To be a bit cliché, this shoemaker is a professional Web Developer and her child is this blog, but it was past time to launch what I have of a new design. All the content is still here, everything else is a work in progress (kind of like most of my sewing projects)!
Winifred: Don’t get your knickers in a twist! We’re just three kindly old spinster ladies.
Mary: Spending a quiet evening at home.
Sarah: Sucking the lives out of little children!
The big reveal (two months late): two of my teammates and I dressed as the Sanderson sisters from the movie Hocus Pocus, and won second place in our company costume contest! I was Mary.
I ended up hacking the bodice, apron, wig and cape together without in-progress photos and never technically finished it (safety pin lacing holes for the win), so this post will just show photos of the ‘finished’ costume as I wore it for our office contest with a few notes on modifications. I showed you the various skirts and chemise in previous posts.
The bodice (from Simplicity 5582) ended up being very straight forward, except that I bag-lined it instead of using bias tape to finish the edges. I wore my (also not completely finished, despite being made in 2012) regency corset under everything, as the bodice is made of a fashion knit with interfacing and a cotton lining, thus had no shaping ability. I have yet to finish the lacing holes and used safety pins the day of. The fit is horrible. Despite matching my waist measurements, there was no way the bodice would close (partly because of the added bulk from the skirts). I added an extra inch to the front, but it still wasn’t enough.
The cape is attached at the shoulders (more safety pins), and was only hemmed at the top: the sides are unfinished (the knit doesn’t ravel), and the bottom is selvage. I had to seam it up the middle due having two pieces of the fabric, and not enough forethought. I chose to use the knit because it had a printed pattern that looked like a rough texture, while being simple to work with for a costume.
The apron is just a rectangle of fabric (actually three (felt and fashion tulle), layered, to get some texture). attached to a waistband, with patch pockets. I couldn’t find any multi-colored fabric with the right boucle texture.
The hair was fun—it’s a mix of my own and a structured wig piece. I made a base out of a styrofoam cone painted black with wire in the top, then hot-glued hair clips to the bottom. Then, I attached a hair extension piece that matches my already-dark-brown hair and clip-in purple pieces to create the structure for the shape. When wearing it, I twisted my own hair up onto the base and used a ton of pins, which held it all in place. Since I already have bright pink highlights, it was a little more jazzed up and multi-colored than Mary’s, but worked out surprisingly well.
If I wear this costume again in the future, I’ll finish up the lacing on the bodice, and add the accessories that really make something like this work (rings, earrings, proper shoes), but it was a lot of fun for an afternoon at work!
It’s time to show two more pieces for my halloween costume: a third (a final) skirt and a chemise.
The skirt is made in the same manner as the petticoat, although I used self-fabric ties for the front because I ran out of twill tape. This time the fabric was wide enough to use the selvedges along the side seam, and the skirt is supposed to be short, so two yards did the work. The plaid fabric wasn’t quite right, so I topstitched lace in a few places before constructing the skirt. It’s still not very close to the original fabric, but it’ll do for a costume.
The chemise was made using Simplicity 5582. Because there is an incredible amount of ease built into the pattern I didn’t bother with any sort of bust adjustment or other fitting since the ease would leave plenty of room. I did add an additional 7.5″ to the length, though, to change it from a blouse into a knee-length chemise. It’s very much costume construction with pinked seam allowances and elastic at the arms and necklines, but done is better than unfinished couture.
One costume-specific detail is the attached necklace (made from a 30″ chain from the jewelry section at the big-box craft store). Although source photos show it is definitely attached, none are clear as to how. I decided to use hooks (of hook and eye fame) sewn to the neckline elastic casing to catch the links of the chain. Then, it’s easily removable if I want to repurpose the chemise, but will stay in place while I’m wearing the costume. The tension from the short length of the chain keeps it from falling below the neckline.
Stay tuned for later this week when I can reveal the final pieces.
I’m doing a group costume for Halloween with two of my coworkers. The who I’m portraying is a secret until then, but the how involves three different skirts for maximum authenticity. This is layer one.
The character is historical, but we’re not going for historical accuracy (nor did the original costume designer). This petticoat is almost-historical, albeit for about 100 years later than the character’s base time period.
It’s made from 3 yards of 44″-wide cotton, plus stash scraps and twill tape for the waistband. The hem is approximately 106″, so nicely full and swishy.
I used my rolled-hem foot to finish off the side slits, then sewed the rest of the side seam with a french seam. Those techniques are not historically accurate at all (well, maybe the narrow hem, a little).
