Striped Taffeta Dress, Part Two

I’ve managed to get another sewing related injury, an attempt to make an eyelet hole larger with a pair of scissors turned into a (literally) bloody disaster. I can’t seem to hand sew without the use of that finger, and apparently I can’t draft a pattern without banging it on everything. 

Between stabbing myself with pins, burning myself with irons, and seam ripper/scissor related injures i’m a battered mess. For a hobby people associate with the weak and elderly it’s pretty badass. 

(or maybe i’m just weak – thus the injuries)

Anyway – I’m spending my accident educed absence from sewing by catching up on writing, I have six blog posts (mostly) written already – I’m super proud of myself.

Enough with crap you probably don’t care about, this is part two of my overly complicated striped dress! Part one is about the bodice and can be read here!

I’ve run into some real roadblocks with this project, which i’m ignoring for the time being. Instead i’m focusing on the parts that aren’t going too poorly, like the sleeves, which is what this post is all about.

I debated a lot about how to make the sleeves on this thing. I really wanted to do puffy sleeves like the ones on my Glittery Gown but I knew I wanted the cape to have sleeves as well, which would cover the dress sleeves down to the elbow. So that meant the sleeves needed to be very collapsible.

I couldn’t use batting or stuffing to make a base, but luckily taffeta is pretty stiff on it’s own and (should) be able to support itself.

I finally decided on a design I liked, which looked like so!


Then I translated those doodles and crap into a functional pattern.


I used some super elegant mock up materials – I like how the green bubbles bring out the green in the guitars.

There were some minor fit issues, all of which were in the wrist region. I didn’t like the crescent at the elbow either, it was too large. But I really loved how poofy the sleeve were, and the bands below them fit perfectly!


I made some pattern adjustments and got to work on the real thing. My first task was the top bit of the sleeves, unfortunately I didn’t have nearly as much material for this as I thought, so I had to make them less poofy

(what a tragedy)


Then I gathered some embelishments to make the sleeves a little more interesting. I raided my beading collection, which had to be dusted off since it hadn’t been touched in five years (oops). Most of the items were purchased when I was ten so it was a bit of a challenge to find anything in a color other then pink.

But I did manage to find some fantastic, usable stuff!


Then I got to work sewing those on. I sort of winged the pattern and hoped for the best.


I didn’t really like how it looked but I decided to fake confidence and keep going.

Luckily, once it was finished, I was quite fond of it.



Once the poofy bits were done I moved down to the bands that surround them. I made these much like the ones on the bodice, rectangles of fabric that were sewn into tubes and then hand sewn together.



 Then I gathered the lower edge of my poofy sleeves and sewed them together.


Then I skipped over the elbow portion and moved on to the wrist pieces. I knew I didn’t want the stripes to show on these pieces, so I decided to sew the stripes out of the fabric. This would require sewing a lot of seams, but I figured if I did some carefully it could look really neat, and almost reminiscent of armor, which I like since this is (very) loosely based of of menswear.

(I say as a pile on the poof and sparkle)

I started by marking out all the lines onto the back of the material.


I had to fold the fabric at each stripe point, iron it, pin it, sew it, iron it, and then repeat. It was a very slow process but I adore the result!


Then I cut my pattern out of my newly texture fabric, as well as black broadcloth (for lining) unfortunately I made a horrible mistake –  I didn’t make sure my materials were right sides together when I was cutting. I cut two of the same pattern piece when they need to be mirror images of each other.

DSC_4889Unfortunately I did not have any material left to fix it with – this entire dress is made from a little over a yard and a half of fabric, there was NO room for mistakes.

I decided to ignore it (as best I could) and move on. I added a bit of interfacing to the taffeta, to make sewing the button holes a bit easier later on. Then I sewed the lining in.

DSC_4890I clipped the corners, turned it rightside out, and pinned the lace on. They aren’t perfectly symmetrical but i’m not bothered by it.


Then I sewed the button holes in, and the buttons on. These  buttons are from this wonderful shop on etsy.

