Making Cardcaptor Sakura’s dress: the petticoat, skirt and accessories

While still working on the bodice, I also started working on the petticoat. In the reference images, her skirt is very pouffy. Although I have a few petticoats, they are all full length and historical. For this, I had to make a shorter petticoat. I started by doing some research and then planning it out.

I wanted to keep the volume away from the waist, so I started by making a fitted band, about 6” wide. Then a gathered layer of cotton organdie (what I had at the time) and then a gathered layer of lace (I live for the aesthetic, I think undergarments can be so pretty).

I draped the fitted band on my dressform, adding seams where darts would be for a quick process. The front panel was cut on the fold and all the pieces sewn together.

Then I cut large rectangles out of the organdie and sewed them together into one long strip. The seams used the selvage so I didn’t have to finish them.

Then I gathered down the top edge of the organdie to match the measurement of the bottom edge of the waist band – not to the waist measurement, as the band is 6” and it’s closer to my hip measurement. It would’ve been easier to sew the lace ruffle on before gathering it down but at the time I wasn’t thinking.

Then I measured the length and gathered down the lace. I used a lot of it, though I can’t remember how much exactly. I sewed this on by machine to the organdie.  I sewed it together by machine and then covered the seams in ribbon.

I sewed up the back seam, leaving an 8” gap at the back so I can get into it, and finished those edges by turning them inwards twice and sewing them down by hand. Then I sewed two pieces of ribbon together to create a channel, and slotted the top edge of the band into it, then topstitched it down by machine. I threaded ribbon through it using a bobby pin.

It looks like it could walk and chase me around the house.

After looking at it, I thought the petticoat could have more volume. So I got some organza and made two extra layers. Each layers was made of two different sized layers of organza, gathered down. The bottom layer was finished with satin ribbon and then bias tape after I ran out of ribbon. I overlocked the rest of the organza.

The two layers were basted together and then sewed to the seam between the waist band and the organdie layer of the petticoat. I was much pleased as it added a fair bit of volume.

For the skirt! I picked up the satin and draped it on the my dressform to try and figure it out. I wanted to fit a lot of fabric into the bodice measurement.

What a mess.

I did two tests, one gathered and one cartridge pleated. I went with cartridge pleating in the end, since it looked nicer and allowed more volume. I marked the top edge of the fabric every 1/4”, marking two rows. I used this nifty washi tape my sister had that had the right spacing between stripes.

Then I used two large needles and extra strong thread and sewed the pleats, pulling the threads through and arranging the pleats as I went. I then tied the threads down.

For some reason, I decided to do the usual method of sewing each pleat down to a band, so I used a small ribbon.

I then put this on my dressform to see, but because of the weight of the satin it was hard to picture.

I did an extra step here that turned out useless but I’ll talk about it anyway. From what I’d read about cartridge pleating, they were often secured to a tape/ribbon. I was worried about the gathering threads breaking and so thought it would be useful to sew it to a bit of ribbon for stability, so I handsewed every pleat, individually, to the ribbon. However the waistline was SO bulky that I ended up shoving this through my machine and cutting off as much off the top as possible, including the bulky selvage and the blue ribbon above.

I sewed the skirt to the bodice by matching the CB and then sewing by machine with a 1/2” seam allowance. I pulled the bodice lining down and sewed it over the seam, to cover it, after ironing (I also trimmed back the seam a lot as it was super bulky, so the ribbon got trimmed away in the end anyway). I inserted an invisible zipper at the back, sewing it to the satin and then sewing the lining over it by hand. I left however a couple of inches free from the satin, where I made some pockets (see wings below).

Pockets for the wings.
Remember that bulky waistline? = wonky zipper

I stared at it on my dressform for a few days, wondering how I was going to do the cut away bit. I really don’t like showing my legs, so I measured down to my knees and marked it on the fabric as the shortest point (plus seam allowance). And then I just… winged it. I sat on the floor in front of it and cut away the fabric in an arching motion. I tried laying it flat and matched the two sides as best as I could.

