Making Cardcaptor Sakura’s wand

Cardcaptor Sakura is such an icon from my childhood. It was the first anime and the first manga I watched, and it got me started into Japanese culture. I’ve always loved the cute costumes in the story (and wished I was some sort of Tomoyo!). With the new Clear Card act being released, the urge to cosplay her became very strong. I knew immediately which dress I would like to do: her big dress from the second film. It might not be her most iconic costume, but it made a huge impression on me when I was younger, so much that when I was ten we asked a local seamstress to make a version for me to wear to Carnaval.

(Unfortunately I don’t have any photos, as 10 year old me was even more awkward than adult me.)

This is what that dress looks like:

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Before starting the dress, I decided to make the wand. It was my first prop build so I was a bit nervous. I read a couple of tutorials online to get some ideas. From the go, I knew my biggest trouble with it would be how to keep it smooth.

 

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So here is a list of my materials:

  • Wooden rod (bought at B&Q for £1.49)
  • 8” embroidery hoop (£2.70 from Hobbycraft)
  • A polystyrene star (from Minerva crafts for like £0.50)
  • Superlight air drying clay (from Hobbycraft, about four packs at £1 each)
  • Paint (pink, yellow, white, and gold)
  • Emory boards (I bought like a pack of 8 off Amazon for £5)
  • Craft foam (I used one A4 sheet, it was like 20p)
  • Mod Podge Gloss finish (£4.50 from Hobbycraft)
Some of my materials.

I used other things like paintbrushes and my glue gun as well.

I started off with my star. I printed out a basic star shape that I found on the internet as my base (though I could’ve just drawn this out as well).

I layered my polystyrene star over it and then started adding and shaping the clay to it. I added it mostly to the sides to buff out the shape of the star. I also added it over the centres, to make it more 3D. I knew ideally I would need a dremmel to make the clay smoother, but I wasn’t ready to blow my budget and buy one. So in an attempt to make the edges smoother, I cut out a wedge from the print out star. From that, I cut all sides out of craft foam. Then I used hot glue to glue them together, shaping it and denting ridges into the star. Then I glued this over the clay, and added a bit more clay where there were any gaps.

Using the emory board, I filed down all the edges. It worked pretty well on clay, though the foam did not like it. Then I sealed everything with two layers of Mod Podge. Every time I went to Hobbycraft, they were out of white clay and since I was painting it, I didn’t think  it would be an issue so I bought light blue clay. Because of this, I found that the paint worked better after a layer of white acrylic paint. So after sealing the star, I painted it white and then yellow. I did a few layers of the paint until I thought it looked okay. Then I sealed it again with two layers of Mod Podge.

And the star was done!

For the circle, I started out with an embroidery hoop as my base, then built up the clay around it. I sanded it down with the emory board and started working on the rod and the attachments. I built the basic shapes out of clay, then sanded them. For the top bit, I used several circles made of foam to add the circle detail that sandwiches the gem bit. I built up the circles with clay too, then hot glued everything together. I also used some resin to cast the gems needed. Then I painted the back of the resin gems with red nail polish, sealed them with top coat nail polish and added foil to the back of the gems (this helps reflect light). I hot glued it to the clay shapes. I added some details made of worbla around the circle gems. I had made little holes in the clay bits so that I could fit the nail bit of the embroidery hoop at the top and the rod at the bottom. I attached them with hot glue.

Now that it was all pretty much in one piece, I sanded some last details then sealed everything with Mod Podge. Then I painted everything with the white paint (I covered the gems in masking tape). I painted the rod and embroidery hoop pink, and the clay details in gold. Everything got another two layers of Mod Podge. Then I hot glued the star on.

I drew out the shape for the wings and cut them out of craft foam. Then I shaped clay over it, on both sides for a 3D effect. Then I sealed them, painted them and sealed again. They were hot glued to the main staff.

And it was done!

