Making a Silvery Blue Dress, Part One

Here is a new project! I started this when I was at a point where I didn’t have anything in progress and I didn’t feel comfortable starting on a big project because I hadn’t done enough research. So I chose a simple dress in a style i’m familiar with to keep me busy while I read up on elaborate dresses from the 1500s.

After watching “Galavant” I felt really inspired and decided to make a dress based off of Madalena’s Wedding Dress. Most of the costuming on that show drive me crazy (not in a good way), but I thought this dress was gorgeous, even if it isn’t anything near historically accurate!

I decided to use a blue brocade and a silvery blue ~mystery~ fabric that is silky on one side and matte on the other (definitely not satin or charmeuse). I talked about these materials in a Fabric Friday post ages ago, about how they were so pretty I couldn’t bear to use them. But now i’ve had them for almost two years and think it’s time they have a life beyond sitting in a box. I can always get more!

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I had planned on beading the bodice and creating a very full skirt but after deciding on the brocade and silver material I knew I wouldn’t be able to do either of those things. The brocade is delicate and I think it would catch on the beading, and the second fabric is too soft to form such a full design.

This sketch was done before I had picked fabric, so it isn’t quite accurate!

DSC_2015 I started by draping – this was a very easy pattern to drape!

This mock up features sexy delivery men. Of course.

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DSC_2017I removed it from the dress form and turned it into a paper pattern, which looks like this! Usually I would draft the front of the bodice as one piece, because princess seams didn’t exist in the 1400s. But in this case I wasn’t focusing on accuracy at all.

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I cut my pattern out from lining fabrics first. I decided to use scraps of batik – i’ve had these for ages and they are too small to use for draping and most mock ups, so it was nice to finally have a use for them! I think they look quite nice together too, funky lining makes everything better.

Once the pattern was cut out I sewed it together and tried it on – it was actually a pretty nice fit!

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 Then I cut  my bodice pattern out from brocade.

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 Which also got assembled.

DSC_2039 When all the seams were pressed I went through and stitched a 1/2″ away from the edge, around each edge. This prevents the brocade from fraying and creates a guideline of where to turn the edge over, without leaving any marks on the interior of your fabric.

(after the pen incident I have converted to using this method as much as possible)

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 I went through and turned over all the edges and secured them in place with a tiny running stitch. This is before it was ironed, the brocade is very delicate and prone to puckering so it didn’t look great at this point.

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 I repeated this process on the cotton lining. The only difference is that the center back edges were turned over by machine, and done in such a way that it creates a pocket. In this pocket I put a piece of plastic boning.

Without the boning whatever closure I add will be prone to bunching up, this solves that problem!

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 Speaking of closures, for this particular piece I wanted to try creating loops to lace through instead of eyelets. I made these by cutting one and a half inch wide strips of bias cut fabric – in this case I used the same fabric that will get used for the skirt.

I turned the edges inward, then folded them in half again. This is the same way you make bias tape, except I stitched the folded edges together.

I made twenty four two inch long pieces for the loops, and one piece that is three yards long to serve as the lacing.

DSC_2025 I pinned the bits of fabric (soon to be loops) onto ribbon.

DSC_2045 Then stitched over them a bunch of times. The end result were two pieces of ribbon with loops attached. Perfect!

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 Then I sewed these onto the back of the bodice lining and ta-da, a functional closure!

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Since the skirt fabric was now incorporated into the back of the bodice, I decided to bring some to the front by decorating the neckline with a folded bias cut strip of the material. I’m not sure why it is puckering a bit, I made it properly and ironed it loads. Luckily it looks find when worn, so i’m not going to get too upset about it!

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So that is it for this post. Because the next step was attaching the sleeves, and this post would be very long if I included that part too! Hopefully that will go up next week, along with another post. I’m going to try to get back onto my twice a week schedule because I miss it.

Thanks for reading!

Making a pair of Bodies

My first “The making of” post for this year! I think it has been over a month since I’ve done one of these, which is crazy! I have quite a few things in progress right now, and two dresses i’ve completed, but I thought I would start with I finished yesterday: A pair of bodies.

As I mentioned in my last two posts, i’m going to be making a tudor ensemble! It will consist of a chemise, a pair of bodies, a hip roll, a farthingale, kirtle, sleeves, and a dress. I decided to start with the pair of bodies first, then built up and under from them.

“Bodies” were the 16th century equivalent of stays or corsets. A stiff foundation garment to give your body support and to create a conical shape, which was all the rage in the mid 1500s.

My pair of bodies isn’t meant to be seen, which is good because visually it didn’t turn out very well!! Like most of my attempts at foundation garments, it was a not complete success. But they fit, and are functional, which is more than I can say for some of my creations!

