Making a Ruffly Petticoat

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s kind of confusing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The tulle also got labeled.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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This is one layer.

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Two layers.

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Three layers…

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Five layers.

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And six layers!

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

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

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

Fall Flower Fairy Photos

My wish since starting this costume was to get it photographed in a pumpkin patch. Last month on an early Saturday morning that wish was granted!

It was an cold and windy day, which was unfortunate because my hair doesn’t get on well with wind and turned to a frizzy mess in minutes. But the trip was completely worth it because the location was filled with vibrant colors and thousands of pumpkins!

Today I will likely consume several pounds of pumpkin pie, so it seems like a fitting day to post pictures of myself in pumpkin patch.

If you are curious about the process of making this dress, those blog posts can be found here!

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Glittery Gothic Dress, Photos

I’ve been really bad about photographing costumes this year, but I promised myself that I would get at least two of my flower dresses photographed before fall passed and I succeeded!

Today I’m posting pictures of my Glittery Gothic dress in action! This is a Halloween themed photoset but I wanted to post a day early because some people actually leave the house on Halloween. Also, knowing me I would end up forgetting to post them on the day of and really kick myself for it later.

Ever since I made this costume i’ve wanted to  photograph it with a very dark backdrop. My goal was a deer caught in headlights/moonlight feel. I didn’t want anything too fancy that would take away from the dress. 

I actually tried to do this with my Anju costume last year and it failed horribly. I tried to get the effect with a broken tripod and cheap speedlight which for some weird reason, didn’t work. This year I used two desk lamps and a trip pod that actually stood still, which (big surprise) worked a lot better!

My dad was a big help with these photos, he stood on a mark while I pointed the lights and focused the camera. Then I set the camera timer and we switched places. It took a lot of standing around in the cold to get these, but in the end we were successful!

If you aren’t familiar with this costume I have two blog posts about how I made it, and a video that shows how I made the crown!

|Making the Skirt |Making the Bodice| Making the Crowns|

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I hope you enjoy the holiday! Or if you don’t celebrate, I hope you have a nice weekend!

Making a Glittery Gothic Dress, Part Two

This is the second part in my glittery gothic adventures, part one talks about the bodice and can be read here!

Since I didn’t have very many flowers I decided to make this skirt a half circle instead of a three quarter circle (like my previous flower dresses). Looking back on it I regret this because it didn’t create a very nice silhouette, this type of dress really works better with a fuller skirt!

 I cut the pattern from black broadcloth, but since all my flowers were black they didn’t really pop against the fabric, they blended in and looked terrible.

My solution was spray painting the hem silver to get a grey foggy effect. I think it worked really nicely, it looks interesting but keeps with the spooky/black theme, which normal grey fabric wouldn’t.

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 Even though I was happy with the paint job on the skirt I had no clue what direction to take this project in. It sat on my dress form for several days looking like this and I debated about scrapping the idea and giving up.

Part of the problem was the bat wing bodice (which was a huge failure) but just in general I wasn’t sure how to arrange the flowers and decorations in a way that wouldn’t look silly. My attempts with pinning things on to get a feel for how they would look just made things worse since it looked so bad.

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 I still wanted to move forward with this project so I decided to dive in and hope for the best. Just because one or two flowers looked bad doesn’t mean twenty will…or so I hoped!

Step one was hemming it, I used black two inch horsehair braid to add a bit of lift to the skirt. My sewing machine foot left tracks in the paint which was weird since I left it to dry for several days!

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DSC_9154The skirt totally retaliated by getting paint all over my hand and machine. I really wouldn’t recommend the whole spray painting fabric method because the paint seems to stick to everything else rather then the fabric, and it’s tough to get off.

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Then it was time for flowers. Despite my worries I was really excited about this, everything was so sparkly it was hard not to feel giddy!

I arranged this all on a table because I knew if I tried to do this on my rug I would never get all the glitter off.

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Then I started gluing stuff on. It took me a while to get the hang of it, working with flowers that were all the same color was a bigger challenge than I had expected, but in a fun way. I had to pay more attention and plan things out a bit more to get them to look the way I wanted.

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Here is what it looked like with all the flowers added! I’m really happy with it. It isn’t quite what I had imagined but I think it came together really nicely, it’s tacky but not in a really obnoxious way, which is impressive considering the materials I was working with!

