Making a Linen Robe à l’Anglaise: the bodice

So over the summer I binge watched the most recent season of Poldark. Although the costumes aren’t super historically accurate (I really enjoyed reading Frock Flicks articles on Poldark – and the rest to be honest – although I enjoyed the show!), I was really inspired by the simple look of the linen and cotton gowns worn by the lower classes. I was pretty unhappy with the fit of my previous Anglaise (no written posts, just a photo post here). It was my first 18th century dress, my first historical dress, so it was littered with mistakes and faults.

I wanted to re-do this style, since I think it’s my favourite 18th century style. I went shopping for linen way back in the summer, and I included the fabric I got for this in my last haul post . I got it at Goldhawk Road for £5 p/m, and I bought five meters. I thought it was a really good deal! It’s a really nice cream linen, but it has a plaid pattern on it and different patches with a whiter weave.

My starting point was the pattern I used for my previous Anglaise. I dug it out and cut it out of a mock up. I remembered the bodice fitted weirdly by a combination of issues with the grainline and it being too big. This first mock up fit very poorly. I struggled with the grainlines (since I put none of the original pattern which was drafted with Friendship’s Creating Historical Clothes – there was also no mention of grainlines in the drafting section) and the fit was atrocious. I fiddled with the fit and cut out a second mock up – the front piece was just not working at all, though the back fit really nicely!


So instead I cut the back away from the mock up and pinned it on my dressform. Then I decided to drape the front part of the dress. This wasn’t ideal – especially because I was still being really lazy with draping and used random scraps of fabric and pieced it. But in the end that’s what happened. I transferred the drape to paper and then cut a second mock up. This fit a lot better.

Draping. The super lazy way. Don’t recommend.
I straightened the centre front when I transferred it to paper I swear.


However I still wasn’t 100% happy with it, and I was awaiting the delivery of my American Duchess’ Guide to 18th Century Sewing, so I thought I would wait the couple of weeks there was for it to be delivered. (Quick rant: Amazon originally had the same delivery date as America, but then when I checked closer to the date, the UK release date was pushed back to December, then in December it said my order had gone out of stock and they didn’t have a new delivery day – I ended up cancelling the pre-order I’d done in JULY and bought it from Book Depository, which arrived within four days. For once Amazon sucked.) Point of this was I ended up delaying the Anglaise until the end of December, at which point I was making my Edwardian ensemble.

Even though I didn’t use this pattern, I used American Duchess’ Guide to 18th Century Sewing to help with the grainlines.
Fighting with grainlines.

I started working on this again in January and since a month had elapsed, I cut out a new mock up out of calico instead of flimsy cotton and was much happier with the result. I just had to tweak the centre front (really weirdly I couldn’t have a straight centre front, it had to nip in at the top more than anywhere else – so weird!) and a couple of other small things like raising the neckline and it was good to go.

I was really careful with fitting and trying this on, so I cut it out of the interlining layer of cotton twill first, and assembled that to try on (even though I would have to unpick it later). I tried on the interlining layer and it fit alright so I moved forwards.

Cutting it out of the twill to interline.
The centre front pattern piece.
Tried it on.
I think this ended up fitting better than the final bodice. Somehow.

To cut it out of the linen, I cut each piece individually so I could work on lining up the pattern. I made sure that each piece was a mirror of the other.

Aligning the stripes.

And the back! I didn’t bother with the sides.

I unpicked the seams that I had sewn to try on the interlining layer. Then I pinned all the corresponding pieces together and basted them.

And basted,

Then I pinned the seams and basted them, trying to line up the pattern where I could, mostly the CB and CF seams. Then I sewed them. I started from the centre back outwards.

Basted seams.

I did the shoulder seam last. Once all the seams were sewn, it looked like this:

At this point I tried it on, as I was worried about the wonky centre front. AND I WAS RIGHT TO WORRY.

I honestly have no idea why it’s so wonky. The pattern looks right – maybe the grainlines? Or is it just meant to be like that? Either way, I could force it closed, so I went with it. I was already worried as the centre front wasn’t completely straight, because of my weird proportions.

I finished the top edge by rolling the seam inwards twice and then stitching that down by hand.

The finished top edge.

The next step was to sew down the seam allowances so that they became boning channels.

The guts of the bodice.

