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!

 

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Gold and Ivory Gown, Photos

Here is the photo set that I promised! I didn’t think I would have these finished until tomorrow, but I got them done a day early (this may be the lamest Christmas miracle ever) so here they are.

For the third year in a row my dad and I went to a Christmas Tree Farm and asked if we could take photos. The people that own the farm said yes, so we spent a good hour taking pictures and looking for the best clusters of trees that would make a nice backdrop.

Last year our trip there wasn’t very successful since the dress didn’t really suit the environment. But this time it went wonderfully! I think the contrast of the white dress against the green is striking, and the headpiece works nicely with the surroundings. Plus it was a really nice day, which helped.

Usually I only post eight or so photos, but I couldn’t narrow it down this time so i’m posting double that!

If you’ve missed my “The Making of” posts about this project, they can be read here, here, and here. I also have videos about making it which are posted here.


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These ones turned out a little odd thanks to shadows from a tree that I didn’t notice until we got home. But I still like the pictures!

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And that’s it! This is definitely my last post before Christmas, and mostly likely my last post of the new year. I hope you all have a fantastic holiday (or week, if you don’t celebrate any of them) and a great start to the new year!

Thanks for reading!

Making a Gold and Ivory Gown, Part Two

It’s time for the second post about making this years holiday dress! Part one can be read here and is about making the bodice. Today i’ll be going over how I made the sleeves, which i’m excited about because they are my favorite part of this dress. I wasn’t expecting to like them so much, since they are really simple, but I adore how the cuffs turned out. They have little bows on them so my wrists feel like presents!

I started by drafting a full length puff sleeve pattern. They flare out more at the bottom, so they have a slight bell shape but are pretty full at the top too. I probably would have made these wider but I was working with fabric limitations. I’m kind of happy the fabric restricted me, because the shape worked out really nicely and they probably wouldn’t have looked right if they were any bigger.

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I turned the bottom five inches of the sleeves edge inward by a half inch and sewed it down. Then turned it inward again so the raw edge was hidden, and sewed it in place with a whip stitch. I did this because the lower few inches of these sleeves have to be left open to allow my hand to pass through.  My hands are too big to fit if they are sewn closed all the way to the wrist cuff!

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I also gathered the lower edge of the sleeve down to my wrists circumference by hand with a running stitch that was pulled taught as I went.

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Then I cut out the lining for the cuffs, which are just rectangles of quilters cotton. I marked guidelines an inch away from each edge, then folded the raw edge up so it touched that line and sewed it in place.

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This way every edge of my cuff was finished.

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I pinned my sleeves onto the cuffs, with all the raw edges facing upward. Then sewed it down with my machine.

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The gathered edge was quite bulky so I topstitched over it several times until it became relatively flat. The backside of these did not look pretty, but they are functional, which is what matters most when it comes to the interiors of garments!

Since these cuffs are very fitted I decided to use hook/eye closures. I sewed two of these into each cuff – one at the top, one at the bottom.

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My cuffs fit perfectly at this point, but I realized later that I actually made them too small. The cotton had a tiny bit of stretch to it, so they eased nicely over my wrists. Once I added the top layer of fabric (which didn’t have ANY stretch) to the cuffs, they became much more difficult to hook up and I was left with some red marks after wearing them for long periods of time. Silly mistake on my part.

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Once the hooks were sewn in I trimmed the frayed edges at the cuffs.

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Then I cut out two pieces of ribbon and stitched them over the top side of the cuff, so all the ugly bits were hidden.

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Doesn’t that look so much better?

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Now it was time to make the bows for the cuffs. Here are the two lengths of ribbon I cut for them – I’d say I used around ten inches of ribbon for each one. I sewed the ends of the ribbon together so I had two circles, then pressed down in the center of the circle so I had two even loops.

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I wanted to use the same ribbon for the centers of the bows, but this ribbon is awfully wide for the centers of such small bows. So I folded the velvet part of the ribbon towards the gold trim and sewed it down. This created a quarter inch wide fold that made my ribbon a half inch smaller, and much more appropriate for these bows.

(I take bows very seriously, clearly)

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Then I wrapped the smaller ribbon around the center of each bow and sewed the ends together. And tah-dah, perfect little bows!

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I was going to put these on the backs of the cuffs, but they were so cute that I decided to sew them onto the front instead. Here they are pinned in place.

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And sewn on!

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Then I sewed up the side seam with a french seam. Like I mentioned earlier, I left the lower few inches open so I can fit my hand through.

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I sewed the bottom half of the sleeve on first, then gathered the top half so it perfectly fit into the arm opening. Then it was sewed in place with a whip stitch. I’ve been doing puff sleeves this way a lot recently because it lets me better visualize how dense I want the gathers to be before sewing them, which I like.

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At this point the interior of the bodice wasn’t looking great. It isn’t that bad, but there are some frayed edges and knots of thread which aren’t nice to look at.

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So I cut out a layer of lining from quilters cotton.

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Pinned it in place.

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And sewed it in with a whip stitch.

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Then my bodice, and sleeves, were complete! It still doesn’t look like much. I think this bodice really comes to life when it’s worn, it’s quite…flat looking when it’s just laid out. Luckily I will have worn pictures to share very soon – they should be going up on Wednesday or Thursday.

DSC_9744The final “The making of” post and video about this project will be up tomorrow! And that will be followed by photos of the finished ensemble. I got behind on my Christmas related posts, so you will be getting a lot of posts at once (I hope you don’t mind too much)!

Really quickly I wanted to mention the Christmas themed headpiece I made. It isn’t exciting enough to get it’s own post, but I’m really happy with how it turned out so I wanted to share it with you guys. A tutorial on the process of making it can be watched here, and photos will be below!

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Thanks for reading!

Making a Christmas Angel Costume, Part Two

This is going to be a continuation to my last post, where I talked about making a glittery, light up, christmas skirt. Though this may be significantly less interesting because it doesn’t involve lights or glitter. Boo.

I wanted the bodice to be really simple. There is so much going on in the bottom of the dress and I wanted that to be the highlight, my plan for the bodice was something structured with an overlay of gathered tulle.

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Step one was drafting it, I didn’t do the most precise job…

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 But it worked out just fine, and once removed from my dress form it looked like this.

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I ironed all the pieces, then turned it into a paper pattern. When the pattern was done I made a mock up.

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It looked pretty good, the only fault was that it was too large! But that was an easy fix, and once I made it I was ready to move onto my real fabric.

I decided to use ivory shantung for this, I had a good amount of it laying around from a past project, and it has the right weight for a bodice. I cut my pattern out twice since I was using it for the top layer and for lining.

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 Here is what the top layer looked like laid out.

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They all got sewn together and in just a few minutes I had a functional bodice!

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As lovely as that was, my priority was making the lining, so I set that aside. For the lining I marked boning channels out on each piece, then I cut strips of shantung, turned the edges inward, and pinned them between the lines.

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Then they all got stitched down.

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The pieces got assembled, then the channels were filled. I used a mixture of hooping wire and plastic boning, not because it’s the best, but because i’m lazy and neither of those have to be filed/tipped.

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After the boning I turned all the edges over a half inch.

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Now I went back to the top layer! It was time to add the tulle overlay. To make this I sewed together three pieces of sixty inch wide tulle.

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I gathered the top edge down by hand, then stitched it to the bodice.

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After that the edge was turned over and sewn down. I also sewed the top edge to the lining.

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 The bottom edge got gathered as well, then sewed down.

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 I tried it on and there was a little issue. It definitely looked christmasy, but only because it gave me the shape of a snowman! The tulle puffed out and desperately needed to be tacked down or something.

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But before I got to tacking it down, I ran into another little issue. I placed the bodice on the dress form, along side the skirt, and realized something – they didn’t match.

Now in my defense I made the bodice before the skirt, and in my head I was thinking “The skirt will be made from ivory fabrics, so the bodice should be too!” which makes sense. But the skirt is actually made from ivory organza with an overly of ivory tulle – both fabrics are sheer, so the main color that shines through is the white from the petticoat worn underneath it.

Because of that the skirt is a really strange shade. It doesn’t help that the ivory tulle is especially yellow colored, and the white tulle (used for the petticoat) is very cool toned. The end result is a very light, warm white almost greenish toned shade. It definitely didn’t match any of the ivory fabrics I owned.

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 I did find a few potential options in my stash. The fabric on the left is a sheer mesh that also has a strange not white but not ivory tone to it, so I chose to use that.

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 Unfortunately my fabric struggles weren’t over yet, since the material is sheer I had to find something to go under it. Using white made it look too light, and ivory was too dark and red toned. So I once again had no clue what to do.

I ended up tea staining some white cotton sateen. I filled a plastic shopping bag with steaming water, stuck two bags of tea in it for five minutes, removed them, then added the fabric. The fabric only stayed in for sixty seconds, then I removed it as well.

It’s in the middle – the undyed cotton sateen is on left, the shantung on right.

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Soo I made the bodice, again.

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I sewed on the tulle by machine this time, because my patience wasn’t as big the second time around!

DSC_0849 Luckily I did manage to fix the snowman effect this time. After the bodice was assembled I laid it flat on a piece of tulle and cut the tulle to be the exact same size. I stitched this on after the gathered layer to keep it flat!

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I added grommets! They are each one and a half inches apart, except for the center ones, they are two inches apart. Which looks a bit silly but doesn’t effect how the garment wears.

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Now it was time for decorating it! The first thing I did was make the braided trim for the neckline. This was really easy to create, I cut three strips of tulle and attached them to a solid base.

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I braided them together and tied on both ends.

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I tried it on with the bodice and I honestly hated how it looked. My plan for a simple bodice didn’t really work because it didn’t compliment the skirt, it just looked really bland by comparison.

To fix it I made another tulle braid, this time much larger. And when it was done I wrapped it in gold ribbon.

DSC_0859 I stitched this to the smaller braid and attached them to the neckline. I was much happier with how this looked!

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 I also added a glittery mesh modesty panel to hide any back fat. Which is the not so glamorous side effect of wearing a boned bodice.

It’s just a rectangle with a snap on one corner, which joins up to another snap on the opposite side.

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I still felt like it might be missing something, so I glued together a few glittery bits and a gold bow. I also sewed on a glittery ornament. All of these items were also used in the skirt, so it makes it a bit more cohesive.

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However when it’s used it destroys my original, simplistic design. So I made it detachable and i’m not sure if i’ll end up using it or not.

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When the bodice was done I sewed it onto the skirt..

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There was an ugly seam, which I honestly didn’t try very hard to avoid. I knew I would be using a sash of some sort so it didn’t bother me.

I ended up using several pieces of tulle to create a permanent (sewn down) sash. This is what the dress looked like during the first try on!

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So that’s the dress. I also wanted to pair it with a crown and wig. The crown was supposed to be a flower crown of sorts with candles extending upward. I know they make ones specifically for Saint Lucia’s Day, but they were bulkier than I wanted. And the few I found online were out of my price range, didn’t come in the color I wanted, and didn’t hold as many candles as I had hoped.

 I attempted to make my own from two strips of buckram and boning, it was structurally strong but forced the candles to lean inward. The second one had a reinforced cardboard base with holders made from cardboard tubes. It worked in theory but once I got it on my head it had a similar problem to the first, but this time the candles leaned outward!

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Once I put more thought into it I realized the idea wasn’t meant to be. Even if I could get it to work, I wanted photos of this costume outdoors and the wind would likely blow out the candles. I also wanted photos on a private tree lot, and I doubt they would like me setting things on fire. So I decided to trash this idea and just use my crown from last year.

I also curled a wig. This wig is two super cheap ones that I sewed together. The wig had seen much better days and was a horrible tangled mess, it took two hours to detangle and another hour to curl. I talk about the curling process here!

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The final thing was finding accessories. I settled on a tons of rings, the gold bands are from forever 21 and the rhinestone ones are from ebay, I got a big set for 80c a piece or something crazy!

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I proceeded to take some crappy photos in my room. I’m going to try and get photos at a christmas tree lot today, which should be better. I really want to photograph this in the snow, but we don’t usually get much until january or february. So the christmas tree lot is likely my only hope of seasonal photos!

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Someone suggested I add ribbon in the back, so I did that! This is wire ribbon I curled around a pen.

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So that is it for making this costume! I did make a video that shows the process of making this bodice, if you are interested it can be watched here!

Thanks for reading!

Making a Christmas Angel Costume, Part One

I’m pretty sure this is the longest blog post i’ve ever written, which is pretty impressive considering my posts usually have a thousand words and thirty photos. There wasn’t a good way to break this up so I decided to leave it as one huge post!

I decided to make another Christmas Costume, I made one last year and it really got me in the festive mood. I love how Christmas contradicts all the things that winter represents, it’s a celebration and involves warm colors, lights, and cheery things in general.

It makes me happy and I wanted to make something that represented that. And I mean that quite literally, because my project idea involved making a dress light up.

I was sort of inspired by a christmas angel we had for our tree when I was younger. She wore an organza ivory dress trimmed with gold, and lights were mounted on the inside to make it glow. Sticking with that theme I decided on a gathered tulle bodice with braided trim to have almost a medieval saintly feeling.

I also wanted to pair it with a candle headpiece – it turns out there is a tradition to celebrate Saint Lucia that involves candelabra headpieces, so i’ll probably use those as reference when making mine.

The idea was – once again – using the tulle flower dress technique, but filling the hem with garlands and lights. This is probably the last time i’ll use this technique but it’s my favorite dress i’ve made using the method.

   I talk about some of the things I purchased for this dress here, and the petticoat that goes underneath it here.

Here are a few of my sketches for the project.

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The base of this dress is a half circle skirt, so I began by drafting that. My sewing room isn’t quite big enough for this project, so it was a bit of a challenge!

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The pattern is fifty-six inches long, which is the exact length of the organza I purchased.

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After the half circle was cut, I also cut an eight of a circle to create a base for the train.

The battery packs for the lights will be hidden by a tulle train at the back of the dress. The 1/8th circle creates something to build off of without taking any volume away from the dress.

Before I could do ANYTHING to my newly cut circle skirt I had to make the pockets for the battery packs. The lights are the main thing on this dress so I was thinking of them all the way along. I decided the best thing to do would be to make pockets to store them, then sew them into the back seam on the dress. I left one inch gaps in the pockets and seam which I could thread the lights through.

It sounds confusing, but it will all work out!

I bought three four meter long lengths of warm white LED lights from amazon, and two packs of star lights from Michaels.

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Since I have five strands I needed to make different sized pockets for each side of the dress – one will have two, the other will have three.

I made my pattern accordingly.

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I cut it out from christmas themed quilters cotton – this fabric was actually the main inspiration for the color scheme in this dress, but this is the only thing I actually used it for!

The edges got marked out and turned over twice to ensure they wouldn’t fray.

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Then I stitched zippers into the tops.

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And did up the sides with french seams.

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Then they got stitched into the seams of the dress. I was VERY careful to leave one inch openings every 1.5″ to ensure the lights could be threaded through the seam.

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Then I could finally begin work on the fun stuff! This is what my circle skirt looked like draped over the petticoat.

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I liked the shape but knew it would collapse down when I started adding to it. To give it a slight boost I hemmed it with horsehair braid, and on top of that I sewed gold wreath mesh into the hem for extra stiffness.

I actually did a super shitty job at this and ended up with a lot of puckers and stuff. The mesh moves a lot and I really should have pinned it in place prior to sewing it on.

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This is the skirt laid out flat, you can see the pockets for the battery packs on the right side!

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After I got it laid out I added the large, glittery garlands that I got from Michaels. I think I used about six sticks of hot glue for this because they really did not want to stay down!

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When I was done I had fifteen inches of garland left, so I cut it up and scattered the leaves around to make it look like they were climbing up the skirt. I also added a few dozen of the fake golden poinsettias.

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I tried it on my dress form again and was really pleased!

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Then I added the first layer of lights. I threaded the lights through the pockets and everything went as planned!

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I spread  the lights out and stitched them down by hand. This was very very time consuming because the thread kept getting caught on the garland. This first layer took me two hours to do!

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When that was done I noticed  the hem was a little uneven so I took it off the dress form and trimmed it while the skirt was laid flat. Since circle skirts have to be bias cut they will warp, especially if you weight the hem. To fix this you really need to trim the hem – but I couldn’t do that because the hem was covered in flowers. So I tried trimming it at the waist to resolve the problem.

Which made everything much worse. Because the weight in the hem was distorting it, everything seemed even when laid flat. When I lifted the skirt back onto the dress form there were parts that didn’t touch the ground and parts that were four inches longer than everything else. So my attempt to fix “bad” led to “huge disaster”

I ended up adding an extra inch of the gold mesh to the area that didn’t touch the ground. Aside from lifting the significantly longer area at the waist, there wasn’t much I could do about that.

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Speaking of the mesh, that was a huge issue too. The mesh has these evil barbs on them made from plastic. I’m one hundred percent sure they added these just to spite me because they are horrible. They get caught on, and try to tear any tulle that touches them. Which really sucks when you are using a tulle petticoat and want to add a tulle overlay.

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Luckily I had some gold ribbon which I stitched on the hem to cover that. Unfortunately a lot of the hem had flowers on it, so I had to rip them off just to attach the ribbon.

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When that was done I got out my glue gun and began re-attaching things. I added WAY more flowers, some extra glittery sprigs, and even some plastic ornaments I bought. I also used those things to hide the hem extension I added.

I ran out of flowers and still wanted to put more stuff to the hem, so I made a whole bunch of bows from gold ribbon and added those as well.

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Here is the new and improved skirt!

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And the first time lighting it up! So exciting!

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Then it was time for more lights! You can barely see them here because they were being lit up with rechargeable batteries, which didn’t end up working very well. Luckily this strand  only took an hour to sew on because they are higher up and the thread didn’t get caught as much.

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Here is the dress with layer two on!

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And then it was time for layer three – the final layer! I wasn’t sure how I wanted these to be positioned so I stitched them on while the skirt was on the dress form. To prevent myself from sewing the dress to the petticoat in the process of attaching the lights, I slipped a piece of paper underneath it.

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Here is the skirt with the final layer all lit up! The hem issue is really obvious here. Later on I ended up lifting that side one and a half inches, but that was the best I could do.

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After all the lights and glittery things were on I did up the back seam of the skirt. I also lint rolled it a dozen times to get off any threads, lint, hairs, and hot glue strings.

The next step was the tulle layer! I cut two pieces of 56″ x 360″ tulle, as well as two 56″ x 72″ pieces and a 56″ x 108″ layer – the latter three pieces will be used for the train.

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The two largest pieces of tulle were stitched together at the hem to create a piece that was 111″ x 360″, I couldn’t get good photo representation of this, but it was a massive amount of tulle!

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I actually wanted the piece to be 108″ long, so when I was gathering it down I left a three inch allowance on one side. This also means the seam attaching the pieces together will be hidden underneath the skirt, rather than being directly at the hem.

The other side of the skirt was gathered down with the normal half inch seam allowance.

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One side got sewn on to the outside of the skirt.

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And the other on the inside so the hem was encased in tulle.

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I basted the layers down at the back, and all my glittery stuff and lights were sealed in! I tried lighting everything up and was so pleased with how pretty it looked. This also fixed the hem length issue because the tulle forced everything to be 54″ long.

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So the next morning I go upstairs to work on my dress, and there was a slight snafu.

There was a spider inside my dress.

THERE WAS A SPIDER INSIDE MY DRESS.

SEALED INSIDE MY DRESS. INSIDE OF IT. BETWEEN THE TULLE AND ORGANZA. ON THE INSIDE.

I wouldn’t say i’m scared of spiders, but I strongly dislike them, luckily I don’t encounter them often. But my sewing room has been rearranged this week so it probably fled from behind a cabinet I moved. How the hell it got inside the dress, I have no idea. Maybe it was hiding in the garland before I put the tulle on (ew) or maybe it crawled through the basting stitches.

I sprayed it with water in an attempt to kill it – which didn’t work – but it did play dead up until I tried touching it. Which was great and not terrifying at all. There was a waterfall streaming down the side of my dress that could have drowned a small child yet the stupid spider seemed fine.

I ended up ripping out the stitches at the top so there was a 6″ opening at the waist. Then I stuck the vacuum extension into the dress and sucked it up.

DSC_0749 I stitched that closed and moved on.

I sewed together the remaining pieces of tulle and trimmed them into a “U” shape that I thought would make a nice train.

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I gathered it down to three inches, then pinned it to the back of the dress.

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And it looked…really sad, actually.

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So I made a liner for it from white tulle (didn’t have enough ivory left) which gave it a boost. I liked this much better, so I sewed them both in place!

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I feel like the back looks a bit empty because it doesn’t have anything gold on it.

I did get this huge glittery bow, which is obnoxious. I love it for the obvious reasons: It’s a huge glittery bow, but I’m not completely sure it matches the ethereal feeling I was aiming for with this dress.

I might get rid of it completely or make it detachable. I’m torn.

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To finish up this skirt I folded the edges of the slit inward. I left a ten inch slit in all the layers to make sure it could easily go over my head. The skirt actually hides this slit really well since there is so much volume, but i’ll probably end up adding snaps to keep it shut just in case. I’m going to leave that for after I figure out the bodice closure.

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So that’s pretty much it! This is it from the side:

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From the front in a bright room.

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In a dim room. In these pictures I also turned on the star lights – the LEDS in these are white but look almost blue when turned on. I stitched them underneath the hem with hopes the gold mesh would filter them and give a warmer tone. It didn’t work, and I don’t love how they look turned on, so i’m not sure how much use they will get.

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And in a dark room.

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I think that covers everything! If you are interested in actually watching me making it, I have a video that shows most of the process. It’s posted HERE! And this video shows it all lit up with the lights on the twinkle setting, which is kind of cool.

I’m really happy with this dress so far. It came out just like I had envisioned, which is a really wonderful feeling!

Thank you for reading!