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Then it was time for tulle. I used a piece that was five yards wide and twice as long as the waist-to-hem measurement of the skirt.

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Once it was cut out I gathered each edge and secured them at the waist of the skirt.

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Here is what it looks like with all the tulle sewn on!

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But the skirt still wasn’t finished. Though I really liked how it was decorated  the silhouette still wasn’t very nice. It looked too small and sad. To try and oomf it up a bit (that’s a technical term) I decided to add gathered pieces of bat material. Doesn’t that sound like a fantastic idea?

This would add more volume on the sides of the skirt without covering any of the decorations . It also helped blend the skirt and bodice together since the bodice has a bat fabric overlay but the skirt does not. Plus I can say it’s super loosely inspired by panniers which go nicely with my stay inspired bodice shape.

To make these I had to steal fabric from my failed Morticia costume, which I made last year around this time. The fabric was actually cut and sewn into the skirt as godets and seam ripping them out was a huge pain!

They were already cut into diamonds, which made triangles when they were folded in half. I didn’t want to make them any smaller so I decided to leave them in this shape and gather the tops down.

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It worked surprisingly well!

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I sewed those onto the waist of the skirt, then sewed the bodice to the skirt.

DSC_9197The skirt got sewn up the back and it was done! On and I paired it with a sash made from iridescent black/silver mesh. I like these photos since they were taken in front of a window and you can see the glitter!

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And here are some poor mirror shots that show it full length.

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DSC_9198That’s about it for this costume! I also made a headpiece and necklace but I didn’t take many (any) photos of the process. I will have a video tutorial about them so maybe i’ll post a link whenever I get it uploaded.

And I tried to get photos of the whole ensemble but everything went wrong and after three hours I was left with zero usable photos. Tomorrow i’m going to try again and hopefully get some better shots to show it all together!

Thanks for reading!

Making a Glittery Gothic Dress, Part One

A few months ago I shared some pretty controversial news about my hatred towards Summer. Surprisingly I received a lot of positive feedback from likeminded people, which is why i’m feeling brave enough to make another statement. This time about a beloved holiday: Halloween

I don’t like it. At all.

Honestly my favorite thing about October 31st is that the craze l ends and I can stop hearing about it and seeing posts related to it. That probably sounds really bad. Like i’m some sort of halloween grinch. Sorry.

I enjoyed it when I was much younger, but I grew out of it before I was in my teens. I used to think it was pretty silly and didn’t understand why it was even considered a holiday, and I still feel that way. But it seems I’m the only one since every year people are bursting with Halloween spirit as soon as October comes along.

I know I should like it, someone passionate about costumes should appreciate a “holiday” centered around them.  However I love costumes so much that I wear them whenever I feel like it, I don’t confine my costume ideas and wear time into a single day.

All that being said – you guys know I have a huge weakness when it comes to seasonal decor. Even though I dislike halloween, and orange is my least favorite color, and gore makes me want to puke, I found myself in the Halloween section of Michaels on a fateful Monday night.

And I left with $70 of halloween, and weirdly, christmas decorations with a project in mind.

Paired with a trip to Joanns and the weirdly tempting pile of crappy polyester that is the Spirit halloween collection and the project was confirmed. I already showed my haul for this project in my progress report last month, so go browse that if you want to see the raw materials before I tore them apart for this project!

My original idea looked like this. I wanted it to be similar to my other flower dresses but with an edgy twist.

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 I wanted the bodice to be shaped like bat wings, which was a neat idea in theory but didn’t end up looking that great. Since I have a pretty small chest there wasn’t enough room to get the shapes the way I wanted.

But I figured it would be okay and moved forward with the idea.

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I actually added all the boning and hemmed the edges before realizing it just wasn’t working. It looked like something you could buy from a Halloween store and the shapes were more spidery than batty.

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So I trashed that. As in literally threw it in the trash and started over. Instead I took it in a different, simpler direction. I decided to make a vaguely 18th century stays reminiscent bodice that would give a conical shape and tie at the shoulders and up back.

The pattern looked like this.

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I managed to reuse all the boning from my failed bodice, so that was good. The boning channels were made from one inch wide strips of cotton broadcloth that had the edges folded over.

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I cut my bodice base from the same broadcloth, then marked the boning channels and “hem line” where the edge will be folded over.

