Making an 1890’s Plaid Walking Ensemble, Part Three

It’s time for another update on my plaid walking ensemble! The first post about making this can be read here, and part two is posted here – if you haven’t read them already I would suggest you do so, otherwise this post won’t make much sense!

I’m switching things up a bit and talking about the skirt today. Since the skirt came together pretty quickly i’ve also included the making of a simple silk undershirt, which I will wear with this ensemble.

When I last left off the skirt didn’t look like much. But before doing any assembly I wanted to add closures to the back of the skirt.

To do that I folded the top ten inches of the back seam inward. Then I fused thin strips of interfacing overtop of the raw edge, starting a quarter inch away from the folded edge of the material.

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The interfacing didn’t look very nice so I covered it with bias tape which was made from scraps of the plaid material.

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I sewed the bias tape in place by hand then stitched six size 1 hooks/eyes on top of the bias tape, near the folded edge. These are each spaced about one and a quarter inches apart.

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Once the hooks are done up the back looks relatively smooth.

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With the back panels finished I went ahead and did some skirt assembly. The front, side, and back panels were all sewn together with french seams. I ended up redoing part of the left front seam since it was puckering (visible in this photo) but everything else matched up well!

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Though I did have a slight problem when sewing the back panels on. For some reason the pattern didn’t match up, so I had to move the back panel down and trim almost two inches off the top edge of the side panel.

I also noticed an awkward “poof” at the side seam near the waist. I fixed this by sewing a dart into that seam, in this photo you can see the dart pinned.

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After making the alterations mentioned above I hemmed the front and back panels. I did this with loose whip stitches. I wasn’t concerned about them being very pretty or durable since they will be covered by a facing.

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The facing looked like this! This facing probably should have been between six or ten inches wide, I have no idea why I made it this huge, it was kind of unnecessary.

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The facing was sewn in with much smaller, prettier, whip stitches.

When that was done I got to try the skirt on!

This was really exciting at the time since I could start to see the silhouette coming together.

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I was pretty happy with it. I thought it was a little bit too long but I didn’t have any trouble walking in it when I was on hard wood floors/smooth surfaces so I decided it was fine.

Now that i’ve actually worn this finished skirt on a variety of terrains I can tell you that my first instinct was right, the hem should be taken up by an inch. The length doesn’t look bad, but it definitely drags more than it should.

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The next step was making the waistband. I based this design on “corselet waistbands” from the late 1890s/early 1900s. I like these because they bring attention to the waistline, and the pointed back means I can mount the skirt lower which helps make up for how much fabric I had to trim from the top of the side panel!

The waistband is made from the silk fabric used elsewhere on the project and reinforced with a medium weight fusible interfacing.

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I ironed all the edges inward by a half inch.

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Then pinned thin piping onto the top and bottom edges. I made this piping from knitting wool and bias cut strips of silk (which were offcuts from the pleated panels made for the skirt).

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The piping was whip stitched on, then ironed, which left me with a waistband that looks like this!

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I gathered the back of the skirt slightly, so the top edge of the skirt matches the size of the waistband.

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Then I pinned it onto the skirt. I decided to hide the raw edge of the skirt in the waistband. I usually wouldn’t do this since it adds bulk to the waistline, but since this skirt is quite slim cut there isn’t much bulk in that area.

I sewed the waistband on with two rows of whip stitches. The first goes through the interfaced portion of the waistband and the skirt, and the second attaches the piping to the skirt.

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Then I sewed cotton lining into the interior of the waistband to cover all the raw edges.

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And the final step was sewing in hooks! I used four size 2 hooks/eyes for this part.

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Finished skirt from the front…

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And from the back. There is a bit of overlap here, when the skirt is worn and there is tension on the waistband it looks much better!

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The skirt was technically done but after working on the jacket I decided to add buttons to each side of the front panel. I used smaller versions of these buttons on the jacket, so I think it ties them together quite well.

I should also mention that I redid the bottom few inches of these seams several times, yet they are still puckered and unfortunate looking. To fix it I would have to give up on matching the pattern at that point, and I don’t want that. So I think it’s something i’ll have to deal with, even though it bothers me!

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With the skirt done I could begin work on another piece to wear with this ensemble!

This piece is a bit confusing. It’s supposed to look like a shirtwaist from the front, but is constructed like a corset cover (which usually weren’t meant to be seen). I didn’t want to make a full shirtwaist since they require a lot of material and tend to have full sleeves which add bulk to the shoulder/arms of the garments worn overtop of them. So I made a sleeveless shirtwaist that is intended to be worn underneath something so the back/arms won’t be seen.

Make sense?

I originally made this garment out of a striped shirting (i’ll probably show it in a future Progress Report) but I didn’t like the end result, so I made a new pattern and searched my stash for new fabric. The fabric I settled on isn’t new, and it wasn’t from my stash. I harvested the fabric from this dress. It was a bit sad taking it apart but the dress was held together with E6000, safety pins, straight pins (which I didn’t even know were there), and hot glue, so it was definitely not going to be worn again.

The dress also featured embarrassing hand sewing details like this hem. Look at that top stitching. Wow.

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There was just enough ivory silk satin on it to cut out my pattern, plus a two inch wide bias cut strip that will be used as a sash for an 1890’s hat I plan on making soon.

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This material is really prone to slipping around. So I cut my pattern out from white muslin first, then used the muslin pieces as a guide for cutting out each piece of silk.

I sewed the pieces of silk to the muslin with the right sides of the fabric facing each other. Once turned the right way out the edges are finished nicely and I don’t have to worry about them fraying in the future.

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I left the bottom edge open since it will be finished with bias tape, and the top edge open since it will be lined and covered with a gathered strip of satin.

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The front panel was gathered at the waist to add volume to the center front and across the chest.

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The edges that touch the neckline were gathered as well.

I did up the side and shoulder seams, then sewed the gathered edges at the neckline to the collar lining.

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A strip of bias cut satin was sewn overtop to cover the raw edges. I finished the edges of this strip by hand with a rolled quarter inch hem.

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I sewed  the fitted portion of the bodice on and finished the bottom edge with double fold bias tape. The bias tape extends beyond the back edge so it can be used as a waist tie to keep the bodice in place.

The entire back edge of this bodice and collar opens with hooks and bars. It takes some flexibility to do up, but I can get it on and off myself which i’m very happy about!

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At the center front I attached two shell buttons. These were purchased from the shop “VintageLinens1” on etsy – I got a big package of them for a very reasonable price.

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Here it is when worn! I should have made this a bit smaller at the waist (it fits well over this corset, it’s too big for my other one) and made the shoulders a little wider, but overall I really like it. The sheen of this fabric is gorgeous, it has just the right amount of volume in the front, doesn’t add bulk underneath dresses, and I can get it on and off by myself. I’m very pleased.

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The final post about making this ensemble will be up next week. Assuming I can get everything edited in time, there should also be photos of the finished ensemble and a costume spotlight video up shortly thereafter.

Thanks for reading!

Making an 18th Century Riding Habit / Riding Jacket

I’ve been in a pretty serious relationship with this garment for the past three months so i’m really excited to FINALLY be sharing the process and finished piece with you guys.