The pattern i’m using is from Norah Waugh’s “Corsets and Crinolines”. This pattern is labeled as being from the early 1600s, but i’ve seen very similar ones used for recreations from the mid 1500s, so i’ve decided to use it for just that!

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For materials I decided to use a hand embroidered linen napkin. I was given this a while ago and it was either embroidered by my grandmother or great grandmother many years ago. It is very pretty but stained and a little worse for wear, so I decided to repurpose it!

I’m using yellow thread for the boning channels, plastic boning, a canvas base, and green broadcloth for lining and bias tape.

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I copied the pattern from the book, then altered it a lot. I let it out almost two inches, changed the straps a bit, and made it longer in the waist. The tabs had to be adjusted as well.

Eventually my pattern looked like this!

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I cut everything out from the canvas first.

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Then drew out all the boning channels with pen. I also marked out where padding would go in the bust.

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I used the canvas as a base to cut out the top material. I tried to get this as symmetrical as possible – I thought I did an okay job, but it was almost a half inch off, boo.

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I stitched all the boning channels and ended up with this mess! You can’t backstitch with these things so all the threads have to be tied off and buried by hand.

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The fabric puckered really badly but it (luckily) ironed out with a bit of water.

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Unfortunately without me realizing the top layer of fabric slipped, and the pattern slid up half an inch on one side. Which makes the pattern difference almost one inch, since I cut them unevenly as well. It is my own fault for not checking the front of the garment between stitching, but still, i’m annoyed!

Here one side has the threads buried – can you tell which one I didn’t iron?

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Here all the pieces are just before adding boning! I was pretty pleased with how it was coming along, despite the embroidery not really lining up…

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Then disaster struck. I was using a purple sharpie to mark the boning lengths and a little spot got onto the front of the fabric. I, oh so cleverly, jumped into action and dabbed at it with alcohol which faded the mark completely! Unfortunately the alcohol lifted all the pen ink I used to mark the boning channels. Within minutes my tiny sharpie mark had turned into this…

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I scrubbed at it with dish soap and a toothbrush. I tried a bleach pen too, and it just made things wore. This was really frustrating, even though this garment won’t be seen I was trying hard to make it look pretty.

On the bright side, this has taught me a valuable lesson: Never use ink on a garment again. I don’t wash my dresses since they don’t get much wear, and it honestly never occurred to me that detergent or alcohol or potentially even water would lift the ink and damage something beyond repair.

I tend to use pen since I don’t  mind permanent markings on the interior of things and it doesn’t tug at fabric the way chalk and pencils do. But after this is experience i’m going back to wax/chalk pencils because I don’t want this to EVER happen again!

For salvaging the garment, I attempted to put patches over the mark, but the patches had raised edges which could create bumps and make the dress worn over it look a little lumpy. Which I definitely didn’t want.

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I tried patching it with muslin, but the ink stain showed through, and I couldn’t patch it with the linen because it frays too much. I ended up using a scrap of cotton sateen, trimmed the edges with pinking shears, and fused it over the spot. A few people suggested I dye the whole garment blue, or to add a patch on the other side, but both of those things felt wrong to me. I don’t think a mistake should effect your entire project, so I covered it and moved on!

I made bias tape from green broadcloth and stitched it on by hand.

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Before attaching the bias tape to the top layer, I padded the bust with some quilt batting.

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Then added the bias tape.

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I cut out the pattern from green cotton and assembled it. This is the lining.

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I sewed on the tabs and then pinned the lining in place.

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And whip stitched that in place.

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Then it was time for eyelets! I haven’t sewn a bunch of eyelets in a while, and after trying to do fifteen in a single evening my fingers were not happy with me. It took a few days, but I got them all done!

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It definitely isn’t the prettiest thing i’ve ever made, but it is functional, and when it comes to foundation garments that is the most important thing!

Here is how it looks worn.

(Without a chemise, because I haven’t made one yet)

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Now I just have to make the understructure for the skirt, the chemise, kirtle, sleeves, dress and headpiece. Yikes. It is kind of scary to think that this was one of the easiest pieces of the set and gave me so many problems! Hopefully I ran into all my problems on this piece, and everything else will be easy.

Thanks for reading!

Making a Plaid Dress, 1860s, Part Two

This isn’t what I had planned on posting today, but it will have to do. This is part two in making my Civil War era plaid dress, part one talks about making the bodice and is posted here!

Unfortunately for me, I had to draft a sleeve pattern for this project. Which I do for most of my projects, but they usually aren’t this weird. It’s actually a fairly common historical sleeve design, just strange by modern standards. They are made from one piece of fabric that is slashed from the elbow to the wrist. They have seams at the back extending from the elbow down, and ones at the front.