I didn’t take many photos of this as I made it because I was filming the process. I thought it might be helpful to anyone trying to make a prop for the first time too, since it compiles a lot of interesting methods, like resin casting, sanding and shaping, painting and sealing. All in all, it was fun to make it and I hope it goes well in May!

EDIT: It has been May. It went good! This post is so late because it’s taken me forever to sort out the video. The wand help up well through the convention, but I did have to re-glue the wings. Hopefully I will find a better way to anchor them in the future.

 

Making a 1940s dress: dress in a weekend

Recently I got more and more into vintage fashions. I think it was a combination of tv shows (I was rewatching Agent Carter and The Marvelous Mrs.Maisel) and seeing it pop up more on my social media. I started looking more into it and I really liked the idea of following an original printed pattern AND making something I could actually wear outside.

I spent a few days (I mean in, it’s a dangerous rabbit hole) browsing Etsy for patterns and finally found one that I liked. I also spent some time on the popular Vintage Patterns Wikia but I find it a bit hard as you can’t really filter it and the sheer volume of patterns in it actually hinders research. It’s a nice resource to browse though!

So I ordered this pattern off Ebay, it cost about £10 which I thought was a good enough deal.

After the pattern arrived, I started thinking about fabric. Originally I wanted to make a light, colourful dress, something very Spring-y. However after prowling all of Goldhawk Road, I didn’t find anything like it. Eventually I found a nice lightweight cotton (I think it’s a rayon blend) at my local fabric shop. It was £4 per meter and I bought four meters. I also bought matching (well, the closest they had) lining as the fabric was a little see-through. The pattern didn’t mention lining, only a couple of facings.

The pattern was a size 14, which was a 34 inch bust. I subtracted this from my bust measurement and figured out how much I had to add. I found that the difference between my bust and the pattern bust was an inch at each side seam, and it worked out perfectly for the waist too (hips are free since it’s a circle skirt sort of skirt). I copied out the pattern onto pattern paper and did the alterations, then cut out a mock-up. I was happy with the fit, so I went ahead with it and cut it out of the fabric and lining.

The bodice front is cut on the bias.

I also added an inch to the skirts side seams, to match at the waist. I cut out the skirt at the same time, since it needed to hang overnight because the bias warp. I also sort of ‘live-blogged’ the construction of this dress through my Instagram stories, and I have them pinned on Instagram profile.

The lining.
I used the lining to cut out the main fabric, as it already had the extra inch on the side seams. I swear I straightened it out better than on this photo!

Then I hung it up and left it there overnight.

The skirt warped a lot. The next morning, I laid it out flat on the floor and repositioned the pattern over it, to cut off the excess so it matched the original hem.

For the construction of this dress, the bodice and skirt are assembled separately and then joined at the waist on the final steps. Starting with the construction of the skirt, after fixing the hem, I sewed up the centre front and centre back with French seams (although I didn’t have to, it was actually kind of unnecessary since I was lining it). Then I started working on the pockets. This pattern has welt pockets. For the welted bit, I cut out the rectangles and interfaced them.

Then I sewed around the edges and turned them the right way out.

It was my first time making pockets of any sort and they were really complicated, but something I think will get better with experience. The welts were then basted on the front side of the skirt, one on each side.

Then the pockets were pinned and basted on.

This was done individually on each side. So one side of the pocket was basted onto the centre front side seam along with the welt piece, and the other half to the side back of the skirt. Only then were the two pocket halves sewn together (after following these instructions, I think I would change them slightly since this seemed a bit unnecessary). Then the side seams were closed. I tried to do French seams here too and it… well, did not go well so the pockets are a bit messy where they meet the side seam.

And the skirt was done!

For the bodice, I started with sewing the darts. There were two bust darts at the front, and four shaping darts at the back. The dress was pretty forgiving in terms of the visibility of the darts.

Thee is a bust dart in there!

Then the shoulder seams were done up. All these steps were repeated the same way for the lining. Except for the interfacing. So there was a bit of interfacing added to around the neckline to stabilise it.