At 5’3″ with a short inseam, the 44″ width was the perfect height for me, so I used the selvage as a hem, which made the work very quick. A more historically accurate skirt would have put the selvages along the side seam, but the fabric width was too narrow for the fullness I wanted, and I didn’t want to sew any additional seams.
I also finished the sewing part of layer two, although it needs to be thoroughly distressed before it’s technically complete. This layer is far more costume construction than historical, using a half yard of the fashion fabric, with tulle for the rest, which will be hidden by the overskirt. The same two-part waistband structure is there, but I sewed a channel for the ties and gathered the center by way of stringing the bias tape through, then tacking the ends so it doesn’t spread out again. It’d be a bit unwieldy for cotton, but works well for the light-weight net. The hem (or lack thereof) will be even more uneven by the time it’s fully distressed.
I’ll try to post more progress posts before Halloween, if I can do so without plot spoilers. Otherwise, you’ll just have to wait until November!
Costumes and I have an interesting relationship. I love the idea of them, but can’t seem to manage any sort of follow through. My sewing past is littered with half-finished costumes (Devil in a Blue Dress from a couple of years ago comes to mind). They become odd, unfinished creatures never to escape balled up stasis in dark corners.
I didn’t even bother starting one this year, and have no plans to dress up tonight. But, while searching the other day (unsuccessfully—where the heck did it go?) for a corset I made a few years ago, I came across one of my very first corsets that has somehow survived a few moves and purges.
I present to you Lulu’s Corset:
I don’t remember much about this corset, if it can be called that. I was 16, I think, when I made it, and going through a short phase of gaming mostly centered on trying to play Final Fantasy VII and the newly released Final Fantasy X. I decided that I wanted to be LuLu for Halloween that year.
Here’s Lulu (standing):
So, I started with the corset. The front is a textured woven of unknown fabric type. The back is pleather, which was also going to be the main fabric for the rest of the costume.
The lining is a rather nice menswear lining I found in my step-mom’s stash. There’s Ridgeline boning involved. And shoelaces. And hot glue to attach the grey ribbon, which says “Calvin Klein”—I really wonder how I got ahold of that.
And a cheap poly zipper closure.
In other words, what on Earth (or in Spira) was I thinking?
I’m not sure which pattern I used. If I had to venture a guess, I might say it’s a modified M4861 (the McCall’s “Renaissance” bodice/corset pattern), but I’m not sure that it was actually out back then. I might have (heavily) modified some other pattern of unknown origin, a strong possibility being the out of print Simplicity 5843 that I made (and finished!) the year before (the instructions for which I just found in a bag of ancient scraps), although that would be heavily modified, and I have no idea why I would add the side lacing to it.
Also, notice how it (sort of, in so much as it probably does anyone) fits? That’s current me modeling it. Either there is a whole lot of ease provided by the side lacing (possible, although it’s limited by the short shoelaces). Or, it never actually fit 16 y.o. me, seeing as I was about 40lbs lighter back then. Perhaps that is a clue as to why I never finished the costume. I vaguely recall working on the skirt, but whatever I accomplished there is lost to time (or possibly lurking in a dark corner of my parents’ closet, ready to attack at any moment).
I’d like to think that I’d make some better choices for construction now, but then again, it was a Halloween costume, so I suppose anything goes.
What horror stories do you have in your sewing past?
As discussed previously, my goal for Halloween this year is to finish my costume that I planned to wear last year: the Devil in a Blue Dress. Once I’d settled on which blue-clad devil woman I wanted to protray for Halloween, I had to choose the exact costume. I’m quite in love with Vogue’s current-print retro patterns, but unfortunately not all of them come in a large enough size, or were sold out at the local store. I was rather pressed for time, so I needed some sort of modern pattern that would fit without too much muslin fiddling.
Ok, so once again this costume will go unfinished. Other projects (sewing and otherwise) have gotten the best of me. Of course, our plans for Halloween involve driving 7 hours, so I doubt we’ll do much more than watch a mildly scary movie and binge on some chocolate or something that evening. But, since I intended to post about the dress two weeks ago, here’s more information.
I ended up choosing a Butterick Retro pattern: B5281. It has the asymmetrical skirt piecing I was looking for, and sizing to fit me. I settled on the short-sleeved, view B.
Choosing the fabric was not as easy as you might think. There was a dearth of blue fabrics at the local store. I ended up with a poly/rayon faux silky fabric that actually works really well with this style, draping wise. It’s also not bright blue, but a dusty sort of muted one, which appeals to me.
So, as for progress, I’m approximately 75% finished with the dress. It needs closures on the yoke, a hem, shoulder-pad insertion and sleeves. If I feel especially productive, I will unpick the zipper and reinsert it. I did a terrible job the first time around.
