) is very cool toned. The end result is a very light, warm white almost greenish toned shade. It definitely didn’t match any of the ivory fabrics I owned.

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 I did find a few potential options in my stash. The fabric on the left is a sheer mesh that also has a strange not white but not ivory tone to it, so I chose to use that.

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 Unfortunately my fabric struggles weren’t over yet, since the material is sheer I had to find something to go under it. Using white made it look too light, and ivory was too dark and red toned. So I once again had no clue what to do.

I ended up tea staining some white cotton sateen. I filled a plastic shopping bag with steaming water, stuck two bags of tea in it for five minutes, removed them, then added the fabric. The fabric only stayed in for sixty seconds, then I removed it as well.

It’s in the middle – the undyed cotton sateen is on left, the shantung on right.

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Soo I made the bodice, again.

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I sewed on the tulle by machine this time, because my patience wasn’t as big the second time around!

DSC_0849 Luckily I did manage to fix the snowman effect this time. After the bodice was assembled I laid it flat on a piece of tulle and cut the tulle to be the exact same size. I stitched this on after the gathered layer to keep it flat!

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I added grommets! They are each one and a half inches apart, except for the center ones, they are two inches apart. Which looks a bit silly but doesn’t effect how the garment wears.

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Now it was time for decorating it! The first thing I did was make the braided trim for the neckline. This was really easy to create, I cut three strips of tulle and attached them to a solid base.

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I braided them together and tied on both ends.

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I tried it on with the bodice and I honestly hated how it looked. My plan for a simple bodice didn’t really work because it didn’t compliment the skirt, it just looked really bland by comparison.

To fix it I made another tulle braid, this time much larger. And when it was done I wrapped it in gold ribbon.

DSC_0859 I stitched this to the smaller braid and attached them to the neckline. I was much happier with how this looked!

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 I also added a glittery mesh modesty panel to hide any back fat. Which is the not so glamorous side effect of wearing a boned bodice.

It’s just a rectangle with a snap on one corner, which joins up to another snap on the opposite side.

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I still felt like it might be missing something, so I glued together a few glittery bits and a gold bow. I also sewed on a glittery ornament. All of these items were also used in the skirt, so it makes it a bit more cohesive.

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However when it’s used it destroys my original, simplistic design. So I made it detachable and i’m not sure if i’ll end up using it or not.

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When the bodice was done I sewed it onto the skirt..

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There was an ugly seam, which I honestly didn’t try very hard to avoid. I knew I would be using a sash of some sort so it didn’t bother me.

I ended up using several pieces of tulle to create a permanent (sewn down) sash. This is what the dress looked like during the first try on!

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So that’s the dress. I also wanted to pair it with a crown and wig. The crown was supposed to be a flower crown of sorts with candles extending upward. I know they make ones specifically for Saint Lucia’s Day, but they were bulkier than I wanted. And the few I found online were out of my price range, didn’t come in the color I wanted, and didn’t hold as many candles as I had hoped.

 I attempted to make my own from two strips of buckram and boning, it was structurally strong but forced the candles to lean inward. The second one had a reinforced cardboard base with holders made from cardboard tubes. It worked in theory but once I got it on my head it had a similar problem to the first, but this time the candles leaned outward!

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Once I put more thought into it I realized the idea wasn’t meant to be. Even if I could get it to work, I wanted photos of this costume outdoors and the wind would likely blow out the candles. I also wanted photos on a private tree lot, and I doubt they would like me setting things on fire. So I decided to trash this idea and just use my crown from last year.

I also curled a wig. This wig is two super cheap ones that I sewed together. The wig had seen much better days and was a horrible tangled mess, it took two hours to detangle and another hour to curl. I talk about the curling process here!

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The final thing was finding accessories. I settled on a tons of rings, the gold bands are from forever 21 and the rhinestone ones are from ebay, I got a big set for 80c a piece or something crazy!

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I proceeded to take some crappy photos in my room. I’m going to try and get photos at a christmas tree lot today, which should be better. I really want to photograph this in the snow, but we don’t usually get much until january or february. So the christmas tree lot is likely my only hope of seasonal photos!

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Someone suggested I add ribbon in the back, so I did that! This is wire ribbon I curled around a pen.

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So that is it for making this costume! I did make a video that shows the process of making this bodice, if you are interested it can be watched here!

Thanks for reading!

 
21 Comments

Posted by on December 15, 2014 in Fashion & Fantasy, The Making Of

 

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Making a Christmas Angel Costume, Part One

I’m pretty sure this is the longest blog post i’ve ever written, which is pretty impressive considering my posts usually have a thousand words and thirty photos. There wasn’t a good way to break this up so I decided to leave it as one huge post!

I decided to make another Christmas Costume, I made one last year and it really got me in the festive mood. I love how Christmas contradicts all the things that winter represents, it’s a celebration and involves warm colors, lights, and cheery things in general.

It makes me happy and I wanted to make something that represented that. And I mean that quite literally, because my project idea involved making a dress light up.