For the collar, I cut out two pieces of the pattern. One of them was interfaced, then they were sewn together, right sides together.

Seams trimmed and corners clipped.

This was turned the right side out, pinned and basted to the neckline. This step was weird. According to the instructions, the back of the collar is only eased and basted on. Then the collar is sewn to the bodice only up to the shoulder seam, so the back is left only attached by basting. I found this  a bit weird – maybe I misunderstood a step. But it worked in the end!

Collar basted on.
Only meant to baste through the interfaced layer at the back.

Then the lining was matched to the bodice, pinned on and basted.

Ironed it and turned it the right way out.

Then I sewed up the side seams of the bodice and the lining. There was a gap left unfinished on the left hand side, for the zipper.

Then I made bias tape out of the scraps of fabric to finish the armholes.

I cut two inch wide strips of the fabric on the bias.
Then ironed the edges inwards for a finished 1” wide bias tape. The strips were long enough to finish the armholes, so I didn’t have to seam them.

I pinned on the bias tape to the armhole edge and sewed half an inch from the edge on the right side.

I turned the bias edge inwards, pinned and finished by hand.

I finished the skirt lining and attached it to the bodice lining at the waist.

I basted the skirt to the bodice, very carefully, to match the centre front and back seams.

I was very proud of this!

I moved on to inserting the side zipper. I was a nightmare. The best way I found in the end was to basted the lining and outer fabrics together and then insure the invisible zipper. It was very fiddly to do this with a finished dress, as it was quite cumbersome.

It was on to the final steps. I tried on the dress and marked the hem.

I am fairly shorter than the standard pattern size! I marked this so it was calf length. I cut off the excess, leaving two inches to turn up. Since the fabric was so slippery, I turned it one inch inwards, then basted it down. I turned it over again, and basted that down again.

I sewed it down by hand with a double threaded herringbone stitch.

It was finally warm enough this past weekend to wear the dress, so here are some worn photos! Kudos to my sister who did up my hair in a quick 1940s inspired style.

Tried in the shade as well since it was actually too sunny to keep my eyes open!

Featuring my new Gibson shoes by America Duchess! They were a little tight so I’m hoping they will get better with wear.

I look so PALE IT REALLY ANNOYS ME OMG I live in England I haven’t seen sun in like 6 years

And a funny last blooper as I took my glasses off as they weren’t very 40s!

Making a Linen Robe à l’Anglaise: the skirt, sleeves and the fichu

So after the body was done (praise the lord), I got to move on to the other elements. I always struggle with bodice fit a lot more than with anything else, so it was pretty smooth sailing.

For the sleeves, I wanted simple elbow sleeves. I already had a pattern drafted using Elizabeth Friendship’s Creating Historical Costumes from my last Anglaise (photos of this costume are here).

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The sleeves were pretty straightfowards: they had a small dart on the bottom edge and one at the elbow. The excess fabric at the top was pleated into three tiny little pleats.

I cut out the pattern from the linen and from plain white cotton to line them with. I sewed the darts on each sleeve individual, then flatlined the pieces together.

I finished the bottom edge by turning the outer fabric and the lining inwards, and sewing them together with small running stitches, effectively finishing the edge with one stitch.

You can see the bottom here with the raw edges turned under.

Then I did up the side seams with french seams.

I pinned and basted the sleeves into the armhole, taking the excess into the small pleats. Then I sewed the sleeves in by machine.

For the skirt, I just used all of my remaining fabric, which was around 4 meters, divided into two panels. I sewed the panels together with french seams, leaving a gap of about 10” on the top edge of one of the seams. This would be the closure on the skirt. I measured out the centre front. I left a ten inch gap at the front, and then started pleating outwards until I reached the back. I had to fiddle with the pleats a little until it fit my waist measurement, but I really wanted the pleats to be small. I ran over the pleats on my machine.

