The Making of A Maroon Dress

Note: I may be changing my blog name this week (thinking about ‘Angela Clayton’s Cosplay & Costumery) so please don’t get confused if you see a switch in the email titles! The blog URL, layout, and content will all remain the same. 

I’ve nicknamed this dress my productive-procrastination-progress, which is a sewing method I like to think I invented. It’s basically when you avoid working on what you should, and instead make something entirely different.

That’s how this dress came into existence. I was supposed to be working on my costumes for Otakon – a convention that I am leaving for in a mere twenty days, and still have two costumes to make for. Instead of working towards crossing some items off my endless to-do list, I made this.


 One upon a time I attempted to cosplay Marika from Mouretsu Pirates. I got about half way through when I realized it was really bad and that I didn’t have a chance in hell to finish it on time. The costume was abandoned and the pathetic half pleated skirt, wrinkled jacket, and cape have been taking up space in my sewing room for almost a year.

Sadly, not much can be done for the jacket and skirt, but the cape was usable! At the time I put a silly amount of material into this cape, just about 5 yards or so and I also had 1.5 yards of matching fabric folded away for a coordinated  vest.


I found some dark green cotton sateen which I set aside for lining, and a few ivory lace remnants and chiffon scraps that could work for trims. I had all I needed so I went ahead and started drafting. I didn’t have a particular idea in mind, but I knew I wanted it to be fairly low cut with a square neckline.

I pondered how to go about drafting this and then decided to attempt something a little silly to get the shape. What was this idea, you ask? Tracing a tank top.

DSC_0551To be honest this didn’t go so well. It was several inches too small and the neck wasn’t deep enough, in the end flat drafting it would have been easier and probably faster, but oh well…

Mock up one looked like so


It needed a few alterations. I made it bigger, longer, and deepened the neck line.


And this was used as my pattern! I added seam allowances and cut two layers – one of the maroon material, and another from my sateen (lining)

I also drew out the boning placements.


The boning was all sewn directly onto the (wrong) side of my lining


So that when pinned (right sides together) the boning ended up hidden.


Then I sewed around each edge (aside from the side seams) and made sure to clip my corners.


Each piece was turned rightside out and pinned for topstitching.


I ironed around each panel and then each edge was top stitched with matching (matte) thread.

DSC_0561 And each seam was basted for fitting!

DSC_0562Before trying it on I  made up a two inch chiffon ruffle which was sewn to the neckline.

DSC_1261 Once that was settled I moved onto the sleeves. I decided puffed sleeves with fitted arms and chiffon accents would suit the bodice, so I went ahead and made that up.

I altered the sleeve pattern I used for my glass angel costume to create a smaller, less bell shaped version.


For the bottom portion of the sleeve I marked out my measurements and cut out notch where a puff could show through. I made a mock up from muslin to ensure it fit, and when it did I traced it onto my proper fabrics and cut it out.


I lined each sleeve to hide the raw edges.


Then I moved on to the most complicated (but still simple) part of the whole costume. Sleeve puffs. These are quite basic and get easier the more you do them.

I had to do these on Merida and got a lot of questions about them, so i’ll go into a bit of detail.

You start off by drafting a pattern and cutting it from a (lightweight) base material that will match the color of the overlay. In this case I just used a neutral quilters cotton .


Then cut out an overlay, which should be twice the height and *at least* three times the width of your base piece. It will work better from a (see through) flimsy fabric like lace, or organza. In this case i’m using chiffon.

Mark out the middle of one edge (if it’s 20 inches long, mark at the 10 inch point) and pin that to the center of your base.


Flip it so the overlay is facing downward, set your needle down and lift the foot. Make sure your foot is off the pedal, then push some of the overlay beneath the base so it bunches up and sew over it. This doesn’t really make sense so photo time.




It takes me 5 minutes or so to do a yard of ruffles this way, which is slower then the string method, but it allows me to really control how much fabric i’m pushing in, and create smaller ruffles.

Anyway – eventually you will end up with this!


Once the top is gathered, pin the bottom down. You should be able to pull and manipulate the material enough to make it poof however much you like.


Sew across the other edge


And chop off the extra material.


I went ahead and sewed the poofy part of my sleeve, onto the fitted portion. Then the tops were gathered and sewn onto my chiffon puffs.


Then I cut 8 inch strips of chiffon, flipped them in half (so they were four inches) and sewed these across the bottoms of my sleeves.


Then the sleeve was sewn onto the bodice and done up the side!


I did up the other sleeve and moved onto the skirt.

The skirt was the easiest part of this whole thing, as it is made from one giant rectangle of material. A pre-hemmed rectangle. Originally this rectangle had been made into one very voluminous cape, as seen below


I cut out a 2 inch wide band the same width as the bottom of my bodice (28 inches)


Then I removed the gathering from the cape, which left me with a huge rectangle, which I regathered down to the proper width. Then the gathered length was sewn onto the band.


Which was sewn onto the bodice, and voila!



Earlier today I went though and added in a zipper, removed basting stitches, sewed down some lining, fray checked seams, and replaced the stand-in binder clips with four hooks.

I do believe that is all. I probably won’t have a follow up post on this project, since the details are so boring. But if I ever manage a photoshoot with this, I shall post those!

Thanks for reading!

4 thoughts on “The Making of A Maroon Dress

  1. Jojo says:


    I’m a complete novice to sewing and I’m trying to make a dress that’s vaguely similar (bodice with skirt attached, basically) and I was wondering how you attached the skirt to the bodice and concealed the raw edges?

    I’d really appreciate it if you could help, because you’re wonderfully talented 🙂 Thank you!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s