I finished the hem with horsehair braid. I sewed it to the right side of the hem with a 1/2” seam allowance, then turned it to the wrong side and used a herringbone stitch to sew it down. Everything was ironed and the dress was finished!

I actually redid the hem afterwards with thinner horsehair braid.
Much better.

The design, however, has a lot of accessories.

  • Necklace
  • Shoes
  • Garter
  • Headband
  • Wings

For the necklace, I used the same star design as for the staff and cut two out of foam and two out of worbla.

I glued the pieces together into two pairs.

Then I skewed them for that overlayered look and glued them to each other. Then I used my awl to poke a hole through the top. 

I primed with mod podge, painted them with gold acrylic paint, and primed again.  I cut a length of the red ribbon (my neck measurement plus for the bow), finished the edges by running them through a flame and sewed on the star with some red thread.

For the shoes, I bought red flats from New Look. They came with little bows, which I removed, but they left ugly stitch holes behind.

I made two small stars out of foam, primed painted and sealed the same methods as in the necklace, and then super glued them onto the shoes.

I then tried them on and pinned two lengths of ribbons on each side, and tangled them up my legs. Once I saw how much I needed, I cut the four lengths out and sealed the edges by burning them. Then I sewed them on to the shoes by hand.

Disclaimer: this did not work. The ribbons kept falling down during the day. In the morning, my panic ridden solution was to safety pin the ribbons to my tights at several different points and they sort of stayed up (like, ten pins on each leg). I would like to find a better solution but I haven’t yet.

The garter is a long piece of satin. I turned the edges inwards twice and sewed them down, then sewed two rows of gathering stitches down the middle. I gathered it down and then hand sewed red ribbon over the top, having sealed the cut ribbon edges with a flame. It then ties to hold and it held up pretty well!

The headband is just a length of ribbon that I ran across the wig and then made a bow at the side. I secured it with a couple of bobby pins. (I used I think 10 m of red satin ribbon for this costume).

The wings were… special. I was determined to make wings but unsure about how to secure them, as the dress wasn’t strapless. So when sewing the dress, I left a couple of inches free from the zipper. I sewed two small rectangular pockets from the lining fabric, zig zag stitching to finished the raw edges. Then I inserted one pocket on each side of the CB, sliding inbetween the lining and the satin. They were secured at CB by hand, sewing to the satin seam allowance and leaving them open. This was hopefully where the wings would attach to the dress.

Wing materials.

For the wings, I sketched out a pattern and cut it out. Then I (mostly my boyfriend tbh) shaped wire (originally wire hangers) into the shape, using fabric tape to secure where seconds had to overlap and be linked. Then I cut the shapes out of 4 oz batting and sewed it to the wire by hand with strong thread. I bought a bunch of different types of feathers from ebay and hot glued them on. Then I fiddled with attaching magnets (also from ebay), attaching some to the wings and some to the dress. I found I didn’t have enough magnets to make it work, so I only wore the wings for a couple of seconds for photos as I only made them a couple of days before the convention and didn’t have time to order more magnets. However in the future, I will order more magnets and add them, as I think that will safely work. It’s a good easy solution.

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I posted a photo of the finished wings yesterday and here’s how I made them! This was my first time making wings, so I’m by no means an expert but this worked for me and was fairly easy to follow. Materials: paper for a pattern, wire, batting/wadding, hot glue gun and glue, and feathers. 1. Draft a pattern. I estimated measurements, drew it out, then used a french curve to smooth out curves. 2. I used the pattern and cut two wings out of the batting. 3. Using the pattern and two pliers, I (though tbh it was mostly my boyfriend) shaped the wire to match the pattern. I used fabric tape (zinc tape) to tape together the edges where they overlapped. 4. I handsewed the wire to the batting with extra strong thread. 5. I used the hot glue to add the feathers. 6. And it was done! The whole process of attaching these to the dress was hella messy so I’ll go over it when I make a blog post. Hopefully this is helpful to someone! — #cosplay #cosplayer #wings #props #craft #crafting #sakura #cardcaptorsakura #cardcaptorsakuracosplay #sakuracosplay #anime #manga #clamp #tutorial #kinda #tips

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And that was it! I will have some photos up soon, as I also worked on the wig to match.

