Making a Medieval Escoffin / Heart Shaped Headpiece

Last week I decided to make a Medieval Escoffin. They are a tall, usually elaborate, heart shaped headdress with a padded roll on top. I thought it would be a fun little project and unlike any of my previous headpieces.

The finished piece looks like this – I’ll be taking better photos of it when I have the matching dress finished.

Photo on 10-19-15 at 3.18 PM #4

I’ve seen these headpieces in a lot of paintings and etchings, though they are usually just called heart shaped headpieces or heart shaped hennin. Fig. 50 from the page below was my main inspiration for this, since I thought the slightly wider shape would be more flattering on me than the completely upright ones (like Fig. 51). I didn’t intend for mine to look so similar to the drawing, it just sort of worked out that way.

Also this isn’t to go with the Damask Medieval Dress I’ve been working on – I just borrowed some materials from that piece.

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Oh, and those drawings are all from this book. It’s really great for seeing the styles from various periods but it doesn’t have any information on the patterning or making of any headdresses. Which is totally fine with me – I like making that part up on my own.

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I started doodling what the pattern might look like flat. Once I realized the curves in the headpiece could be created by adding batting to a flat pattern this became way easier.

My first  few sketches kind of look like the Modius crowns from Ancient Egypt – in fact the shape of a lot of early European headpieces remind me of ones Egyptian Royalty wore. Which I wouldn’t have expected.

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 I started by drawing out the shape I thought it would have on newsprint. The right side is what it looked like originally and the left side is the one I altered. I took it in a lot, lowered he top arch, and raised the bottom. Then I drew out the various sections onto the newsprint so I could better visualize the proportions.

I kept holding it up to/putting it on my head and adjusting things until I liked the way it looked. It was surprisingly easy!

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This is the pattern I ended up with. But I ended up raising the bottom portion since it was lower than I wanted.

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I traced the pattern onto heavy felt weight interfacing and cut it out. I also drew on the separate sections so I would know where to put the padding.

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Then I hand sewed wire around each edge. This makes the headpiece a lot more durable and shapeable. For the lower edge I stitched the wire about a quarter inch away from the edge. This will help reduce the bulk at the there, which is good since a lot of fabric will be layered there.

I also tried it on at this point to make sure everything looked okay – and it did, so I carried on.

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Then it was time to pad the lower section (I’ve been calling these the “ears” but there is probably a proper name for it). I used circles of quilt batting which I cut up and layered until I had a nice rounded shape.

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Here they are pinned on. I whip stitched the edges down shortly after taking this picture.

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Then I covered the ears lower section with a damask print fabric. To jazz this fabric up a bit I covered it with a gold mesh – the damask fabric is from NYC and the mesh is from Joanns.

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Then I sewed some home made brocade piping across the bottom edge. And I covered the lower edge of the felt interfacing at the centerfront with a scrap of red fabric. This part will eventually be hidden by a ruffle but I didn’t want the felt to be visible from any angle.

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Here you can see the textures of these materials together, I really, really, love the combination.

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I decided to line the interior before doing anything else. I used some red suiting for this.

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Then I tried it on. I was happy with the way it was looking but I thought the lower panels looked a little empty.

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So I started fiddling around with some beads and I realized I had enough of these gold glass beads to embellish the lower panels with a cross pattern.

I got these from Michaels (or maybe Joanns?) the pack of gold ones was on sale for $2. I also decided to stitch fake pearls across the bottom of the panels. For that i’m using super cheap 6mm ones by darice, I think these are 99c a strand.

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I made up a paper template for the cross pattern, which looked like this.

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I pinned them on and traced the edges of each strip with a yellow copic marker. If I did this again I would definitely draw this pattern onto the fabric before sewing the fabric over a dome. Because that make it way more difficult and the design isn’t even on both sides, which is a bummer.

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Taking the fact I was trying to draw straight stripes on a dome into account, I think this looks pretty good!

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But I still wanted it to have more details. So I decided to add a little ruffle. I had pink, red, and ivory chiffon, but none of them looked quite right with the damask material. I found this orange chiffon at the bottom of the stack and thought it was perfect, so I cut it into strips which got folded in half to create a finished edge.

