Making a Dress out of Ikea Curtains

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

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


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

Here is the material. These are EIVOR curtains.


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


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


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

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


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


After all that it looked like this! Much nicer!


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



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


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

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


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


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


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

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


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


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




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

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





Thanks for reading!

Making Brown Taffeta Breeches

With Cinderella done I can go back to my twice weekly updates! I’ve spent the last month trying to get my youtube videos on a schedule, and coordinating blog posts with those. I think that’s caused me to neglect blogging a bit and i’ve ended up with really long posts once a week instead of shorter ones twice weekly. That has caused a huge backlog of blog posts about projects I haven’t been filming and it’s a bit of a mess!

But i’m going to try and get it sorted out. And i’m starting with a project I began more than six months ago.

In November I made a Beaded Doublet from a variety of brown materials, lace, and pearls. I was quite happy with the finished doublet, but lacked the motivation to make the rest of the ensemble at that time. I started work on the matching pants in January and finished them in April. The tunic was finished a month later, and the hat was made two weeks ago (about an hour before I decided I wanted to photograph the costume that same day).

So after eight months of work I finally have my menswear ensemble! And now I want to make another one. Maybe if I start now it’ll be done before 2016?

Today i’ll talk about the pants or breeches, if you want a more historically correct term. Much like the doublet, this costume is really lacking in the accuracy department. It’s based off of paintings that I liked and has elements from a slew of different centuries. Going along with that theme I didn’t research or make these the historical way at all. 

I started with a home made pattern. I can’t remember how I got to this point (it was a while ago). I think I used a pattern I drafted last year as a base for the crotch slopes, then altered the length and amount of fabric in the hips. I’m pretty sure I made a mock up first and ended up removing a lot of material from the hips.

This is what the lining layer looked like once it was cut out and pinned to the brown polyester taffeta, which will be the front layer of the pants.


I cut the lining and front panels out together to make sure everything was the same size, but they were assembled separately. The taffeta layer was done first. I marked the darts out with chalk, then sewed them.

I’m pretty sure mens pants didn’t have darts in the 1600s, but men probably weren’t working with a twelve inch hip/waist difference either.


Here are the darts sewn and ironed. At this point I realized that I got a good batch of polyester taffeta. Some poly taffetas are like tarp material and will not take on any shape without becoming a puckered mess. This stuff was really thin and pressed very nicely, which was great! Especially since I only paid $8 for the two yards.


Here you can see the taffeta layer and the cotton side by side.

I left the front seven inches of the crotch open. Instead of sewing that part closed I turned the edges over by a half inch and covered the raw edge with a two inch wide strip of fusible interfacing. Eventually I’ll add eyelets to each side of the opening, which will be used to close the pants once they are worn. The interfacing will prevent the fabric from warping as badly and make the eyelets more durable.


I attached them with the wrong sides facing each other so the frayed side seams are hidden. I did that by machine sewing them together at the waist and cuffs. At the front opening I whip stitched them together by hand.


I sort of cartridge pleated the cuffs. I use that term loosely because it was really just two rows of large basting stitches that I pulled on until the cuffs were the correct width. I did use a strip of flannel to bulk up the taffeta and make the “pleats” look a little nicer.


At this point they started to look like pants! And I could try them on!


Not a flattering angle for me and taken shortly after Christmas snacking, but the fit was good! A little volume in the sides, no wonky crotch, no saggy butt. Not perfect but compared my previous pant making disasters experiences I was happy.


I sewed eyelets into the front panels. Looking back I realize these should have been much closer together. They are a whole inch and three quarters apart, what was I thinking?!

But other than that they are fine.


I cut out a waistband from the jacquard I used for part of the doublet. This is a simple two inch wide strip with interfacing on the back to make it a little sturdier.


I turned the edges over and whip stitched it onto the pants. Then I added two eyelets to either side so it could lace up as well. I did this step a few weeks after the worn picture above and by this point they were a little big in the waist! So I gathered the center back down just the tiniest bit before attaching the waistband.