I was sort of inspired by a christmas angel we had for our tree when I was younger. She wore an organza ivory dress trimmed with gold, and lights were mounted on the inside to make it glow. Sticking with that theme I decided on a gathered tulle bodice with braided trim to have almost a medieval saintly feeling.

I also wanted to pair it with a candle headpiece – it turns out there is a tradition to celebrate Saint Lucia that involves candelabra headpieces, so i’ll probably use those as reference when making mine.

The idea was – once again – using the tulle flower dress technique, but filling the hem with garlands and lights. This is probably the last time i’ll use this technique but it’s my favorite dress i’ve made using the method.

   I talk about some of the things I purchased for this dress here, and the petticoat that goes underneath it here.

Here are a few of my sketches for the project.

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The base of this dress is a half circle skirt, so I began by drafting that. My sewing room isn’t quite big enough for this project, so it was a bit of a challenge!

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The pattern is fifty-six inches long, which is the exact length of the organza I purchased.

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After the half circle was cut, I also cut an eight of a circle to create a base for the train.

The battery packs for the lights will be hidden by a tulle train at the back of the dress. The 1/8th circle creates something to build off of without taking any volume away from the dress.

Before I could do ANYTHING to my newly cut circle skirt I had to make the pockets for the battery packs. The lights are the main thing on this dress so I was thinking of them all the way along. I decided the best thing to do would be to make pockets to store them, then sew them into the back seam on the dress. I left one inch gaps in the pockets and seam which I could thread the lights through.

It sounds confusing, but it will all work out!

I bought three four meter long lengths of warm white LED lights from amazon, and two packs of star lights from Michaels.

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Since I have five strands I needed to make different sized pockets for each side of the dress – one will have two, the other will have three.

I made my pattern accordingly.

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I cut it out from christmas themed quilters cotton – this fabric was actually the main inspiration for the color scheme in this dress, but this is the only thing I actually used it for!

The edges got marked out and turned over twice to ensure they wouldn’t fray.

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Then I stitched zippers into the tops.

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And did up the sides with french seams.

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Then they got stitched into the seams of the dress. I was VERY careful to leave one inch openings every 1.5″ to ensure the lights could be threaded through the seam.

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Then I could finally begin work on the fun stuff! This is what my circle skirt looked like draped over the petticoat.

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I liked the shape but knew it would collapse down when I started adding to it. To give it a slight boost I hemmed it with horsehair braid, and on top of that I sewed gold wreath mesh into the hem for extra stiffness.

I actually did a super shitty job at this and ended up with a lot of puckers and stuff. The mesh moves a lot and I really should have pinned it in place prior to sewing it on.

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This is the skirt laid out flat, you can see the pockets for the battery packs on the right side!

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After I got it laid out I added the large, glittery garlands that I got from Michaels. I think I used about six sticks of hot glue for this because they really did not want to stay down!

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When I was done I had fifteen inches of garland left, so I cut it up and scattered the leaves around to make it look like they were climbing up the skirt. I also added a few dozen of the fake golden poinsettias.

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I tried it on my dress form again and was really pleased!

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Then I added the first layer of lights. I threaded the lights through the pockets and everything went as planned!

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I spread  the lights out and stitched them down by hand. This was very very time consuming because the thread kept getting caught on the garland. This first layer took me two hours to do!

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When that was done I noticed  the hem was a little uneven so I took it off the dress form and trimmed it while the skirt was laid flat. Since circle skirts have to be bias cut they will warp, especially if you weight the hem. To fix this you really need to trim the hem – but I couldn’t do that because the hem was covered in flowers. So I tried trimming it at the waist to resolve the problem.

Which made everything much worse. Because the weight in the hem was distorting it, everything seemed even when laid flat. When I lifted the skirt back onto the dress form there were parts that didn’t touch the ground and parts that were four inches longer than everything else. So my attempt to fix “bad” led to “huge disaster”

I ended up adding an extra inch of the gold mesh to the area that didn’t touch the ground. Aside from lifting the significantly longer area at the waist, there wasn’t much I could do about that.

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Speaking of the mesh, that was a huge issue too. The mesh has these evil barbs on them made from plastic. I’m one hundred percent sure they added these just to spite me because they are horrible. They get caught on, and try to tear any tulle that touches them. Which really sucks when you are using a tulle petticoat and want to add a tulle overlay.

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Luckily I had some gold ribbon which I stitched on the hem to cover that. Unfortunately a lot of the hem had flowers on it, so I had to rip them off just to attach the ribbon.

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When that was done I got out my glue gun and began re-attaching things. I added WAY more flowers, some extra glittery sprigs, and even some plastic ornaments I bought. I also used those things to hide the hem extension I added.

I ran out of flowers and still wanted to put more stuff to the hem, so I made a whole bunch of bows from gold ribbon and added those as well.

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Here is the new and improved skirt!

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And the first time lighting it up! So exciting!

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Then it was time for more lights! You can barely see them here because they were being lit up with rechargeable batteries, which didn’t end up working very well. Luckily this strand  only took an hour to sew on because they are higher up and the thread didn’t get caught as much.