This is going to be a really long post so i’ll start with an image of the finished product, hopefully that will give you the motivation needed to make it to the end!

Isn’t it beautiful?

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Let’s go back to the beginning. At the start of 2015 I came across this painting of Sophie Marie Grafin Voss by Antoine Pesne and I fell in love. I’ve always been a fan of the structure and details on 18th century riding habits, but i’ve never seen an image of one that really inspired me until I came across this.

Although the beading and details are beautiful, they are also ridiculously impractical, as are the short sleeves and deep neckline. But that’s what I like about it. It’s very different from most of the riding habits* you see and it perfectly combines the traditional frills and details you’d find in an 18th century women’s wardrobe with the very structured menswear inspired design that riding habits are famous for.

So I decided to make it something similar to it.

 *This isn’t really a riding habit. I’ve titled this post that way because it’s the most common term for riding jackets which is what this garment actually is. Riding habits were a combination of matching garments worn for riding. This is just a riding jacket paired with a more traditional 18th century dress.

In December I finally began work on the piece.

The first step was drafting the pattern. This was surprisingly easy since I used the pattern I made for the bodice that goes underneath this jacket as a guide. I changed up the seaming a little bit, lowered the neckline, added larger seam allowances, lengthened each piece by a lot, and made the pieces wider to the bottom so the skirt of the jacket would have a lot of volume.

I also changed the pattern to have a front closure instead of back laces, since those obviously wouldn’t be appropriate for a jacket!

This is the altered front panel.

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Side panel.

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And back.

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I did not make a mock up for this jacket. Mostly because I didn’t have any fabric around that was thick enough to create an accurate mock up (muslin does not lay the same way as heavy wool). But also because I was feeling pretty confident about the pattern since the bodice I based it off of fit really nicely. And since the jacket was patterned with 3/4″ seams I could let it out pretty significantly if it was too small, and I could always add gores to make the skirt of the jacket bigger.

So I laid all the pieces out onto my wool melton fabric and cut them out. I packed the pieces as tightly as I could on the material since I was a little bit worried that I might have to recut some of them and wanted as much material as possible to be left over.

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Front panels…

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Side panels…
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And the back panels.

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I sewed together the back panels first, backstitching and cutting the thread just below the waistline so the bottom eighteen inches of the seam was left open. The seam was pressed and the unsewed edges were folded inward by three quarters of an inch. Then I sewed the edge down so there was a finished slit at the back of the jacket.

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Then the side back seams were done up. I was really pleased with the draping at the back, even though it looks a bit wonky on my dress form.

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I pinned the shoulder and side seams up and did a quick fitting of the jacket overtop of the panniers and stays. It fit well enough but there was a lot of bunching at the waist since I hadn’t accounted for the angle of the panniers. This was easy to fix, I just added a horizontal dart to the waistline.

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After another fitting I felt comfortable moving forward. The jacket seemed really large at the side seams but I didn’t want to take it in right away since I knew the embellishments on the front of the jacket would stiffen it significantly and change the ease and fit of the front panels.

I drew the trim pattern onto the front panels with chalk. Unfortunately I couldn’t get them spaced perfectly, or as far apart as they were in the reference photo.

After another fitting I realized the lace needed to extend farther down. If i’d noticed that initially I could have spaced them farther apart and made them look a lot better. But I didn’t. And by the time I noticed the problem my only option was to add a sixth strip of trim to each side.

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Speaking of the trim! The one i’m using is from the seller LaceTime on etsy. It was four bucks for two yards and I used four yards in total. Traditionally braided trims and cords would be used on riding jackets but since this one is so fancy I decided to go with lace instead.

I should also mention that I chose to make the detailing of this jacket gold instead of silver (which is the color it probably was) because I thought it looked more striking against the red.

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Here the lace is sewn on to one side, and pinned to the other. Since the spacing was off on my jacket this lace ended up being too wide. So I folded the edges inward to keep it inside the lines I marked.

I may have accidentally sewn some of this lace on upside down and not noticed until the jacket was almost finished. Oops.

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Since the edges of the lace were folded over they looked really bulky. The lace also wasn’t super even since it was difficult to precisely fold the edges over. The end result looked pretty sloppy, and I wasn’t happy with it at all.

So I decided to add an extra step to the embellishment process. I densely stitched sequins around each edge of the lace and overtop of any gaps in the lace where the base was visible. I did this with red thread so it would blend in with the material and better integrate the lace with the  fabric.

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This took forever. So many sequins went into this. Each piece of lace took around two hours to embellish, that’s more than twelve hours of sequining just on the front panels! But it looked beautiful and added a lot of depth to the lace.

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Then the beading began. For this I used two different sizes of gold seed beads and beige colored thread. I followed the pattern of the lace, stitching between the covered cord that makes up the design.

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This is when the lace really started to transform. Above you can see the difference between the side that has beads sewn on and the side without. These really changed the color of the lace, and added a lot more depth and texture to the piece.

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Once I was done beading the lace I tried the jacket on. Here it looks really bulky since I had tons of excess fabric pinned into the side seams but you can get a rough idea of how it was looking.

I also did a test for pocket cover placement, which is what that funny thing on the right side is supposed to be!

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This fitting made me realize that I had to take the waist in by more than two inches and fold the front edge over by two inches instead of the planned one inch. Guess my worries about the jacket being too big were for nothing!

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With the body of the jacket coming along well I drafted a sleeve pattern.

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Then those were cut out and I used chalk to mark the trim placement on them.

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The lace was pinned, then sewn on.

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And sequined, then beaded with the same technique use on the front of the jacket.

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Here you can see the beading part way done.  Really shows how much the beading transforms this lace!

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With the lace completely beaded I moved onto the tassels. On the left you can see the four different types of beads I used for each tassel.  All these beads are slightly different in color and finish which makes the tassels look a bit more interesting.

On the right you can se the two different types of beads that were used on the lace.

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Each tassel is made up of eight strands, which are a little over an inch long.

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Finished tassels on sleeves.

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And finished tassels on the jacket.

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To hide the tops of the tassels I added buttons. I realize embroidered buttons are a lot more historically accurate, but I didn’t have enough coverable buttons left and I wanted to finish this project. I’ll probably end up replacing these in the future with something more accurate.

Then again glass seed beads aren’t very 18th century appropriate either but I used plenty of them, so perhaps it doesn’t matter too much!

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Finished sleeves!

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Here are all the buttons sewn onto the jacket.

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Now it was time to make the pocket covers. Which are, like everything on this project, just decorative. I used all but three inches of the gold lace on the jacket so I had to raid my stash for something that would work for the pocket covers. Luckily I came across a different gold lace, which was just the right shape. I used that as a guide for patterning the pocket covers, then cut the covers out from interfaced wool.

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Then the lace trim was pinned and sewed on.

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And the sequining process resumed. These took even longer to do than the trim on the jacket but it sure looks pretty!

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I didn’t like the visible organza in the lace so I covered that with gold seed beads. Then I stitched clear montees into the circular loops of the lace.

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I sewed the pocket covers onto the front panels and finished them off with a button.

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Here is one of the finished front panels!

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So pretty!