When it was finished I cut a strip of cotton and pinned it over the raw edges, this will serve as lining.


I repeated this same process – though on a smaller scale – on the cuffs. They got the same jacquard band and cotton lining treatment.


And I had a completed pair of pants! I probably could have made these in a day or two if I had really tried, but the timeline doesn’t matter, what matters is that I did finish them and they actually fit.


I don’t have any pictures of the way the crotch and waistband looked (it’s all hidden by the doublet) but here is a side shot.


And the back. Okay the fit in the back isn’t great. The gathers at the waistband make it look wedgie-ish than they are. They were actually pretty comfortable to wear on the mile long trek we took in the woods to get these pictures.


More photos soon along with the post about the hat and tunic. I didn’t do a very good job documenting the process of either of those things, but I’ll try to cobble together post about them.

Thanks for reading!

Making a 16th Century Bodice, Part One

This is a going to be a long post. This was actually supposed to go up last Monday but it took me so long to write that I didn’t finish it until today!

This project has been on a temporary hiatus. I’m not sure if I mentioned that here, but I posted about it on tumblr. There were a few reasons why, but one of them was because of how frustrated I was over this bodice. I ended up throwing out my first bodice attempt and making a new one, so this post covers making both bodices and details what I did wrong.

If you aren’t familiar with this project, all the “The Making Of” posts about it can be found here!

The first step was drafting the bodice. I used the book “The Tudor Tailor” as a guide on how this bodice should go together. I didn’t actually follow this pattern, I drafted my own based off my kirtle pattern. This book is a great reference to have but the patterns are lacking the exaggeration I wanted my ensemble to have and they don’t fit me without major alterations.


My first pattern attempt looked like this! It’s a little confusing looking but makes more sense when constructed.


I used that pattern as a guide for cutting out and assembling a mock up. There were a few adjustments I had to make, like taking in the placket, but it fit surprisingly well!


My pattern was altered and additional things were labeled, like where the lining would go to, where the eyelets would be, and where the skirt would start.


Then it came time to cut the bodice out. This is when I noticed a few issues with the fabric. The first three yards or so of the fabric I had purchased were damaged due to the way it was stored before I bought it. I thought these were crinkles that would iron out, but I was wrong. After pressing and steaming the fabric there were lots of little marks left behind that look like pencil marks.

They come out with soap and a scrub brush, but that damaged the fabric around the crease and changed the sheen of the fabric. I was left with shiny, lighter, patches all over the fabric where the creases used to be. I ended up throwing away almost two yards of fabric, and used the remaining yard on the train of the skirt where it will (hopefully) be less noticeable.

After this setback I didn’t have enough fabric to finish this costume, which is one of the reasons I haven’t blogged about it for months!


Oh and in the same day I realized the damask pattern looks like a mans face. It totally mocked me as I made mistakes (of which there were many). Sigh.


Anyway! Here are the back pieces all cut out.


And the front pieces.


All the edges were hemmed by hand with tiny stitches.


Then the shoulder and back seams were done up. I also added hook/eye closures onto the side of the bodice.


Then it was time to switch focus and make the forebodies. These lace shut at the center front, underneath the placket (or false front). They help keep the bodice in place while the placket is hooked in and the skirt can be partially sewn to these. It’s kind of difficult to explain since we have nothing similar in modern fashion, but in worn photos it should make sense!

I made them from leftover silk dupioni. At the front there are two plastic bones placed a half inch apart to help support the eyelets, which will be stitched in between them.


And here they are with the eyelets sewn in!


Before sewing up the side seams I decided to cut out the lining. I happened to have enough silk leftover to line the bodice with, so that was nice!


First I lined the shoulder portion of the bodice.


Then the forebodies were sewn on and the side seams were done up. The forebodies cover the unfinished edge of the lining, and the lining for the back of the bodice will be added later to hide the raw edges from the side seams.