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All the boning channels were sewn in place and boning was added.

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I was happy with it but it looked really cheap, which isn’t surprising since broadcloth is less than $3 a yard. To fancy it up a bit I took some black mesh and stitched it on as an overlay. This was purchased from the spirit fabric line at Joanns a few years ago, it has spiderwebs and bats stitched into the mesh, it’s really cute!

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After that was sewn in place I rolled all the edges over and sewed them down.

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Warning: if you have a fear of glitter I would suggest skipping this part

Then it was time for the fun part, embellishing! I saved some glittery bats, leaves, and spiders for this along with the orange and silver christmas decorations. Unlike my previous flower dresses, there aren’t any flowers in the bodice.

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I was really torn about how this looked, but it’s grown on me over time! I think it’s really strange and pretty.

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I removed any glue strings and added the tulle overlay. I was surprised to find that it looked very sheer. I was hoping it would subdue the decorations a bit and make everything a bit less intense, but that didn’t happen!

The tulle does still have a purpose though, it keeps glitter from escaping.

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The edges of the tulle were rolled over and stitched down. Then I added silver grommets to the shoulders.

These days I usually hand embroider eyelets but I thought the contrast of the silver grommets would look better in this particular garment.

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I cut strips of my batty mesh material and used those as ties at the shoulder.

To finish off the garment I sewed black bias tape around the interior to cover any ugly edges.

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Then I added grommets to the back and it was done! It didn’t turn out the way I had planned but I think it’s cute, sparkly, and tacky without looking cheap. So it meets all my goals for this project.

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Here is the bodice worn, this is a few steps further along after it had been sewed to the skirt and I added a sash.

It fits really nicely and I like how the neckline turned out!

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Next week i’ll talk about making the skirt and assembling it all together. I also have some historical projects coming up this month, if you are getting sick of fashiony stuff just wait around a bit longer!

Thanks for reading!

Making a Fall Flower Fairy, Part Three

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 Some nicer photos of the finished piece.

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

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

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It has my name carved into it and everything!

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

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

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

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 Here are some worn photos of the whole thing together.

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DSC_9101RESIZE Thanks for reading!

Making a Fall Flower Fairy, Part Two

This is part two in my Fall Flower Fairy project, part one covers how I made the skirt and can be read here.

Today i’ll be going over how I made the bodice. If you’re interested, i’ve created a video that shows (some) of the process, and that can be watched here!

This bodice was originally supposed to look like two oak leaves…but then I wanted to add sleeves, so I changed the shape…but when I made the sleeves I didn’t like how they looked. This bodice didn’t turn out how I had expected, not even close, but I really love the end result.

Step one was draping the pattern. I’ve been asked about the process a lot recently and I will be doing a draping tutorial soon, I just haven’t gotten to it yet.

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I didn’t really know where this was going when I started, I didn’t even have a sketch so it was an adventure!

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I had planned on it being a five piece pattern but I managed to draft it as one, so that was neat.

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As lovely as the care bear print was, I decided to turn it into a proper paper pattern. Then I cut the pattern from chiffon and organza to create the base for my bodice.

DSC_8855 The layers were pinned together, then basted together with large stitches.

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The next step was adding the boning channels. I used a colored pencil to mark the placement.

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 To create the channels I cut one inch strips of cotton sateen, folded the edges over, then pinned and stitched them in place.

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 Before adding the boning I used a colored pencil to mark an inch away from the neckline. Later on I’ll fold the edge over until it touches this line, which will create a half inch seam allowance.

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 I added the boning, then pinned the edge. Pinning curves inward is never fun, so many pinpricks!

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 I used tiny stitches to secure the edge in place.

DSC_8863 Then the fun part, flower arranging! I didn’t have very many small flowers left so this was a bit tricky, but I managed to place them in a way that I really like!

DSC_8864 I trimmed all the flower backs down so they would lay flat against the fabric. Then I used hot glue to secure them in place.

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After all the flowers were on I used a lint roller to remove any glue trails and lint. Then two layers of tulle were draped and pinned overtop.

DSC_8873 The tulle was sewn down with more tiny stitches and the end result looked like this!

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 It’s quite lovely but not done yet! The interior edges were fraying so I pinned lace over top of them.

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Then the lace was sewn down.

