The Wedding Dress Saga Part 1

One fated day before we were even engaged, I decided to sew my wedding dress. While I have cursed and cried and screamed and bled, I could not have asked for or found a more perfect dress for me.

Enjoy the show:

What on earth was I going to make? What fabric did I want to use? How long did I want it to be? So many questions that literally needed an answer before I started even thinking about sewing my wedding dress.

What I wanted:
Tea-length, demure, full skirt, vintage feel, sleeves, a higher neckline or illusion neck, not white, and a hint of sparkles, but mostly lace.

Good freaking luck finding that – still to this day have not found anything remotely close to my dress.

I found my pattern pretty quickly. A yoke waisted dress with a massively full skirt, high neck, and sleeves. A check on all my requirements and for an added bonus, the dress was meant to be made out of lace! Enter Claire Shaeffer’s Vogue 8943:

Well, this is perfect.

Thus began the search to find my fabrics! I searched online for expensive laces and embroidered organzas but nothing spoke to me, it all seemed like it was made for someone else. What was worse, it was overwhelming. So one day while doodling around on my favorite fabric site, I stumbled upon this gem:

Starlight Sequin Damask Mesh Gold on Ivory

The search was drawing to a close. This combined with an ivory flat cotton lace with scallops on both selvages would make my dress. Keep in mind, the dress requires scallops from the fabric to edge the hem, neckline, and sleeve. With no scalloping on the selvages of the mesh, I had to get creative. Looking at flat trim lace, I figured I could cut away the gold scallop from the white and use that as my edging. I selected two laces, one for the skirt hem that is large, and one for the sleeves and neck that is small:

The Big Lace

The Small Lace

By now you’ve realized that I didn’t want a whole lot of sparkle, but suddenly I have a disco ball type of fabric. Yup, that happened. I have no defense. Sparkles are the best. Solidarity with the shine sistas.

Now to find the buttons for the button back of the dress. This took forever! I finally found the buttons about a month away from the wedding while in NYC with my Mom. And yes, we were hunting for them! Bless the AMAZING selection of MJ Trimming!

The Saga continues soon with sewing and in progress shots! Check back soon for more!

13th Century Hair Netting

I’m working on this Elizabethan styled cosplay. Together with Sara Cosplays, we’re going to be Anna and Elsa – she’s Elsa. Anyway, these cosplays are something of a cluster of new techniques I’m having to research, learn, and use in the creation.

I got it into my big silly brain to make a snood for each of us. Because the ones that are sold online are the vintage style from the 1940’s – that’s not really going to cut it. RenFest isn’t until after we need them either.

Not realizing what I’ve gotten myself into, I take to the internet, find a tutorial and run with it. Screaming, crying, and cursing! Seriously, I am not a netter (I’m a knitter), I don’t have a set-up to do it, I don’t even have a netting needle let alone know the vocabulary or basics. I am determined though, and now here’s a very basic tutorial of the “Sheet Bend Knot” that took me 30 minutes to learn.

Materials:

DMC Pearl Cotton Sz. 5 and DMC Metallic Embroidery Floss.
Size 8 knitting needles (for the cast on and the first few rows)
Size 16 knitting needle (for the final rows)
Size 16 tapestry needle
& Patience.

 

Step One:

Start with your thread in front of the gauge (this is a metal knitting needle, size 16).

Lay it down across your hand.

Simple yes? Cool – wait for it.

 

 

Step Two:

Keep the thread in front of the gauge.

Notice, my pinky folded under? Do  that. Make the thread go between your pinky and your ring finger.

 

 

 

Step Three:

Bring that thread BEHIND your hand.

Now put it BEHIND your gauge.

Now put it on TOP of your work.

 

 

 

Step Four:

Tighten the thread around your ring finger.

Put your thumb on the thread you put on top of your work. Hold the thread there and out of the way.

 

 

 

Step Five:

Keep holding the thread with your thumb.

Bring the thread around in a big arch OVER your work.

Pull the thread UNDER your gauge.

 

 

Step Six:

Keep holding the thread down with your thumb.

Bring the needle up (from BEHIND the gauge) into your hand.

Pass the needle UNDER the thread looped around your ring finger.