I wasn’t quite sure how to draft this, I started out with a few measurements and it looked okay but I wasn’t very confident it would work. I didn’t want to waste fabric on a mock up when I was so unsure, so I ended up with my arm pinned into the pattern…

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Surprisingly, I was happy with that. It was actually pretty close to what I wanted, I just made a few alterations and then used it to cut a mock up. Once again I was pleased! They had roughly the shape I wanted and the fit was good. All I did was raise the sleeve cap at the back.

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My original pattern is laid on top of the pattern I altered after making the mock up, so you can get a good idea of the changes I made!

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And here the sleeves are, cut from the plaid fabric.

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I stitched up the back seam and pressed the seams open, then I marked out the hem at the cuff.

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Those got sewn up by hand with a running stitch.

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Then I added a little bit of lace, this is the same lace I used on the bust of the bodice. I had just enough to use it on the cuffs too!

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I did up the front seam and they were looking pretty good! I’m a little angry at myself because the plaid pattern doesn’t line up at these seams. I wasn’t expecting it to come even close, but after sewing them I realized if I had been more careful I could have cut them in a way that they would line up.

I don’t have enough fabric for a second attempt so i’ll have to live with it. Ugh!

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I made up a second set of sleeves, this time from the typical cheap polyester lining. These were attached by hand to the interior of the plaid sleeves.

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Then the sleeves got attached onto the bodice. The pictures below show them basted in place, but they got sewn on properly shortly after.

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When the sleeves were secured I started on the bodice lining. The bodice lining was cut from the same pattern as the plaid layer and stitched in place with a whip stitch.

The main difference is that the collar and body of the lining were sewn in separately instead of being stitched together. I also darted the lining instead of pleating it.

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I decided last minute to make this separate from the skirt, so it technically isn’t a dress, but i’m calling it that anyway. To finish off the bottom edge I cut a strip of plaid fabric and sewed it onto the edge.

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Bodice interior.

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Bodice exterior!

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I thought it was done, but then I remembered that it needed a collar! I had intended on making a collar from cotton or linen but I didn’t have any that matched the oatmeal color in the plaid. I searched my stash for a bit and came across lace collars I was given a while ago, I thought that might look prettier then a cotton collar so I sewed it on.

The color doesn’t match so I’m not sure how I feel about it. Usually the collars would be white or ivory, regardless of the dress color, so it isn’t completely wrong, but it bothers me. I’m going to leave it on for now and I can always switch it out with something else later on.

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That is it for today! This costume is actually completely finished now! But It will be a week before I post about the skirt and get photos of the finished ensemble.

Also: I had planned on posting something festive today but that didn’t really work out. However I DID make a video about a holiday themed pinecone crown, which is posted here. Not interesting enough to have its own post but I thought I would mention it here!

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Whether you celebrate or not, I hope you enjoy the holidays and have a lovely break!

Thanks for reading!

Making a Plaid Dress, 1860s, Part One

This is going to be a simple project. I swore my next 19th century project would be something elaborate and unique…But then I bought this plaid fabric with a civil war era gown in mind. Chopping it up to make a huge gored skirt would result in none of the stripes lining up and i’m not sure if I could deal with that!

So my elaborate dress from the 1860s is going to be on hold for the new year, and i’m making a much easier dress instead, because it suits this fabric nicely.

The design I came up with was mostly inspired by this and this. But instead of adding darts to the bodice, I want to pleat it. My original design also features bishop sleeves with cuffs, but I ended up changing that later on.

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 I’m making the dress from eight yards of this plaid material I got from Joanns, plus a yard of matching green fabric. This fabric was part of their “Fashion for Fall” line or something like that. It feels like a really nice wool flannel, and I love the weight of it.

Unlike wool flannel, it frays a lot, which sort of sucks. But on the bright side, it was 50% off and I had a 25% off entire purchase coupon, so it ended up costing $35 for the whole bolt!

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 I started off by draping the pattern. This was a big struggle to get the way I wanted. Usually draping goes quite quickly but I must have fought with this for a good hour!

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 I marked out all the pleats, then removed it from the dress form. It looked a little sketchy, not very precise at all, but I fixed it!

DSC_0560 Once I was done I had a functional pattern! It’s on the left, I’m not sure why but the Christmas Angel bodice pattern is on the right.

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 I turned that into a mock up and tried it on. I wanted a little more wiggle room, so I decided to let it out a half inch at each side. I also added darts to my pattern to take care of the shoulder wings.

The biggest issue here is that the front didn’t line up! I’m not sure how I didn’t realize that this would happen. It seems really obvious looking back on it, but it didn’t occur to me at all until I tried it on.

Since this bodice will close at the front with buttons, one side overlaps the over by an inch and a bit. Which means the pieces won’t meet in the middle – duh!

Photo on 11-22-14 at 9.43 PM I fixed this by straightening the pieces so they are flat in the middle, which I think is what was done in the picture I used for inspiration (it has a similar seam line across the bust)

When that was resolved I cut the pieces out from my plaid material and marked out all the pleats and darts.