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Here is the dress with layer two on!

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And then it was time for layer three – the final layer! I wasn’t sure how I wanted these to be positioned so I stitched them on while the skirt was on the dress form. To prevent myself from sewing the dress to the petticoat in the process of attaching the lights, I slipped a piece of paper underneath it.

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Here is the skirt with the final layer all lit up! The hem issue is really obvious here. Later on I ended up lifting that side one and a half inches, but that was the best I could do.

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After all the lights and glittery things were on I did up the back seam of the skirt. I also lint rolled it a dozen times to get off any threads, lint, hairs, and hot glue strings.

The next step was the tulle layer! I cut two pieces of 56″ x 360″ tulle, as well as two 56″ x 72″ pieces and a 56″ x 108″ layer – the latter three pieces will be used for the train.

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The two largest pieces of tulle were stitched together at the hem to create a piece that was 111″ x 360″, I couldn’t get good photo representation of this, but it was a massive amount of tulle!

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I actually wanted the piece to be 108″ long, so when I was gathering it down I left a three inch allowance on one side. This also means the seam attaching the pieces together will be hidden underneath the skirt, rather than being directly at the hem.

The other side of the skirt was gathered down with the normal half inch seam allowance.

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One side got sewn on to the outside of the skirt.

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And the other on the inside so the hem was encased in tulle.

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I basted the layers down at the back, and all my glittery stuff and lights were sealed in! I tried lighting everything up and was so pleased with how pretty it looked. This also fixed the hem length issue because the tulle forced everything to be 54″ long.

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So the next morning I go upstairs to work on my dress, and there was a slight snafu.

There was a spider inside my dress.

THERE WAS A SPIDER INSIDE MY DRESS.

SEALED INSIDE MY DRESS. INSIDE OF IT. BETWEEN THE TULLE AND ORGANZA. ON THE INSIDE.

I wouldn’t say i’m scared of spiders, but I strongly dislike them, luckily I don’t encounter them often. But my sewing room has been rearranged this week so it probably fled from behind a cabinet I moved. How the hell it got inside the dress, I have no idea. Maybe it was hiding in the garland before I put the tulle on (ew) or maybe it crawled through the basting stitches.

I sprayed it with water in an attempt to kill it – which didn’t work – but it did play dead up until I tried touching it. Which was great and not terrifying at all. There was a waterfall streaming down the side of my dress that could have drowned a small child yet the stupid spider seemed fine.

I ended up ripping out the stitches at the top so there was a 6″ opening at the waist. Then I stuck the vacuum extension into the dress and sucked it up.

DSC_0749 I stitched that closed and moved on.

I sewed together the remaining pieces of tulle and trimmed them into a “U” shape that I thought would make a nice train.

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I gathered it down to three inches, then pinned it to the back of the dress.

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And it looked…really sad, actually.

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So I made a liner for it from white tulle (didn’t have enough ivory left) which gave it a boost. I liked this much better, so I sewed them both in place!

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I feel like the back looks a bit empty because it doesn’t have anything gold on it.

I did get this huge glittery bow, which is obnoxious. I love it for the obvious reasons: It’s a huge glittery bow, but I’m not completely sure it matches the ethereal feeling I was aiming for with this dress.

I might get rid of it completely or make it detachable. I’m torn.

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To finish up this skirt I folded the edges of the slit inward. I left a ten inch slit in all the layers to make sure it could easily go over my head. The skirt actually hides this slit really well since there is so much volume, but i’ll probably end up adding snaps to keep it shut just in case. I’m going to leave that for after I figure out the bodice closure.

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So that’s pretty much it! This is it from the side:

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From the front in a bright room.

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In a dim room. In these pictures I also turned on the star lights – the LEDS in these are white but look almost blue when turned on. I stitched them underneath the hem with hopes the gold mesh would filter them and give a warmer tone. It didn’t work, and I don’t love how they look turned on, so i’m not sure how much use they will get.

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And in a dark room.

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I think that covers everything! If you are interested in actually watching me making it, I have a video that shows most of the process. It’s posted HERE! And this video shows it all lit up with the lights on the twinkle setting, which is kind of cool.

I’m really happy with this dress so far. It came out just like I had envisioned, which is a really wonderful feeling!

Thank you for reading!

 
109 Comments

Posted by on December 4, 2014 in Fashion & Fantasy, The Making Of

 

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The Christmas Costume, Photos

I’m really happy to finally be posting all these photos!

As soon as I started this costume I knew it would be somewhat holiday themed, and I wanted to photograph it in an area that matched. A tree farm seemed perfect but I wasn’t sure I would have it done on time, or be able to find one that didn’t have anything industrial in the background.

Luckily neither of these things were a problem, and we managed to find a tree farm willing to let us take photos. It was a nice day and the lighting was really lovely, so these pictures came out even better then I had expected they would.

My one peeve is that it was muddy, and I had to hike my skirts up as we walked through the lot, which resulted in the dress getting wrinkled! But other then that everything is like I imagined.