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And all the beaded panels together. I think I spent more than eighty hours hand stitching beads and sequins onto this project. I was sick of it at times but for the most part I really enjoyed the process. I find beading really calming, and I would love to do more of it on future projects.

It also ended up being pretty convenient since I could do it in front of the TV. I worked on this through the first four seasons of Downton Abbey and a bunch of Top Gear episodes.

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I did one last fitting before sewing everything together. I ended up taking it in at the waist a bit more, raising the sleeves at the shoulder, and taking it in at the shoulder. Then I sewed the side seams and attached the sleeves.

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During this fitting I realized the jacket was wayy too long at the back, so I removed more than four inches of fabric from the hem. Then I turned the hem inward by an inch and sewed it in place.

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The cuffs also got hemmed.

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And so did the neckline. Shortly after taking this picture I lined the sleeves and secured the lining to the interior of the cuffs.

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Now it looked like a proper coat!

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I turned the front edge inward by two inches until I reached the waist, the rest of the front panel was only turned inward by an inch.

Then I sewed in the hooks and eyes. THERE WERE SO MANY. I used all the size two hooks and eyes I had, which was 19 in total. They aren’t spaced evenly, so they don’t look too pretty, but they line up perfectly so i’m happy.

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At this point the coat was wearable, but it still wasn’t finished. I roughly pinned the lining in.

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After making sure the lining wasn’t restricting the drape of the jacket I pinned it in properly.

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And sewed it in place. This lining fabric isn’t historically accurate at all but it makes the jacket much easier to get on and off, and that’s what matters to me!

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And the jacket is finished! I chose not to further embellish the neckline or hem, since I didn’t feel the jacket needed it, and i’m happy with that decision. I really love the way it turned out. I had so much fun beading this, and the fact that the fit turned out so well delights me to no end. I definitely think this is my most successful 18th century inspired garment that i’ve made so far, and it’s certainty my favorite from a visual aspect.

I’m really proud of it. And that’s a nice feeling!

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Of course there are a couple things I would change. Mostly the spacing of the lace. It would have looked so much better and been way more flattering if I had spaced them properly and only used five pieces on each side. Then I could have used the full width of the lace and the wider lace would have made my torso look longer and more narrow.

But other than that I think it’s pretty great! Not exactly like my reference photo, but pretty great all the same.

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Divots in the wool once again gahh. Luckily they aren’t all that noticeable when it’s worn.

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Here is a teaser photo from the photoshoot I had with this project. This was my first time wearing the ensemble, and I was rushing because of the snow so I don’t think it shows the jacket in its best light. The bodice was slipping at the shoulders, which caused the jacket to sit lower on the shoulder than it should, and the sleeves ended up bunching. I think i’ve fixed the bodice to rest higher on the shoulders so it should wear much better next time!

I’m also going to (eventually) add buttons to the centerfront of the jacket. That was always part of the plan but I forgot to set aside buttons for it and used them on a different project by mistake!

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So that’s it. It’s always weird finishing a project i’ve invested so much time in (ninety hours!) but i’m looking forward to starting new things. And this beauty has a proud resting place on a hook in my sewing room so I can look at it whenever I like!

I’ll be posting about the dress and the hat soon. Thanks for reading!

Making a Plaid Dress, 1860s, Part Three

This blog post is really overdue. Usually I’m a few weeks, or even months late when it comes to blogging about projects but in this case i’m years late. This project was originally completed in November 2014! I never got around to writing about it and I have no idea why.

This past November I fixed it up, made a matching headpiece, and got photos of the project. So now seems like an appropriate time to finally write about it. If you would like to read about making the bodice there is a blog post about that here, and a blog post about making the sleeves here!

Usually skirts from this period would be cut from gored panels. Because gored panels create full skirts with less material at the waist, and require less fabric to make. Win-win all around.

But doing that requires sewing certain seams on a the diagonal, and that wouldn’t look very nice on the linear plaid material that I was working with. So I decided to make a simple rectangle skirt from three 48″ by 55″ panels. These got pinned together with the wrong sides of the fabric facing each other.

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I was very careful to make sure everything lined up perfectly. Then I sewed a half inch away from the raw edge, trimmed the seam allowance down to 1/4″ and folded the fabric so the right sides were facing each other and the raw edge was hidden.

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To make sure the plaid pattern would line up perfectly I used basting stitches instead of pins to secure everything.

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Then I sewed a half inch away from the edge, again, to create a french seam. Once ironed everything looked pretty good! Not perfect, unfortunately, but it was close(ish)…

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I folded the bottom edge inward by a half inch and basted it in place.

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Then folded it inward by an inch so the raw edge was hidden.

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And stitched across the top edge with a cross stitch!

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I marked the pleat placement across the top edge. This skirt was knife pleated (the easiest and prettiest type, in my opinion). Two thirds of the pleats go in one direction, and one third in the other direction.

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Once the pleats are marked it’s just a matter of playing connect the dots (or lines, I guess)!

I pinned them in place.

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And put it on my dress form to see how it looked. At the time I was really happy with it, now I feel otherwise. How did I think that level of volume was okay for this period? It looks so sad!

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But on the positive side of things, I really like how the pleats look!

After pleating everything I sewed across the top edge and did up the back seam (with a french seam). As per usual I left the top eight or so inches open and folded the raw edge inward twice, then secured it with whip stitches. This opening lets me get in and out of the skirt.

Since I didn’t want the petticoats to be visible through the portion of the skirt left open, I used snaps sewn onto each side to hold it closed.

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I did a terrible job documenting this part of the process but the next step was making the waistband. I cut out a strip of plaid material and interfaced it, then folded over all the edges.

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I made piping from bias cut strips of matching green fabric, flannel (as lining), and cording. I don’t have photos of the piping but I do have photos of the raw materials which is probably not super helpful.

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Then I sewed the piping around each edge of the waistband and sewed the waistband onto the skirt with whip stitches.  I covered the raw edges of the waistband interior and the top edge of the skirt with cotton lining, which was also sewn in with whip stitches.

This wasn’t the best decision. The thickness of this fabric (especially when pleated!) added a lot of bulk to the waistband. The top edge should have been finished separately and folded down, so it sits below the waistline and adds volume to the skirt instead of adding extra inches to the waistline.

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I sewed a button hole into one side of the waistband, and sewed a button onto the other. With that done the skirt was finished!

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Here is what it looked like worn, over a bunch of random petticoats and with the cotton sateen corset I made to go with it.

The skirt is so…meh

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This November, when the fall colors were in full swing I decided I wanted more photos of this project. Which required fixing the skirt problem.

Which meant I needed to find something to make it fuller. I don’t have a round hoop skirt or elliptical hoop skirt that would be appropriate for this period, but I DO have a spanish farthingale which is kind of similar. To make the shape of it a little nicer I folded a petticoat in half and safety pinned it to the back of the farthingale.

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Then tossed a cotton/tulle petticoat over the whole thing to round it out. It’s a little lumpy, but it definitely has the appropriate level of volume.

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And my skirt had enough volume to sit nicely over the petticoat without disrupting the pleats! All I had to do was re-hem it to suit the new shape. This involved raising the front by almost three inches, and the sides by an inch.