(Seriously they have amazing customer service, fast shipping, great packaging and reliable descriptions paired with accurate photos. I can’t recommend them highly enough.)

DSC_4905The last bits were the elbow pieces. I started by cutting out the broadcloth bases and sewing them together.


Then I made stripes of fabric to cover them – I talk about this technique in part one, so I won’t repeat myself in this post, instead I will just show you how it looks.


I sewed around them, then sewed bias tape onto the edges.


And then I sewed all the pieces together!


I sewed in the lining, stitched up the sides and my sleeves are officially DONE.


I just have to gather the tops and secure them to the bodice. This dress is getting so close to completion – I really hope nothing else gets in the way of finishing it.

Thanks for reading!

Striped Taffeta Dress, Part One

You should all know I almost published this with “stripped” as the title – but I caught it!

Okay I lied – the weekend was less productive then I had hoped and  I didn’t get half the things I wanted to finished, Including as set of stays. So that post will go up later in the week, and you’ll be stuck with this one for now.

This is another new project I’ve been working on for the last few weeks. It turned out to be way more complicated then it should have been – and I haven’t even started on the part of it I’m interested in making!

I was browsing through “The Complete Costume History” and came across this image. I thought all the outfits were interesting, but I was especially attracted to the arming cape and the vests – which almost reminds me of early cassocks.

I had several yards of black coating, and under two yards of grey taffeta which I thought looked nice together, and would be perfect for this project. DSC_4658

I also had a single yard of black beaded lace, and some buttons I ordered with this project in mind.

I decided to design a dress to go underneath the whole thing instead of trying to make awkward looking shorts.


Because the cape is supposed to be the focus there is NO reason for the dress underneath it to be complicated…but I do love complicated dresses, so I decided to make one. It has puffs and stripes and beading and applique, I couldn’t have made this more difficult if I tried.

I’m  not sure how many posts will be related to this project – it could be as few as three or as many as six. Do you tend to prefer longer posts or shorter ones? Because I could switch to three posts a week that are shorter.

Anyway – this post covers the bodice!

I started with a mock up. I actually made another mock up before this one, but it was so terrible I don’t want to harm anyone’s eyes. This is a pretty simple five piece bodice, and luckily my mock up fit pretty well this time!


 I dissembled the mock up and used it to make a pattern.




I cut out the pattern once from a black broadcloth, which would become the lining later on. 


Then I did something kind of strange – I cut the straps off my carefully made pattern.


I cut the pattern (sans straps) out once again, this time from the black coating.


Then it was time to make the overlay of strips for the bodice. I use my striped taffeta to make this process a little easier. First I cut the strips down to the roughly the right size.


Then I folded (and ironed) the edges over so they wouldn’t budge.


And made up some piping (out of the coating) to decorate the edges.


Then I sewed them together and pinned them to my bodice!


I sewed around the edge of my bodice to hold all the strips down, and set this aside.

The next step was making the black bands to go underneath this. These weren’t very difficult, they are just 3.75 inch strips folded over and sewn into a tube.


I pressed them so the seam was in the center back of each tube, then I sewed them together by hand.


This was ironed, then sewed on to the bodice. I also took this time to sew on the straps, which are a single layer of striped taffeta. I know they don’t line up at all – which is fine since they will be covered with lace later on.


Then the whole thing was pinned (right sides together!) to the cotton lining.


Before that was finished I spent several heartbreaking minutes cutting up the lace. I bought a single yard of this several years ago at a quilting show and really love it. It’s so unusual to see beaded alencon lace in black, since it’s a traditional wedding lace, so I think it was a neat find!

I’ve saved it for so long since I was too afraid to cut into it, but it was time.

Trims are made to be used…not treasured…


I trimmed the corners and curved edges on the bodice before turning it right side out. Then I sewed on the lace across the straps, which was much easier then I had expected. I saved a tiny bit for the sleeves, and the entire scalloped edge for the skirt.

This crap photo really doesn’t do the garment any justice, but it’s the only one I took.


The better photos are saved for my next post, which will probably be about the sleeves.

Thanks for reading!