If that last sentence made no sense, maybe these photos will help! Here is the bodice when worn over my shoulders, with the forebodies open.

Photo on 2-16-15 at 2.56 PM #2

And here it is shut and laced into place. There are a few problems here, like it resting to high and interfering with the beading on the kirtle. At the time I thought I could pin it lower so I carried on.

Photo on 2-16-15 at 3.04 PM

I went back to working on the placket. I ignored the “Tudor Tailors” suggestion and didn’t add boning to the center front because I didn’t want visible stitching. Instead I added a two inch wide piece of buckram to the center and fused interfacing over the entire thing.

Now, this is kind of obvious looking back, but this made the placket very stiff. It had no give whatsoever. Keep that in mind because it became a problem later on…


I attached hooks to a piece of twill tape and made sure they lined up with the bars I attached to the bodice earlier on.


Then I stitched lining into the placket, and attached the twill tape to the correct side. Now the placket could hook onto the bodice!


This is how the exterior of the placket looked.


With that done and my previous fitting having gone well, I decided to sew lining into the rest of the bodice. Look how pretty it looked! This was my first time using silk as lining and now it’s all I want to use for lining. It’s so lightweight and turned out perfectly.


But not everything was perfect. I pinned the placket on and got into my set of underthings . Then I tried the bodice on and it was a disaster. If you’ve used hooks before then you know you have to pull the fabric every so slightly beyond the bars to get the hooks in place. That means whatever you are trying to hook into place needs to have some give. My placket did not.

So I moved the placket over almost an entire inch so I could easily hook it in place. Of course once it was moved over, it was way too big and puffed out from my body in an unflattering way.

On top of that  the neckline was too high. It had to be moved down so it didn’t interfere with the beading on the kirtle but then the bodice was too low waisted. I tried hiking the edges up but then the basque shape at the waist was jagged and unflattering. The forebodies had to be pushed down so they didn’t hit the beading on the kirtle, but then they stuck out from the bottom of the placket. It as a mess!

I should also mention that this wasn’t the first fitting. During the time of working on this I tried it on between every step and felt confident as I went. I jokingly said on tumblr that I spent more time fitting this than I did sewing it. Getting in and out of this took almost an hour and a half, but I did it every single day to make sure the finished product would fit properly. Which is why this was SO frustrating.

The bodice looks a dozen times better in this photo than it did in real life. It looked terrible in person

I tried really hard to fix it. I cut down the forebodies. I changed the shape of the placket. I spent a solid ten hours altering it but the problem with the hook/eye closure remained and I saw no way to fix it without restarting.

Photo on 2-19-15 at 3.02 PM

So I did. And I lost another yard of fabric. But I did get a functional bodice out of it in the end!

This is pattern number…three? Two and a half? The major change is the shape of the forebodies. But I also changed the method of closing the placket. With this new design it will close through a complicated pattern of eyelets which can gradually be pulled tighter to keep the placket taught.


This is the second bodice all cut out.


All the edges got turned over by hand (again) then the back and shoulder seams were done up. I decided to seal off the edges with strips of fusible interfacing because this fabric is very prone to fraying.

I basted strips of cotton into the the front panels, these are the backings for the boning channels.


The boning channels were marked out and stitched by machine. When it came to adding boning, I used half inch wide flat steel boning which I salvaged from my first corset ever. It’s super strong and doesn’t bend at all so it was perfect. There are three bones on one side (one between and beside each set of eyelets) and one bone on the other side, which is just to keep the fabric laying flat.


The forebodies were made of cotton this time and mostly machine sewn. Once again I added boning to each side of the eyelets, but this time I used more of the flat steel bones instead of plastic boning (which was used on the first set).


My placket is much thinner this time so it won’t interfere with the beading on the kirtle. I finished the edges by hand, then used cotton strips to back boning channels on one side (the side that would have eyelets sewn to it).