Another change was sewing three snaps into the back of the waistband, which line up with three snaps sewn onto the back of the bodice. This weighs down the back of the bodice so it doesn’t move when I raise my arms, and prevents the skirt from “sinking” and showing the bottom edge of the bodice.

As a side note, I love the silhouette this petticoat and farthingale combination gives. It’s a little flat at the bottom since the top petticoat isn’t long enough, but other than that I think it’s great. I’m so pleased that i’m now planning on using it underneath another mid 19th century gown, all i’ll have to do is make a more appropriate, ruffly petticoat to go overtop!

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I also decided to make a headpiece to match the project. I didn’t want to make a full bonnet, but I really liked the look of this partial bonnet. Though I didn’t have proper materials for that, so I combined the shape with the sheer/open appearance of this evening cap from the same period.

I made my pattern out of newsprint.

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Then cut it out of felt weight interfacing. I tried it on at this point and realized I made it way too big – I had to take it in by three inches!

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I closed the opening and sewed wire to the interfacing so it became shapeable.

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Then I got to decide on materials. I chose to use the matching green material (which was used to pipe the waistband) and a bit of vintage lace.

I ended up using a half yard of crochet lace in a deep beige color and a stained lace trimmed mesh collar in the same shade.

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I covered the opening with the lace. Then I removed the binding from the collar (and the stains), gathered it slightly, and sewed it onto the top edge. This creates a bit of texture, and a ruffle, which is something this costume was really lacking!

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I covered the interfacing with one inch wide strips of bias tape, which were made from the green fabric. I left the tails of the bias tape really long so I could use them as ties for the bonnet, which will keep it in place when worn.

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The edges of the bias tape were whip stitched together and then it was done!

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Here is the project all together!

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And here it is when worn!

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Look at how much that side profile has improved thanks to the petticoat switch!

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I’m very pleased with how this whole ensemble turned out in the end, even though it took a while to get there!

I’ll do my best to edit the rest of the photos we took in November and have those up soon…but no promises!

Thanks for reading!

Making a Gold and Ivory Gown, Part Two

It’s time for the second post about making this years holiday dress! Part one can be read here and is about making the bodice. Today i’ll be going over how I made the sleeves, which i’m excited about because they are my favorite part of this dress. I wasn’t expecting to like them so much, since they are really simple, but I adore how the cuffs turned out. They have little bows on them so my wrists feel like presents!

I started by drafting a full length puff sleeve pattern. They flare out more at the bottom, so they have a slight bell shape but are pretty full at the top too. I probably would have made these wider but I was working with fabric limitations. I’m kind of happy the fabric restricted me, because the shape worked out really nicely and they probably wouldn’t have looked right if they were any bigger.

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I turned the bottom five inches of the sleeves edge inward by a half inch and sewed it down. Then turned it inward again so the raw edge was hidden, and sewed it in place with a whip stitch. I did this because the lower few inches of these sleeves have to be left open to allow my hand to pass through.  My hands are too big to fit if they are sewn closed all the way to the wrist cuff!

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I also gathered the lower edge of the sleeve down to my wrists circumference by hand with a running stitch that was pulled taught as I went.

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Then I cut out the lining for the cuffs, which are just rectangles of quilters cotton. I marked guidelines an inch away from each edge, then folded the raw edge up so it touched that line and sewed it in place.

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This way every edge of my cuff was finished.

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I pinned my sleeves onto the cuffs, with all the raw edges facing upward. Then sewed it down with my machine.

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The gathered edge was quite bulky so I topstitched over it several times until it became relatively flat. The backside of these did not look pretty, but they are functional, which is what matters most when it comes to the interiors of garments!

Since these cuffs are very fitted I decided to use hook/eye closures. I sewed two of these into each cuff – one at the top, one at the bottom.

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My cuffs fit perfectly at this point, but I realized later that I actually made them too small. The cotton had a tiny bit of stretch to it, so they eased nicely over my wrists. Once I added the top layer of fabric (which didn’t have ANY stretch) to the cuffs, they became much more difficult to hook up and I was left with some red marks after wearing them for long periods of time. Silly mistake on my part.

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Once the hooks were sewn in I trimmed the frayed edges at the cuffs.

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Then I cut out two pieces of ribbon and stitched them over the top side of the cuff, so all the ugly bits were hidden.

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Doesn’t that look so much better?

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Now it was time to make the bows for the cuffs. Here are the two lengths of ribbon I cut for them – I’d say I used around ten inches of ribbon for each one. I sewed the ends of the ribbon together so I had two circles, then pressed down in the center of the circle so I had two even loops.

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I wanted to use the same ribbon for the centers of the bows, but this ribbon is awfully wide for the centers of such small bows. So I folded the velvet part of the ribbon towards the gold trim and sewed it down. This created a quarter inch wide fold that made my ribbon a half inch smaller, and much more appropriate for these bows.

(I take bows very seriously, clearly)

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Then I wrapped the smaller ribbon around the center of each bow and sewed the ends together. And tah-dah, perfect little bows!

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I was going to put these on the backs of the cuffs, but they were so cute that I decided to sew them onto the front instead. Here they are pinned in place.

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And sewn on!

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Then I sewed up the side seam with a french seam. Like I mentioned earlier, I left the lower few inches open so I can fit my hand through.

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I sewed the bottom half of the sleeve on first, then gathered the top half so it perfectly fit into the arm opening. Then it was sewed in place with a whip stitch. I’ve been doing puff sleeves this way a lot recently because it lets me better visualize how dense I want the gathers to be before sewing them, which I like.

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At this point the interior of the bodice wasn’t looking great. It isn’t that bad, but there are some frayed edges and knots of thread which aren’t nice to look at.

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So I cut out a layer of lining from quilters cotton.

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Pinned it in place.

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And sewed it in with a whip stitch.

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Then my bodice, and sleeves, were complete! It still doesn’t look like much. I think this bodice really comes to life when it’s worn, it’s quite…flat looking when it’s just laid out. Luckily I will have worn pictures to share very soon – they should be going up on Wednesday or Thursday.

DSC_9744The final “The making of” post and video about this project will be up tomorrow! And that will be followed by photos of the finished ensemble. I got behind on my Christmas related posts, so you will be getting a lot of posts at once (I hope you don’t mind too much)!

Really quickly I wanted to mention the Christmas themed headpiece I made. It isn’t exciting enough to get it’s own post, but I’m really happy with how it turned out so I wanted to share it with you guys. A tutorial on the process of making it can be watched here, and photos will be below!

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Thanks for reading!

Making a Menswear Inspired Cotehardie

It’s time for a new project! It’s been a while since i’ve been able to say that. I’m finally beginning work on a medieval ensemble that I bought fabric for a few months back (more info on that here).

This project is menswear inspired and consists of a few different pieces, the first is a cotehardie, which is a slim fit long sleeved garment. It will be worn over tights and a pair of shoes which I plan on making myself. Overtop of that there will be a mantle (capelet) which will have a liripipe (long pointed hood). And I might be making a crown to go with it as well. So lots of different pieces to keep me busy!

I decided to start with the most important piece which is the cotehardie. There are tons of reference of these in artwork from the middle ages, but that artwork isn’t very fun to look at. So here is an example from “The Complete Costume History” book. These are some pretty fancy examples, mine is a little less elaborate!