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I hope you all enjoy the holidays!

 
 

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The Christmas Costume

I purchased this fabric many months ago, but saved it until it was closer to the holiday season since it looked so very festive! I ended up pulling it out at the start of December after seeing an  inspiring photo of Anne of Austria.

The whole dress is made from brocade, around six yards of it. The sleeves are brocade strips laid over satin and organza undersleeves. The dress laces up the back with velvet ribbon, and has a lightly boned bodice.

The cloak was mostly hand sewn, and is made from ten yards of stretch velvet. And as usually, both pieces of the costume were made from patterns I drafted myself.

The headpiece was made from christmas decorations, pulled apart and glued onto a piece of boning. The wig was several cheap ebay wigs sewn together to have a nice amount of volume.

I have three blog posts about this costume,

Part One : Making the Bodice

Part Two : Making the Skirt and Crown

Part Three : Making the cloak 

I had a single photoshoot with this costume,

The Christmas Costume Photos

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The Christmas Costume – A Glittery Gown – Part 3

Sorry for the late post – WordPress was being odd on Sunday and wouldn’t let me post…then I forgot about it until tonight, oops!

Today I’m going to spend way too long writing about something which seemed like an awesome idea when I was doodling out a sketch. In actuality, making a cape from ten yards of stretch velvet sucks. Seriously, not something I would recommend doing it unless you have masochistic tendencies or enjoy getting into screaming matches with your sewing machine.

When you try to take your anger out on the horrible fabric, it just sits there looking all pretty, draping all nicely, and feeling super soft, all innocent looking! Psh. If this fabric was reincarnated as an animal it would be that cute puppy that pees on everything but is so adorable you can’t bear to part with it.

Yeah. That’s the relationship I have with this project.

I had a very clear picture of how I wanted this cloak/overdress to look, and it was pretty complicated. To make it look the way I wanted I had to build a functional bodice, then add the cape and shoulder details ontop of it.

To get a rough idea of what I wanted, I sketched on some muslin to get the rough shapes.

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This gave  me enough information to draft an actual pattern.

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I was quite pleased with this, it only needed a few minor adjustments.

I cut each piece once from velvet, and again from quilters cotton. Though I purchased stretch velvet, I didn’t want my garment to stretch.Stretch velvet is just the cheapest of all velvet’s (six dollars a yard) and happened to come in the exact color I wanted.

I sewed together my lining at the shoulder seams. Then I used the pattern I made for the bodice sleeves to create the sleeve covers from velvet.

I gathered these by hand, then sewed them on to the lining.

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Then I made up the back panel, this was my first real look at how tricky it is to work with velvet. Honestly, I think it just may be my machine, but no matter what thread/needle/tensions I used the velvet shredded my thread and the machine would unthread every three inches or so. I got so frustrated I switched off to hand sewing for the vast majority of this project.

So it wasn’t that awful, but a project that should have taken a week from start to finish took a lot longer since I had almost twenty hours of hand sewing to do.

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After that was finished I cut the cape, and sewed that onto the back panel. The cape pattern was just two giant rectangles gathered down, and hemmed later on to be the proper length.

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 After this was done I sat down with netflix on and watched a dozen Say Yes to The Dress episodes, and a full season of River Monsters while I went through and hemmed every edge of the cape.

Then I started sewing the velvet pieces to the bodice, which, at this point, was still just quilters cotton.

The bodice pieces looked like this.

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And when they were pinned onto the bodice roughly, the whole thing together looked like this!

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The first part of the back panel was sewn on like so.

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Then the front piece was stitched onto the back panel (the part that had the cape attached) these were sewn on the same way the back panel was.

It’s all sort of complicated to explain, since the pattern was so odd.

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And voila!

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I sewed the side seams together and tried it on over the dress to make sure it all looked right, which it did.

DSC_29274But I had one final piece to sew on, the skirt. Which was just a 50″x65″ piece of gathered velvet . Once that was done it also had to be hemmed, which took three more episodes of River Monsters.

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And that was about it. It wasn’t a terribly difficult project, it was just a lot more time consuming then I had expected when I started! Velvet definitely goes on my hated materials list now, it’s not a fun fabric to work with. But it does look really pretty and drape in a lovely way~

 
4 Comments

Posted by on December 23, 2013 in Historically Inspired, The Making Of

 

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The Christmas Costume – A Glittery Gown – Part 2

Today something pretty unbelievable happened – I hit five hundred thousand all time views on my blog, which some people probably wouldn’t consider a lot. But i’m amazed, and smiling, and giddy because that is just so many people. I can’t even comprehend the fact that many people have read or willing viewed the ridiculously long rambles I write about making things.

I mean, hell, I still remember the months where I would get one thousand views in the entire month. And I was so proud of that, and now I get that in a day, and it’s insane. But I’m also really happy, and I really appreciate the fact so many people continue to take interest! So thanks for reading, even if you don’t read often, because it has contributed in some way to this overwhelming happiness i’m feeling today.

Anyway,

I do actually have progress to share, too, and I will get into that right now. 