Then I sewed on some herringbone tape to help stabilize and secure the pleats, sort of a sham waistband.

The gap in one of the side seams.
The tape on the centre front.

Figuring out how to attach the skirt to the bodice was… fun. It was mind-boggling, trying to attach a side closure skirt to a centre front closure bodice. But! Thanks to Angela Clayton’s recent post about a similar 18th century dress, I was able to figure it out! Her post is here. Basically, I only sewed the skirt to the bodice from the end of the gap on the right hand side, to the side closure on the skirt on the left side. This left the front flat bit loose (however as the skirt closes taut, it doesn’t sag). I added a snap just where the pleats start on the left side, to help keep the loose edge in place.

I tried it on my dress form first, as I was confused by how to sew on the tip.

It looked okay, so I sewed them together by machine, leaving the back tip free and sewing it down by hand, with a backstitch.

I attached a hook and eye and some snaps to the closure. I tried the skirt on, over my bum pad and petticoats, and marked the hem. I wanted it to be just a little bit off the ground at the front and a little longer in the back, a bit like this (I know most 18th century are actually ankle length, but because I don’t have appropriate shoes at the moment I preferred this. I can always rehem it in the future).

And that was it for the dress! Or so I thought. When I tried the dress on to mark the hem, I realised the sleeves were quite tight. So I undid the French seams and shabbily added a sleeve gusset.

I finally started giving accessories a little more thought. As my American Duchess Guide to 18th Century Sewing had just recently arrived, I tried using their tutorial for the fichu. It was originally paired with an 1840s look in the book (but hopefully it also works for later decades).

The fichu is basically a huge triangle of fabric. I used a mix of white silk and cotton (WHICH IS BEAUTIFUL AND IT FEELS SO GOOD, literally my new favourite fabric and I wish I could afford to make everything out of it).

I love this fabric.

I cut out the big triangle. Then, you fold it in half and iron the long edge a few inches in. There, you cut a small slit. This helps accommodate the fichu around the neck.

I did a small rolled hem by hand on the slit and all the way around.

To finish the clipped point on the slit, I sewed over it (kinda like a button hole kind of thing!).

I used the same fabric to make two small decorate flounces for my sleeves (flounces isn’t really the right word). The sleeves ended up being a tad too short, so this was a nice way to add a little decorative element and also make the sleeves look better. I didn’t want them to be complicated though, I wanted to keep the simple and plain feeling of the dress, so they were only very lightly gathered. For these, I cut two long rectangles, approximately 0.7x larger than the bottom edge of the sleeve. I finished all the edges by hand, with a rolled hem. Then I sewed a gathering stitch at the top and gathered them down to the right length. Then I hand sewed these to the sleeves. Ideally I would’ve done this while I was still making the sleeves, so that it was sandwiched between the lining and outer fabric for a better finish, but this worked out fine too!

I actually really like this dress. I like how simple it is. I’m still upset with the bodice but in the end I like the look of it and love the fabrics. Hope to have some worn photos soon!

Needs some ironing 

Making an Early Edwardian ensemble: the photos

I finally remembered to post these! I took these just before the end of the 2017, as I wanted this to be my last costume of the year. The only day I could try to photograph it was on the 30th of December, which happened to be a cloud and very windy day! The flowers came off my hat at least four times and I was afraid I was going to loose it. Everything worked out in the end though! All in all, I definitely love this costume. Next steps would be a proper corset (this current one has some fit issues) and a corset cover (the blouse is quite sheer, and the corset was blue). All in all, though, I think it captures the look I was going for!

Making an Edwardian Corset

Making an Early Edwardian ensemble: the blouse

Making an Early Edwardian ensemble: the skirt and the hat

I’ve also got a Facebook album on my page with more photos and better quality (I had to compress them to upload here!). You can find them here!


 

Silly out take – it was so windy!
Featuring my Manhattan boots, by American Duchess!

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.
Worked!

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.
Sewn.

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.
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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!