 

Step Seven:

Keep holding with your thumb.

Continue the needle UNDER the loop around your ring finger.

BEHIND the gauge.

THROUGH the next net from BEHIND (notice the thumb thread is behind the needle and not in this, keep it that way).

 

Step Eight:

LET GO OF THE THUMB THREAD!!! YAY!!!

Pull the thread through the net and keep the thread ABOVE the loop that was created with the thumb thread.

Keep your pinky looped as you pull through. Keep your ring finger looped as well.

 

Step Nine:

LET GO OF THE RING FINGER LOOP!!!

Note: The ENTIRE loop should now be BEHIND the gauge.

Keep tightening until your pinky doesn’t fit, and then release it too.

 

 

Step Ten:

Pull that thing super tight, it’s a knot after all. Then lay the thread in front of the gauge for your next Sheet Bend Knot.

Notes: try to keep the tension consistent like in knitting and be careful to place the knot at the center of the loop you are netting for evenness.

 

Retro Wonder Woman

Not at all related to the movie with the oh-so-gorgeous Gal Gadot, but I had needed to make a post-apocalyptic version of a cosplay. Welp, Wonder Woman was on my list of cosplays I’ve wanted to do. So I did! The original styling I made has a tattered and torn skirt with a heavy gold belt.

But! I wanted to make a true retro version of her, hence why she’s got the fun crop top.  She needed to have a super vintage feel and I also wanted something crazy comfortable for convention going. AND I didn’t want to carry a lasso all day. Enter the lasso poodle skirt…

So I pinned down the lasso to the skirt…

Look at all that hand sewing!

I put a star at the end too! Don’t worry, I’ll embroider the edges.

And I gave it a fun bow back and exposed metal zipper!

 

I’ll post this lady soon, she’s slated for Saturday at AwesomeCon this year and I am ever so excited!

Linen Petal Dress Creation

I have a few cuts of fabric that are solely dedicated for when I need a quick filler project to get my sewing fix. Yes, I am addicted, no, no help is needed. These two linen fabrics I’ve had for a while now, and finally decided to put this look together.

The petal style skirt was inspired by a look of Michelle Obama’s a few years ago – I love the idea of scallops without the actual hem being curved. The visual interest of this is something that I don’t see in most clothing stores except very expensive ones – because the seams cannot be set by machine, they must be worked by a seamstress.

So many petals!

 

To start – all the petals!

Full disclosure – I did mash-up two Butterick patterns for this dress to make the whole process as quick as possible: B5707 for the bodice and B5894 for the skirt.

 

 

 

Then I sewed them all together! Shocking!

Then I stitched over each seam with a pre-set decorative chain stitch from my Pfaff.

At this point, the skirt is nearing completion. After I did all the decorative stitches, I attached the hem of the black linen around all the curves of the petals. Once each side was done, I stitched up the sides and put the decorative stitch over the side seams.

The bodice was fun to work with and sewed up rather quick. I adore the box corners on the bodice and the kimono style sleeves.

Close-up of the box cornered bodice, dart, and sleeve style.

All that’s left is the keyhole neckline, which just required a quick rolled seam at the opening. I added a bit of decorative stitching to add visual interest to the bodice because it felt a bit flat.

Backside detail of the keyhole sewn open (before pressing)

Then just sew the bodice and the skirt together, throw in a zipper, and voile: dress!

Photo credit: Nick Ferris

Tower of Terror Bellhop Hat

As a Disneyphile, there are a few cast costumes I think are cute, like the Haunted Mansion black and green striped victorian dresses, the Gibson Girl’s, and the Tower of Terror Bellhop. I remember walking past these costumes in the cast member costuming building and being so very jealous – the main entrance costumes didn’t have quite the same uniqueness to them.

The adorable HTH Bellhop dress

 

 

Then Disney had to go and release a new dress line. And one of the dresses is the Hollywood Tower Hotel Bellhop Dress…

Be still my heart!

 

 

 

The dress is accompanied with a hat and a purse, which are cute. The hat oddly enough is too big for my gigantor noggin, so I get to make my own and share it with you!

Here are the mats:

One happy little beret/hostess hat

Thick black ribbon

Thin yellow ribbon

Charm

Russian Net

 

First Step: Sew the ribbon together.