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I gathered that down and sewed it onto the escoffin. It looks a bit silly, but I was happy with it.

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I started doing a little bit of the beading, as you can see on the right side. But the major difference here is the addition of batting to the top portion of the headpiece. This is seriously just a giant rectangle of quilt batting that I folded three times. Then it was pinned and draped inside the guidelines I had drawn.

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Here it is after being sewn down!

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Now I came to a little roadblock. I had no idea what fabric to use to cover the top portion. This is a spontaneous project, so I didn’t buy any materials with it in mind, I’m just using things I have around.

I figured if the fabric stretched that would give a smoother finish, and the only stretch fabrics I have are stretch velvets. So I raided that bin and luckily came across scraps of red velvet that I used for the cloak on my Christmas Costume in 2013.

I had just enough to cover the top portion. It took a lot of pins, stretching, and pricks to get it to lay smooth but I managed!

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I had to cut centerfront to get it to lay flat. I didn’t want the raw edge to show so I covered it with a scrap of velvet.

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With the assembly done I went ahead and finished the beading.

(I did this well watching American Ninja Warrior – that show is really addicting)

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The last thing to do was add a gem to the front. I don’t actually have any gems, but I do have glass montees. I used a clear one and painted it with alcohol inks until it was a rich gold that matches the other materials used. Then I glued gold beads around the edge and set it into one of the brass cameo frames I got in NYC a few weeks ago.

I think it’s super pretty!

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That got sewn onto the center front.

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Then I did up the back and it was finished!

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I love how this turned out. It’s one of my favorite pieces i’ve made in a while.  That is probably  because it’s so different from any of my other pieces. But I also really like all these materials together, I think they look quite stunning.

And this was really fun to make, which  raises my opinion on it. I love figuring stuff out without any information other than what the finished thing should look like, and I definitely got to do that with this. So that was great.

No photos from the back yet. I think i’ll make a veil to hide my hair, because right now it’s visible from the back and doesn’t look great.

Photo on 10-19-15 at 3.18 PM #4

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Cost Break Down:

1/4 yards of:  velvet, damask fabric, gold mesh, chiffon, and suiting = $6

1/2 yard of interfacing & quilt batting = $5.00

Beads, cameo frame, glass montee = $6.00

It probably has fifteen hours of work into it. Maybe twenty. I was pretty damn focused on it for three days, and by the fourth day it was finished. But all the work was fun, I really enjoyed this project!

Thanks for reading!

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Making a Cotton Sateen Regency Bonnet

Usually I post about making a dress, then post about making matching accessories. But today I felt like blogging about making this bonnet, so i’m doing things a little backwards.

I’ve recently finished a regency themed dress made from a red and white floral fabric. I showed a little preview of it in my last progress report, and a blog post about the process will be up in the coming weeks. The dress has a bright print but is very simple in design, which makes it an excellent candidate for accessories. I decided to pair it with a bonnet made from cotton sateen and a pair of white shoes. This post will be about making the bonnet and decorating the shoes.

I’m not very familiar with bonnets from the early 1800s so I did a bit of research. It seems cotton caps were more common than bonnets, but I didn’t think those would be very flattering on me or look nice with the dress. After a lot of searching I found reference images that I liked. The first is on the bottom left of this print and the second is shown here. My plan was to combine the brim from the second image with the cap/banding of the first image.

Here is my sketch illustrating that plan…I draw really badly sometimes.

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The brim and back of the bonnet are made from interfacing with wire in the edges. The outside will be covered with red cotton sateen and the interior will be white. I also chose to make the cap portion flexible and made entirely from fabric, with no base.

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And I have some fake flowers and pearls which I wanted to use as decoration.

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With a bit of a plan in mind it was time to get to work!

I never really know where to start when it comes to bonnets, so I tried to drape the brim shape on a wig head. That process looked a bit like this…

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When it was removed from the form it looked like this!

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I made it a little bit larger to account for the fact that my wig head is smaller than my head.