I used synthetic whalebone, which has become my favourite for boning everything since last May. I simply cut the length needed (minus half an inch at the top and bottom) and file the edges down with a nail file. Then they are inserted into every channel. Now that the boning was in, I could finish the bottom edge. I did the same thing as on the top edge, by rolling the raw edge inwards twice and sewing down by hand.

For the bodice closure, I handsewed eyes and hooks to two lengths of twill tape. Then I sewed the tape to the centre front of the bodice. I thought this would be easier, as when I sewed hooks and eyes to my first Anglaise, it was very time consuming and fiddly. I think it worked out well in the end. The bodice fit isn’t perfect in any way – it still really bothers me that at times it seems too big.

For sleeves, I started out with the same pattern from my first Anglaise. It was a fitted elbow sleeve, drafted with Friendship’s Creating Historical Clothes. The most important bits are the elbow darts. There are two: one on the bottom edge of the sleeve, and one horizontally on the sleeve.

I cut the pattern out of the linen and out of simple white cotton to line the sleeves with.

I sewed the darts first, on each piece individually.

The darts.
And on the lining.

Then I matched the edges and basted them together.

Just pinned.

I finished the side seam with a french seam, then pinned the sleeves to the bodice. I sewed them together by machine. However at this point, when I tried on the bodice, my arm’s movement was very restricted and I felt like the sleeves were tight. So I undid the french seam and inserted a gusset under the arm. A gusset is a triangle of fabric, larger on the arm scythe and thinning out towards the elbow. I sewed it on by hand.

I used the lining to cover the new seams. It worked in the end, and the sleeves were a lot more comfortable after.

I finished the bottom edge by turning the lining and the outer fabric inwards, and sewing them down together, finishing them in one go. And that was it for the bodice! (except some small sleeve flounces I added later). Next up, the skirt, fichu and flounces!

Although it’s not perfect on me, it fits a lot worse on my dressform!

Making an Early Edwardian ensemble: the skirt and the hat

Once the blouse was complete, I moved on to the skirt. I knew what kind of style I wanted to go for: a simple skirt, fitted around the waist and hips, but pleated at the back. I believe this style is called the fan skirt. The skirt is gored and made up of seven panels.

Some of the inspiration behind it.
Image result for fan skirt 1900s
Inspiration silhouette.

For the skirt, I found a pattern in The Voice of Fashion.

I’m very impatient with skirts and so I rarely ever make a paper pattern for them. I drafted the front panel onto a scrap of old fabric just to see how it would hang.

I liked the look of it, so I went ahead and drafted the pattern directly onto the wool for the skirt.

I cut these pieces out and sewed them together with french seams.

I left a 10” gap at the CB seam, as the skirt closure.

Then I finished this gap by ironing half an inch inwards, and setting it down with a strip of interfacing.

Then I cut two rectangles to finish over top the interfacing, both to hide the ugly interfacing and for stability. I whipstitched them down.

I pleated the back panels and side back panels to fit my waist measurement. They form one big box pleat, sort of.

I secured the pleats down by sewing them by machine.

To pair with this skirt, instead of just finishing the skirt with a waistband, I wanted to try making an Edwardian style belt. I felt these were very iconic for the period and they were common in the illustrations in The Voice of Fashion. To do this, I simply designed a pattern with the measurements to match my waist. I cut this out of the wool.

I hadn’t really thought through the construction of the belt, so I ended up doing a log of fiddly things that were very time consuming. I’m sure there’s a more streamlined way to do it, but here is how I did mine. I turned all the edges inwards by half an inch, clipping the seams and sewing them down by hand.

Then I backed it with interfacing, which covered the raw edges. I ironed it all flat and it looked really nice and crisp.

I also made some piping to go around the belt edges to add more dimension. I go over better detail about how I made piping on my post Making an 1860s ballgown: the bodice. The main difference here was that I was out of cord, so I used some thicker wool I had laying around.

I sewed it down to the belt by hand. By this point, I couldn’t be bothered with lining it but I really wish I had.

I pinned it onto the skirt and stitched it on by hand.

I added hooks and eyes to the back of the belt and the gap in the skirt, as closure.

The only thing left to do on the skirt was to hem it! I decided to try hemming it with a facing for the first time. This basically meant I had to cut huge bias strips out of the wool.

I cut enough to have a total length that matched the hem of the skirt.

I sewed the strips together, ironed the seams and pinned it onto the skirt edge, right sides together.

I sewed this on my machine with a one inch seam allowance, then turned it the right way around. I ironed this in place, rolling the edge so that facing was hidden.

