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.

DSC_0764

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

DSC_0557

DSC_0558

DSC_0559

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

DSC_0561

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

DSC_0563

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.

DSC_0566

 Here is what the top layer looked like laid out.

DSC_0573

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

DSC_0575

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.

DSC_0569

DSC_0570

Then they all got stitched down.

DSC_0572

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.

DSC_0576

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

DSC_0581

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.

DSC_0584

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

DSC_0588

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

DSC_0591

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

DSC_0608

 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.

DSC_0609

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.

DSC_0837

 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.

DSC_0842

 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.

DSC_0843

Soo I made the bodice, again.

DSC_0844

DSC_0845

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!

DSC_0854

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.

DSC_0856

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.

DSC_0834

I braided them together and tied on both ends.

DSC_0836

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!

DSC_0867

 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.

DSC_0868

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.

DSC_0865

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.

DSC_0870

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

DSC_0872

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!

Photo on 12-11-14 at 2.32 PM

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!

DSC_0892

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!

DSC_0886

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!

Photo on 12-11-14 at 2.32 PM #2

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!

christmasangel6

christmasangel3

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

christmasangel2

christmasangel5

ChristmasAngel1

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!

Advertisements

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.

DSC_0499

DSC_0542

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!

DSC_0652

DSC_0653

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

DSC_0654

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.

DSC_0513

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.

DSC_0657

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.

DSC_0659

Then I stitched zippers into the tops.

DSC_0661

And did up the sides with french seams.

DSC_0663

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.

DSC_0664

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

DSC_0671

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.

DSC_0675

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

DSC_0677

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!

DSC_0682

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.

DSC_0684

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

DSC_0685

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

DSC_0689

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!

DSC_0690

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.

DSC_0695

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.

DSC_0692

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.

DSC_0696

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.

DSC_0699

Here is the new and improved skirt!

DSC_0703

DSC_0700

And the first time lighting it up! So exciting!

DSC_0702

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.

DSC_0709

Here is the dress with layer two on!

DSC_0712

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.

DSC_0720

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.

DSC_0723

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.

DSC_0728

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!

DSC_0730

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.

DSC_0733

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

DSC_0735

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

DSC_0737

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.

DSC_0744

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.

DSC_0756

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

DSC_0758

And it looked…really sad, actually.

DSC_0759

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!

DSC_0760

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.

DSC_0794

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.

DSC_0792

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

DSC_0793

From the front in a bright room.

DSC_0806

DSC_0807

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.

DSC_0769

And in a dark room.

DSC_0745

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!