Making a Cinderella Inspired Petticoat

I thought this post would be fast to write. I was wrong. Somehow I ended up with fifty photos and two thousand words written about this project. Oops…

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Speaking of this project, it’s a new one! I saw the live action Cinderella film a couple weeks ago and really enjoyed it, especially the costume design. It was stunning. Have I mentioned that I want to be Sandy Powell when I grow up? Because I do, she is really great.

I loved everything about the blue ball gown in the film. The shape, the color, the size, it’s gorgeous! But if I was going to put that amount of time (hundreds of hours) and money (hundreds of dollars) into a project, I would want to do something more original or something inspired by my favorite paintings.

So instead I decided to make a short party dress inspired by the gown in the film. This will fill my need to make something blue, sparkly and ruffly, while not eating up months of time.

 And because I fell in love with a silvery fabric (it was on a really good sale – irresistible!) I’ve decided to make a dress inspired by the ball gown from the original animated film as well. So that’s TWO Cinderella inspired dresses. And of course they require an obnoxious ruffly petticoat to go underneath them, which is what this blog post is about!

This was my fabric haul. I also had some glittery organza bought many years ago, and ordered a yard of silver lamé online. In total, seventy dollars of raw materials for two dresses and a matching petticoat – not too bad! That includes notions and beads as well, but i’ll share those in another post since they weren’t used for this petticoat.

My materials for the petticoat included: ten yards of blue netting, two yards of opalescent lamé, three yards of glitter organza, one yard of silver lamé, a yard of polyester shantung, a WHOLE spool of thread, and two yards of hooping wire.

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When the fabrics were figured out it was time to decide on the layers and do some petticoat math. I’m making a petticoat with has six layers, and each layer has three tiers.

The first tier is a piece of netting that gathers at the waist and gets longer towards the back. The second is a strip of netting which gets gathered at the top and sewn to the first tier. And the final tier is made from fabric strips, with a rolled hem and gathered top.

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The normal “petticoat math” is that each tier should be two or three times wider than the last. So if tier one is three yards wide,  tier two should be at least six yards wide, and tier three should be at least twelve yards wide (before gathering).

Unfortunately I ran low on fabric and had to make some sacrifices which resulted in some of my strips being shorter than they should have been.  I have a few very non-ruffly ruffles on certain layers 😦

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There are six layers (labeled 0-5 because I made a mistake and was too lazy to rewrite things haha) worn over a hoop base. Each layer gets longer and wider as they go. A few layers are the same length but most are a half inch to an inch longer than the last to account for the volume the layers beneath it provide.

I wrote all my petticoat math out before. And I had a list of everything that needed to be cut and from what fabrics.

Before cutting the the fabric for the layers I decided to make the hoop base. This is just to enforce the elliptical shape of the skirt and also prevents the skirt from getting tangled in my legs. This isn’t a big problem with shorter skirts, but I figured it couldn’t hurt either.

I made a pattern very similar to pannier patterns, with a flat front and large back. But instead of the flat side facing my hips, it would be at the front.

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I rolled the bottom edge over by a half inch, then over by one inch. This creates a channel to feed hooping wire through.

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I did up the front seams and added the hooping wire. Now you can really see the shape!

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The top got properly gathered and I had a functional base!

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On a whim I made a four inch ruffle from netting and sewed that onto the bases hem. This will give me the correct length to start building off of.

I could have made the fabric part of the base longer, but then it would show if I decided to spin in the skirt. And the whole point of this petticoat is to have majorly wonderful spin factor, with most of the volume coming from ruffles.

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I should also mention that the petticoat base has a eight inch slash down the back which will be how I get the petticoat on and off.

This is it with the netting ruffle sewn on!

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Now it was time for cutting the netting! As I mentioned above I wrote out everything I needed to cut ahead of time so I could do it in one go. When each piece of netting was cut it was put in a pile, then pinned to a label. I think I’ve said this several times before but it’s still true,  organization is VERY important in petticoat making.

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I also cut out all the strips for the soon-to-be-ruffles. For these I used a sharpie to mark all the lines, then zoomed through them with good scissors. I’m still scared of rotary cutters, which is unfortunate, they would have made this process a bit faster!

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When the fabric strips were cut they also got labeled right away!

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After all the cutting was done it was time to begin sewing! Actually that is a lie, before sewing anything I made ten bobbins of thread. Which didn’t end up being enough, I think I went through eighteen before this project was finished.