Then I turned the raw edge under by about half inch, and pinned it down. I sewed it by hand with a herringbone stitch.

And the skirt was done!

I thought this wouldn’t be a proper Edwardian (even if early) without a hat. I’ve been really interested in hats and headpieces, but I’d only made crowns before. I was really excited to get started on a hat. My materials consisted of heavy weight interfacing, the wine coloured wool from the skirt and the silk from the blouse. I also used millinery wire and feathers, bought at Petershams.

I started by looking at research online and in books. Then I drafted a pattern.


I was pleased with the dramatic shape, and cut it out of the interfacing. I don’t think this interfacing is as strong as it could be, something more structured would have held the wide brim better. The next step was to add the millinery wire as support.

Then I realised that the shape was wrong. The connecting bit between the wide brim and the top of the hat couldn’t just be straight for the shape I wanted, it needed to be curved.

Top piece is the correct shape.

I added millinery wire to the edge of the brim, first my hand. However because the interfacing wasn’t stiff enough, I added another layer of wire at the middle of the hat, and a second run around the brim. At this point, I realised this wasn’t too bad by machine, using a large zig zag stitch, but it was very difficult to control, which is why the inner layer is so poorly positioned (but it did the job).

This is what all my pieces looked like:

Then it was just a matter of covering the pieces with the wool and then attaching them.

I also added some piping to the top edge!

Then I seamed the long edge together and attached it to the top bit (super professional names).

I covered the brim with fabric.

Then I attached the other… bit, using extra strong thread.

The last thing left to do was make the lining. I wanted it to be ALL RUFFLES because I love ruffles. So I cut long strips out of the silk I used for the blouse, and gathered them down the top and bottom edge.

My new favourite thing.

I sewed it down by hand.

However it ended up being a little short, so I covered the gap with some satin ribbon.

And the hat was done! All that was missing were the trimmings. I had some fake flowers from the Christmas section and some feathers from Petersham.

The ensemble was done. I wore it out that weekend (it was so windy) and took some photos. This was my last project in 2017 (I managed to squeeze in the photos on the 30th of December). I’m pretty happy with the general look of it.

Thanks for reading!

Making an Early Edwardian ensemble: the blouse

I got it into my head that I wanted to squeeze in one last project before the end of the year. I moved houses just after October Comic Con, so there was a whole month where I couldn’t sew because I was either packing everything or unpacking everything. Originally I had planned for this to be a new Robe à L’Anglaise. I have had this planned for a few months already, inspired by binge watching Poldark and some lovely linen I found. However I was struggling with the patterning and decided to wait for my American Duchess Guide to 18th century to arrive before pursuing it.

So instead I got curious about the early 20th century. I’d done a half scale late 1890s costume before and I had really loved the changing style lines of these decades. I didn’t want to go full Edwardian though, I personally find the pidgeon breast style unflattering. So instead I tried to keep my marks between 1898 and 1903. Small window but I was researching for references within this time limit. I settled on a skirt, blouse and hat ensemble.

For fabric, I wanted to get something cream in colour and light in touch for the blouse, that I could then trim with some lace. The skirt I decided on a lightweight wool in preferably a wine colour. I’m actually really happy with the fabric I found to match my initial desire! I went to Goldhawk Road and managed to find some really nice wool, of which I bought 5 meters for I think it was £9 p/m. Then I found this lovely silk which I already dreamed I couldn’t afford. It was perfect: light, crisp, cream and had some duopioni texture to it which I loved. This was a great find. The silk was stained throughout the roll and discounted, and after talking to the really nice shopkeeper, I took 6 meters for £12. I really hoped I could piece around the stains for this, but since I only originally needed three meters, I hoped the surplus would be enough. I also bought some plain polycotton for the petticoat. I ended up pairing the silk with some lovely cream lace I’d bought ages ago in Spain (that fabric haul is here).

As always, I started from the inside out, as I had no appropriate foundations for this. I already wrote a post about making the corset. The pattern is from Norah Waugh’s Corsets and Crinolines and is dated 1903. It was the closest pattern that I had at hand in terms of time period. The petticoat was much simpler. I acquired a copy of The Voice of Fashion by Francis Grimble, and it was very useful for the construction of this costume. I used the instructions on page and somewhat adapted them to fit the amount of fabric and trim I had.