Since Christmas is just around the corner, it seems fitting to talk about my Christmas Costume! A few weeks ago I wrote a whole post on the concept and how I made the bodice, and that post can be found here. If you haven’t already, I would suggest you read that post before this one. 

This post will talk about the skirt, and the crown. I should have the post about the cloak up on Sunday, with photos of it all together posted on Christmas eve! 

The skirt and crown were by far the easiest part of this costume. Especially when compared to the bodice and cape, these pieces were an absolute vacation to work on.

I had originally planned to make my skirt a giant rectangle… but then I realized I didn’t have much material left, not nearly enough to make the skirt as full as I had wanted. I decided to attempt it anyway, figuring it would probably be fine. 

So I used all the material I had left…

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When I draped it over the petticoat I had made ( I talk about making it here) I realized it was really not going to work at all. The skirt was too small for the petticoat, and it looked like a stuffed cone that caved in at the bottom. A disaster. 

I mean, disaster might be a slight exaggeration, but it definitely wasn’t what I wanted.

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Soo I rifled through my fabric bins and came up with some yellow brocade that didn’t really match, but would have to be good enough. I sewed it onto the back panels of my rectangle skirt, then gathered it down onto a basic waistband. Here is what the back of the skirt looked like once I was finished…

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I thought it looked pretty terrible, and to be honest I still don’t think it looks quite right. But it’s grown on me a lot throughout the sewing process. I think it brings out the yellow in the sleeves, which creates more contrast and makes the costume as a whole look more interesting. 

I went ahead and hemmed the whole thing, I did a double three quarter inch hem and whip stitched it by hand. It took longer then I would care to admit, but it looks much better then doing it by machine. 

Once that was finished I sewed the skirt onto the bodice (by hand) and declared the dress finished! 

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And when worn…

(since I wasn’t wearing heels the dress is a bit too long and folds over in the front, oops) 

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I’m super happy to call that complete! But this post isn’t over just yet. 

When I first looked at this fabric it looked so holiday and christmasy to me, and when I decided to make an elaborate gown from it, I knew I needed a matching headpiece. I thought about several crown ideas before deciding on a flower crown. 

Now you may think that flower crowns are too casual to go with such a dress, and most probably would be. But when you choose (like I did) to make one entirely out of glittery christmas tree decorations, they definitely do not fit into the casual category. 

My materials were all purchased at Michaels (a craft store) from the holiday decor section. These were all 50% off and cost me seven dollars or so in total? It was something like that. 

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I also took some supplies from my stash, plastic boning, organza, and some hot glue. 

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I cut my organza into strips, then did a half inch rolled hem.

DSC_2775Once both edges were finished, I gathered and sewed it onto a piece of plastic boning.

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I pulled all the flowers off the stems, and cut apart the leafy gold ones that I purchased. Then I went a bit crazy and glued them all over the damn thing until I was happy with it. 

Once I was done I used hot glue to connect the two ends, then I snipped away the extra and it was done!

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Isn’t that lovely?

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It’s pretty ridiculous I know, but so is the dress, so I think it works! 

Thank you for reading~

 
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Posted by on December 20, 2013 in Historically Inspired, The Making Of

 

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The Christmas Costume – A Glittery Gown – Part 1

Like the vast majority of my projects, I’m not entirely pleased with the name I’ve chosen for this, but I think it is more amusing then calling it “Red and gold dress #2” so I shall stick with it. The name was inspired by the fact that this costume is red, gold, glittery, and decorated with things purchased from the christmas section of a craft store. Wearing it makes me feel sort of like a princess, but mostly like I belong on top of a tree. 

I originally came up with this idea when I was researching 17th centuy gowns and the baroque period – as I have plans to make a very simple taffeta gown of that style in the near future.

Unsurprisingly I got distracted, this time by a stunning painting of Anne of Austria which can be seen here.

I really loved the idea of having a dramatic cape and overdress on top of a heavily printed gown. Then I remembered some materials I purchased for my birthday earlier this year that would work really well for such a thing. I had a little less then six yards of a lovely brocade, along with several yards of matching gold satin and organza. All together I was sure I had enough to make something wonderful! 

When I went into NYC a few weeks back I purchased eight yards of velvet to turn into a cape, as well as enough tulle netting for an underskirt. And so it began…

My first sketch looked like this, very similar in style to the painting that inspired it. I ended up dropping and changing a lot of these in my  more finalized sketch later on.

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I began with the bodice, I altered the pattern I made for my pirate bustier to better suit this project. Then I cut it from a heavyweight twill which became my lining, and again from brocade. I sewed the boning onto my lining, then sewed it right sides together so each edge was finished! 

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I went through and tacked both layers together with a cross stitch so no topstitching would be visible on the fabric. Then I moved onto the sleeves, which were going to be the most elaborate and outrageous part of the costume. 

I wanted a very specific shape, one that requires a very poofy base, so I decided to start by cutting a normal sleeve pattern which would be quite snug. This is the base that I would sew everything to. 