Thanks for reading!

Making Aurora’s peasant dress: the bodice and vest

When I was planning cosplays for May MCM, I was lacking some inspiration. I knew I wanted to make Sakura’s dress and that was about it. I wanted something ‘simple’ for one of the quieter days, so either Friday or Sunday. I was looking for inspiration through my photos when I saw a screenshot of an illustration I’d taken from Instagram. The artist is Dylan Bonner – I’ve been following him for ages, his art is amazing so please check him out!

By Dylan Bonner
By Dylan Bonner

Although slightly different, I used these two illustrations to make my costume. With these two references, I went fabric shopping. I manage to get all of my fabrics from Goldhawk Road. Also that night, I posted on my Instagram stories a few short clips of me talking and showing these fabrics.

I got one meter of reddish brown wool for the vest, two meters of beige textured fabric for the blouse, five meters of the pink for the skirt, two meters of purple for the shawl/cape and four meters of the purple chiffon for the skirt overlay. I also bought loads of organza for the petticoat underneath and used a layer of cotton twill for the vest that I already had.

Moving onto the construction, my first step was to drape the blouse. I did this by using scraps of fabric on my dressform, pinning them into place, and drawing on the shape that I wanted. I used a mix of calico and old sheets for this, as I ended up making three different mock ups.

I made small darts at the top to curve it inwards towards the bust.

Once I was happy with the shape, I ripped the seams of the mock up and transferred that to paper. I then used that pattern and altered it to create the vest. I made a couple of mock ups of it too. The blouse is a loose fit, so it was hard to drape the fitted vest over it. However, after a few try ons, I managed to get a shape that I liked. I transferred that to paper too.

And I had two patterns done!

A progression of the mock ups from Instagram! @katisinthebag

For the blouse, I cut the pattern out of fabric, but didn’t cut the petal shaped bits of the neckline. I thought a lot about how finish those edges while keeping a clear shape. In the end, Instead of cutting out the petals immediately, I traced that neckline (without any seam allowance) onto interfacing. Then I interfaced that onto the blouse. Using that as a guideline, I cut around the petal shapes, leaving about a 1/4” seam allowance. Then I turned this over the edges of the petals (the interfacing made this a lot easier to keep the shape) and tacked it down by hand.

Before interfacing, I sewed the bust darts, transferring the markings by tacking them down with big loops of thread and then snipping it

I sewed the blouse pieces together at the side seams and shoulders, then finished all raw edges by turning them inwards twice (except for the armholes). Then I used lace tape to cover the raw edges around the petals of the neckline. I added an invisible zipper at the back and it was done.

Not perfect, but it kept the shape.

The vest pattern was made up of three pieces. The center front was cut on the fold, followed by a side piece that connected to the back piece.

I cut these out of the wool and the cotton twill.

I sewed the black twill together first, basting some of the harder curved seams.

To avoid top stitching, I figured out where I wanted the boning channels to be. I decided to us the seam allowances of every seam, and also added some to the back to support the future eyelets. I sewed two boning channels down the back and then sewed the pieces together of the cotton twill layer alone. I sewed down the seam allowances for boning channels.

With boning chanels.

Then I sewed the wool layer together.

Clipping the curved seams was very important.

I sewed the cotton twill and the wool together around the neckline, using the back method (where the right sides are facing each other). I clipped and trimmed the seam, turned it the right side out and ironed it.

Once that was done, I used synthetic whalebone to fill the boning channels. Then I finished the bottom edge and the back edge by turning the cotton twill layer under and the wool as well, so that I could sew both of them down in one go (I think I first heard of this as a similar 18th century method).

I added the metal eyelets and it was done. Or so I thought. At this point, I wanted to make it look less flat and more detailed/textured. I thought embroidering the neckline of the vest would look nice. I was curious about my machine embroidery (my sewing machine has some decorative stitches) and tried a few samples until I settled on one. I highly recommend doing this before you insert in the bones (though my sewing machine could sew through them, it made me cringe every time).

Sneak peek of the skirt I had already begun.

For the sleeves, I had a bit of a conundrum. Although I really love the sleeves in the illustration, I thought they reminisced more of Rapunzel than Aurora, so I wanted to alter them a bit but I wasn’t sure what to. I thought loose sleeves would keep with the look of the design. I asked on my Instagram stories, and Helen (of Helen Alice cosplay) gave me some suggestions about bishop sleeves. I decided to keep the elbow pink detail of the original sleeves, but flare out the top and bottom, and add pink cuffs.

I used one of my old patterns for this, I think I dug out my Cream dress sleeves for this (photos are here for reference). I alter them slightly in volume, and calculated where to break for the elbow based on my arm measurement. I created a mock up that included the elbow detail. Once I was happy with that, I moved to cut out the pieces, using the beige from the blouse and the pink from the skirt for the elbow and cuff details.

I sewed the sections together after overlocking all edges (I’d just gotten my overlocker to work again so I think I overlocked everything within reach). Then I sewed two rows of gathering stitches at the top and bottom. I sewed up the side seam of the sleeves (since it was overlocked, I didn’t bother with the usual french seams). I gathered up the top to match my armhole measurement and the bottom to match my wrist measurements.

Late night sewing = terrible light

The cuffs are two rectangles of the pink fabric, interfaced and ironed in half.

The edges were pinned so they had the right sides facing each other and sewed together.

I trimmed the seam allowance, then turned them the right way out and ironed. They were pinned to the bottom edge of the sleeve, right sides together, and sewn with a half inch seam allowance. I ironed that seam down, and flipped it, then sewed the other side of the cuff into the interior of the sleeve by hand.

I set the sleeve into the blouse, added a hook and eye to the cuffs and it was done!

The last thing to do was add the little crosses detail onto the vest. I used an awl to poke through some holes and some leftover suede black string to weave through with a big needle and tie together on the inside.

And it was done! Next up is the petticoat, skirt and accessories. Thanks for reading!

Making Cardcaptor Sakura’s dress: the bodice and sleeves

And we’re back into cosplay! After October MCM, I worked mainly on historical costume as it was the lull period in between conventions. I made my Linen Robe à l’Anglaise and my Early Edwardian ensemble. But in January, I started looking forwards to London MCM in May. It took me a little while to decide what to wear. With the new release of the new Cardcaptor Sakura manga and anime, the Clear Card stories, I felt the urge to revisit this childhood icon. I grew up with the show and the manga and it meant a lot to me. So I started by working on the staff, because I was curious about making a prop. I made a post about it here [add link].

This is what that dress looks like:

Image result for cardcaptor sakura film Image result for cardcaptor sakura film

Image result for cardcaptor sakura film

Related image

The dress is worn in the second film and it’s only for a short time, so I had mostly screenshots to work off of.

First thing I did was to sketch out the costume myself, and break it down into elements or parts. Then I figured out how much fabric I needed and the hunting began. I’m really not a fan of pink (so it makes NO SENSE THAT I PICKED THIS DRESS), so I was determined to pick a very light shade of pink, kind of like blush. Satin was the clear choice for me, as it would keep the body of the bodice but would look nice gathered around the waist.

I bought this fabric at £8 p/m and I bought five meters. I also bought a few meters of half an inch and one inch wide red ribbon.

To start on the bodice, I decided to use a pattern I already had and then alter it. This dress has princess seams at the front. At first, I struggled because they look like straight seams on the original dress, and princess seams curve around the bust. However I then wrote this off due to the fact that this dress is on like an eleven year old that has no bust ( ¯\_(ツ)_/¯). I got out my Jane Porter pattern, as I really liked the way that bodice fit me. I cut it out of calico, put it on my dress form and correct the seams and neckline. I straightened out the seams so that they looked slightly less slanted, and I shortened the neckline to add an extra band around it.

Then I cut that up, transferred it to paper and cut it out of scrap fabric to make the final mock-up. The fit was pretty good, so I left it pretty much as was!

The fit has changed slightly since this stage. The Jane bodice and this bodice were draped over my old strapless bra. That has since been thrown away and the new bra I bought isn’t as… pushy? So the bodice looks larger around the bust. Since the bodice is fully lined and the seams are boned I’m just – just not gonna think about it.
The finished pattern

I cut this out of the satin, interlining and the lining.

I then pinned the satin and interlining (cotton twill) layer together and sewed around the edges (flatlining).

For the satin, I basted all the seams together before putting them through my sewing machine. Princess seams can be tricky, so I decided to spend the time on them. For the lining however – haha – I just sewed the seams together with my machine (however one of them had a tiny lump and I went back and re-did it, I’m not SUPER lazy I swear).

I clipped the rounded seams (very important in princess seams) and pressed the life out of it. I didn’t grade back the seams because I would be using them as boning channels. I did trim back the neckline seam, where the band meets the bodice.

I sewed down the seam allowances by hand to make boning channels. I added a boning channel at each edge of the centre back.

Then I finished the edges of the ribbon that I was going to put at the top of the bodice. I burned the edges of the satin ribbon, rolled it inwards and sewed it down by hand (I thought this gave a nicer finish). I wanted a really clean finish, so I decided to set it in when I sewed the lining to the bodice.

I put the bodice and the lining together, pinning right sides together. The ribbon was set along that top edge, in between the two layers. The wrong side of the ribbon (so the one where I sewed the edges down to) was facing the lining. Then I hand basted it together.

And sewed it together by machine.

I pressed this all. A LOT.

And it was time to start thinking about sleeves! I decided to also start with an existing pattern. I used the pattern for my 1860s ballgown since they were similar. I cut out a mock up to see, as the bodice doesn’t rest as off-the-shoulder as the ballgown does. I wasn’t very happy with the mock-up.

I think it was because the bodice isn’t quite off shoulder, the sleeve sat weirdly and looked sloped. To fight this (without having to make a proper sleeve), I altered the pattern so that it was longer and wider at the middle. I made another mock up and I liked it better, so I went ahead and cut it out of the lining and satin.

The sleeve was so full that I had to get on my chair to get it in the photo.

I also made two little tulle poofs like on my Jane dress. This is something I started doing after researching historical sleeve supports. It worked well in my Jane, and it wasn’t as much work as proper sleeve supports so I did it again! It’s basically just a long rectangle of tulle. I gathered one edge down, and finished the edges with binding (not pictured below).

Then I sewed two rows of gathering stitches on the top and bottom of the sleeves, both on the satin and the lining. (Gathering stitches are just the longest stitch length on your machine. Then you gathered it down by pulling the bobbin thread).

Toilet paper is a staple on my crafting desk. Seriously, it would’ve been such a hassle to make her staff without it, just to clean paint off everywhere and other things like that.

Then they were gathered down, to my armhole measurement and my top arm measurement (plus seam allowance and ease).

I pinned the little poofs into place, sandwiching them between the lining and the satin.

They were pinned with wrong sides together and sewed together by machine.

Then I made and attached the cuffs. These were rectangles of fabric that were folded in half and ironed. The long edges were turned inwards by half an inch and the bottom half of the sleeve was slotted in and set in by hand.

Making the cuffs.

I measured the cuff and inserted a piece of synthethic whalebone to hold its round shape. At this point I thought some decoration would be nice, so I added some red ribbon to the bottom of the cuffs and some sequins like on the bodice. Then I sewed up the sleeves side seam with a french seam.

I then attached the sleeves to the bodice by machine. I pulled the lining through and used it to cover the armhole seams for a clean finish.

I added some sequins to the neckline and the bodice was done for now! Next up, the skirt and the accessories.

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:

Image result for cardcaptor sakura film Image result for cardcaptor sakura film

Image result for cardcaptor sakura film

Related image

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.

 

Image result for cardcaptor sakuraImage result for cardcaptor sakura

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!