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 Then the front and back panels got pleated.

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When that was done I stitched up the side seams – unfortunately these seams don’t line up! Neither does the one at the back. But everything else is pretty damn perfect when it comes to matching the stripes.

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I marked the hem on the collar.

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Then stitched it in place.

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Before I could stitch that onto the bodice, I had to add lace! I was given two yards of this lace a few months ago, it’s really delicate and lovely. But it also happened to be white, and I wanted it to be darker.

 I darkened it by tea staining it. I put it in a plastic bag with three packets of black tea for ten minutes to darken it to a beige. I let it dry overnight and sewed it on in the morning.

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 The collar portion was sewn onto the body of the garment and ta-dah, I had a bodice!

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 I tried it on and was quite pleased with it! The fit was very nice, the only issue were the shoulder wings. But I had been expecting those to pop up, so I wasn’t surprised by them.

Photo on 12-5-14 at 12.07 PM I took it in at the shoulders and I was very pleased. Unfortunately the next step wasn’t a fun one, because it involved stitching button holes by hand.

If you are wondering why I don’t do them by machine, I have a few reasons! The first is because I don’t have a machine that does satin stitching, or button holes. I could borrow one but even then i’m not very fond of how machine stitched button holes look.

Even though you can adjust it, most machines don’t stitch very densely around the button hole. Which is okay with lightweight fabrics that aren’t prone to fraying, but really sucks if you are working with thicker fabrics, or fabrics that fray a lot. It’s the same thing for eyelets. You can do them on a sewing machine, but if done properly the hand stitched versions should be more durable, and hopefully, more visually pleasing.

But I totally suck at button holes, so that isn’t usually the case.

To prep for it I drew out some guidelines and stitched around them with my machine.

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Then I slashed each one and stitched around them with a quadruple layer of cotton thread.

This sewing session went better than I had expected, but I still ended up with a lot of size variation from hole to hole, which isn’t good. The only way to get better is with practice, maybe next time will go better!

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The buttons I chose were ones I picked up in NYC. Most of the buttons I came across were too shiny, plastic, or ugly. I don’t love these but they were the right size and had an okay finish so i’m happy I found them!

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I actually think they look really nice on the garment!

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The only photos I have of it worn also include my sleeve muslin. So that’s all for now. Next time i’ll talk about making the lining and sleeves.

Thanks for reading!

18th Century Underskirt, Yellow Sateen

This is the second and final project in my 18th century October series. I’d hoped to make a menswear ensemble too but that didn’t end up happening, and this dress is to blame! It ended up being way more detailed and time costuming than I had expected.

Today i’ll be talking about the long process of making a pale yellow underskirt. This piece is really just an accessory, the real star is a striped Robe a l’anglaise which will be worn overtop.

For this project i’m using a lovely red and yellow striped upholstery fabric and a yellow twill sateen. I also ended up using ivory tulle as an overlay and several hundred pearls for decoration. Despite searching everywhere for a fabric that matches the yellow tone in my striped material I couldn’t find anything. Fabric is either too yellow, or not yellow enough, or too dark!

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I ended up using yellow twill (which doesn’t actually match) and adding a tulle overlay to create texture and hopefully desaturate the color enough to make them match. It didn’t work, but hey, I tried!

I started by cutting out the skirt. The skirt has two main pieces, an upper section, and a lower section. I lost my measurement sheet so I can’t tell you the dimensions of these, but they were both rectangles. One was three yards long and the other way six yards long. The six yard piece was much thinner since it creates the ruffle at the bottom of this  skirt.

This is the upper part of the skirt.

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I cut tulle that was the same size and basted it on with very large stitches. I didn’t have a large enough desk to lay this out all the way so the process was very slow.

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The six yard strip was made of three pieces which were sewn together with french seams.

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Then I repeated the process used on the upper section of the skirt and hand basted tulle overtop.

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Then it was time for hemming! I decided that I should hem everything by hand, because thats the sort of stupid decision that I make on a regular basis. I actually like hemming things by hand, but this ended up being super tedious since I did it all in one sitting.

The bottom edge of my six yard strip has a three quarter inch rolled hem that was whip stitched in place

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The top has a quarter inch rolled hem which was also whip stitched in place.

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Then I  hand the thing down until it was three yards long. I divided the fabric into four fifty four inch sections and made sure each section was gathered down to twenty seven inches. I probably should have used smaller sections to ensure the gathers are even, but this worked pretty well.

I made two rows of gathers to create a smoother surface to sew my pearls onto.

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My ruffle got set aside and it was time to focus on the upper section of the skirt. Before I could do much with it I needed to make the waistband. The waistband was also a rectangle of twill fabric, but I reinforced it with a lightweight interfacing.

