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Category Archives: Fashion & Fantasy

Draped Velvet Dress, Photos

As promised, here are the worn photos of this years Christmas Costume!

These were taken at a Christmas tree farm. This was our fourth years photographing a costume there, and I think this year was the most successful. The lighting was on our side for once, and it’s easier to focus on a red dress than a white one. It’s also a really easy dress to lay out and walk around in since there isn’t a petticoat.

The only downside was it being a bit muddy and really cold. It isn’t a practical dress for December. But I think it looked lovely in this environment, so I’m glad that I didn’t let that stop me.

Construction notes on this dress can be found here. And making of videos are posted here.

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And that’s it! I think I have one more post going up before Christmas, but incase I forget: I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas, or Holiday, or if you don’t celebrate, then a really great week in general. Thanks for reading!

 

 
15 Comments

Posted by on December 18, 2016 in Completed Costumes, Fashion & Fantasy

 

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Making a Draped Velvet Dress

It’s that time of the year again! The time where I make a holiday inspired dress out of festively colored fabrics! In the past these have been elaborate gowns, and usually some of my favorite costumes that I make in a year. This years doesn’t rank that highly on my list, since it’s lacking the ruffles and beaded details that I gravitate towards, but I do like how it turned out! Especially considering that inspiration was tough to come by for this piece.

really wanted to make an elaborate 1950’s style evening gown, but I didn’t have the materials for it. The next idea I had and felt enthusiastic about was more appropriate for a snowy winter backdrop, which we won’t get until January or February. So I settled on this design: A “simple” draped gown made from red velvet.

Though this looks easier than my previous Christmas costumes it took longer than last years to put together. I’m far more comfortable with making structured, or ruffly gowns. Doing something sleek and draped requires skills I’ve never had to develop.

But I think I managed to do an okay job! Since the dress was lacking drama I paired it with some home made accessories with hopes it would dress the ensemble up. I think it worked out quite nicely, though it still isn’t my favorite project of the year.

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The first step was playing around with velvet and pinning it to my dress form until I had a shape I liked. I really liked how it looked with the center gathered, a deep neckline, and off the shoulder draped straps (sleeves?) so I decided to go with that. Then I pinned cotton onto the other side of my dress form until I achieved a similar shape.

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I transferred that onto paper and added seam allowances. Now I had a pattern to use for the base. Even though this dress looks loose and (hopefully) effortless, it has a stiff base layer that supports the shape and keeps everything in place. This is especially important for this project since velvet is heavy – keeping it up takes work!

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I debated about making a mock up but since the boning determines the fit, and boning is a pain to sew into mock ups I decided to make the real thing right away. But I was willing to restart if it was really off.

Luckily it fit perfectly! I decided to deepen the neckline, and make it more of a “V” than the sweetheart shape it originally had, but everything else seemed fine.

The base layer was cut from a cheap, stiff, quilting cotton. I cut each piece out four times, so the base is two layers of quilting cotton thick. This makes it more supportive and means I could insert the boning in between the layers of fabric rather than having to sew external boning channels.

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After adding the boning (all 1/4″ plastic bones) I turned the neckline inward.

In this picture the left is turned inward more than the right side to create the V effect I wanted. After deciding I preferred this I repeated the process on the other side

. Since the base layer will be hidden by velvet I sewed all these edges by machine.

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I sewed facings to the arm openings…then realized I forgot to support the highest points of the bodice, which also happen to be where the straps mount. This meant there would be nothing to support the straps, and they would flop outward.

So I sewed external boning channels made from ribbon on either side of the arm openings.

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I also turned the bottom and back edges inward.

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The final step for the base layer were the sleeve supports – which are just pieces of ribbon sewn to the high points of the bodice.

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Here it is on the dress form. The ugly side faces outward, since that will be the side covered by velvet.

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While it was on my dress form I draped velvet overtop and used basting stitches to mark the points where the velvet should be gathered or turn inward.

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Once I took it off my dress form I smoothed out the edges, then used it as a guide for cutting out a piece of velvet for the other side.

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These pieces were sewn together across the front edge with a one inch seam allowance. Then I used pins to mark the gathering line at the front.

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It was gathered down by hand with running stitches. Something about gathering velvet is super satisfying, it’s thick enough to form cartridge-pleat-like gathers but has a wide enough weave that it’s easy to sew through. Every other part of working with velvet sucks, but it gathers beautifully.

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I roughly turned the edges inward and pinned the front panel onto the base layer.

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Then I pinned that onto my dress form and draped the skirt panel for the back of the dress.

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And I used that as a guide for cutting out the panel for the other side.