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Here are my main fabrics for the ensemble. The cotehardie will be made from a wool suiting, the mantle and shoes will made from a really heavy wool coating, and the tights from a gold knit.

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Once I had my references gathered I started draping the pattern. This part was a little tricky. Cotehardies shown in artwork seem to be really fitted but do not have any seams in the front or back. I managed to accomplish this but the end result hinders mobility a bit which is kind of a bummer.

When I was draping I added darts to get the fabric to fit the form tightly, but I removed these when transferring the pattern onto paper.

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Once that was transferred to paper and seam allowances were added I had a pattern. Then I made a mock up.

Here is my mock up being tried on, the left is before pinning, the right is after pinning. I managed to get an okay fit by raising the waistline and shoulder, but even after doing that there is some gaping around the arm opening. That part doesn’t look great, but It’s kind of unavoidable when trying to make something super tight and without seams when you have boobs.

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Once my alterations were made to the pattern I cut the pieces out.

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At this point I realized the wool suiting I bought was really flimsy. I felt like it would show every lump and bump and not look as hardy as a cotehardie should be (haha). I know with suit jackets interlinings are often used to bulk the material up…but I didn’t have any of those around. So I cut out a layer of flannel and used a random pad stitching(ish) technique to attach it to the wool.

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I didn’t bother to add it in the hips, I felt like the fabric stiffness was more important at the front and waist.

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When that was done I folded the front edge inward and sewed it down.

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Now I had two pieces that looked like this!

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This will have a false button closure on it. During this period buttons were used as decorations more often than not. If they were functional they closed with a button loop system, not button holes. I’ve used buttons/loops before and it can become quite finicky, so I decided to make the buttons decorative and have the cotehardie snap closed.

I used bright pink basting stitches to mark the centerline on the lapels, which show where the buttons and snaps will be placed. Then I used chalk to pinpoint where each one would go.

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A MILLION YEARS LATER (or nine hours, one or the other) I had all the snaps and buttons attached. I’m really out of practice with sewing these on because it took me so long. It also ripped my fingers up a bit, since I sewed them all on in two days.

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Here is what it snapped closed! They don’t all line up perfectly a couple might be a few millimeters off. But it doesn’t effect the look or wear of the garment at all so I don’t mind too much.

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Now at this point I realized my cotehardie was pretty boring. And I don’t like making boring things. Even though I liked how the buttons looked, it just wasn’t enough detailing to make it really pop. But I didn’t have any gold trims that would match, so I wasn’t sure what to do.

Then it hit me: I should add lions.

Because when in doubt, add lions, right?

Heraldic cotehardies were actually a thing (as seen here) where a coat of arms/crest/emblem would make up the pattern on a dress or tunic. So using that theme I started googling medieval emblems until I found one I liked. Eventually I came across the “Coat of arms of Castile and León” which had a handy vector image of a lion on it’s wikipedia page.

I ran that through photoshop, then printed out two lions.

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When I held these up I realized it would look like two lions framing my crotch. Which wasn’t a great look. So I decided to only use one lion and figured out a different pattern for the other side later on.

I traced the outline of the lion onto double sided fusible interfacing. Then I fused it onto gold spandex, since spandex doesn’t fray I managed to avoid the frustration of turning over each edge, which was awesome.

Finally, I cut the lion out. Which took ages, there are so many fiddly bits!

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Then I ironed the lion onto my cotehardie, and tah-dah! Instantly fancier!

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For the other side I decided to add fleur de lis, which I traced from this coat of arms.

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I cut them out so they looked like this.

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Then fused them on.

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Before doing anything else I stitched up the side seams and turned the hem inward by an inch.

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Then I stitched around the edge of my appliques and added some details with more stitching. I did this with regular cotton thread since I didn’t have any embroidery floss, which isn’t ideal, but I still think it looks pretty good!

Next time I have E6000 out i’m going to add rhinestones to the lions crown and eye. I think that will look neat.

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And here it is laid out flat~

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After a quick fitting I realized the shoulder fit was pretty bad. So I took it in a bit and added some quilt batting to stand in for shoulder pads. Even that didn’t help very much, since the main issue is that the shoulder was cut too narrow. It is too late to fix that on this piece, but I made a note on the pattern. If I ever use it again i’ll add at least a half inch to that area.

Then I turned the collar and arm holes under so they had pretty finished edges.

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Which meant it was time for sleeves! Here is the pattern I drafted for them. It was hard to get them really tight, but also wide enough to have a nice silhouette.

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They were cut out of the suiting and sewn up the side.

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And the process was repeated with some polyester lining fabric.

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Then the lining was sewn to the wool sleeves.

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The lower edges of the wool got turned under by a half inch, then the lining was sewn to cover the raw edge.

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And I sewed on more buttons! Because you can never have too many of those.

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I whip stitched the sleeves on.

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Then cut out lining for the body of the garment and sewed that in. This was probably the hardest part since i’ve never lined something with such a curvy shape before. I also took my cotehardie in quite a bit, but didn’t mark those changes on my pattern. So there was some guesswork involved when I used it to cut out the lining.

But I managed!

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And now it’s finished (aside from a couple rhinestones)! I love everything except the shoulder fit. The slope on those is a bit to dramatic and they are too narrow. But I think the rest of it is pretty awesome. Especially the lion. That is probably my favorite part.

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One piece down, a couple left to go! Worn photos of it will be taken soon, but I want to get the tights and shoes finished first.

Thanks for reading!

Making a Damask Print Medieval Dress, Part Three

 

This is another project that I forgot about for a while there. I’ve been so focused on new stuff that things I finished a few weeks ago have totally slipped my mind!

This is the third post about making my Damask Printed Medieval dress. Part one about this project is posted here, and part two is posted here.

Step one was cutting out all the skirt panels. Which was easy since this skirt is just a rectangle. And since my fabric is very wide I only had to cut out two panels to get the hundred and seventy inch width that I wanted. I think they were both around fifty one inches long.

The panels were sewn together with the wrong sides facing each other, then the seam allowance was trimmed and the fabric was folded and sewn with the right sides facing each other. This way the raw edge is hidden between the folds of the fabric and you’re left with pretty french seams!

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For one side of the skirt I added strips of interfacing to the top ten inches of the edge. That got fused on, then the edge was folded inward by an inch. This will be the opening of the skirt that makes it easy to get on and off.

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That seam was also closed with a french seam, I tapered the stitching off once I got to the point where I wanted the opening to be.

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Once ironed it looked like this!

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Since I wanted to cartridge pleat the skirt I decided to back the top edge with a thick material. I’ve done this a lot and I always end up using strips of flannel, it seems to work the best for me!

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Those got folded in half and sewn onto the top edge. Then I pinned some home made bias tape over top to cover the raw edge.

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Which also got sewn on. These colors look so out of place against this fabric but I promise they aren’t visible in the end!

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I stitched a half inch away from the hem of the skirt, then I turned the fabric over at that stitch line and basted it down with loose running stitches.

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I marked a chalk line three inches away from the lower edge of the skirt, then turned the hem inward and pinned it so it touched that line.

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I sewed it down with a cross stitch because I was feeling extra patient that day!