When it was time to sew the first thing I did was sew all the netting strips together with french seams. Then they got pinned back to their labels. I repeated this process with all the fabric strips because it’s way easier to get that out of the way at the beginning.

And then it was time for hemming. A lot of hemming…

I did a one quarter inch rolled hem, by eye, for all of the fabric strips. I don’t have a hemming foot for this, so I do it manually by running the fabric through the machine twice.

First the edge gets turned over by a quarter inch and sewed down.

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Then it gets turned over again and stitched down as close to the edge as possible.

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And this gets repeated for about a hundred yards of fabric! I’m not even exaggerating with that number. These are the lowest tires for layer one and two (the shortest layers) fully hemmed.

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Once those are hemmed it’s time for gathering! There are lots of ways to make ruffles, but I do mine by pushing the fabric underneath the presser foot as I go. These don’t make the most visually pleasing ruffles, but it’s relatively fast and gives me a lot of control over how dense the gathers are.

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And that gets repeated until sixty yards of fabric strips are turned into pretty little ruffles.

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Then the ruffles are sewn onto the strips of netting.

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Ideally the tops of these would be finished with bias tape or a serger. But because this petticoat is for personal use and I don’t need it to be super durable, i’m just top stitching the ruffle to the netting.

Except for layer two and four, because lamé is is so prone to fraying. Those layers have organza ribbon topstitched over the raw edge.

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And that gets repeated until all the ruffles are attached to netting layers!

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This process took me a few days and I didn’t have enough desk or drawer space to store my piles of ruffles. So they got pinned onto my then unfinished, uniquely you dress form and I had this bizarre looking ruffly statement piece in my sewing room!

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The tops of the netting strips were gathered down and sewn to the top layer of each tier.

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And lastly, the tops of each layer get gathered down to twenty five inches. Now you can see some real progress as these get built up over the form!

This is layer 0 with a glitter organza ruffle.

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This is Layer 1, also from glitter organza. You can tell that it’s longer than the last layer, which was intentional.

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Layer 2! This layers ruffle is made from silver lamé.

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Layer 3, the last layer of glitter organza ruffles.

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Layer 4 is made from the opalescent lamé which I love. It’s so pretty. At this point I realized a little problem, the back of the dress actually had less volume than the front! Which is the opposite of what I wanted.

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So I decided to make my petticoat be two separate pieces. The second piece would be attached like a backwards apron, with the tulle being heavily gathered in the back instead of all the way around.

Which meant I could finish off the waist of this skirt! Some of my measurements were a little off on the tiers which resulted in me having to lower the center front and back to get a smooth hemline. This meant I couldn’t do a traditional rectangular waistband, instead I had to make something curvy with a pointed back and front.

But that’s okay. Curvy waistbands are pretty fancy and I think it ended up looking intentional.

I draped a mock up waistband over the petticoat, then copied it to paper and added seam allowances.

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I cut it out from polyester shantung and backed it with fusible interfacing.

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I used my machine to stitch a guideline a half inch away from each edge, then turned those edges inward.

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The edges got stitched down and my waistband was complete!

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I stitched it onto the petticoat and it was almost done! It wasn’t close to being done.

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Once I declared it finished I realized it was very flat near the waist. This is bad. I wanted a lot of volume near the waist. Not only does added volume near the waist give a more accurate silhouette, it also makes your waist look smaller by comparison. And I wanted a really small looking waist.

So I cut strips of leftover netting and stitched them together. Then I hemmed them with half inch wide horsehair braid and gathered the tops down to ten inches. I made two of these, one for each side of the skirt.

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 I hoisted up the top three petticoat layers and pinned them out of the way. I find this picture so amusing, it looks like a petticoat disaster gone wrong.

Am I doing it right? 

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 I pinned the horsehair additions to each side and sewed them down. These added soo much volume, I love it!

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And now the skirt had a much different, less A-line shape, which was perfect!

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That was before adding the second petticoat, which i’ll talk about making in a second.

 This is WITH the second petti overtop, it adds a lot of volume to the back!

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Now it came to making the second petticoat…or petticoat fluffer…or reverse apron, whatever you call it! All I did was cut a large rectangle of netting which the lower two tiers got attached to (these tiers were originally assembled for layer five). Then the top was gathered down to around twelve inches.

I made the waistband from a strip from a rectangle of shantung.  It was folded like double fold bias tape, but cut on straight grain.