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And I had a pattern! It looked about right when I held it up to my head, so I used the pattern as a guide and cut out the interfacing. This is heavy duty felt weight interfacing, which i’ve used for headpieces in the past. I should have used buckram, but I still haven’t ordered any.

(it’s on my list, i’ll get to it someday…)

The interfacing sat weirdly on my head, it looked much different and way larger than the newsprint layer. So I cut several inches off each side. I don’t regret doing this, but I wish I hadn’t cut off so much. My bonnet ended up being a little bit too small and sits farther back on my head than I would like.

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Using my sketch as a guide I drafted a back panel which will cup my neck and attach to the brim. This also got cut out of interfacing.

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Then I whip stitched wire to each edge. This allows the bonnet to be shaped.

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To cover up the wire and texture of the interfacing I sewed flannel over the top side of each piece. I did a really awful job of this, but that’s okay, no one will see it.

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The top layer of the back piece are bands of cotton sateen. I made these bands by sewing three inch wide strips of cotton sateen into tubes, then turning them right side out and ironing them.

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The bands got sewn on but I left the top and bottom edge open. The lining got tucked into the open edges and sewn down. Eyelet lace will eventually be sewn under the bottom band, and the top band will hide the raw edge of the lace used for the cap. So  these were left open for the time being.

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This is the interior.

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I decided on the wider eyelet lace since it matched the color of the dress better (the other was a little too yellow) it was pinned underneath the bottom band.

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And all sewn down! It looks a little ripply right now, but when it’s bent more tension is put on the bands and they look smooth.

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I skipped a few steps here, oops The brim was covered with flannel and cotton sateen. Then I cut out a piece of poplin to the same size as the brim with a half inch seam allowance across the bottom edge. I didn’t like how the poplin looked on its own, so I covered it with a gathered layer of silk organza. Then the bottom edge was tucked underneath and pinned to hide the raw edge. Here you can see it pinned in place.

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I whip stitched around the top edge and the sides to secure the layers in place, but I left the bottom edge open.

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I made a little bit of bias tape (I had maybe an inch leftover when this was done!) out of some lace. I sewed this around the top and side edges to finish them nicely.

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Now the two pieces were mostly done and could be sewn together. Here they are pinned in place. I sewed them together with thread that was doubled up. I was sewing through two layers of stiffened felt so I used a big needles and pliers to help guide it.

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And when that was done I cut out the cap. I took a few measurements and then guessed what the shape and size should be. Not the most professional method but it worked!

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The bottom edge was gathered slightly then tucked between the top band and the layer of lining. I sewed it in place with small whip stitches.

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Then the top  layers was gathered slightly towards the center and pinned between the brim and the brim lining.

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Here is a shot of how it looked inside.

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And after everything had been sewn down! After all that work it was finally starting to look like a bonnet.

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I made up some ties from strips of cotton sateen. These got sewn just inside the interior of the bonnet. And then it was time for decorating!

The roses I planned on using for decorating were a bright orangey red which didn’t really match. So I used a watercolor brush and some copic inks to darken the edges to a deeper shade.The one in the middle/slightly towards the left is unpainted so you can see the difference.

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I glued those on along with the pearly strands of white flowers, and it was done!

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I think this bonnet is very pretty, and i’m happy with the shape and construction. But I made it too small, so I don’t love how it sits on my head. I also need to add another tie, or combs to the back because it is really unflattering on my jaw when it is tied tightly, but it tends to shift and fall when it’s tied loosely.

I attempted to take photos of this worn but the lighting went to crap and I didn’t end up with usable images. But I did get a bit of video footage of me wearing it (I was filming it for a costume spotlight) and that can be watched here!

Now onto the shoes. I actually plan on making a pair of Regency slippers from leather and velvet in the near future, since I want them to match a dress i’ll be starting soon. But I didn’t make these shoes, I bought them from amazon, you can see the listing here.

They aren’t very comfortable or well made, but for $18 I wasn’t expecting a lot. I bought them because I really liked the pointed toe, and found the silhouette to be quite similar to shoes from the early 1800s.

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Funnily enough the model of these shoes is “Angie – 18” which is my name and current age, which is kind of a weird coincidence!

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I made some bias tape from cotton sateen. It was folded in half and glued down around the foot opening with the creased edge being visible. I used E6000 to secure it and a few dozen binder clips to keep it in place while the glue dried. The raw edge was trimmed with pinking shears and dipped in fray check to prevent it from unraveling in the future.

Then I made cute little bows for the front.

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Here they are with the bows attached! I glued on some of the pearl/white fake flowers as well. I’m really happy with how these look.

I just wish I had used a little more precision with the glue gun! There is some visible glue which i’m not very proud of. I might try and fix that in the future, but even if I don’t it’s not a big deal. I doubt anyone will be getting that close to my feet, or even see these underneath my dress!

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And that’s it for the accessories! I’ll talk about the dress that goes with them soon.

Thanks for reading!

Making a Grey Taffeta Hat

We’re onto the final post about my Ana de Mendoza costume! This piece of the costume was the most time consuming, but it ended up being my favorite part so I think the effort was worth it.

In the painting this costume is based off of Ana is seen wearing a large hat – I tried to research women’s hats of this style from the 16th century but came up with very little information. So I decided to make it up! Sometimes I’m all about research, and I’ll try to read as many blogs and books as I can find before taking on a project. But for this one I was a little impatient, and I wanted to skip that part and get straight to it. So I did. How hard can making a hat be?

I started by drafting a pattern. I made mine a circle at first, then realized it should probably be more of an oval shape. So I trimmed the sides of the brim and crown to make them slightly less circular.

It took me a few tries but eventually I came to a size I liked. Looking back I would have made the crown slightly smaller (maybe by a half inch) so it would have more of a tapered profile, but i’m pretty happy with how this pattern worked.

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Then I cut all the pieces out from fusible felt interfacing. I chose this because i’m still out of buckram, and this stuff is available at Joanns. Buckram has to be ordered online and I was far too impatient for that!

I didn’t need the felt to be fusible, but it’s the same price as non-fusible felt interfacing and the glue makes it a bit stiffer. I figured that would be a good thing when making a hat of this size.

I originally added seam allowances to the crown and brim. I figured I could clip these the way you would a curved seam and have them tuck into each other, which would add stability to the hat. I did something similar when making my buckram bonnet and it worked really well. But this material is way thicker than buckram, and this technique would prevent the crown from fitting in place, so I trimmed the seam allowance off.

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Then I sewed on the wire! It went around the edge of the crown and brim. I felt like the brim was really floppy still, so I added another piece two inches away from the first one. This was all whip stitched in place by hand, with heavy duty upholstery thread.

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The felt doesn’t have a very nice texture, and I was worried it would show through the polyester taffeta I wanted to cover it with. So I placed a layer of flannel between the taffeta and felt. This added a LOT of weight to the hat, but I think it improved the appearance a lot as well.

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I used binder clips to hold the fabric in place while I was sewing around the edges.

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I repeated this process for all the other pieces as well. The crown was harder to cover because it’s smaller, I managed to do it but it sure doesn’t look pretty on the inside!

Then all the pieces were sewn together, which was not an easy task. My fingers did not appreciate the struggle this involved.

After an hour I had a hat! It’s rough around the edges (literally, the edges are really rough) but I was pleased with it. I got to try it on for the first time and luckily the proportions were perfect – it doesn’t really resemble the one in the painting, but that’s ok. I like the shape and size of my creation better.
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I didn’t take photos of this part earlier, but once the taffeta was sewn onto the top side of the brim, I stitched a printed denim on the inside to serve as lining. This was right by the cutting counter and caught my eye. I bought a yard and a half because I liked it so much. Even though you don’t really see it when the hat is worn, I like that this adds a bit of texture.

Here you can see how messy the interior looks, It took a lot of thread to make it look smooth from the outside…

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When I was sewing the pieces together I noticed something kind of bad. There was so much tension on the polyester taffeta that every stitch binding the pieces together caused little tears in the fabric, which revealed dots of red flannel beneath it. Probably not bad enough that anyone else would notice, but I couldn’t stand it!

So I cut strips of wool suiting, which doesn’t fray, and wrapped those around the edges.

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It got sewn down. My fingers were once again, upset by this process, but that’s okay.

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Here is a photo of it worn! It doesn’t fit on my head that well, but I can walk without it moving around. I think a hat like this is more for decorative purposes than anything else, as shown by the way Ana’s is precariously balanced on top of her hairstyle in the painting.

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I liked how the wool trim looked better than the tiny tears, but from the top of the hat it was a little puckery. So I hid that with a bit of braided blue trim.

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Then I made a matching sash out of silk chiffon. The sash on the top is for the hat, the two smaller ones were ties I made for the sleeves. All of these had the edges carefully turned over and sewn down by hand. No easy task when working with small strips of bias cut silk chiffon!

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I tied that around my hat and into a big bow. Then the top and bottom portions were stitched down so it won’t be going anywhere.

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I lined the interior with white cotton gauze, but I extended my lining too far out and it was visible when the hat was worn. So I sewed a three quarter inch wide strip of wool around the cotton, which hid this.

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Now it was time for embellishments! And feathers! I bought four white ostrich feathers from Joanns and a pack of spiky black geese feathers.

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I glued them down in an arrangement I liked. On the left side, which doesn’t have a bow, I hid the ugly bases of the feathers with a bunch of light grey fake pearls.

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And that’s it for my beautiful hat! I really love this thing. It’s made me realize how much headpieces complete historical ensembles, and how they can really bring to life a simple costume. I consider millinery to be a little bit out of my skill set and it seems intimidating to learn. But the fact I figured out the process of making this on my own, even without research, has been a big motivator for me.

I have a few costumes coming up that should be worn with hats, bonnets, and a 15th century hennin. I think i’ll put the effort into making them all, and hopefully be happier with the finished costumes.

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I also made an eyepatch for this ensemble. I used a sticky note for a pattern and scraps of the fusible interfacing for a base. This eyepatch has a very specific shape, with a sharply pointed bottom. I think I spent longer trying to pattern/shape this than I did on the hat! I wanted it to be perfect.

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I ironed the damask print denim onto one side, then tucked all the edges over and sewed them down. I was originally going to use cotton as a backing, but I switched to black wool suiting since I figured the white gauze might be visible.

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I sewed some coated black cord overtop and it was done!

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And that’s it for this costume. I’m so pleased with it. I think this might be my favorite costume that i’ve made this year. I was so determined to spend months making costumes I’m really proud of, but so far I like my week long projects a lot more than the ones that took months. Funny how that works out, huh?

If you want to see this in motion I filmed a short video on it (it really didn’t come out how I intended, but I know some people might prefer it to photos) which can be watched here.

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And that’s it! Thank you for reading!

Heinrich Mücke Inspired Dress

I try not to make separate posts for indoor pictures since they are never that great. But it’s already been a couple week since I finished this project and it might be a couple more before I have outdoor photos, so this will have to do!

Overall i’m really happy with this costume. I love the dress, headpiece, and how they look together. I’m pretty happy with how my wig and makeup turned out too! But I don’t love these pictures. I wanted the dress to be long and flowing but it’s a little too…flat.

I think next time i’ll wear it with a petticoat to get a bit more volume. I posted a video (here) of me spinning in it to get the hem laid out for photos – the volume it has in motion is something I want to carry over into photos as well. But that is an easy fix and not related to the dress itself, just the way it’s worn in the future.

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And some portraits taken a few days later. I was trying out a new lighting setup, which I really liked, but I didn’t like the background. Going to change that next time!

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Thanks for reading! A “The making of” post should be up on Monday!

Making a Fall Flower Fairy, Part Three

DSC_9101RESIZEThis is the final post in my Fall Flower Fairy series, but I should be getting photographs of this project soon, so this isn’t the last you’ll see of it! The first two posts can be found here and here.

This post will cover the process of making the headpiece and wand, but I skimped a little bit on the photographs. If you are interested in seeing the start to finish process I have a video that shows me making the accessories, and it can be watched here!

If you recall my post about making the skirt, I made the tulle layer to long and had to cut off quite a bit.

DSC_8872 I saved this bit and ended up using it as the base for this crown. I also used some Christmas ribbon and a bit of plastic boning.

As per usual I measured my head, then cut the boning a little longer than the measurement. The ribbon, which will be used to cover the boning was cut to be an inch longer.

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I started by stitching the tulle onto the ribbon, then I trimmed the edges to make everything even.

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 I folded the ribbon upward and sewed it into a channel, then threaded the boning through. When that was done I stitched the ends together and bam, I had a crown!

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 …Then I hot glued a bunch of crap onto it. That is literally the entire process. I used lot’s of fake berries, feathers, grain, and even fake pumpkins to make this look a bit more unique and less generic. I think I was successful, it certainly doesn’t look like any flower crown i’ve seen before.

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 Some nicer photos of the finished piece.

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Since i’ve used the word fairy in the title of this project I wanted to make a wand. Okay, so that’s kind of an excuse, the main reason I wanted to make a wand is because i’m terribly awkward in photos, especially when it comes to my hands. A prop is a good distraction from this.

I decided to use a walking stick as a base. My Grandpa carved this one for me when I was very young and i’ve grown so much that it’s nowhere near tall enough to be functional. It has some sentimental value, but has been collecting dust in the basement for eight years, so I was happy to find a use for it.

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It has my name carved into it and everything!

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 I used an empty ribbon spool as a base for flowers.

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…Then glued flowers onto it. I don’t know why I didn’t take any photos of this process, but clearly, I didn’t.

It was pretty straightforward, a lot of fiddling around and holding things in place for many minutes since hot glue is a lot less function when it comes to non porous materials!! Flowers kept falling off since I didn’t hold them for long enough, it  was quite the mess. But i’m happy with the end result, I think it’s cute, and certainly fit for a fairy!

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 Here are some worn photos of the whole thing together.

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DSC_9101RESIZE Thanks for reading!

Making A Butterfly Crown

I actually attempted to film making this, the key word is attempted. I forgot how bright my desk gets in the afternoon and all the footage ended up too over exposed to bother with. Of course I had to use the camera I usually use for photos to film, which is why I only ended up with three pictures of the process. I wasn’t even going to post about it, but I got so much positive feedback about this on tumblr I decided to make one anyway.

Fair warning – it’ll be more wordy then usual!

My butterflies were bought at Michaels, they carried a few different sizes, colors, and brands, but I ended up going for the large twelve pack of imitation Monarchs. The ones I picked are by the brand Ashland Nature Center, and thanks to a fifty percent off coupon I only ended spending $6 on them!

These butterflies are made from feathers which have been painted and mounted on plastic bodies. No animals were harmed in the making of this crown!

I also used orange and brown glass beads, wire, a strip of linen, and a five inch piece of beaded trim. The beaded trim was disassembled until I had a pile of crystals and pearls to use for decoration, which is why you don’t see it in the picture below.

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….

The first step is creating the base of your crown. I did this by measuring my head and adding a few inches – I wanted this to rest pretty low and I planned to wear it with wigs, so it needed to be larger.

Then I cut a one inch wide strip of linen that was the same length. I turned the edges inward and sewed it into a tube so the end result was a 23″ long strip of linen, with all the edges finished. I made mine a little over a quarter inch wide.

I cut a piece of wire slightly shorter the the strip of linen and threaded it through the linen. The cloth covering makes the wire look less harsh and gives a base to sew beads onto, so it’s pretty important!

Once I had the wire in the linen strip I closed the end with thread, and bam, you have a crown – sort of. The shape doesn’t really matter at this  point since you handle it so much during the beading process you’ll have to reshape it anyway.

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Then using a very small needle I beaded the thing – I created a lot of dangle bits and tried to create a solid (though not dense) covering of beads over the linen. I didn’t go in a very particular pattern, and it only took me an hour to do.

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Once  I was finished with the beading I added the butterflies. Since these are made for floral arrangements, they already come with two pieces of wire attached. All I had to do was wrap the wire around my crown, then snip and hide the ends!

So that’s that. Total time was a little over an hour, for me the cost was only $6 since I owned everything except for the butterflies – I think it’s well worth it. Having a butterfly crown definitely makes life a little bit better.

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DSC_7017Thanks for reading!