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And the bodice was pretty much done!

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 As far as dress assembly goes, it was pretty simple. I machine stitched the waist seam, then used home made bias tape to cover any raw edges.

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The back seam was done up almost all the way. I left room for a zipper but there was to much material to stitch through AND I made it slightly too small. I ended up using embroidered eyelets as closures for the dress which worked really well.

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Here is the finished back – It does lace closed all the way but I am the absolute worse at getting myself into dresses.

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So that’s that! I really adore how this dress turned out. It’s the type of dress that makes you smile, it’s so fluffy and flowery I just love it. I’ll have more photos in my next post, which will cover making the headpiece and “wand”!

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 Thanks for reading!

Diaphanous Flower Dress, Part Two

Here is the second part of making my flowery dress! The first part, which talks about the skirt, can be found here!

The bodice of this dress is a simple sweetheart that drafted a few months ago for a different project. I actually planned to do a pattern making tutorial on this project, so I have nearly twenty five photos of how it was made! But this post will be long enough without those, so i’ll only show you two.

Here is the draped bodice on my dress form.

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And here is what the finished pattern looks like!

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Step one was cutting out all the pieces. This was made more difficult (by that I mean really annoying) by the fact I chose to make this bodice from sheer and slippery materials.

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Each piece was cut from two layers of tulle, a layer of chiffon, and a layer of organza. After cutting them out I hand basted all the layers together. I also used tape to keep track of which pieces go were – they sort of all look the same!

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The two front pieces were done a little bit differently, the tulle layers were assembled separately from the rest, this way I can attach flowers to the chiffon/organza layer and use the tulle as an overlay.

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The pieces are sewn together with a three quarter inch seam allowance. All the seams are pressed open, then turned under to create a quarter inch wide pocket. This finishes off the seams really nicely and creates a channel you can slip boning into.

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Here they are finished – not the most even stitching in the world, but this was my first time trying the technique, so i’m sure i’ll get better!

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I repeated the process on my front panels, then inserted plastic boning into all the channels.

Once that was done I began the process of gluing flowers onto the bodice! I started with some petals.

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I wanted to keep the flowers even on both sides, but I wasn’t aiming for perfect symmetry. Please ignore all the icky glue tails, a sweep with a lint roller removes them all!

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At this point it was time to add the tulle overlay…which looked awful. The seams in the tulle looked terrible and I wasn’t happy with it all. I also really disliked how the center seam looks, so distracting!

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I decided to cut the tulle to be all one piece, tulle has enough stretch that it doesn’t have to have a bust curve…at least not on me and my tiny bust.

For the center seam I decided to stitch a scattering of pearls and sparkly bits to create a little more visual interest, and hopefully, distract from the ugly seam.

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Then I basted my tulle layer on top. I like how this looks so much more then my original plan, just shows that you shouldn’t be afraid to change things that aren’t working out, that’s part of being an artist!

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I attached the front panels to the rest and added boning into that seam.

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I took a minute to try it on and though I could fit into it, it was a little snug and I was worried about the tulle ripping. I added an extra (very small) panel on each side which gave an extra half inch of room. A half inch was all I needed, and it fit so much better!

Then I moved on to the waistband, which is the only opaque part of this costume. I made it from white cotton sateen with an overlay of chiffon and tulle.

The pieces were basted together.

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Then the edges were turned under with a basting stitch.

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I set this aside for a bit and used lace to finish the top and bottom edge of the bodice.

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The waistband was pinned on.

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Then the top of the waistband was sewn on with very tiny hand stitches.

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The pins for the other side were removed and the skirt was sewn on.

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Then the waistband was pinned down again.

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And sewed on. It actually looked like a dress, which is great.

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I trimmed a few threads and sewed in a zipper, and the whole thing was finished!

But it was missing something. That something was an obnoxious floral headpiece. I made a simple flower crown of sorts, I don’t have any photos of how I made it, but I do have a video tutorial! It can be watched here.

The finished thing looks like this!

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And when that’s worn with the dress, the finished product looks like this.

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So that’s that! This dress didn’t come out the way I had hoped, but i’m glad that I stepped outside of my comfort zone and made it, because it was fun!

I’m also really flattered and amazed by the positive feedback i’ve gotten on this project. It makes me really happy to know you guys like it!

Thanks for reading!