I bought some cheap polycotton for this (one day I’ll invest better on my foundations, I promise) and tea stained it to match some vintage eyelet trim I got off Etsy. It was my first time tea-staining so here is a quick run down for absolute beginners:

(disclaimer: I am not, in anyway, saying this is the right way to do it! Like I mentioned, it was my first time. I read a few instructions from searches on Google and thought I’d give it a try.)

I used a plastic basin for this. First I rinsed my fabric in cold water. For tea, I picked English Breakfast because I know nothing about tea and this was at hand (I actally really hate tea so brewing a few litres was weird). This actually gave the fabric a more reddish tone, so be careful of which tea you pick! I had to boil the kettle three or four times but filled the container with boiling water. Then I put in about six tea bags and let it sit for approximately ten minutes. I removed the tea bags and carefully added the fabric, using wooden spoons to fully submerge it and try to get rid of the bubbles of air. I would turn it every five minutes to try and make sure all the folds in the fabric would be exposed. I think I left it a total of twenty minutes until I thought the colour was good. Since this is a poly mix, it doesn’t take the colour was well as other fabrics and it would be lighter when dry. Then I rinsed out the fabric in warm water, and then let it sit in cold water with some vinegar for an hour or so. This helps the colour sink into the fabric. In the end, I thought it looked better with the vintage trim!

I ended up using around three meters for the petticoat and around 16 meters of trim (!!). I hadn’t realised how much trim petticoats eat up. In the end, it looked like this:

Funny story: after wearing, I accidentally put it in the washing machine with the wool skirt and so it turned out a marshmallow pink. Then I bleached it which removed the cream/tea stained colour, so at the moment it’s bright white! I want to tea stain it again soon though.

After, I moved onto the blouse. This really intimidated me as I had no idea how to draft it, so I actually purchased a pattern and then altered it. I chose Black Snail’s Edwardian Blouse Sewing Pattern. My alterations consisted on entirely different sleeves, shortening and narrowing the blouse. In the mock up, the blouse was quite loose and the collar too big, so I changed both (the collar ended up being too small after!).

First I sewed up the shoulder seams.

Then I got the collar ready so that I could attach it.

I actually cut the collar on the fold so that it added some structure without interfacing or interlining. The collar was one placket with eyes, but I ended up also adding a placket for the hooks as the collar was too small for my neck. This gave me an extra inch without messing up the collar too much. I also basted down the edges of the collar together to it would be easier to sew on.

Then I carefully pinned the collar and sewed it on the neckline.

At this point I was thinking about the stylist side of things and how I’d want to add lace, and then remembered the lace I’d bought in Spain. It was actually the perfect width for the collar so I thought it was fate. I handsewed it on.

Looking back I just wish I’d centred the motif instead of not even thinking about it.

I thought it would be easier to handsewn the lace to the blouse before doing up the side seams, so I started playing with placement and settled upon a V-shape.

The lace was sewn on by hand and tapers off into a larger, wider V at the back.

Handsewing it.
I really love this lace.

Then I did up the side seams and turned the bottom hem inwards by two inches. It was then sewed down by hand.

For the sleeves, I used this pattern from The Voice of Fashion as a base:

I cut it out of the silk and sewed on two gathering rows of stitches both at the top and bottom of the sleeve. Also, I thought I’d just show you some of the staining I was working around for this:

I do think it was worth the bargain in the end.
The pattern!

These were gathered down to match the arm opening and my wrist measurement respectively. I only gathered the top of the sleeve at the top, as I didn’t want them sleeves to be too full at the top. Then I sewed the inside seam with a french seam (though, guys, remember to leave some inches open at the bottom to get your hand through it because… I didn’t. And then I had to back and cut into the seam).

For cuffs, I cut two rectangles out of the silk and interfaced them. The two rectangles are the measurement of my wrist in the length, and then double the width of the cuff (1”) and seam allowances.

Seam allowances ironed inwards and cuff ironed in half.

Then I handsewed these onto the bottom edge of the sleeve, as it was quite hard to get them under my machine. I think in a previous post I already mentioned this but if you can, sew on the cuffs before the side seams. It’s just so much easier. And I forgot. Again.

Super fiddly to avoid top-stitching.

Then I set in the sleeves by pinning them into the armhole and sewing them by machine! However I think they skewered a bit while sewing, so that the fabric on the sleeves sometimes appears twisted. Definitely recommend basting beforehand and I’ve learned my lesson.