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 I made little rolls out of quilt batting rectangles. 

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 I sewed two rolls to each sleeve, marking where each puff would be. 

20131111_142808Then I cut much larger rectangles of quilt batting and draped them evenly on top of the smaller rolls. 

This is much more time consuming then any other sleeve base method I’ve used, since these have to be hand sewed down very carefully and evenly to get identical shapes on both sleeves. But I do like how this ended up looking much more, it is also far sturdier and more comfortable then just stuffing sleeves like I did in past.

Definitely a method I plan to use again in future projects! 

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 I took a large piece of satin and gathered it down the middle. Then it was pinned onto the sleeve base.

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I sewed this down and repeated it at the top of the sleeve, then again with my other sleeve. I cut off many extra inches of material that hung over the edges.

20131112_122824I repeated this with gold organza, except this time I used an even larger piece of material and a pattern I drafted to make sure they were actually even. 

The picture shows me attaching half of the second piece of organza. 

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Finished with that step, but the sleeves were far from done! 

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I did take a momentary break to see if they had the shape I wanted and they really, really did. They looked exactly the way I wanted and I couldn’t have been happier! I was stupidly giddy over the shape of these things.

I would also like to say that this is the actual color of both materials. I’ve been switching between photographing things with my phone and my nikon, my phone tends to make everything much less vibrant. The brocade also has a tendency of changing between red, pink, brown, and maroon depending on lighting. 

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Next I went ahead and made the strips for a sleeve overlay, which was a somewhat tedious and boring process that I didn’t photograph at all. But once I was done I ended up with two of these

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Which were sewed to the sleeves, and looked like this!

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You could see the icky bands of interfacing between the puffs and at the bottom of the sleeves which I needed to fix.  I cut a few strips of satin and a very long piece of organza which was turned into a ruffle, and when that was sewn on I was left with this! 

DSC_2715In the picture above the sleeves are sewn onto the bodice, but the side seams are not yet done, which is why they look a little loose. Once they get stitched up they should fit nice and tight! 

I should also mention that each edge of the sleeves were encased in bias tape so they wouldn’t fray. 

Thanks for reading!

The next post will talk about the skirt. Or the cape. Whichever I finish first. 

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2013 in Historically Inspired, The Making Of

 

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Progress Report: January, February & March 2017

Hello everyone! It’s been a while since my last post. In fact, I think this six-week absence may be the longest I’ve ever gone without posting on this blog. That wasn’t intentional, and I didn’t realize quite how long it had been until I sat down to write this.

I thought a good way to get back to writing would be with a Progress Report, so I can update you on all the things I’ve been up to. But I think it’s best to start this off with an explanation for my lack of updates, both on here and on youtube. If you’re not interested in this then skip down to where the sewing updates begin!

I don’t have a reason for my lack of blogging. However at the start of 2017 I made a conscious decision to focus on projects that I’m excited about, rather than projects that lend themselves well to documenting.

I feel like my lack of satisfaction with what I accomplished in 2015 and 2016 has a lot to do with the pressure I put on myself to keep up with social media…specifically Youtube. The videos I was posting weekly (especially the “Making of” ones) are very time consuming to make, and were taking a lot of time away from the things I actually wanted to work on.

I also had a bit of a wake up call when I realized that I’m turning 20 in a month. Though that isn’t old at all it feels like a very significant age, and made me realize that the time I have now to focus on passion projects is something I should take full advantage of. Because it won’t last forever.

Even though that decision was only supposed to effect Youtube, it’s obvious my blog suffered too. Which is something I would like to change, because I’m working on stuff and I want to share it! So hopefully I can get back to posting a couple times a month, at the very least.

Also I am in no way quitting Youtube. I currently have 6 videos filmed, and they should be going up within the next few weeks. Making videos is something I enjoy doing and want to continue with, it just isn’t going to be my main priority, which means uploads will be less consistent.

Another reason for my lack of posting is because of a job opportunity I’ve been pursuing. I have no idea if it will work out or not, but I devoted a lot of time to researching the project which took away from sewing.

It also motivated (and forced) me to do things I should have done a while ago – like making a portfolio. Buying business cards. Creating a website that doesn’t have “doxiequeen” in the title. Making galleries and writing descriptions for all my projects. Stuff that takes I way longer than you would expect! In fact those last two things are still a work in progress, so I can’t share them yet, though I can share my business cards which make me feel very professional.

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Now with the excuses out of the way, I’m very happy to say that despite my lack of updates, I have been productive! This isn’t like my absence last year where I lazed about for a month. There are several costumes I completed, and a bunch more that I have in progress.

Unfortunately the weather has been so bad that I haven’t gotten to photograph any of the pieces, aside from my 18th Century Undress Costume, which you’ve seen already.

Something you may not have seen is the video I made about this project, which goes into a bit of detail about each piece, shows how it is put on, and how it looks in action. I’m really happy with the movement this piece has and I’m very pleased that this video shows that!