Then I cut two pieces of flannel, and sewed boning channels into that. I added the boning to it, then sewed the flannel to the back of the placket. My goal with this was to give the placket more stiffness and thickness, without preventing it from stretching (like the buckram and interfacing did).

If my bodice was made from thicker fabric (which it should have been) I could have pad stitched it to another fabric to add that stiffness. But my fabric is too thin, and even the best, tiniest, pad stitches would be visible from the front side 😦


I sewed cotton lining into the back of the placket. Then I marked out where the eyelets should go and sewed them in place.


I also sewed eyelets into the bodice! When they were done I attached the forebodies and lining (cotton this time). I did things a little differently this time and folded the bottom edge under last to make sure it wasn’t too long at the waist. Then I finished that edge with twill tape, instead of tucking it under the lining.


I pinned the placket on and tried it on. I had success! There are a few ripples on the placket, which I dislike, but think I need to learn to live with. If my fabric was thicker and pad stitched to a base I might have avoided it, but with this particular fabric I think this is the best I could have done. Plus ripples aren’t entirely historically inaccurate, they can even be seen in some paintings!


This is the complicated closure method! Not exactly subtle but you don’t really see it when your arms are down. Unfortunately it’s a pain in the butt to do up yourself, and adds twenty minutes to the already long process of getting into this costume.


Before sewing the placket on I added beading to the waistline. I chose a relatively simple, pearl heavy design that didn’t use up too many of my precious montees. I’m very happy with how it turned out!




And here is a webcam shot of how it looks worn!

Photo on 3-8-15 at 11.47 AM

So that was a doozy of a post. And a doozy of a project! And it still isn’t done! Though we are getting to the end. All that’s left are the sleeves…and foresleeves…and the skirt and the hood! Exciting stuff.

Thank you for reading!

A look back at 2014

So i’m finally getting around to writing my New Years post! I think i’m the last person to do one of these. I was a lazy blogger over Christmas and getting back into the habit of writing has been a bit of a struggle!

This post will be a look back on what I got accomplished last year and this years goals and future plans! I know a lot of people dislike this sort of thing but I thought it would be fun to do.

Last year around this time I was determined to make two mini collections showing my perspective on wearable fashion. I wanted to go to fashion school and was hoping to build a portfolio and confidence to get me there. A few weeks into the new year I realized that I found modern fashion horribly boring, and had very little interest in pursuing a career surrounding it. More research led me to have even more negative views on the industry and now I can’t even imagine taking that route.

It’s very weird to think how much my mindset and dreams have changed since then. I wouldn’t say last year was exciting, but it was definitely eye opening and I’ve started down a path that I want to continue walking this year. Now I’d like to work in theater or film, making or designing costumes.  And I think internships will suit me better than college. That is something I hope to look into after I turn 18.

Last year my mission was to get better at construction, and I did. But I didn’t make any pieces that I would consider showstoppers…things i’m proud of from every angle and put such a ridiculous amount of work into that I want to talk about them all the time. In 2013 I had several projects that literally fell apart due to shoddy construction, but I spent months making them look just the way I wanted, and I miss that.

This year my tentative plans are to work on detailed projects and make garments i’m really proud of, both structurally and visually. I’ll have a list of the specifics near the end of this post.

I’m not quite sure what 2015 will bring blogging wise, since I want my focus to be on bigger, more elaborate things, my projects will be more time consuming. If something takes two months to make I can’t exactly have twice weekly updates on it. I would like to do a few more basic pieces, foundation garments, and 48 hour challenges as well, but not enough to create enough content for eight posts a month.

Because of this I may end up updating less often, have shorter posts, or come up with something new to post about. Such as dresses that inspire me, my research of the week, or something like that.

It has been a crazy year for my blog – I got over 1.5 million blog views this year. I’ve been on buzzfeed three times and those articles combined have even more views than my blog received this year. I gained almost forty thousand tumblr followers, which is six times what I had at this point last year. My posts got almost 700,000 notes combined. I’ve also been on the tumblr radar, a trending blog, had trending posts, and been featured on the log in page!

And thanks to that I was in a book. 


In the end it’s the kind words I get from people that mean the most to me. Views are exciting, and everytime I hit a milestone I smile quite a lot. But it’s the support in general and messages i’ve recieved about my work that have been the biggest motivator for me. I make costumes for selfish reasons, but knowing that other people enjoy them or gain a bit of inspiration from me sharing them is really exciting and makes me want to do more and do it better.

So thank you very much if you’ve visited my blog this year, or left a comment, it really does mean a lot to me!


Now, about costumes from last year! I made over twenty one pieces in 2014, which is crazy. 

The first project I finished that year was Elsa! I’m actually not thrilled with how this costume turned out, but i’m proud of the work I put into it. It was definitely a test of patience. Doing something so time consuming and challenging was a big motivator for me, so I think it was a good way to start the year!

{Elsa the Snow Queen}


I followed that off with two projects I strongly dislike, both are short black and grey numbers which didn’t turn out how I had envisioned. They were both poorly planned and rushed, which I think shows in the end result. I do like how they look from the waist up, though!

{Striped Taffeta Dress} {Black and Grey Dress}


Those projects were followed by a series of blue themed things. I fixed up a hooded Renaissance dress, and made a Joffrey inspired medieval suit of sorts. The Renaissance dress actually busted a seam because I used rayon thread by mistake – I like the dress and hopefully can get photos of it this year, but it is in need of some repairs!

The Medieval suit was a big disaster, it ended up being too small at the shoulders, waist, and arms. The fabric wasn’t very forgiving and after spending twenty hours on it I tried it on and realized all the problems. It is past the point of being savable, and will probably get trashed soon!

On the bright side, I made a floral dress that has a blue print and I adore it!

{Floral 1830s Day Dress}


I also made a bunch of red dresses. The 1830s ensemble with the bonnet is one of my favorite things I made this year, I love it so much, it makes me feel like a proper lady from some other time.

I made another pleated dress from floral fabric later on in the year, I love the bodice of it to bits but the skirt isn’t full enough and it needs some alterations. Poor decisions were made on that one!

{1830s Pleated Dress}


In June I focused on three pieces which I called my “Dewdrop series” though I  don’t think it really shows, I tried out and experimented with a lot of new techniques on these pieces.

{Dewdrop Series}


In July I made a Renaissance dress based off of a painting by Raphael and Gulio Romano. This was my first big attempt and embroidering and beading a pattern on anything. I struggled with fitting this dress, and the back of it is a bit of a mess. But I like how it turned out all together!

{Isabel de Requesens}


In August I made my first flower dress which had a red and white theme. A month later I made another dress with the same technique, but used fall flowers. This is probably my favorite costume of the year, I love everything about how it turned out.

{White Rose Dress} {Fall Flower Dress}

Fall fairy 1 resize

In August I also made my Halloween themed project! Which was a similar dress filled with sparkles and spooky things. I also spent part of August on my Monarch series, which is on a hiatus right now. I ran into a lot of problems with these projects, and the only one that I’m happy with is this bodice.

I did complete a ball gown for this series, as well.

{Butterfly Bodice}


In October I focused on 18th century stuff, my attempt at a robe a la l’anglaise failed horribly, but my structured chemise came out well! Even though it is really inaccurate I like it a lot.

{Structured Chemise a la Reine}


November was supposed to be for 19th century fashion. That didn’t really happen, but I did make a 1860s corset, and a doublet. I also started on a Civil War Era gown, which didn’t get completely finished until December.

{1860s Plaid Dress}


The final project for this year was my christmas angel costume. Visually this isn’t my favorite thing I made this year, but it came out exactly how I had planned which is an awesome, satisfying, thing. And a rarity when working with such…unique materials! I’m really happy with this dress and it was a good note to end the year on.