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The top edge was gathered down so there is more volume at the back of the skirt.

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Then it was sewn onto the bodice portion of the back panel, which was cut from the same pattern as the base layer.

The side seams were sewn up too, with a one inch seam allowance. I sewed all the seams in this normally – no french seams for once! Velvet is really prone to shifting and sewing the pieces together once was enough of a headache, so I just pinked the edges and decided to let them be.

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To make the neckline a little less extreme (and to incorporate a color I plan on using for next years project) I cut four inch wide strips of mesh. I folded the mesh in half so it was more opaque, then sewed it onto the neckline of the bodice in such a way that it extends three quarters of an inch past the base layer.

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Then I pinned the dress onto the base layer. I started at the waistline, then moved upward.

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I sewed the waistline of the velvet layer to the base by hand with whip stitches.

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I tried the bodice on at this point and the result was disappointing. The waistline looked fine, but the velvet was really droopy in the bust area and I couldn’t see how to fix it. I didn’t think the bodice fit my dress form well enough to adjust the draping there, and the dress didn’t have closures yet, so I couldn’t wear it while adjusting it.

After a few days of procrastinating I tried pinning it to my dress form and that worked amazingly well. In ten minutes and with a bit of pinning I had fixed the droopiness. I’m glad I found an easy solution, but I sure wish I had tried it a few days earlier!

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After smoothing out the edges a bit more I took the dress off my dress form, then sewed around all the edges with slip stitches so they are secured to the base layer.

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I also folded the bottom edge of the straps inward, and the material at the back of the bodice. The photo of it finished is a bit blurry, but you get the idea!

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Then I sewed closures in, which are eyelets embroidered with matching thread.

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At this point I decided to finish the dress in two days so I could photograph it that weekend (made more difficult by the limited hours I could work on it and have good enough lighting to film the process) so photographing my progress fell to the wayside. Sorry about that, I’ll try to explain everything I forgot to photograph!

After a fitting I realized the bodice was a bit big – it stayed in place when worn, but wasn’t as flattering as I wanted. I ended up taking it in near the side seams with darts.

I also realized that the straps looked pretty pathetic, which I was expecting. They were really narrow and lacking the draped effect I wanted. So I cut out two rectangles, hemmed the edges with a cross stitch, and gathered the short edges down to approximately two inches. These were pinned just underneath the existing straps. I sewed the gathered edges to the base layer, with the top edge secured to the bottom of the ribbon sleeve support.

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I sewed up the back seam with a one inch allowance and left the top ten inches open. I folded the edges of the unsewed portion inward, then sewed them down by hand. Three snaps were sewn to the opening to keep it closed. Then I sewed a velvet modesty panel to the back, it’s mostly to prevent skin from showing through the eyelets, but I extended to past the opening left in the skirt, since snaps aren’t super reliable.

The hem is a half inch rolled hem sewn by hand. It might be my least favorite hem I’ve ever done – the sewing is fine, but it’s SO uneven. I leveled it while the dress was on my dress form and though it looks perfect when worn, I swear there are four inch discrepancies between each side. I have no clue what happened.

After a fitting I noticed the dress was gaping away from my shoulders. It fit the bust fit fine, but the weight of the velvet I added to the straps made the high points of the bodice fold outward. So I sadly had to add over the shoulder straps, which did not go with the design I planned. But it meant I got to use some of the glittery velvet ribbon I’ve been hoarding since last Christmas, which was nice.

In future I would shorten these straps – I sewed them on the night before wearing it, and did not do a fit check. They stay up but only if I stand very straight, which is kind of annoying.

The final touch were a few velvet poinsettias and sprigs of pine that I glued on.

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I was worried these would take away from the simple elegance of the dress, but I think they add a lot to it. It makes it more interesting it and ties the dress and the accessories together.

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Only thing I regret is placing one pine sprig in such a way that it digs into my armpit. That was a bad decision.

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Speaking of accessories – this dress has three! The first is the headpiece I made last year, which you can see a tutorial of here.

The other two are new additions – a staff, and a necklace. I thought the dress was a bit boring on it’s own, and these made it more exciting and costume-y. They were also really easy to make.

For the necklace I used two strands of red glass beads I got from Jo-anns, plus a crystal pendent. These were threaded onto some 6lb fireline with a clasp at the back. Then I used some thread to tie a piece of chain to the clasp, which hangs closer to the throat. I also tied three smaller crystal beads onto it. The whole thing isn’t very sturdy, I really should have bought a heavier thread, and chain that was meant for beading, not for sewing onto garments, but it’s pretty!