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Then I switched back to working on the top edge of the fabric. I drew lines every three inches to create a guide for my cartridge pleats.

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I sewed over/under each marking I made to create 1.5″ deep pleats. I used upholstery thread for this to make sure it wouldn’t snap part way through. I’ve had that happen to me a few times and it totally sucks!

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I straightened out the pleats, then sewed through the back of them.

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And through the front of them, about a half inch lower than where my original gathering stitch was.

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I think they look pretty awesome at this point. So uniform and cool. But I regret making them this stiff and massive. They stick out too much and look a bit silly. I should have only used one layer of flannel. And less fabric.The skirt did not need to be this big.

Unfortunately this fabric is one that tears easily, and I knew needle marks would be visible all along the top edge if I removed the stitching and tried again. So I decided to stick with it and move forward.

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The skirt got pinned on.

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And whip stitched in place. That was pretty much it! The dress was done.

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Well, it should have been done. But I tried it on and really hated the sleeves…so I cut them off. I also removed the fur trim from the sleeves edge and sewed it around the arm holes instead. I much prefer it this way. I really liked how the bodice looked over my rose colored chemise, so I think i’ll pair this dress with that and let the chemises sleeves show. It isn’t accurate at all, but I think it will look nice.

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Even with the sleeve change i’m not super happy with this. It really didn’t turn out the way I wanted and i’m not sure why. I’m hoping to get some worn photos of it on Sunday, maybe i’ll like it better once it’s against a better backdrop!

Unfortunately I don’t have worn photos of it to share right now. The weather here has been stormy for the past week, which doesn’t provide enough lighting for indoor pictures.

I’m sorry I haven’t had very positive feelings about my last couple projects, they just didn’t work out that well in my opinion. But I recently finished two more things and I love how they’ve come out. And i’m really loving my current works in progress too, so I think my next couple posts will have happier endings!

Also! There is a video that shows the whole process. It can be watched here or below.

Thanks for reading!

Making a Night Fury / Toothless Pajama Set, Part Two

I managed to figure out how to make the hood for this thing, which means it’s time for the second post about making my Toothless PJs! Part one is posted here, and shows how I made the shorts and top. This post is about making the hood for my PJs…and that little dachshund sized Night Fury hoodie I mentioned last week.

I decided to use the pattern I drafted for my Appa hoodie as a base. But I made it larger in both length and width because I wanted the hood to be deeper. I also drafted a stripe that would go down the back and serve as a base for little spikes.

 Speaking of spikes I drafted a dozen of those as well. And I drew out all the “ears” Toothless has – I think these should be referred to as spines or spikes, but they move and react to his emotions the way an animals ears would, which is why I think of them that way.

These were tricky to draft, since they react and change depending on Toothless’ mood. There isn’t reference photo that shows how they are supposed to look since they look different in every photo. I basically guessed on the shape and kept holding them up to my head to see if they looked right.

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Guin’s hoodie was based off the pattern I drafted for her Momo hoodie a few years back, with only a few alterations. I also drafted a tail, rectrices, wings, ears, and a few mini spikes to decorate the base pattern.

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Step one was tracing all the spines and spikes onto flannel and cotton. For the small spikes I used cotton, since it’s easier to get clean lines with lighter weight fabric. For the larger ones I used two layers of flannel.

I backed the minky for the six largest spines with fusible interfacing to help them keep their shape.

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I showed this process in part one, so I won’t go into too much detail about it this time. I placed two layers of minky between the layers of flannel (or cotton) and sewed around the guidelines.

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Then the spikes were turned the right way out and the lower edges were turned over by a quarter inch. This way all the visible edges are finished nicely. These spikes were eventually stuffed with batting.

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The pieces that make up the spines (or ears) are relatively flat so they don’t need stuffing. I thought they would need wire or something to give them shape but the interfacing did a surprisingly good job, so I didn’t think that was necessary. Because they were so stiff all the pieces (except for the ones on the left) can be sewn directly into seams and don’t need to be whip stitched on.

But to give them a bit more stiffness I sewed a quarter inch away from the edges of each piece, all the way around. The stitching holds the layers together and makes them feel a lot heavier.

The ones on the left are supposed to be pretty perky, in the movies they even stick straight up at times. So I’m going to create a stiff base that slides into them before they are sewn on, which will hopefully keep them upright.

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Before attaching any of those I needed to make the actual hood. Below you can see the hood lining and the two pieces that make up the top layer of the hood. The back portion is made from the cuddle fleece (so it the lining) and the front piece is made from minky stone.

The front portion eventually got backed with interfacing to add a bit of volume to the hood.

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Now I ran into a little problem with the spines. Ideally these would be sewn into the seam between the front and back part of the hood, but I was having a hard time visualizing where they should go and I couldn’t get it to look right.

While I was trying to figure that out I did up the back seam of the hood and the lining. I also made the stripe for the back of the hood and sewed that on.

I knew roughly where I wanted the spines to go but I still couldn’t get them to look right. So I sewed the seam most of the way up, but left five inch openings for the spines on either side. This way I could add them a little later on when I had a better idea of how the hood would look.

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After doing that the hood was still really floppy, which prevented the spines from sitting the way I wanted.  To fix that I sewed in the lining, then I stitched a half inch away from the front edge to create a channel, which I inserted a piece of quarter inch plastic boning into. Now the hood actually kept its shape when it was up!

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So the spines could finally be sewn on and the opening in the seam got sewn shut. I also got all the spikes stuffed and sewed them down the center of the hood with a whip stitch. There are seven mounted on the stripe down the back, and three smaller ones at the very front.

I made sure the whip stitches that secure the spikes on went through the lining as well. This tacks the lining to the top layer of the hood, which prevents it from looking baggy on the inside.

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Unfortunately I wasn’t really happy with the largest, most expressive spines. I thought they looked too much like massive elf ears because they were so pointy. Luckily the fix was easy, I just turned the tip over and whip stitched it down so the top looked more like a square than a triangle!

When I was happy with that I made little buckram cones which fit inside the spines and keep them upright.

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The buckram was inserted and the bottom edge of the spines got turned over. Then I whip stitched them onto the hood.

The final step was attaching two larger horns on either side of the stripe that goes down the back. Once that was done the hood was finished!

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I made sure the top layer of the hood and the lining were secured together, then sewed it onto the body of the hoodie.

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And it’s done! I have mixed feelings about this. I really love everything except for the hood. I’m just not happy with the shape and placement of all the spines on the hood, which is a bummer since that’s one of the most important parts. But I like everything else! I think it’s cute and it’s really comfortable to wear. So I’m considering it a success and i’m happy I decided to make it.

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Worn photos of it will be at the end, I just want to go through the process of making Guin’s hoodie really quickly!

The first thing I made were her little wings. I used one layer of flannel and one layer of minky for this and inserted wire into them so they would stick up. I used grey embroidery floss to stitch the joint pattern into them but I don’t have a photo of that process.

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I made all the rectrices next (not sure if that is the right word for these) and used a similar embroidery process. My stitching on both these and the wings is really bad, I’m a bit ashamed. I was using five strands of floss and a very big needle which made it really difficult to get even lines and stitching.

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Then I cut out the body of the hoodie, along with the hood and tail piece.