Here are the folded strips. The top one is actually the lining for the first petticoats waistband.

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Then eyelets were stitched on both sides.

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Because of how it was folded there was a pocket between the layers. The raw edge of netting was inserted into that pocket, then it was sewn shut. And it was done!

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And because I didn’t show it earlier, here is the first petticoat with the lining pinned in place. It got sewn on shortly after, then eyelets were stitched in as a closure.

I was originally going to have it button closet, but i’m wearing this over a corset, so there is some size fluctuation depending on how tightly i’m willing to lace, which wouldn’t pair well with buttons.

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And the question i’m sure is on everyones mind, does it pass the twirl test? I think it does but i’ll let you decide for yourself, because I have a short clip of it in action posted here.

Final Notes: After draping the skirt to go over this, I don’t think the back has enough volume. Eventually i’ll make another horsehair/netting ruffle and sew it onto the “reverse apron” which will fix this. I would have done it before posting this, but i’m out of white horsehair and pink would look out of place!

Also the method covered here can be used for a full length version of Cinderella’s petti. Though I would highly suggest using a small hoop as a base, which I did with my Christmas Angel Petticoat. Otherwise the petti will tangle between your legs really easily. You should also use petticoat netting or organza for construction, they are both stiffer and provide a lot more volume than the crappy netting I got from Joanns. They can be bought in bulk here.

I think that’s it! Thank you for reading!

Making a Ruffly Petticoat

Today I’ll be talking about the process of making a very ruffly full length petticoat!

I really love petticoats with cotton ruffles because they seem so much fluffier than ones made entirely from tulle or netting. They bounce back into shape really well, even if you store them in tiny balls crammed into plastic bins (which I do). And on top of that they are softer and more comfortable.

My favorite petticoat i’ve ever made is actually a short one made from organza with cotton ruffles, which can be seen here!

I’ve been working on a full length dress that is partially sheer and I wanted a very full, visually pleasing petticoat to wear underneath it. I decided making one with cotton ruffles was a great idea – unfortunately it didn’t turn out as planned. I didn’t have petticoat netting or organza around, so I used tulle instead. I had hoped the tulle would build up well and eventually give  the volume I wanted, but that didn’t really happen.

I do like how it turned out, but whenever I get a bolt of petticoat netting i’ll definitely be adding to it to create the shape I wanted it to have. Anyway, onward with how I did it!

I started by making a sheet that listed all the things I needed to cut out. I decided to make the petticoat six layers, with a small hoop/netting base layer to prevent the layers from falling flat around my legs.

Each layer is made up of three pieces of fabric – the cotton ruffle, a strip of tulle, and a larger piece of tulle. The cotton gets gathered and sewn onto the strip of tulle, then the tulle gets gathered and attached to the larger piece of tulle, which eventually gets gathered at the waist.

Each layer gets gathered in half – so if the cotton is a ten yard strip it will be sewed onto a piece of tulle that is five yards long, which will be sewed onto a piece of tulle that is two and a half yards long. Then it’s gathered at the waist.

The layers vary in size but each one is between half an inch and one inch longer than the one before it.

It’s kind of confusing.

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Once I cut out all my cotton strips I sorted them  into piles and labeled them. The process is confusing enough when everything is organized well – if you lose track of any strips or have the wrong amount it turns into a nightmare!

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The fabric strips were sewn together to created really long strips.

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Then they got hemmed, each one has a double hem, which means they get hemmed twice.

The first time the edge gets turned over a quarter inch.

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Then it gets turned over again to create a fully finished edge.

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When all the strips were hemmed they were sorted and labeled (again) because as I said, it’s confusing enough with things organized!

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I set my strips aside and began focusing on the base layer. The goal of this layer was just to create something that would prevent the layers from getting tangled in my legs. This makes it easier to wear and walk in and adds a bit of extra volume!

To make it I cut a piece of petticoat netting that was three yards wide. I also cut small strips of fabric which were used to finish the edge of the netting and create a channel to thread the hooping wire through.

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The edge of the netting was finished, then gathered and stitched to a piece of organza.

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Then the wire got added and the waist was gathered. I sewed it up the back with a french seam and left a ten inch slit at the top so I can get in and out of it.

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When that was finished I cut out all the tulle. I ended up misreading my sheet of paper and cutting everything out wrong, so I had to redo most of it which was great.

The tulle also got labeled.