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The staff took longer to make, but it wasn’t very challenging either. My dad and I went hunting for appropriate sticks in our backyard and eventually found a small pine tree that had been cut down a few years prior. We broke off the branches and he cut off the bottom twelve inches so it would fit in the car.

Then I decorated it. Since the bark was spiky I glued ribbon around the point I planned on grasping it. I also glued on glittery pine cones, fake glittery pine branches, and velvet poinsettias to make it more exciting. There is a strand of lights on it took, which unfortunately don’t show up well in photos.

I was worried I didn’t get enough to decorate it (I was too cheap to buy the garlands – the ones I liked would have been thirty bucks). In total I spent fifteen dollars to decorate it and I have a ton of flowers leftover.

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And that’s it! As I said, it isn’t my favorite Christmas costume, but I like how it turned out. Especially with all the accessories – I think they really bring it together.

I’m also glad I pushed myself a bit, maybe I’ll do more things with draped details in the future.

Thanks for reading! A post with photos will follow this one! And if you want to see videos of me constructing then click here!

 
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Posted by on December 18, 2016 in Fashion & Fantasy, The Making Of

 

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Making a Black Lace Dress, Part Three

 

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

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

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

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

I pleated large rectangles down by eye – I didn’t want to leave any visible marks on the mesh so I tried my best to make them even without the help of a ruler.
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Before attaching the collar I sewed the black lace around the neckline, with only the scalloped edge extending past the bodice. Once the collar is sewn on only the scalloped edge will be visible. I did this partially to created some contrast, since the netting is similar to my skin tone, and also to imitate the way the scalloped edge of black lace meets the netting on the skirt.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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And it was done!

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

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

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

Thanks for reading!

 
26 Comments

Posted by on September 11, 2015 in Fashion & Fantasy, The Making Of

 

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Making a Black Lace Dress, Part Two

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The ruffle got pinned on.

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

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

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

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

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

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I sewed the lace onto the hem.

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

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

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The scalloped edge kept flipping up and that looked bad.

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading!

 
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Posted by on September 8, 2015 in Fashion & Fantasy, The Making Of

 

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Making a Black Lace Dress, Part One

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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And the pattern it got turned into.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aside from that, I thought this looked pretty great.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading!

 
10 Comments

Posted by on September 4, 2015 in Fashion & Fantasy, The Making Of

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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I sewed that ruffle onto the hem of the skirt.

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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.

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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.

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And the burlap ruffles.

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And here they are sewn together!

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

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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.

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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.

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

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Here are some detail shots of the finished dress:

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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!

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

 
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Posted by on August 21, 2015 in Fashion & Fantasy, 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Then I added the boning and boning channels.

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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.

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I covered the bottom edge with bias tape as well.

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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.

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

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It all got sewn down by hand.

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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.

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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.

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Thanks for reading!

 
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Posted by on August 14, 2015 in Fashion & Fantasy, The Making Of

 

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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!

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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After all that it looked like this! Much nicer!

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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.

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

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…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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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

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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!

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Thanks for reading!

 

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Making a Orchid Inspired Dress, Part Two

This is the second post about making my Orchid Inspired Dress! Today i’m going over the process of making the lower half of this costume. The post about making the bodice can be read here.

The skirt base is a really big circle skirt cut from striped upholstery material. Unfortunately at the time I bought this material my math skills failed me and I purchased wrong amount. I only bought three yards and I really needed another eighteen inches. I had to crop the front and back of the skirt by four inches just to cut the skirt out. Yikes.

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Here you can see how that ended up looking on my dress form. Do you see the problem?

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Luckily I had a plan that would cover the hem! It would involve the three yards of organza I bought without  a real purpose in mind.

So I did a rough patching job that lengthened the front of the skirt. It was pretty ugly, but it’s okay if it’s ugly, I can cover that up later.

(that could be my personal motto)

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The back of the skirt was also too short, so I used leftover fabric to make a train. I planned on using the organza to cover the seam, so the stripes not lining up shouldn’t be noticeable in the end.

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With the skirt the right length all the way around, I could move onto hemming! I started by stitching a half inch away from the lower edge. This was done to prevent fraying more than anything else.

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It still frayed a huge amount in some spots, so I trimmed those places with pinking shears.

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Then I used a basting stitch to turn the edge over.

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And then the edge got turned over again, this time by two inches.

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I sewed that down, by hand, with a whip stitch. This hem was ridiculous, I think it was six yards long or something similar. It took all afternoon to finish!

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It was around this point that I felt the skirt looked a little boring. So I decided to paint spots up the back of it. The logic here was “My Orchid has spots, so my dress should have spots!” which seemed like a bright idea at the time. I drew these spots out with a colored pencil, then filled them in with a jacquard paint in the color “violet”.