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I folded the strip in half and sewed the edges together with the “right sides together” method, then top stitched around each edge.

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The last step was sewing a button hole and attaching a button! I originally made covered buttons with matching fabric, but they ended up being too big.

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I gathered the top of my skirt until it was the right length, then stitched it onto the waistband.

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I folded a strip of leftover fabric into something resembling bias tape and used that to seal off the edges. I also tacked this to the skirt so it would stay facing down.

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At this point my skirt looked like this, which was pretty disappointing considering how long I had spent on it.

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The next step was sewing on the ruffle, I used my machine for this because it would be hidden by pearls later on.

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After attaching the ruffle and building up my dress form with the proper petticoats this looked a LOT better!

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Then it was time for the detail work. I ordered a heap of glass pearls from etsy in colors that matched my striped fabric. Unfortunately they only had ten strands of red 6mm pearls in stock, and I needed twelve.

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I decided to leave a twenty four inch gap free of pearls in the back of the skirt. This part will be hidden by the overskirt and leave me with enough pearls to use them the way I had planned. But it did look sort of stupid having this empty space on the skirt, so I decided to make tulle flowers to cover the gap.

I made these from tulle strips. I folded the strips into loops and wrapped thread around the bottom of each loop. Once I had five or six loops I stitched them together in the center to create something that resembles a flower.

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To jazz them up a bit I added pearls to the centers.

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Then it was time to sew pearls onto the skirt! I did this one by one and it took a really long time since I had over 500 to attach. I haven’t really done something like this before and it was surprisingly soothing, like hemming but with a much prettier end result!

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Once I finished sewing on all the pearls it was time to add my flowers!

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When that was done I did up the back of the skirt with a french seam.

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I left a six inch gap at the top of the skirt and rolled the raw edge inward twice to create a finished edge. Usually I would use snaps or hooks to keep this shut but since this is an underskirt I decided to leave it open.

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There was an ugly flowerless gap where the seam was, but luckily I saved a few tulle flowers which I sewed on after the seam was done up. So everything looks flowery and lovely!

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And the skirt was complete! I made this over the course of a week but there was so much hand sewing involved that it felt much longer.

In the end I’m really pleased with how it turned out, the whole project went smoothly. Even though it’s a simple design that’s something to be grateful for, mistakes are all the more noticeable on simple projects!

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Thanks for reading!

Making a 1840s Floral Red Dress, Part Two

I’m a few days late but here is the second part of making this floral lacy dress! Part one shows the process of making the bodice and can be read here. Today i’ll be talking about how I made the sleeves and skirt.

I went back and forth about what type of sleeves to make for this dress. I love huge frilly sleeves but the neckline of this dress has so much detail that big sleeves would take away from it. So instead I settled on small sleeves with a little bit of lace, which ended up being very similar to the ones shown in the painting I used for inspiration!

To create a pattern I measured the arm hole, measured my arm, and used a lot  of guess work when it came to the length and slopes.

I made a mock up from broadcloth and liked how they looked enough to turn them into a paper pattern which was used to cut them from my floral fabric!

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I also cut the pattern from muslin. I pinned the muslin and floral fabric together, then sewed around the top and sides. This created three finished edges and saved me from making bias tape and sewing french seams later on.

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I folded the fabrics inward by a half inch on the lowest edge to create the appearance of a finished edge and pressed them in place. Then I pinned lace in between the two layers.

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Then the lace was into place, this is what the sleeve interior looks like! I usually don’t make sleeves that allow for this method (It can’t be done on puffy sleeves without adding a lot of bulk) which sucks because it’s so easy and looks so nice.

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I did up the only remaining seam and the sleeves were done!

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I sewed them in place with small straight stitches, then went around the outside with a whip stitch to make sure they are secure.

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After the sleeves were done I sewed together my lining and pinned it in place. Aside from attaching the panel of buttons I think this is the only machine sewing on this costume.

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The lining was completely hand sewn in place. Once that was done the bodice was finished! The lining on this isn’t perfect but it’s pretty close, it’s the damn basque waist that always screws me up.

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Since the bodice is done it’s time to talk about the skirt! Like my last two 19th century dresses, the skirt is made up of one big rectangle. Because I didn’t have that much fabric this skirt is only one hundred inches wide, which makes it look a little weird over petticoats.

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I marked out the hem line in pen.

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I did a sort of strange hem on this dress, the selvage was rolled over and basted in place, then the new edge of the fabric was rolled over to create a two inch hem. I used a cross stitch for securing this hem, since it’s kind of fun to do and you don’t see any stitches from the exterior of the garment!

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Then I gathered the top of the skirt. They aren’t large enough to be called cartridge pleats, but I used the same method just with quarter inch wide stitches. There are two rows of gathers, each a half inch apart. I left sixteen inches ungathered in the front, which was turned into a four inch wide box pleat.