The last step was to add the buttonholes and buttons to the back of the blouse. Since the silk was quite light, I interfaced the back edges on both sides to better support the buttons and buttonholes.

It was my first time using the buttonhole function on my machine (or any machine for that matter), so I made sure to test it out a few times, first on scrap fabric and then on scraps from the silk. I marked the positioning of all the buttons and buttonholes to make sure they matched up. I was amazed at how quickly my machine got through the buttonholes! Then I sewed on the buttons on the other side by hand.

And that was it! What do you think?

It fits on me, I promise!


Making an 1860s ballgown: the photos

It was such a pleasure to finally get all of the layers of this dress on and take some photos of it! It was absolutely freezing outside, but I think it was worth in the end. Although this project has been complete for some months, there are some slight improvements I’d like to make, mainly in terms of petticoat support. The current petticoat, I think, is ideal for a round cage scenario, rather than an elliptical shape. So the back side of the skirt has very little support and the train is very sad by itself. However that should be easily fixed by a better petticoat so keep an eye out for that!

Making an 1860s ballgown: plans and foundations

Making an 1860s ballgown: the bodice

Making an 1860s ballgown: the sleeves and skirt


Making an Edwardian Corset

Hello everyone!

It has been a little while since my last post. Productivity has not been very high. I started a full time job and had to abruptly move house. But once all that was somewhat settled, I was eager to start on a new project. Ever since watching Downton Abbey and other shows such as Howard’s End, I have rethought my feelings towards Edwardian fashion. I also dipped into the 1890s on a half scale project and was excited to look more into this sort of period.

So I decided to go for a turn of the century look. I’m no expert in this time period and I also struggled with finding good sources. There seemed to be a wide variety of outfits around this time. However I decided to go for a simple skirt and blouse early Edwardian look. But of course, as with every costume, I had to start from the inside out!

I searched everywhere for Edwardian corsets and such looks. I finally settled on a pattern in Norah Waugh’s Corsets and Crinolines. It’s a pattern for a straight front corset from 1901. It was the closest in date to what I wanted.

I scaled that up and made a mock up.

This pattern was a pain. As you can guess from looking at the seams, it’s not beginner friendly. I think I bit off more than I could chew.

While the corset construction was fairly straightforwards, which I managed, I wasn’t too sure about the fit. I only realized how far off it was when I remembered that the diamond shape is BAD. What I mean is when the center back lacing leaves a diamond shaped gap. This is something someone with experience knows how to fix.

I don’t.

I know there must be some seam fiddling to fix it, but the pattern pieces were already terrified so I just left it as it was. Obviously it doesn’t give me the ideal shape, but I think it’ll serve the purpose. Plus it’s not a corset I’ll be wearing often.

So let’s get into the construction! Perhaps this might be helpful to someone.

After scaling up this pattern, I cut each piece out of the outer fabric (some leftover blue duchess satin), cotton twill and then plain cotton for lining.

The pattern pieces and the cut twill.

I flatlined the satin to the twill, by hand, to make sure they were as flat as possible. I find smaller pieces like this often shift when I try to flatline them by machine, as my machine has a small surface.  I didn’t, however, flatline the top of center front edges and the edges themselves. This was to allow me to use the twill as a seam to set in the busk.

The twill and satin pinned together.
And hand basted together!

The second step was to set in the busk. I ordered mine from Sew Curvy and also used her tutorial for setting in the busk (tutorial here). It was fairly straightforwards to follow. Instead of using the seam allowance, I used the twill. I sewed the twill to the satin with the busk gaps, and sandwiched the busk sides inbetween them.

I didn’t take photos of the busk process, but you can see one side up close here.

Then for the seams, I moved from the center front backwards, leaving the hip gores until last. I basted all the seams before sewing them by machine, I found this helped a lot with these aggressive curves. I also ironed all the seams as I went, clipped and trimmed the seams allowances. I wasn’t going to use them as boning channels.

The first few seams.
All the seams. I found some of them particularly tricky and had to re-do them. Particularly piece 2 to the centre front and piece 3. The hip pads are only pinned on in this photo.
The inner cuts with ironed and clipped seams.

In Corsets and Crinolines, Norah Waugh only draws on the boning pattern in the back pieces of the corset, but draws the boning on the picture of the finished corset (refer back to the photo of it up top). These don’t quite follow the seams. Working closely with the image, I positioned strips of bias binding to acts as channels, making sure they mirrored each other on either side of the corset. I hand-sewed these channels down to avoid top-stitching.