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After putting on the first layer I had a “Oh god what have I done” moment of immediate regret. I definitely didn’t love how it looked, but by this point I was committed so I kept going.

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The paint wasn’t as opaque as I had hoped, so I did a second coat with a setacolor ink. This stuff wasn’t very opaque either, but I was running out of it so I decided two coats would have to be enough!

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With the spots done it was time to decorate the hem with organza. I debated about what technique to use, but finally decided to sew it into tubes and to tack them down kind of haphazardly. It all sounds very strange but I had a vision!

Here are the strips of organza.

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They got sewn into tubes, then the seam allowance was trimmed down, and they were turned rightside out.

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I had a few different sizes. I really wish I had bought more organza because I didn’t have nearly enough. I had hoped to use some of these on the bodice and top of the skirt but I needed them all for just the hem,

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I didn’t steam or iron any of the tubes, so they still had a lot of volume after being pinned and stitched onto the hem. I also used all the remaining mesh from my Fluffy Feathered Dress to make it look like flowers were growing up the dress. I’m pretty happy with how this turned out, though I wish I had more organza so I could have made the strips wider and the effect more pronounced.

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With the bottom of the skirt done, it was time to focus on the top half – I guess this part could be considered a peplum, but that isn’t a word I think of applying to part of a ball gown!

These are the pieces that drape down from the bodice in petal like shapes. I drafted these by hanging my few remaining pieces of organza from the waistline, then trimming them into the correct shape.

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Once laid flat they looked like this. I sewed the darts and cleaned up the edges.

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Then I finished those edges off with home made bias tape.

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Now it was time for the draping! This would be done with purple taffeta, like the bodice was. I used the same technique and cut strips of taffeta which got folded in half and stitched up the side, then turned right side out.

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After a lot of pinning I came up with something I liked!

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So I took it off the dress form and tacked the strips down so the draping pattern would stay put. Then I stitched the tops of the “petals” together so sewing it onto the bodice would be easier.

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But before sewing anything I decided to make another piece for this dress: A bow. I cut three more strips of taffeta and sewed them into tubes (see a running theme with this dress?) then folded the edges into points and whip stitched them closed.

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Then I put the bodice, skirt, peplum, and bow onto the dress form just to make sure everything looked the way I wanted.

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I was really happy with the draping and placement of everything (and the bow, I always love a good bow) but I thought the skirt was lacking in volume. Though it had tons at first, my petticoats have a habit of deflating, and after two weeks of working on this project the skirt had shrunk and looked pathetic.

But any good seamstress should have a bolt of petticoat net on hand! And I did! I cut out a few large rectangles and sewed them into strips.

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Then the lower edges got trimmed with home made bias tape so they wouldn’t catch on anything.

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The tops were gathered down and stitched together.

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And in no time at all I had a netting lining for my dress!

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Now I felt comfortable sewing everything together. But (isn’t there always a but?) I had to fix up the opening in the back first, because it had turned into a frayed mess.

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I trimmed back the worst of the frayed parts, then attached taffeta bias tape around the opening.

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I also sewed a zipper underneath the bias tape, but for some reason I didn’t take photos of that part.

Now I could finally begin assembly! The peplum was sewn onto the skirt, then the netting was sewn in. The photo below shows the netting just before being tacked to the interior of the zipper.

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With all the layers together I could finally attach bias tape to the top. This prevents fraying and any scratchiness from the netting.

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And then the bodice got attached!

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Here is how it looks finished! I wish I had photos of the back but this dress is too big for my room, the train ended up being cut off in every picture.

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Thank you for reading!

 
 

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Making a Orchid Inspired Dress, Part One

I’m back with yet another fashion project, which has kept me from going insane while finishing up the final details on my tudor costume! As the title suggests, this is a dress inspired by my orchids. I got the materials for this project (and talked a bit about it) in my birthday haul.

 In that post I mentioned that i’m really easily inspired, especially by things around me. I’ve had a pretty little orchid sitting next to my desk since January, so it was only a matter of time until I made a dress inspired by it. I’m honestly pretty impressed with myself that I  managed to hold off for three months.

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The original dress design can be seen below. I wanted it to be simple and elegant while still being visually interesting.That is a description I would use when talking about orchids, so I think it makes sense that my orchid-inspired-dress can be described with the same words.

. I had hoped to find materials in dark ivory, light purple, and a dull fuchsia, which when used together would create a gradient effect.

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But then I got another orchid. And I found the color patterns of this one a lot more interesting. I think the deeper purple spots and contrast against the lighter ivory better fits my “Simple, elegant, and interesting” description. So the sketch got revised a bit, and my fabric choices became much different than I had originally planned!

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I ended up with three yards of 120″ wide striped fabric, three yards of silk organza, and three yards of silk taffeta. I thought I bought four yards of the silks, but I remeasured and realized I was wrong about that! Honestly I should have bought four yards of all these fabrics, I  almost ran out part way through the project.

But I standby the actual fabrics I picked, even though I got the wrong amounts. I love the color, sheen, and weight of the taffeta, it was lovely to work with. The striped material gives just enough texture to what would otherwise be a boring circle skirt, and the organza gave it a lightness that the project needed.

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And here is Dotty (yes, I name my orchids) with the inspiration fabric.

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Okay! Now for actual progress photos! I wanted the bodice to be asymmetrical, and by that I mean as asymmetrical as I could get with everything still being covered. The majority of the bodice would be made from off white material, with a purple taffeta “collar” across the neckline and shoulders.

 I managed to accomplish the shape I wanted pretty easily, and my mock up fit on the first try!

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I made a few slight alterations to my pattern, the most major of which involved lowering the waistline. Then I marked out the boning placements and where the lacing loops would be.

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After making the skirt (which I will blog about next week) the fabric I had planned on using was almost entirely gone. I had enough to use for the bodice, but none of the stripes would have pointed in the right direction, much less matched up. So instead I decided to make the bodice from organza, with the option to add lining later on.

This is the bodice cut out.

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And with the boning channels marked out!

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I cut my boning channel casings from the leftover striped material. I cut these  out across the fabrics grain so you can see all the stripes. It isn’t very noticeable when the bodice is worn, but I think it’s a fun touch!

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Those got sewn in place. Unfortunately this part didn’t go smoothly. The two bobbins I had made in advance had something (I have no clue what) wrong with them which caused a tension problem and left me with very messy loose stitches on the underside. Ripping out stitches on organza is hell so I just went over the channels again after fixing the bobbin.

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Then I added boning! These bones don’t go to the top of the bodice, so  I had to hand stitch stoppers to keep them in place.

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Then I added another layer of organza overtop. This diffuses the look of the boning channels and makes the bodice slightly more opaque.

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I cut two inch wide strips of purple taffeta on the bias and folded them into double fold bias tape. Then I pinned them around the bodices edges.

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I sewed it down by hand and for once i’m pretty happy with how it looks! My hand sewn bias tape hasn’t been cleanest in the past, so this is a big improvement for me.

Not sure if it balances out the sloppy boning channels, but it certainly helps!

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I also cut out one inch wide strips of fabric on the bias. These got ironed and sewn into quarter inch wide strips that are three inches long. I made about twenty of them, all to be used for loops up the back of the dress. I think loops look a lot more elegant and since elegant is the buzzword for this project, I decided it was worth the extra time to make them!

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They got folded into loops, then pinned onto leftover bias tape.

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I sewed over them several times until I was confident the loops were secure.

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Then the loops got sewn onto the bodice. This part doesn’t look as pretty. I was trying to avoid hitting the boning channels while being unable to see where the bone ended since the loops covered them.

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Now it was time to add the collar. I cut more strips of taffeta and sewed them into tubes, so the raw edges were hidden inside the tubes. It’s a little wasteful fabric wise, but saves the time it takes to hem the strips and completely avoids having to combat puckered silk hems.

I can’t really describe how I draped this. I pleated the end of the strip and placed it at the waist, then I just tugged, folded, and pinned until I was happy with how it laid. I cleaned it up a little bit after taking this picture, since the neckline wasn’t as smooth as I wanted it to be.

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Then I tried it on! I liked how it looked a lot, but it needed a couple of alterations. The biggest one was taking in the collar (that feels like the wrong name for this, though i’m not sure what else it would be called) at the shoulder, and taking the entire bodice in by more than an inch.

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I re-draped the collar so it was a little smaller in the shoulder, then tacked everything down so the pins could be removed.

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Before doing that I took it in by a inch. I did this in the under arm area, right next to the boning channels. Then the extra fabric was stitched underneath the boning channels. It’s obvious from the interior, but from the outside it is hard to tell!

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Back to the collar. Here are all the tacking stitches. Not the prettiest thing ever, but much nicer to look at than tons of pins or puckers, which are the two alternatives. The edges of the taffeta were tucked underneath the loop closures and whip stitched down.

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With the collar done, all I needed to do was finish the lower edge with bias tape! So I did that. This time I used cotton bias tape that I had leftover from making the skirt.

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And it was done! Could probably use a steaming, but that’s all that I have left to do on it.

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Thank you for reading!

 
 

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