Sorry for the lack of updates!
My last project ended horribly, and after finishing it my fingers were too sore to finish up the set of stays I have in progress. I was slightly down on confidence after that and took a few days off, then I spent a whole week designing a series of dresses for something exciting which I can’t talk about just yet.
Before I knew it, three weeks had passed without me posting a single thing. I’m so upset with myself because I had pretty consistent twice weekly updates going for a little while.
But now i’m determined to get back on track! I’ve got a few tutorials planned and a couple projects in progress, so I no longer have any excuses.
My newest project consists of a giant ivory demask print dress, with a green velvet cloak worn over top. It’s named Dewdrop after the green and white forest flowers.
I’ve had this idea in mind ever since I got these materials, which I posted photos of in a recent haul but didn’t decide to pursue it until now. The recent weather has been quite warm and rainy, the flowers and grass are loving it and our yard is greener then it has been in months. I wanted to make something that matched the greenery, and this project came to mind!
I was inspired a lot by 18th century fashion, with big hips and conical bodices. I also fell in love with this painting and thought making a butterfly crown would be a unique touch.
In total this costume has taken five yards of 118″ wide polyester ivory demask (this stuff is designed for curtains and tablecloths), five yards of green stretch velvet, a half yard of ivory chiffon, and one pack of large feather butterflies. Of course that’s only the stuff you can see.
Inside the garment I used one half yard of linen for lining (recycled from a failed project), one half yard of interfacing, one yard of lightweight quilt batting, three yards of hooping wire, eight yards of metal boning, one half yard of twill, two hooks/eyes, and a half yard of lightweight cotton sateen.
As per usual this project will be broken up into several parts: Bodice, Skirt, Sleeves, Cloak, and Crown. Should be a fun series!
To start out I draped the pattern on a dress form – I’m actually in the process of writing a more detailed explanation of how I do this, hopefully that post will be up next week.
I took it off the dress form and it looked like this – don’t you love the fabric I used?
I cleaned that up, added seam allowances, and turned it into a paper pattern.
I’m also going to be doing a more detailed write up on how I do this, so stay tuned!
I made my mock up and was pleasantly surprised – it was too tight, but that was okay since the final bodice would be heavily boned. The waist was a little long on me, and the shoulders were slightly too big, but those were the only things I had to fix.
After fixing my pattern I immediately got to work on the bodice base.
Since this bodice is going to be intensely boned I needed to use four layers of fabric. The first layer is my fashion fabric, which will be visible from the outside. My second and third layers are the “base” which are stiffer, non stretch, and tightly woven. The boning will get sandwiched and sewn in between these layers. The final layer is the lining, which should be soft and nice feeling against the skin.
But for now I only needed to work on the base. I went ahead and drew out all the boning channels onto my base material, then sewed over all the lines.
Once that was done the pieces needed to be boned. Though I have quite a bit of experience with adding boning to garments I have never tried to cut and tip my own steel boning, so this was quite the adventure!
Over a year ago when I made my Royal Milk Tea corset I neglected to tip the boning at all, and I still have scars from where it burst through the fabric and dug into my flesh. Needless to say, that isn’t something I want to repeat ever again.
To start out I cut all the bones from a large coil. I used tin snips for this.
Then I got a lesson on how to use a dremel tool from my brother and spent two hours using that to round off all the sharp edges. I’m not fond of this process, since you’re filing metal at high speeds there are a lot of sparks involved which I find really stressful!
After that I managed to find some medical tape and an expired bottle of nail polish. I covered the ends of each bone with the tape and trimmed the edges. Then I dipped each end in nail polish, let it drip off, then set it on a plastic cover to dry.
The whole process seemed to work really well, and should be super long lasting.
The bones were all inserted, then the channels were sewn closed and I assembled the base layer of the bodice.
I assembled the top layer of the bodice too.
Then I hand basted them together with large half inch running stitch.
I went through and painfully turned over each edge – the top layer of fabric frays so much that it basically disintegrated anywhere I touched it. I really should have planned ahead and left a one inch seam allowance around the top and bottom edges, that way even if it frayed away a half inch of fabric, I would still have enough room to turn over the edge. Oh well. You live and you learn!
The fabric continued to fray horribly, even after the edges were turned. So I used strips of a lightweight interfacing to slow the process.
I stitched together my lining and pinned that in place. The fraying was still such and issue that I had to sew the lining very close to the edge – so close that it’s slightly visible in some places from the front.
Overall i’m pretty happy with it. There are things I wish I could change, but I think it came out well! Now it just needs sleeves and a skirt, but information on those will have to wait until next time.
Thanks for reading!