 

Then tack down the edge at the ends at the front of the hat so the charm sits over a clean edge.

 

I did sew the Russian net to the underside of the ribbon. Just gather up the end at the center and then pleat the netting towards the back.

Then hot glue the very base of the ribbon at the bottom edge of the hat and make it snug.

But notice something wrong here? The ribbon is gapping like mad and looks completely off! There’s only one way to fix this!

 

Gather the very upper part of the ribbon around the entirety of the hat and pull tight.

 

Then hot glue it glue it down and you’re all done!

Sansa Stark Mockingbird Cosplay

Let me first say that I am a huge fan of Game of Thrones. Seriously. Big fan.

I’m absolutely in love with the costuming on the show – it’s beautiful, intricate, unexpected, detailed, and wholly perfect. Which is why I’m making Sansa Stark’s black dress (Mockingbird Dress) from the show. It’s simple but stunning:

Credit: Could not find. If you know, please let me know so I may give credit where due.

Credit: Could not find. If you know, please let me know so I may give credit where due.

Credit: Could not find. If you know, please let me know so I may give credit where due.

Detail of the detachable collar piece. Credit: Could not find. If you know, please let me know so I may give credit where due.

So naturally, I scoured the main pattern companies for a similar pattern. And what did I find? Simplicity 1137: the “replica” of the costume! With a few MAJOR differences:

  • Feathered bodice: actually not feathered – they used chainette trim
  • Bodice is a bolero – not part of the dress.
  • Opening is in the back, not the front.
Pattern: Simplicity 1137

Pattern: Simplicity 1137

I went to work on the pattern, only to find that (like all Simplicity patterns that have come before this one) the bodice is ridiculously sized. The bust point for this – had I cut it without altering – would have been above my boob. Really guys? After sitting at the table for a full 2 hours and a second draft of the front bodice piece actually working, I ended up having to add 2.5 inches to the length and to redraft the neckline. The arm scythe and all the actual measurements are perfect on the pattern otherwise. Just not the length. Argh. Then I did the same to the back, which was considerably easier. FYI, the dress will be all one piece. I’ll be making the bolero the top part of the dress and have the whole dress open in the front instead of the back.

Front bodice alteration

Front bodice alteration: Original pattern piece over the new corrected pattern piece.

Back bodice alteration

Back bodice alteration: Original pattern piece over the new corrected pattern piece.


On to the Sewing!

The materials for the dress:

  • Black Linen/Rayon blend (hey, I wanna be comfy!) – 8 yards
  • Strung Black Rooster Feathers: 5 yards
  • Strung Black Goose Feathers: 1 yard
  • A ton of assorted fusible interfacing – so many layers!

What you don’t see before we get to the cool stuff: Cut bodice pieces, used self lining. Lining was interfaced with featherweight to prevent over-stretching. Fashion bodice pieces were interfaced first with featherweight, then again with woven interfacing – they ain’t going anywhere! All pieces were then re-cut (because when you interface, things get wonky). Lining pieces were all sewn together. Darts were all sewn before applying trim.

Okay, now the fun stuff!

How to on the Feather Trim:

  • Remove feathers from bias tape on which they were strung
  • Cut 2″ strips of black linen blend
  • Pull individual treads off the strips to create a frayed edge
  • Machine sew feathers onto strips – going over each feather 2-3 times
  • Cut quills off the feathers above the stitch line
Feather trim close detail

Finished feather trim close detail

Layering the bodice:

  • Mark each placement line
  • Sew strips of feather trim on bodice starting from the bottom and working your way upward
Layering the feather trim onto the bodice

Layering the feather trim onto the bodice

Look at all that detail when its done:

Close-up of finished side of bodice

Close-up of finished side of bodice

Now to get to work finishing off the sleeves (which have been lined with basic black lining fabric from JoAnn’s that I had left over from a previous project). This picture shows the completed bodice with one sleeve pinned on to give a better idea of the finished bodice.

Full bodice with one sleeve ready to go.

Full bodice with one sleeve ready to go.

 

I’ll post an update soon with the finished dress. This certainly is one of my favorites for dreary day photoshoots!