I’ve also finished a Medieval costume, which consists of a surcoat, headpiece, and kirtle that laces from the front. I thought I documented this fairly well, but I can’t find any photos of it past this point. I think I posted a few “finished” photos of it laying flat on instagram, so I must be getting confused. Or I put them in a specific folder which somehow got deleted.

I have mixed feelings about this costume. The bodice is fully lined which made the dress almost impossible to take in…and it really needed to be taken in. I did the best I could, but it’s still too large and gapes away from my body at the waistline, which means the silhouette isn’t what I wanted. The surcoat was also a bit rushed, and I don’t love the hemline. Overall this ensemble is “Ok” but it isn’t what I hoped it would be.

There will be a write up with finished photos included whenever the weather is nice enough to take them.

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I also finished another 18th century undress costume. I had so much fun with the last one that I couldn’t resist. This time it’s more casual, consisting of a chemise, cotton skirt, apron, and jumps! It was loosely inspired by the blue dress from Beauty in the Best, since all the movie advertisements got me wondering what a casual lady in France during that period could get away with wearing.

The finished ensemble is really comfortable and I love the silhouette. However the construction on the jumps is just ok – I used the wrong type of material for binding, didn’t add enough support to the eyelets, and sewed internal boning channels by hand which are really flimsy. I see myself remaking these with the same pattern but different construction methods.

Anyone who follows me on youtube will be happy to know that I filmed the process of making all the pieces for this costume. And those videos should be going up soon.

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I’ve almost completed my “big project” that I took on at the beginning of this year. It’s a 1660’s masquerade costume based on this portrait. The costume consists of a bodice, skirt, and hat. The bodice and hat are finished, but the skirt still requires a bit more work.

So far I’m really happy with this. The bodice fits perfectly, and the skirt is looking good as well. I’ve had a lot of fun working with so many different trims and lace, and it’s nice putting them onto something structured so they really shine. I think my next “Making of” post will talk about this, since I’m excited to write about it!

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Underneath that is a chemise made from sequined lace fabric and embroidered lace trim. I whipped this up in four hours so I could wear it to a photoshoot the next day!

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I also made a few things based on existing patterns. The first was this pannier, which was followed this pair of pants. It’s based on a Simplicity pattern and I’m so pleased with the end result. They are in a 1930’s style, with a high waist, pockets, and pleats in the front and back.

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All the seams on mine match, and they have gingham lined pockets. I plan on making this pattern in a more understated print, and potentially in solid black. I think the style suits me a lot more than the fitted trousers that are currently in style. And they weren’t hard to make at all!

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The final pattern is from McCalls, which brings me to a fun thing I did last month:

I was lucky enough to be invited to tour their headquarters in NYC where they design, draft, construct, and test patterns. The tour was really interesting, and I saw people do everything from writing pattern instructions to making mock ups and producing samples. Every part of the process happens there, aside from printing and shipping the finished patterns.

The space also featured things like full walls devoted to buttons and fabric samples, sewing trinkets from the 1800’s, sketches from the 1950’s, and an archive room.

I want to live in their archive room. It’s amazing. For those unfamiliar with pattern history, they were originally printed in women’s magazines – usually without measurements or instructions. The magazines mainly consists of drawings that show what was fashionable, but also include advertisements, stories, news, embroidery patterns, sewing patterns, etc.

And their archive room has dozens of those magazines in hard cover editions dating all the way back to 1907! Many of them feature full color pages that are just stunning. I would frame so many of these images if they were available as prints.

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A few of the books had typewriter written notes tucked between the pages, usually documenting what happened in that week’s meeting, and dated from the early 1900s. I also came across articles about Woodrow Wilsons Inaugural Address in 1913!

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From the 1920’s onward they have the pattern catalogues, which you could order tissue paper patterns from. These were equally as beautiful and interesting – and they have these for almost every year leading up to present times!

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It was a wonderful experience – both seeing the working environment, and getting to look through some of what they have in the archive room.

I left feeling so inspired that I went straight to the garment district. I picked up some silk shantung in green and purple, along with a matching cotton. I think something edwardian will come of these some day soon!

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While browsing cottons at the back of the store (Diana’s Fabrics) I came across this wonderfully awful material. It’s bright orange and has Dr.Seuss-esque monkeys on it. It may be the ugliest fabric I’ve ever seen. But it’s also kind of charming. And it was really cheap. So I bought it. And it has now been turned into a dress, made following a Vintage Vogue pattern.

I had a few issues with that pattern (V8789) – It seems to be drafted for someone whose back is as busty as their front. There was so much excess material at the back that I could put the dress on backwards and it still fit fine. It was also a bit big in the waist, even though I sized down.

On the bright side, the instructions were very easy to follow, and the shape of it is cute.  However since the sizing is off I’d highly suggest making a mock up first and being prepared for alterations. It’s very difficult to alter after cutting it out because the shaping is done with darts, not seams.

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I filmed the process of making that dress, and I plan on filming some more videos showcasing the “Vintage Vogue” line. The styles really appeal to me and I was so impressed with the instructions. I have three others to choose from, I just need to get fabric first!

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Another neat thing from the past few months: I was in the NY Post! A reporter emailed me and asked if I would be okay with being interviewed – I said yes, and a week later this came out. I’ve been interviewed for articles before, but this was my first time seeing one printed in the paper rather than an online article. Which made it seem a lot more real, and much more exciting.

Though the article is nice, my favorite thing is the response I got when I posted about it. I got almost two hundred replies with some really supportive, kind messages and comments. I try not to pay too much attention to comments (though I read them all!) because I don’t want them to skew my opinion on my work too much.

But It made me realize how many people out there want me to succeed. And I feel really grateful and touched to have that support behind me.

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Another interesting thing from this month was that I had a photoshoot with three of my costumes. Like a proper photoshoot. Not me doing my makeup and balancing a tri-pod on my ironing board. Or my dad and I shooting in natural light in the woods on a Saturday morning.

There was a makeup artist, a hair stylist, a photographer, and assistants. I’m not sure when/if I’ll see photos back from it, but I’m glad I got to have the experience. I especially enjoyed this 1830’s inspired coif that was somehow created with just my shoulder length hair!

Makeup by Roshar, hair by Linh Nguyen

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Perhaps the most exciting thing in my world is that I’ve decided to swap my sewing room and my bedroom! My bedroom is bigger than my current sewing room, so I’m hoping it can accommodate most of my finished costumes (which are currently living in my brothers bedroom), a standing height cutting table, and everything that is in my current sewing room.

I’m a bit scared of the change since I really really like my sewing room. But I’m excited to have more room, and hopefully get things organized in a more functional way.

So far the room has been painted a light teal and is holding some new Ikea furniture….along with (empty) storage boxes from Target, and (empty) wall units from Michaels. Oh and all my clothes and bed. I think this photo sums the rooms current state up pretty nicely!

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I’ll probably swap the room completely in the next week or two. I’d like the cutting table to be built first, but that may take a while since this is its current state:

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My dad is being nice enough to design and build it for me…but that means I’m not involved in how long the build takes. So it could be a while.

In the mean time I’m focusing on what I can control, the decorations! I need frames for some prints I bought, and in my search for those I’ve found other things I needed…this calendar with vintage ladies on it.

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I may have also wandered into the vintage figure section of ebay. So now I’m doing my best to resist the urge to collect the pretty porcelain ladies from Homco and vintage Florence Ceramics because that could get expensive fast. But they have such pretty dresses and hand painted details, which have me very tempted.

I did crack a little bit, and bought a set of vintage avon thimbles in the shape of historical women. Which I think are delightful – they aren’t practical as thimbles, but it combines my two loves and I smile every time I see it on my shelf! I’m calling it my sewing room warming present to myself.

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I think that covers all my “life” updates, now on to what costumes I have in progress! I’m on a bit of a 1820’s kick right now – it started when I saw this garment, and fell in love. I had some black suiting and enough gold looped braid around to make something similar, so I did. Or I am. I have the jacket almost done aside from the collar, but I haven’t even started on the skirt and hat.

So far it’s been fun. I really like working with this looped braid.

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I also started on a project that has been planned for years, a Regency Court Gown out of blue embroidered velvet. I have everything for this cut out, the bodice is assembled, and the skirt is gathered. It’s just a matter of finishing the sleeves and sewing it together.

I don’t think this project will have a headpiece, but I’d like to make some matching slippers to go with it.

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just began work on this evening gown which was mentioned in my Christmas haul.  I’m having fun testing materials and seeing how to create the padded portions. It should be an enjoyable challenge as long as I don’t procrastinate much!

And the final WIP is a major flop – it was supposed to be a gown made from glittery mesh and iridescent fabrics, with a fitted mermaid silhouette. But I made it in a big rush, didn’t think a lot about the seaming, and overestimated how opaque the mesh overlay would be.

The combination of those things lead to something I’m really unhappy with and won’t be continuing to work on. Though I do like the bodice and skirt pattern separately (and plan on using them again) I should have sewed them together at the natural waistline. Because this ended up being really unflattering.

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As for future projects, I’m thinking about making a bustle dress from silk shantung. And I would like to do something Renaissance themed – I bought some lovely silks from Fabric Mart during a sale that would suit one nicely. But I haven’t been able to settle on a design that doesn’t look straight of The Borgias. It’s hard to be creative when perfection already exists!

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My birthday is also coming up, so I need to think about new materials I may want.

I’d like to branch out a bit, either in silhouette or texture. I’ve been really interested in the variety of materials used in 1920’s dresses, so that might be fun.  And I would like to make a muslin gown at some point – maybe incorporating  beetle shells. I’ve also been imagining another 17th century project from a light blue silk.

But I’m trying to focus on my current projects, since a couple of them are so close to being done. 

And I think that covers everything! This has been more rambley  than usual, but I thought a wordy update might be appreciated after so long without posting. And it was a lot of fun to write!

Thanks for reading – Hopefully I’ll be back with another update soon! This time in “Making of” form.

 
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Posted by on March 28, 2017 in Progress Report