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Here is her little hood and the spines – the construction process for this was really similar to mine!

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Here is the placement of the spines on her hood! It was much easier to figure things on on this small scale…

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The front part of the hood got sewn on and I stitched the lining in.

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Then I assembled the bottom half of the hoodie. These two pieces zip together which makes it really easy to get on and off.

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I made a little tale using the same process I used on the spikes for my hoodie. The lower half was stuffed and rest was top stitched onto the hoodie.

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Then I added a zipper and did up the side seams.

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The hood got sewn on and it was finished! I wish I had added more stiffening to the spines, because they are floppier than they should be. But I think it’s pretty cute.

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I don’t think Guin liked her hoodie very much. The hood didn’t fit the way had hoped, since it was too small in the chest to zip up all the way. If I use this pattern for another dachshund hoodie I’ll have to let it out a bit.

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Now for pictures of my PJs! I need to take more photos against this wall. I love the color of it.
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That’s it! As I said, I like how this turned out a lot. I would just do things differently with the hood if I made it again.

Thanks for reading!

Making a Night Fury / Toothless Pajama Set, Part One

That title probably seems really weird if you aren’t familiar with the “How to Train Your Dragon” books, films, and franchise. I won’t get into the details about the series but it centers around vikings and their relationships with dragons. Specifically between the main character Hiccup and his Night Fury who is named Toothless.

The movies are animated and really well balanced when it comes to humor, drama, and adorable dragons. The first one is my favorite movie ever and the second one is definitely in my top five. If you haven’t seen them, I’d highly recommend them regardless of your age or usual movie interests.

If you’ve been following my blog for a while you may be familiar with the Appa inspired pajama set I made a couple years ago, which is based off the Sky Bison design in Avatar the Last Airbender. After making that I immediately wanted to do something similar with the character Toothless. I bought materials for it a week later and started sketching design ideas around that time, but I never began work on it.

I recently came across those sketches and thought this would be the perfect time of year to make something based off of my favorite character from my favorite film. So that’s what i’ll be talking about today!

I don’t have any pictures of my sketches, since I didn’t end up following them very closely. I’d originally played around with the idea of fake paws, wings, and a tail that would velcro onto the hoodie, which were all illustrated in my sketches. But I decided that those ideas really overcomplicated things and weren’t necessary to the design, so I went with something simpler instead.

But here is a picture of my materials! I have some normal black minky, some black double sided fuzzy fabric, and more double sized fuzzy fabric in red. I also used scraps of the brown and ivory fabrics from my Appa hoodie. And for lining the horns I bought black flannel.

The fabric in the middle is something called minky stone. I think this is supposed to look like pebbles, but the texture reminded me of scales, which I thought was perfect for a dragon!

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I used the See & Sew B4329 pattern as a base for the shorts, sleeves, and top. This is the same pattern I used for my Appa PJ’s, which turned out well, so I figured I might as well use it again. The top will be a hoodie, but I drafted the hood pattern myself and that will be the focus of the second post about this project.

Here the pieces are all cut out – I added a couple inches to the length of things since they turned out a little short last time. All these pieces were cut from the double sided black fabric except for the back left side of the shorts. That side was cut from red fabric and will be embellished with a viking skull, just as the left side of Toothless’ tail is.

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Here are the patterns I drafted to imitate the Night Fury markings and scale patterns.  There is a strip that goes down the back, cuffs, and a pocket for the front.

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There are also a ton of little spikes that I drew and copied onto bristol board. There are six on the back of the top, and three on each sleeve.

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Lastly I drafted the skull for the back of the shorts. Like all the other patterns I drew this out by eye and fiddled with it until it looked okay. I think it looks more like a goblin with big ears than a skull wearing a viking helmet, but I guess it could look worse!

I fused interfacing onto the back of my ivory cuddle fabric, then traced the skull pattern onto the back and cut it out with sharp scissors.

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I blanket stitched it onto the left side of the shorts by hand and that part was done! Still think it looks like a goblin, but i’m pretty happy with it.

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I traced all the other pattern pieces onto flannel with chalk, then roughly cut around them.

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Then I pinned them to pieces of minky that were cut to the same size. Once I sew around the chalk likes, trim the edges, and turn them the right way out i’ll have pieces with pretty finished edges!

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Here is the pocket for the front that I created with that method. The main part of the pocket is minky stone, but there is a one inch border around the top made from regular brown minky. I did this to represent the harness that Toothless wears so he can transport Hiccup.

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Here the pocket is with all the brown borders sewn on. It’s pinned onto the front panel of the top.

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I stitched across the top and bottom edges to secure it to the front panel….but I did a really bad job. My topstitching looked terrible.

It isn’t unreasonable to assume that the edges of the leather harness were bound with some type of cord, and I thought I could imitate that with embroidery floss. I used four gold strands twisted together and sewed across the edges to try and hide my stitching. Unfortunately they disappeared into the shag of the fabric so you can’t even see them!

So I couldn’t hide my stitching. But I could make the thing look a little fancier – I went ahead and added a button to each side of the top edge, to imitate studs that would secure pieces of heavy fabric together.

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That pretty much finished the front side of the hoodie, so I began work on the backside. This piece of minky stone runs down the centerback and will be the base for all the spikes down down Toothless’ spine.

I marked where the spikes would be by sewing around guidelines drawn on the back of the fabric with pink thread, but much like my embroidery floss, the stitching kind of disappears into the fabric.

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Here it is sewn onto the back panel – if you look really hard you can see some of the pink stitch lines!

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Before moving forward I had to make the spikes. I did this by tracing the spike patterns onto flannel with chalk.

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Then pieces of minky were folded in half and sandwiched between two flannel layers.

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I sewed around the guideline.

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Then sewed a quarter inch away from the bottom edge. The fabric gets folded inward at this line and stitched down by hand, so the bottom edge is finished.

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After doing that and stuffing all the spikes, they looked like this!

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I whip stitched them onto the back and tah-dah! Aren’t they cute?

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The next step was cutting the hems of the sleeves so they had a more rounded shape. Then I pinned the minky cuffs on.

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And here they are with the cuffs sewn down!  I went with the rounded hem because I think it hints at the shape of paws, but is obviously a lot more toned back than making fake paws.

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Since the front and back of the top were done I could go ahead and sew it all together. After taking this picture I stitched up the side seam and hemmed the lower edge.

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Now lets take a break from the top half and focus on the shorts for a minute – and only a minute, because these shorts are crazy easy to put together. Once the skull was sewn on I did up the crotch seam on the front and back.

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After that the back looked like this – which I think looks pretty awesome! The contrast between these fabrics is so striking.

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After the side seams were stitched up I used a basting stitch to turn over the top edge and the hem of the shorts.

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Then I turned the hem of the shorts over by one inch to create a rolled hem. I sewed this down by hand because I didn’t have a red bobbin on hand and didn’t want the stitches to show.

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I turned the top edge over by two inches, then sewed that down by machine with the normal running stitch. I left a one inch opening at the back so I could thread my elastic through. I’m using some really soft, stretchy, sheer elastic that I got in NYC. I’ve never seen this type in Joanns or online, which sucks because I really like it!