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Then it was time to start ruffling things! The method I used for this isn’t one I would really recommend, since it isn’t very safe or precise or pretty. But it’s really fast and easy, so for things like petticoats it works amazingly well.

To do it the fabric you want to gather needs to be on the bottom.

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Lay your fingers over the fabric and push it towards the feed dogs until the fabric is the way you want it. Make sure your foot is NOT on the pedal during this part!

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Lay the tulle over your fingers with your other hand, then remove your fingers. The tulle should keep the gathers in place long enough for you to sew over them.

 Overall it’s really not the best method but I wanted to gather over a hundred yards of fabric in a few hours and this does a good job of accomplishing that.

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After the ruffles are gathered and attached I top stitched them in place. Then that tier of tulle (or for this layer, netting, it’s the only layer with netting) gets gathered down and attached to the larger layer of tulle. The process repeats itself over and over until you get the right amount of volume or run out of fabric – the latter happened in my case!

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This is one layer.

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Two layers.

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Three layers…

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Five layers.

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And six layers!

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When all the layers were done and the tops were gathered I stitched them together. Then I made and stitched on the waistband – I swear I had photos of this but I can’t find them anywhere! I ended up using the same pattern and process as shown here so I won’t even try to explain it.

So that’s that! It will work for the project I had in mind but it’s not as fantastically full as I wanted. Especially when you put a heavy skirt over it, it sort of collapses.

Thanks for reading – and thank you so much for all the kind comments on my last post! If you celebrated, I hope you enjoyed your holidays!

The making of a Glass Angel Costume, Part Three

Here we are with part three, all about the ruffly skirt! Ruffly skirts are the best skirts, I feel passionately about this and had quite a bit of fun creating this one!

I put up a “tutorial” for this on tumblr, with the bare minimum of required information on how to make it. It ended up being surprisingly popular, gathering 5000someodd notes which is a new record for me! If  you would like to see the short, tutorial version of this project click here.

Otherwise I hope you enjoy my rambles and unnecessary photos (it’s my specialty after all)~

To be honest I didn’t start out with a big plan in mind. For the petticoat I decided to go with my usual method – the one that involves making tons of ruffles and then hoping for the best. In total this petticoat has more (yes, more) ruffles then my RMT bustle has! I was slightly shocked by this, especially since this was so easy/fast to make compared to the bustle.

(In total there are over 25yds of ruffles on the underskirt, which required over 150yds of hemming.)

I made the ruffles with my usual string method, which you can find more info on here! I really do not want to explain it again, since it’s very boring stuff. But, in case you had forgotten, it involves a lot of hemming. I began the hemming process on my Singer Heavy Duty 4423, my main machine that I got seven months ago (give or take a bit). Sadly half way through the project it began making a very load squeaking noise, overheating, and having tension troubles.

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The machine was replaced a week later with a Singer Industrial 161D-30, which is a HUGE upgrade. In addition to being larger and sturdier it also sews ten times faster then the baby machine I was using before. Which makes hemming massive amounts of ruffles a much faster, simpler task. Can’t say i’ll miss my three hour hemming marathons.

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Anyway, once the ruffles were made I sewed them onto 4″ rectangles of netting.

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Then the rectangles of netting were gathered and sewn onto a 1/2 circle skirt, which looks like so!  Looking back I wish it was a 3/4 skirt..but eh, that would be a lot more work. This skirt is made out of heavy canvas, if you plan on creating this you’ll want to use a sturdy material that does not stretch.

If you are unaware of how circle skirts are created an awesome tutorial exists here.

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Though I was quite pleased with this, the shape was all wrong – so I created more ruffles and sewed them onto very long panels of netting which were pinned to the waist, giving a cupcake shape.

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I was very unimpressed by the poof factor this created. So I made even MORE ruffles and did a second layer of gathered netting, this time I used 8″ tulle which was sewn four inches above my first layer

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Finally I was pleased with it, but the ruffles were kind of all over the place.

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See how messy they are? This bothered me. DSC_9444

I used a very large needle and loosely sewed through all the layers, just enough to keep all the layers pressed against each other. Sadly this made the skirt a little less poofy, but it looks much better.

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Skipping over a few steps, since I didn’t take pictures of this part, here is the overskirt! It’s made up of 1 1/2 circle skirts which I gathered down by hand and hand sewed into place. Then a ruffle was hand made, and sewn onto the edge. I think it’s all pretty self explanatory.

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Then it came time to add stripes to my wonderfully poofy skirt. These looked like so and eventually had the sides turned over and stitched down.