Positioning the boning channels.
A LOT of pins.
Sewed down by hand.

Then I cut synthetic whalebone to the appropriate lengths and filed the edges, then inserted them into the boning channels. I made sure that they were half an inch short on both the top and bottom edge.

My roll of boning. I love synthetic whalebone, it’s definitely my favourite.
The filed edges of the boning.

To insert the lining, I sewed the top of the corset with the right sides together. Then I flipped them the right way, ironed and top stitched so that the lining wouldn’t show.

The lining was sewed to the top with 1/2” seam allowance.
I first hand basted and then top stitched the top.

Then I pulled and pinned the lining into place, matching the inside seams of the corset to those of the lining. Then I turned the raw edges inwards of the satin and then the lining overtop. I pinned them in place and hand sewed it down.

The rest of the lining in place.

To finish, I added eyelets to the back. Because I wanted to finish this quite quickly, I used metal eyelets, but I fully intend to replace them with hand-sewn ones soon. I used an awl to make a hole and then scissors to enlarge them.

Then I hand-sewed lace trim to the top edge and it was done!

Accidentally cropped this image weirdly.
Couldn’t get any proper photos of the back, and it isn’t laced properly! It laces more lower on the hips, which shows the diamond shape more.

Making Hermione’s Yule Ball dress: the skirt

I think in the end I actually struggled more with the fit of the bodice than making the skirt, though the latter looks more intimidating! I spent a lot of time staring at photos of the skirt and I made some detailed plans.

I made a mock up first (I’ve never actually made a mock up of a skirt before, because all my other skirts were pretty straightforwards). I drafted the skirt onto the fabric itself. I made the center front skewed, as there were no side seams to the skirt. The side would be cut on the fold. I had to alter the mock up a couple of times: the first, it was too tight across the hips and the hem was too narrow. Then it had too much bulk on the front seam and it draped weirdly. But thankfully all of these were solved quite easily!

Once I was happy with the overall shape of the skirt, I put it on my dressform and drew on the layers. Then I straightened out the lines, and cut up the sections. I used these to cut the other side. The skirt ended up having 8 layers and two seams, at the centre front and centre back. I also cut a couple of fake flounces just to get an idea of the effect.

The skirt has a base of the blue satin and then the layers of chiffon flounces.

Cutting out the satin bits. The sides are cut on the fold.
The pattern pieces for the satin. I cut two of each, with the side seams on the fold.
The larger layers of the bottom of the skirt.
And cut out.

For the chiffon, it was difficult. I decided to make patterns for all the flounces because I tried drawing on the circles for the mock up flounces and it was ANNOYING AF. So instead, I used a string and a pin as a makeshift giant compass and drew the chiffon flounces patterns. The pattern is basically just a circle skirt. I measured the length of each satin layer, which ended up being the inner radius, and then decided on the length of each flounce. I used one of the online calculators for this, I think it was this one. To cut out the chiffon, I used tissue paper underneath the chiffon, which worked wonders!

The chiffon over the tissue paper. Actually made a pretty lilac.
One of the larger chiffon flounces. I cut it on the fold for practicality.

Once all the pieces were cut, I went ahead and overlocked all of the edges. For all of the layers. Satin AND chiffon.

Some of the overlocked chiffon flounces.

After all the edges were finished, the first step was to see each layer of the satin together at the center back, so that I had eight long strips as each layer of the skirt. Then, I hand basted the chiffon to the corresponding satin layer, then sandwiching it with the next satin layer, and basting again. Then I stitched them together. Then repeat, seven times.

Basting the chiffon to the satin layer.

I was so excited that I pinned it up to dressform just to see how it was going.

And just kept going:

I sewed the skirt in about eight hours on a Sunday. By the time it was finished, it was quite late, so I left the center front seam for the next day. But I wanted to try it on so!

For the center front seam, I aligned the seams as best as I could and basted them together. It took a couple of tries, and I didn’t get every layer perfectly aligned, but it was passable and the satin was starting to get damaged from ripping out the seam! After pressing open all the seams, I went ahead and pulled the lining over the skirt seam, folding the raw edge under. I sewed this down by hand.


I inserted an invisible zipper, hemmed the skirt and it was done!

I tried it on that very day. I also got some random phone photos while at MCM London, but I hope to have better photos soon.