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I pinned the skirt onto the bodice and sewed it in place with a whip stitch. This took ages and I ran into so many problems, my  thread was so tangly and broke a half dozen times during this process.

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After the skirt was stitched on I sewed it up with a french seam, I left a six inch opening in the back to make this dress easy to get into. The opening closes with five small snaps.

Once the back was all figured out the dress was done! I’m really pleased with this dress. It’s so girly and lacy, just looking at it makes me smile. I’m also proud that I managed to make this dress from start to finish in forty eight hours, without sacrificing the quality of the finished garment.

I think I might do more forty eight hour challenges in the future, hopefully they will all be as satisfying as this one!

I have a whole bunch of photos of this dress laying flat, but no worn images just yet. I’ll post those next week along with a write up on how I made a matching headpiece.

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Thanks for reading!

Making a Structured Chemise a la Reine, Part One

Today i’m starting a new series. This series actually started on October 1st when I began working on this dress, I just haven’t talked about it until today.

I’ve come up with the idea to pair centuries of fashion with months, then focus on that time period all month long. This month is “18th Century October” and if all goes well I’ll try to do “19th Century November”

My goal for this month is to make two dresses. But i’m hoping to make a frock coat too.

Dress number one is a really inaccurate Chemise a la Reine. These are usually loose garments made from very lightweight muslin or cotton, they are built like chemises (made from large rectangles), and tie at the waist and sleeves to create body definition. They usually had a drawstring at the neck and ties up the front or back.

I’ve wanted to make one for a long time. Just because I like the story behind how they came to exist. Unfortunately I didn’t have the materials on hand, or the ability to get them any time soon – finding light enough weight muslin is surprisingly difficult!

So I decided to make a more structured version out of fabrics I had around. Structured versions of the Chemise a la Reine did exist, but certainly not to this extent. I am completely aware this is horribly inaccurate and i’m sorry to anyone who is offended by it! Hopefully I can make a more accurate version in the future.

For this dress i’m using five yards of white polyester shantung and a half yard of blue silk taffeta, which makes the overall cost for this project around $20.

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Today i’ll be talking about making the sleeves and skirt, a little backwards from how I usually do it but for this dress I actually started with the skirt and sleeves!

The skirt is one very large rectangle, it was 58″ by 126″.

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I originally did a half inch rolled hem. I decided on this because I thought this fabric was only 56″ wide which didn’t give me much room for a hem!

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Of course after I spent over two hours hemming it by hand I realized the mistake, my fabric was actually 58 inches wide! A few days later I stitched it up to be two and a half inches shorter.

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On another note, I have NEVER pricked myself so many times when working on a costume, even when hemming I kept jabbing my thumb! The same thing happened when I was sewing the lining in.

Of course this has nothing to do with my hand sewing ability, and everything to do with the fact I was working with white fabric. White fabric loves to get stained. I kept my workspace really clean to avoid any staining, which is why the fabric kept making me prick myself.

That’s just how white fabric works.

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Anyway! Then the skirt was gathered down to be twenty eight inches at the waist, I left one inch on each side free of gathers so I could do the back up with a french seam. Polyester shantung frays a lot so this was pretty much my only option.

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Here it is draped over my dress form. I used a small bumroll, a quilted petticoat (gathered at the top), and a tulle/cotton (a-line) petticoat to achieve this shape. I’m so happy with it, it’s got a lot of volume without being too much.

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That was pretty much it for the skirt, so it’s time to talk about the sleeves! I made a pattern that looks like this, it’s a slightly altered rectangle that is thirty three inches wide at the largest point.

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The fabric versions looked like this! I drew lines in the center where they had to be gathered down.

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The sleeves were also gathered at the wrist, and later on I’ll gather the tops. Once inch of material was left ungathered because i’ll also be sewing these up with a french seam.

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Once that was done I made the “ties” from blue taffeta. Since this is an inaccurate structured version these aren’t actually ties, they are sewn directly on.

Each one was cut to be one inch wide, then the edges were folded over and ironed down to create a half inch wide band.

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These got sewn on with tiny stitches, silk taffeta puckers like crazy, as you can see below. But when worn these bands look smooth and lovely!

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Then the tops of each sleeve were gathered.

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And then it was time to add the cuffs. These were made from two inch wide strips of shantung. I folded the raw edges towards the center, pressed them in place, then pressed the finished edges together. This created half inch wide strips with two finished edges…the same way double fold bias tape is made!

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These also got sewn on with very tiny stitches!

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The sleeves weren’t done yet, the tops were still pretty ugly and frayed a lot. To fix that I made more bias tape from shantung and sewed that on to hide the raw edge.

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All that was left was to sew up the seam! These were supposed to be french seams but I goofed up and sewed them like regular seams (right sides together) then trimmed the edge before realizing I had done it wrong.

Shantung frays too much for me to rip the stitches out, so I sewed another seam a half inch further in and covered the raw edge with bias tape.

And no one will ever have to know about the mistake….

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Here are the finished sleeves!

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Next week i’ll talk about making the bodice and stitching it all together.

Thanks for reading!

Making a Fall Flower Fairy, Part Two

This is part two in my Fall Flower Fairy project, part one covers how I made the skirt and can be read here.

Today i’ll be going over how I made the bodice. If you’re interested, i’ve created a video that shows (some) of the process, and that can be watched here!

This bodice was originally supposed to look like two oak leaves…but then I wanted to add sleeves, so I changed the shape…but when I made the sleeves I didn’t like how they looked. This bodice didn’t turn out how I had expected, not even close, but I really love the end result.

Step one was draping the pattern. I’ve been asked about the process a lot recently and I will be doing a draping tutorial soon, I just haven’t gotten to it yet.

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I didn’t really know where this was going when I started, I didn’t even have a sketch so it was an adventure!

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I had planned on it being a five piece pattern but I managed to draft it as one, so that was neat.

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As lovely as the care bear print was, I decided to turn it into a proper paper pattern. Then I cut the pattern from chiffon and organza to create the base for my bodice.

DSC_8855 The layers were pinned together, then basted together with large stitches.

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The next step was adding the boning channels. I used a colored pencil to mark the placement.

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 To create the channels I cut one inch strips of cotton sateen, folded the edges over, then pinned and stitched them in place.

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 Before adding the boning I used a colored pencil to mark an inch away from the neckline. Later on I’ll fold the edge over until it touches this line, which will create a half inch seam allowance.

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 I added the boning, then pinned the edge. Pinning curves inward is never fun, so many pinpricks!

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 I used tiny stitches to secure the edge in place.

DSC_8863 Then the fun part, flower arranging! I didn’t have very many small flowers left so this was a bit tricky, but I managed to place them in a way that I really like!

DSC_8864 I trimmed all the flower backs down so they would lay flat against the fabric. Then I used hot glue to secure them in place.

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After all the flowers were on I used a lint roller to remove any glue trails and lint. Then two layers of tulle were draped and pinned overtop.

DSC_8873 The tulle was sewn down with more tiny stitches and the end result looked like this!

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 It’s quite lovely but not done yet! The interior edges were fraying so I pinned lace over top of them.

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Then the lace was sewn down.

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And the bodice was pretty much done!

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 As far as dress assembly goes, it was pretty simple. I machine stitched the waist seam, then used home made bias tape to cover any raw edges.

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The back seam was done up almost all the way. I left room for a zipper but there was to much material to stitch through AND I made it slightly too small. I ended up using embroidered eyelets as closures for the dress which worked really well.

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Here is the finished back – It does lace closed all the way but I am the absolute worse at getting myself into dresses.

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So that’s that! I really adore how this dress turned out. It’s the type of dress that makes you smile, it’s so fluffy and flowery I just love it. I’ll have more photos in my next post, which will cover making the headpiece and “wand”!

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 Thanks for reading!

Monarch Collection – Making a Butterfly Bodice

Todays post is about a new project! It’s actually the first piece in a mini collection, which was inspired by monarch butterflies. I mentioned this in my progress report for last month, but since then I’ve had more ideas and plan on expanding the series to be much larger. I’ll be making a post all about the inspiration/fabric choices/sketches/concept art soon but for now I have a regular the making of post.

This particular design came to me right before bed. I wanted it to be a very literal representation of a butterfly but a little more practical then sticking a butterfly design on a bodice. I also wanted to incorporate beading and piping, since I love both of those techniques but couldn’t fit them anywhere else in the collection.

Eventually I came up with this.

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When it came to drafting I realized the proportions wouldn’t work quite like I had planned. The bodice also had a heaviness that didn’t work well with a skirt, so I switched that to be a pair of velvet shorts instead.

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The drafting process went surprisingly well considering it’s a somewhat complicated design. I managed to draft it in two pieces, without any darts or side seams. This was great because it meant my design wouldn’t be broken up at all. I drew out the markings I wanted before removing it from the form.

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 Once removed from the dress form it looked like this.

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I used this as reference to create the lining pattern, which looks like this. The lines are boning placement.

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Then I cut the fabric apart using the lines I had drawn as a guide. Each line represented a change in fabric, or where piping would go, which is why it couldn’t be made as a single piece. The end result was kind of confusing…

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 The finished pattern was pretty confusing too.

DSC_8295 I started by cutting out all the orange pieces.  I used a crayon and clear ruler to mark a one inch line all the way around the backside of each piece.

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The fabric was folded over until the raw edge touched the line, then pinned and eventually sewn in place with tiny stitches done by hand. This meant every edge was finished with a half inch seam allowance.

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I did the same thing for the velvet pieces.

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 Then I made four and a half yards of piping from cord and velvet material. I ironed the piping open, then pinned and hand sewed it to the edges of the orange panels. This is very difficult to explain but the end result looked like this!

Soon after taking this photo I sewed the front seam together and finished the edges of the black panel on the righthand side. I did this with the same one inch foldover method.

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Then I looked through my bead collection and came across some fake pearls, round black beads, and some dark seed beads which would compliment the project perfectly.

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I didn’t make too much effort to keep things symmetrical, but I probably should have. I freehanded everything, which made it much faster, this step took a little less then ninety minutes to complete.

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Once the beading was done I moved on to boning and lining. The garment definitely needed boning since the wigs had a tendency to fold over instead of sticking up.

I used hooping wire for boning, three pieces in each side. Not enough to get any reduction, but enough to give the garment some structure. I used cotton for lining and ribbon to create boning channels – I actually ran of of 3/4 inch ribbon part way through so I have two different channel sizes. Oops.

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This is probably the prettiest lining job i’ve ever done. It was sewn in entirely by hand shortly after taking this photo.

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I added eyelets and it was done! I ended up running out of this thread color before I could reinforce all the eyelets so I’ll  have to go back and finish them off whenever I get around to buying more in that shade.

For now it’s fine, wearable and pretty adorable if I do say so myself.

It felt like it was a pretty quick and easy project, but looking back it took about 18 hours over a three day period. This is mostly because the garment was almost entirely hand sewn.

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Thanks for reading!

Making a 1830’s Bonnet

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For my last project (the 1837 floral dress) I really wanted to make a bonnet but didn’t have enough material. Which is why for my red dress I made sure to buy two extra yards just to make sure I had plenty left over for a fancy bonnet!

I looked all over the internet for photos of bonnets I liked  and came up with over two dozen pictures. But none of them were quite right, they were all filled with flowers, ribbons, and piled with ruffles, more flowers, and ruched panels. They were way too ornate to go with the simple dress I had created, so I decided to make up my own design!

I had no idea whatsoever how to draft a bonnet pattern so I decided to do what I usually do – drape. I set out my wig head and went at it with newsprint and tape. The end result was something like this.

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Okay so it doesn’t quite look like a fantastic, elegant, bonnet that a lovely lady from the 1800s would wear. But I was somewhat confident it would all work out.

I turned that into a proper pattern, and only had to make a  few alterations to ensure everything would fit together properly.

The pattern looked really, super strange. I’m glad I didn’t try to flat draft it because the end result would have been awful!

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I copied my pattern onto medium weight buckram, then very carefully cut each piece out.

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I set my buckram pieces onto cotton sateen and cut roughly around them – since I was adding lining later on I wasn’t very concerned about my edges being even and precise.

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I trimmed all the edges to to be around half an inch, then hand sewed the material to the underside of the buckram. This was a really terrible process and by the end of it my fingers were really sore and kind of bloody. I think buckram won this battle.

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I assembled the two back pieces – luckily everything lined up really nicely and I was actually super happy with the end result! I sewed a lace ruffle onto the back of this, and used a light cotton sateen to line the interior. Unfortunately I forgot to take photos.

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Then I moved on to the largest panel, and the most prominent since it’s at the front.

DSC_6277I wanted the lining of this panel to be pleated so it would match the dress, so I got to work and pleated down a long length of fabric to the right size.

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I ironed them all down, then marked out the size of the piece of buckram. I sewed around the piece of buckram to make sure none of the pleats would move and set this aside.

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I sewed a strip of hooping wire into the brim so I could control the shape of the bonnet and how closely it framed my face. Then I covered the outside of the buckram with cotton sateen.

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I sewed in the pleated lining and a strip of eyelet lace. It all looked quite lovely but the hooping wire had caused the buckram to take on a wobbly shape which I didn’t like. I steamed the whole thing, then used binder clips with hopes it would sooth it out.

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It didn’t really work, but I used the words “good enough” and sewed the large brim piece onto the back hat like portion.

It looked nice but it was still missing something, so I decided to make a pleated band to cover up the seam between the brim and hat.

I hemmed the edges then once again did a whole bunch of knife pleats.

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I sewed the pleats down, and then stitched down a one inch wide strip of cotton sateen which would serve as the ties. The strip was created by sewing a three inch wide strip in half, then turning it right side out.

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And tah dah! My lovely bonnet was done!

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I still felt like the look was missing something – since I had gone for a simple bonnet design I decided to jazz up the hairstyle with some plastic flowers and a pearl headband.

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I wore these with a crudely styled with from the seller cosplaywig.

And that was that! I really adore how this came together. There were points where I didn’t like this dress at all so seeing the ensemble come together just the way I had imagined was wonderful!

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Thank you for reading!