{Christmas Angel Costume}


So what is next?

I’m not completely sure. Last year my plans were to make something that required a huge hoop skirt, two small collections of cohesive garments, a Haruhi Fujioka cosplay, and an Elsa cosplay. I only accomplished one of those, and lost interest in the rest. So I don’t want to pretend my future projects are set in stone, because they could always change. But here are things I would like to make and have the fabric to do so!!

-A Tudor Ensemble

-A 1630s Dress

-An Elaborate Doublet

-An Cranach inspired Renaissance dress

-A Big Ball Gown from the 1860s

-A mid 1700s Dress and Riding Coat

And I will finish this massive post off with my goals.

-I want to improve the fit of all my garments. I can wear almost everything I made last year, but a lot of those dresses suffer from being too small in the shoulders or wrists. Even though my mock ups fit, the final dress fabrics don’t have as much stretch or ease and ended up being too tight! I would like to make sure this doesn’t happen anymore, and also leave extra room in seams to let out garments if need be.

-I want everything I make to be completely finished and wearable. I have a nasty habit of thinking garments are done when they look done. But usually after wearing a dress problems appear, such as them being too long in the hem, needing extra closures on the skirt, being a little too big or small. Also some garments get damaged, hooks fall off, seams need to be reinforced, zippers break, etc.

Once these problems appear my mind says “But that doesn’t matter – the dress is done!”. I don’t want that to happen anymore. I want to be able to take a dress from my closet and put it on without having to fix the zipper and hem first. This year I will be finishing everything and fixing garments that aren’t completely wearable.

– I want to make things i’m proud of. I love a lot of what I made last year, but this year I would like to make things that have a lot more time put into them. I miss spending three months on a single project and hand stitching on forty yards of trim and eight hundred pearls, I love that sort of thing.

I think that covers everything. Thank you so much for reading! I hope your year is off to a great start!

Recreating Renaissance Fashion, Isabel de Requesens

I’m resuming progress on my Isabel costume! This is part one of making the chemise, which will be worn underneath this dress. Today I am going to be talking about how I made the collar, it’s easily the most detailed and complicated part so it’s worthy of it’s own post. My next post will talk about basic assembly, and I should have another video to share as well!

The shape of this collar is a cross between a U and a rectangle. I drew out the shape on poster board and traced it onto the beige linen I chose for this project. Then I used a quilting ruler to measure a half inch seam allowance all the way around.

The pieces were sewn right-sides-together, then turned rightside out so there was a finished edge all the way around.


I hand stitched around the edge to tack it down and give more of an old timey look. Then I began drawing out the pattern for the beading and embroidery.


Though I have some minor experience in beading I had never created something with a repeating pattern, nor had I ever embroidered patterns. So I knew this project would be a huge adventure – and maybe a huge mess too.

I happened to have beads that would work on hand, leftover from my bracelet making days and previous costumes.


I believe I used 4mm glass pearls, 8mm glass pearls, 3mm white plastic pearls, 3mm red beads, and 2mm gold and red beads. I piled them all on a beading mat to keep things organized.


The first step was sewing the centermost beads on. This is by far the easiest and most enjoyable part – after finishing this step I was lulled into a false sense of security that this would be easy.



Step two is sewing all the connect-y bits with gold thread. The beads give a good guide which makes this part easier, but the thread was constantly getting caught on beads, getting, tangled, or pulling things loose.


Then I went through and added gold seed beads. Six get added to each section, two extend down from the 4mm pearls at the top and bottom, and one gets added to each side of the center section. The goal here was just to add more gold because it looked a bit sparse!


Then it came time to add the red. This was by far the most difficult part, the thread had to be looped four times to have enough bulk and it seemed to always get caught on beads, tangle, and need to be clipped. It took me several minutes to stitch each one (unless the thread tangled, then it would take twice as long), which doesn’t sound like a lot until you realize there are nearly ninety of them that have to be sewn!


I think in total I must have spent thirty hours beading this stupid thing. If I did it again I feel it would go much faster because now I have more experience with the process. I would probably do a much better job too – I did this thing one side at a time and the side I did last is much cleaner and more even then the first. Oops!



So that finishes off the collar, I added ties to it and a lining later on but that will be covered in the “basic assembly post”.

There there was another part of this costume that required more embroidery and beading, so I’ll go over that really quick too.

The cuffs on Isabel’s dress are tricky to see and end up looking “gold” from a distance, so I really didn’t have to bead these. But I thought it would be nice to have them match the neck piece.

I started by cutting small rectangles of linen, then marking out a half inch grid.


I sewed rectangles over the grid lines, then a cross in the middle that stretches from corner to corner.


Lastly I sewed some of my large 8mm pearls in the middle, and it was done!


Thanks for reading!

Related posts: Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five. 

Progress Report: July 2014

Today I’m posting something a little different.

I had a very productive week.I made a bodice, a skirt, hemmed a skirt, sewed on seven yards of trim, added boning to a bodice, made two mock ups, drafted two patterns, and so on…

It was successful, but the success was spread out over a half dozen projects so I don’t have enough content for a single “The Making of” post. I used to work on several projects simultaneously with great success, but this week I learned it’s a method that no longer works for me. I like being focused on a single costume, things get done so much faster, my studio stays cleaner, and at the end of a week I not only feel like I accomplished something, but I have visual proof too.

I’ve decided to pack a few of these projects away for the time being, and focus on finishing them one at a time, because right now i’m really overwhelmed.

Even though these projects are going to be set aside for a few weeks, I have every intention of finishing them all. So I thought I would create a post about whats in my workroom, with a few teaser pictures of projects to come, as well as some photos of things I’ve finished but didn’t document well enough to blog about.

Depending on how well this goes, I may do something similar monthly or bi-monthly with teasers, sketches, recent purchases, and life updates all crammed into one.

The project i’ve had going on for the longest is a set of stays. I started these over six weeks ago and got them over 50% done, but haven’t managed to finish them off. They have all the bones in place, bound edges, and eyelets, but none of the pieces are together just yet.



Once I get the stays finished off (which at this rate, won’t be happening anytime soon) I’d like to being work on a Robe a L’anglaise. I already have the bodice drafted and the underskirt cut out, so technically this is in progress, but I need to buy some ribbon and organza before I can properly get to work.


Sticking to the 18th century theme, a project I recently finished is a set of pocket hoops to go with my Dewdrop Series dress. These were more challenging then I had expected but I really love the end result! I drafted the pattern myself but referenced Norah Waughs “Corsets and Crinolines” book to get an idea of the shapes.

These were made from cotton with hooping wire to keep the shape.

(Pardon the messy studio)


Another thing I finished was a hat and eyepatch! These were made to go with my Pretty Pirate costume. I started on these last October, but the weather became too cold to photograph the costume, so I lost the drive to actually finish it until now.

The hat is made from felt weight interfacing, covered in a cream brocade, with a satin faced lining. The edges are bound in ivory linen and the whole thing is decorated with feathers and a chiffon applique.

DSC_7347The eyepatch is made from heavy interfacing as well, and covered in the same fabrics.

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My most challenging work in progress, and the one i’ve chosen to focus on for the time being is re creating the painting Joanna of Aragon by Raphael I’m making a few changes to improve it’s appearance in real life, like using off white materials and lighter gold tones to give the appearance of age. But for the most part i’m trying to make it recognizable.

I’ve gotten quite a lot done, including the most difficult aspect – the very detailed, hand beaded and embroidered collar!



A project that I will definitely be packing away is this tulle and lace wedding gown idea. I actually began drafting this pattern a few weeks ago, but set it aside when I was asked to design the dress collection. I’ve worked on it a bit throughout the last week, including cutting out the bodice and getting half the boning channels done.

There is still just a ton to do, and it will take so much space to make that I think this is best left alone until I have a cleaner workroom!


The lace was actually sent to me as a gift and I really, really, adore it. Whenever I Get around to making this it will be the real focus of the dress.


A few days ago I began work on a companion piece to my Dewdrop dress. I wanted to make a similar, more modern design from my left over fabric. It would have a lot of similar traits to the original, but be much sleeker in cut and style. So far all i’ve done is draft the pattern – and i’m not sure if it will ever move beyond that.


My last W.I.P is an empire waisted Regency gown. It’s made from bridal satin and chiffon, with gold lace and ivory pearls to create details. It’s a much less elaborate version of something I would like to make in the future, I guess you could say it’s a practice piece, though I think the end result will be pretty lovely!

So far everything is drafted and the skirt is sewn, hemmed, and decorated with the trim.


Now for a future project – which I shouldn’t even be thinking about with all I have in progress. Michaels was having a 40% off sale and I bought 40some sprigs of flowers, which is around 200 blossoms in total! I want to add these to the hem of a dress, and make a corseted bodice from tulle and organza. I’m honestly not sure it’s possible, but I would really like to try.

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So that’s that! Lot’s of stuff in the works.

Thanks for reading!

Sketches, a Fantasy Inspired Bridal Collection

I decided today was a good day for a blog post. I just finished writing a very wordy tutorial and it left me in the mood to post something photo heavy! Fair warning, this post will be a little different then usual, since it’s centered around sketches i’ve done.

A month or so ago I was contacted by a bridal store and asked to collaborate with the owner to create a mini collection for Fall. You may recall me posting about some exciting news a while back, well, this was it!  I was super excited and worked hard to create six designs that I was happy with.

The owner seemed to like them too, but due to budget constraints the collection was delayed. Now it’s been a few weeks without contact so it seems like these designs will never be more then sketches. I’m sad, but still proud of the work I did, so I wanted to share it!

The goal was to create a fantasy inspired collection that was wearable and filled with unique touches that aren’t really found in existing bridal wear. The dresses are all designed to be very structured and intricately seamed but soft at the same time. I wanted to merge traditional silhouettes and modesty with something more modern brides might be interested in.

I picture them all made from a lightweight brocade, layered with silk organza, english net, and a lot of lace. I tried to design them in pairs but also keep a cohesive look to the whole thing.

My favorite one is the black one since it’s so daring!

Before I get into the colored sketches here are a few WIP’s.




This was the first dress that I designed, and I think it’s my second favorite of the bunch!

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The companion piece to this was a slightly slimmer fit gown made from the same materials, with shorter sleeves and a longer train.


After that is my favorite one – the store owner requested a black dress and though it took me a little while to come up with an idea this eventually became my favorite!


The companion piece to this is a very similar dress, just made in ivory without sleeves.


The last two were built to be more modern, this one would have had a detachable skirt.

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And this one is a very simple princess style dress in the front, with a flounce explosion in the back. I wanted this one to be made in a peach color with a lace covered bodice.


Here is the collection overview;

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In addition to creating all of those sketches, I also did loose sketches of the bodice fronts and backs, as well as full body images of the dress backs.



I think in total I did maybe thirty sketches? It was certainly an interesting process, and I learned a lot.

It’s really unfortunate I won’t be able to move forward on this project. Maybe some day i’ll have the money to fund it myself.

Thanks for reading!

Birds Of Prey ~~ Photography

Yesterday I had the opportunity to photograph bird’s of prey. It was amazing, you could get within 5 feet of all the birds, and I was allowed to pet all the owls and even hold a kestrel :] It was so amazing. I had to get up at 6:30 then we drove for about an hour, then I had to wait for 90 minutes for the people with the birds to arrive but it was soooo worth it. I took over 1000 photos of the birds and have now deleted all but about 50. I really do think some of these are amazing and I hope you guys agree.