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I cut the elastic  to be few inches smaller than my waist measurement, then threaded it through the channel with a safety pin. Once I had an end sticking out through both sides of the opening I made the elastic got stitched together. Then the opening was sewn shut and the shorts were finished!

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Probably would have looked better if I used a thinner elastic, but these are high waisted so it won’t be visible when they are worn.

Front:

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Back:

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Now I could finally try everything on and see how it looked! It’s really unflattering, but it’s also really cute and comfortable so I can’t complain too much.

Also, I wouldn’t recommend this design for people who sleep on their back…

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Here is the back of the top when it’s laid flat – I really like how these fabrics look together!

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Now it was time to add the sleeve spikes. I marked where they should go with pins.

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Then whip stitched them on! My little Toothless figure is watching over my progress…

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And the top is done! Except for the hood, which at this point I hadn’t even drafted. The hood is the most complicated part so it gets a post all of its own.

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Though that post might also talk about making a little mini Night Fury hoodie that would fit a dachshund…

That’s it for today! Thanks for reading!

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.

Photo on 10-13-15 at 2.33 PM #2

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

Photo on 10-19-15 at 3.20 PM #3

Photo on 10-19-15 at 3.21 PM

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!

Making a Black Lace Dress, Part Three

 

We are onto the third and final blog post about this dress! Part one shows the process of making the bodice, part two shows the skirt, and this part will cover making the collar and adding the final touches. I also have video “progress logs” about this project posted here.

The most unique part of this dress is the collar.  This was a big part of what attracted me to the dress I used as inspiration, and what I was most excited to replicate. Unfortunately my materials didn’t let me do that.

I had planned on making the collar from ruched lace. That didn’t go so well. Since the lace print consists of solid floral designs and sheer mesh I ended up with areas completely opaque, and others that were very sheer. Even though it was gathered properly it looked uneven and messy. My only other option was using the point d’esprit netting for the collar, but I didn’t like how it looked gathered either. The stiffness of this netting makes it bulky when it’s gathered, which isn’t very flattering in the arm area.

So after a very frustrating evening I gave up on my pretty draped neckline and chose to pleat the netting instead. This way the netting will lay flat and won’t add bulk, it just looks nothing like what I had planned.

I pleated large rectangles down by eye – I didn’t want to leave any visible marks on the mesh so I tried my best to make them even without the help of a ruler.
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Before attaching the collar I sewed the black lace around the neckline, with only the scalloped edge extending past the bodice. Once the collar is sewn on only the scalloped edge will be visible. I did this partially to created some contrast, since the netting is similar to my skin tone, and also to imitate the way the scalloped edge of black lace meets the netting on the skirt.

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I sacrificed some skin from my knuckles (holy mother of pin pricks this process was not fun) and spent an hour pinning and arranging the collar in a way I liked.

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I put it on my dress form and was surprisingly happy with it. Does it look anything like I had planned? Nope. But once I got over that, I started to appreciate it for what it is, not what it was supposed to be. That isn’t ideal, but sometimes it happens. And what matters is that in the end I had a dress I really liked!

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It  looked surprisingly like the sketch I made for this project before studying the Mairlyn dress. I sort of forgot about this, and chose to go in a different direction after sketching this, but the dress looks almost identical to it! I guess sometimes your first instincts for what to do with fabric are the best ones.

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I sewed the collar on and tacked the pleats down with a whole bunch of hidden stitches. I also gathered the collar slightly on each side of the armholes, which makes it sit a little nicer on my arms.

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Here it is worn. This was my first time trying it on so I was a bit nervous! Luckily the collar looked pretty, more symmetrical than I had expected, and it fit my arms. Those were the three things I was concerned about and to have them all be non-issues was a pleasant surprise.

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Now it was time for rhinestones! A little while ago Creative Crystal sent me the bejeweler pro tool, which is for hotfix rhinestones. It is supposed to pick them up, melt the glue, then drop the crystal when it’s pressed against the surface you are embellishing. When I decided to buy rhinestones for this project I chose to buy them from the same store so I could give it a try.

I bought two hundred 3mm crystals, and two hundred 4mm ones. The 8mm ones were sent to me along with the tool, and they are all in the shade Jet. This project has pretty low fabric costs (maybe $30? the lace and netting were cheap) so I could justify spending the $27 for swarovski crystals…though I definitely won’t make a habit of it!

I felt the tool worked really well for the 3mm ones, it picked them up and melted the glue very quickly. The 4mm ones were kind of a hassle, the tool wouldn’t pick the stones up at all so they had to be placed by hand before using the tool to heat them. But the process was definitely cleaner and faster than it would be if I was using E6000 and the stones felt very secure once attached. So I kind of have mixed, but mostly positive feelings towards it.

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I placed a bunch of 3mm ones underneath the collar.

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And you can’t really tell, but 4mm crystals were placed in the center of each dot on the scalloped lace that trims the neckline.

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But most of the stones went into the skirt. I placed them somewhat randomly on the lower four inches of the lace. They look really pretty in certain lights, but aren’t as noticeable as I had hoped. I think it’s my own fault for buying black stones and placing them on black fabric, but still, i’m a bit disappointed!

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With the skirt and bodice done it was time to focus on attaching them to each other. But before doing that I cut out the lining and assembled it.

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Then I pinned the lining into the bodice.I only stitched it down around the neckline, the lower edge and back edges were left open and will be sewn down once the skirt and zipper are attached.

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It was at this point I realized the bodice wasn’t quite as symmetrical as I had thought. From the front it looked pretty good, but the pleats did not line up in the back. Luckily I had the perfect solution: Use a bow and cover that shit up. This isn’t the most professional solution, but I had wanted to put a bow on the back of this dress from the beginning.  I just placed it a little bit higher so it has a benefit other than being adorable.

The bow attaches with two hooks/bars after the bodice is zipped up, so if you are some  strange person who is offended by bows you can take comfort in the fact that it’s detachable.

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I sewed the back of the skirt up with a french seam. I left the top eight inches open, since that is where the zipper will be.

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Apparently I don’t have any photos of the zipper or attaching the skirt. But the process was pretty straightforward, the skirt was whip stitched to the interior of the bodice, then the lining was folded over the raw edge and sewn down. I sewed the zipper in but the zipper was three inches too short. Which is a stupid thing to have happen.

At this point I just wanted it done, so I closed the top few inches with hooks. Then I sewed the lining to cover the edges of the zipper. The final step was sewing in the petticoat topper, which is what you see below.

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And it was done!

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Here are some worn photos of it. After taking these I decided it needed a necklace, so I bought one from Macy’s which I will wear to the wedding. The shoes are lace with scalloped edging, which makes them perfect. They were purchased from DSW. The hair clips are from H&M, the earrings are PBS Downton Abbey Collection,  and the lipstick is Colourpop liquid lipstick in Creeper. I had lace nail decals from jamberry as well, but you can’t really see them.

Black Lace Dress 3

The bow is a little crooked in this picture, but that is an easy fix.

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Black Lace Dress 2

And that’s it! I think this will be the last fashiony thing I make for a while. Even though I love how this turned out, I didn’t enjoy the process as much as I would have liked. I’m definitely ready to get back to historical stuff – maybe with a silly Halloween project mixed in.

Thanks for reading!