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Then they were placed onto the skirt.

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When worn it looked like so.

DSC_9647But it was still missing something! And since it was decked out in ruffles that can only mean one thing – it needs sparkles.

I quickly remedied the lack of shine by added little white plastic diamonds on each stripe.

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Which STILL wasn’t enough, so I created a double sided ruffle and glued the diamonds down the center.

My skirt also got a waistband.

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At this point something was still off – it wasn’t poofy enough. So I decided to sew in hoopskirt boning which instantly made it puffier and rufflier!

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Marvelous. 

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I also added a 6″ zipper down the back and two snaps for secure closure. I don’t have photos of that bit, but I DO have pictures of the bodice and skirt together.

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And that’s about everything for now! The end is in sight!

Thank you for reading!

The making of a Glass Angel Costume, Part Two

I swear sometimes this blog writes itself – but on the rare occasion putting together a post can only be compared to pulling teeth!

This post is the latter. 

I’m not sure why, but this costume has been absolutely torturous to work on. I really love the design, and though a few bits were challenging, there isn’t anything very difficult about this costume. Despite all this, I haven’t really enjoyed this project…which is sad. It’s also one of the reasons I haven’t been blogging about it, I haven’t wanted to work on the costume, much less write about it.

But now it’s almost complete – and my deadline is only a week away, which means it’s time to get some progress updates. If all goes according to plan another post about this costume should be up within days, then the final post will follow a week or so later.

Anyway – onwards! The first post about this costume focuses on the pattern and lining, if you missed this post, it can be found here!

So my fabric arrived! This was very exciting, three of the four colors were gorgeous and looked lovely together…sadly the sleeve color didn’t look so good, but I decided it would work (I really, REALLY wanted it to work).

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This should have been a sign that the sleeves were not going to work out so well.

 I decided instead of quilting the sleeves I would make them pintucked, which ended up being very time consuming but was easy enough to do.

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So fast forward a few steps and here is what the “finished” sleeve looked like.

It was really awful. It looked really, flat, tacky, lifeless, and CHEAP! In addition to all that it looked awful with the blue I was using for the bodice. I knew right away it wouldn’t do, so I got working on a new set.

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Well, before I could start on a new set, I ordered more material – this time in a lighter shade of blue. I had high hopes this lighter shade would look better with my other materials.

Sadly the blue was too light and very green toned.

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So I said goodbye to accuracy and decided to make the sleeves match the bodice.

This time I made the pintucked squares smaller, which I figured out make the completed sleeves look “daintier”

Here is how the pintucks looked all marked out.

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For the grey center bits I used a rectangle of fabric which was gathered down at the top, bottom, and middle so it looked poofy.

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I made the sleeve “keyholes” a little smaller. They were also sewn down around the edges so they can’t flare up and show the sleeve base.

DSC_9844This time I was much, MUCH happier with how the sleeves looked! They looked fancy an lovely. But we have to move away from that for a second to focus on the bodice.

There actually isn’t much to this, if you’ve seen the previous post on this you’ll already know the shape and pattern of the top. The only “interesting” part of this was making the front ruffle, which consists of several strips of material.

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The dark blue ones were double hemmed and gathered by setting the stitch length for 5.0 and the tension at 9.

Aren’t they cute little ruffles~

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Those got pinned onto the medium blue center piece

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And then the silver piece got sewn into the center of that.

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That got sewn onto the bodice.

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Some time later I cut the bottom into a point and bound the edges with home made bias tape.

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All this required was some sparkly buttons, which I picked up in a NYC trim shop!

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Perfect. 

The sleeves got hand gathered and sewn into place, which is pretty self explanatory.

I have to add scalloped trim to the collar,  finish sewing on buttons, add a zipper, and maybe add a dart in the shoulder so it fits better; But currently it looks like this!

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There we go. Only two more posts about this costume to write and i’m done. 

Anndd as per usual, thank you for reading! I shall have another post up soon.

Royal Milk Tea, cosplay photos

Here are some Katsucon photos of my recent Royal Milk Tea cosplay! The costume is made and worn by me, and designed by the artist Sakizo.

These lovely photos were taken by the talented Anna Fischer

You can find the six posts on how this costume was made here, see more photos of this here, and find hall shots here.

(I’m attempting to get my blog a bit more organized, so I might be updating with some past photoshoot shots soon.)

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Photography by Anna Fischer