Making Hermione’s Yule Ball dress: the bodice

After re-reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire earlier this year, the idea of cosplaying Hermione’s Yule Ball dress came to mind. I had always thought it a beautiful dress, but never thought of cosplaying it because I just don’t really enjoy pink that much – and I thought a fully pink dress might be a bit overkill for me. However, upon reading the book, I was reminded that originally she was described as wearing periwinkle blue robes.


My plans for MCM May had already been decided, but while I was out fabric shopping for those, I always kept an eye out for appropriate fabric. I think I’m just too picky with fabric, I ended up agonising over it for months. I hoarded up different shades and samples. I was conflicted about how dark it should be, did I want it more blue or lilac-y – just overthinking everything basically. I wanted it to come out perfectly.

Some of the fabric samples from my many shopping trips.

After going to the Warner Bros. studios in September (photos here!) I was absolutely decided to make it for MCM October. So here are some photos of the dress that I took while at the Studios:

I knew I would never be able to get it as perfect as this – I’m still fairly new to sewing and this was a very ambitious project. Nevertheless, I was very determined.

My first step was to sketch and plan out the whole dress as best as I could.

My sketch!
My plans! I swear they made sense… at some point.

Then I finally committed and went fabric shopping. I bought this beautiful satin at my local fabric shop. I bought four meters and it was around £8 p/m. I then bought around ten meters of chiffon, in three different shades. I wasn’t sure of how much I needed, but after doing some research online, it seemed that everyone that had made it had used a lot of chiffon, which made sense! My first shade was a light two-tone chiffon, blue and lilac. The second was a stronger blue, and the last a darker two-tone blue and purple.

It’s not quite periwinkle but it’s the closest I could get.
And the chiffons!

So it was on to pattern drafting. I actually had draped an original pattern and done a couple of mock-ups way back in February when I’d first thought about this project. It was really hard to come back to a pattern that I hadn’t touched for so long. The fit of this dress is super fiddly and so hard to achieve that I think I ended up making about six mock-ups before I called it a day with the pattern.

The bodice consists of a main triangle in the breast cup, and then two triangle-shaped layers over top. These seams were very tricky, but at least the amount of mock-ups helped me become comfortable with the construction of the bodice!

On the left is the first mock-up I made after picking up the pattern again. The right side is after some alterations and made of a more similar fabric to the satin I would be using.

Some mock-up progress!
The final mock-up! Each fitting only needed small alterations, like taking or adding a quarter inch here or there, and the changes were more noticeable on me than on my dressform.

Once I was somewhat satisfied (I will never be satisfied), I went ahead and cut out the pattern pieces from the lining and the outer fabric. I started my assembling my lining, as more of a… seventh practice run.

So the bodice consists of a main triangle, then followed by two… weird triangle strips over it. The top two layers united at the centre front. The layer immediately over the triangle unites with the main front bodice. Both of the top strips extend to meet the back panel at the side seams. The main bodice has a soft point both at the top and bottom at the centre front.

At this point, I sort of messed up the seam allowances which messed with the fitting of the lower cup in the main triangle. I noticed that the hard triangular seams were easier to sew with a small seam allowance, so I only added 1/4”, but for the main bodice pieces I added 1/2”. This resulted in some bagginess immediately beneath the cups, so that the bodice doesn’t hug the bodice like the original A lot of piecing together and ironing later, I had a semi-decent bodice!

Assembling the outer fabric. Some tips: small seam allowances, basting before sewing and snipping the seam allowances.

The inside seams of the bodice!

Then I pinned the lining around the neckline to the outer fabric, right sides together. I sewed and ironed that seam. Then I ironed the lining inwards, and tried out a technique called ‘sewing to the under’ (highly recommended by Hoppin Bobbin). This would help keep the lining in place.

Lining and outer fabric pinned together!

I basted the top half of the bodice together and then sewed it down.

I waited until the skirt was attached to add the zipper to the back and finish the lining, so instead let’s talk about sleeves!

The straps are just long strips of the satin fabric, rolled over twice and sewed down into straps.

The strips were cut on the bias.

Then I cut two circular flounces for the sleeves. I cut the circle open and trimmed off a bit from the front sections so that it would flow longer into the back. I overlocked all the edges. Then I sewed them to the straps by hand.

The lining was only finished after attaching the skirt so I’ll talk more about it on the next post!

Sneak peek of more chiffon flounces: