The Christmas Costume, Photos

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

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

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

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

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I hope you all enjoy the holidays!

The Christmas Costume – A Glittery Gown – Part 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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This gave  me enough information to draft an actual pattern.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The bodice pieces looked like this.

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

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

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

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

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And voila!

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

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

I also made a waist tie to keep the whole thing on.DSC_3050

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

The Christmas Costume – A Glittery Gown – Part 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 I made little rolls out of quilt batting rectangles. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading!

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