And, because no 40s devlish-ly clad woman would go about without a hat, I picked up Vogue V7464. I am in love with view B; it’s just so… kooky. I have absolutely zero experience with millinery and didn’t even begin making the hat last year, beyond cutting, so it should be an interesting adventure.
To round out the costume, I’ll need to find suitable shoes. I’ve wanted to pick up 40s-inspired peep-toes for a while. I’m just hoping that the fad from a few years ago is still alive. And because a devil can’t be a devil without horns (ok, she can, but they’re just so symbolic), I have a small set of horns from the halloween store.
I’ve done the devil wearing a blue dress before, but it was sloppy thrift store+halloween store finds with no cohesive style thrown together for a small gathering. Looking back, there was nothing properly devilish about it (except that it was hellaciously bad dressing). Last year, I wanted to do it with élan: instead of just being a regular ol’ devil in a dress that’s blue, I wanted to put some effort into the look, choosing a specific style and going all out.
The question, however, was which blue-clad devil I wanted to portray. In my mind, I had two options: the Devil With The Blue Dress On as written by Shorty Long and William “Mickey” Stevenson in 1964 (and made popular by Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels in 1966) or the Devil in a Blue Dress as portrayed by Jennifer Beals in the 1995 neo-noir film of that name.
These two characters are quite different. The lyrics of “Devil With The Blue Dress On” describe the devil:
…Wearin’ her wig, hat and shades to match … high-heel shoes and an alligator hat … pearls and her diamond rings … bracelets on her fingers … Wearin’ her perfume, Chanel No. 5…
and based on the time period, we can infer an early-60s Motown-inspired costume.
The Devil in a Blue Dress, on the otherhand, is classic late-40s (1948, to be precise) film noir femme fatale. Be still my beating heart.
Either way, the character was going to be a fashionista—we do live in the era of The Devil Wears Prada afterall—but they are very different decades and realistically, I am in love with post-war 40s and early 50s vintage fashion and not so much a fan of Motown fashion. It’s just my personal preference, of course. So, Devil in a Blue Dress it was. And btw, I am in no way a fashionista. It’s me, mostly jeans and a t-shirt or hoodie all the way.
So, I started planning with that in mind, and even got so far as to start making the dress, but I didn’t finish in time. So, that’s where we’ll start tomorrow: the pattern, the progress, and what I need to finish up for this year.
Halloween is fast approaching, and I have nothing to wear. I do have a ¾ finished project from last year that I’ll be finishing up (and writing about), but in the mean time, I thought I’d share an interesting resource. In the late 1860s, Thomas Hailes Lacy, an actor and theatrical manager published two volumes of historical, national and dramatic dress (one each for women and men). Each contains approximately 200 different fashion plates for costumes through the ages. While they aren’t all precisely accurate for the eras they represent, each of these costumes is intriguing as they show the Victorian take on historical fashion (and fantastical characters in some cases).
You can view all of the plates, both male and female, at the University of Georgia’s online library: Lacy’s Dramatic Costumes.
Here are a few of my favorite plates from the women’s dramatic costume selection. Perhaps one of them will be a good costume for next year. Any one up for a Victorian Halloween Ball? Halloween costumes are great, but when I can blend costumes and historical costuming, I’m in heaven!
I do love a good pun, and this “Fan-cy” dress is absolutely fantabulous. Feathers and pleats and lace and ruffles, oh my! Although, this would be quite a bit of work to create, especially the central fan section of the skirt. That’s an awful lot of pleating and ruffling.
This flowery ensemble is darling, with the basket-weave bodice and the latticed skirt. Perhaps a large skeleton key could be carried and you could be Mary from the Secret Garden.
When one thinks of the Roman goddess Diana, a stola and palla might come to mind (or a very risqué nothing except her bow), but this “modern” take is quite intriguing. Fashioned similar to riding habits of the day, this dress shows urban hunting symbolism (with the horse racing-patterned petticoat). This type of costume appeals to me greatly: taking a mythological entity and interpreting that symbolism into the visual language of the modern world.
The makeup job/drawn face on this fashion plate scares the bejeezus out of me, but the idea is solid. The different patterns in this costume are wonderful. Wouldn’t it be fun to make up a whole gaggle of similar costumes based on Mother Goose’s tales and go about in a group?
I can’t say whether this approaches accurately historical or not, but the abundance of cleavage must have caused quite a stir if this was actually worn in the 1860s. That rounded line is boob, not material, from what I can tell. But aside from its scandalousness, I like this costume for its strange slit skirt with bloomers underneath, the striped material, the underbust bodice, and the plethora of patterns and materials.
What are you planning for Halloween this year? Do these inspire you, or you more the type to go with modern styles?