Art Nouveau Meg: Construction

While working with Worbla did strike fear into my very heart, every other aspect of this cosplay arose a similar reaction. I had never done a lot of the things this cosplay requires, from fabric dyeing to embroidery. So I started by planning everything out very carefully. I made a list of all the materials I would need and a budget before I even started. The thing that would take the longest would be the chiffon. Thanks to the group Hannah Alexander Cosplayers I knew that silk chiffon was the best material for this, but it was outside of my budget here. In the UK, the cheapest I could find was still £8 p/m. However, Dharma Trading Company was recommended and their silk chiffon was half the price and the shipping was super cheap too! Wonderful, right? So as I eagerly awaited the arrival of my chiffon (which could take up to a month), I got down to sketching (I can’t really draw) and planning.

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I knew I was going away for the whole month of August, so I wanted to get started as soon as possible to get this cosplay ready for London Comic Con in October (two weeks from now!). The chiffon arrived and it was wonderful. It was super smooth and draped beautifully. I got 10 meters of it, and split it up before dyeing it. I knew, from previous experience, that chiffon was a pain to cut straight but I’ve found that nicking a little cut on the selvage edge and then pulling one strand works really well, rather than marking where to cut. Thankfully I’m short enough to use the width of the fabric as the length of the skirt, so I only had to cut several rectangles. The skirt would be made from the overlaying of two rectangles, one was two meters long and the other four. The chiffon was quite sheer and these two layers help make it more opaque and it looks great. Then I cut another two meters for the toga drape bit, one half a meter for the sleeve and the left over was for scraps such as the sash and the skirt waistband. I then got down to gradient dyeing these.

I researched and heard a lot of advice on this before I attempted it. Since the chiffon was expensive and took a long time to arrive, I knew I only had one shot at this. I used the Rit Dye colour chart, bought the appropriate colours, used their instructions and thankfully it all went well. I used paper towels to try out the solution before dipping the fabric and made sure to add vinegar and washing up liquid to each dye bath. It was just a matter of putting in the fabric up to the point where I wanted the colour to fade, leave it in for a few minutes and gradually pull it up, dipping and re-dipping to try and diffuse the clear lines. I can say it will definitely be easier the second time. I learned to be patient and I would be more careful about where the colours meet and those lines!

After that, it was assembly time. The toga drape scared me, so I decided to start with the skirt. I gathered down the top edges of both the two meter and the four meter rectangles down to my waist measurement and pinned it on my dressform to see how it looked.

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Those little gathers are SO CUTE

I was pretty much in love with the chiffon at this point. So then I used the purple scrap bits to make a waistband. I overlayed the a long piece of cotton sateen with the chiffon, basting the edges together, and made it into a waistband (I also interfaced it for stiffness). The purple didn’t really matter, because this bit would be covered by the toga. I left a six inch gap on the one seam, so I can get it on and off. I haven’t decided whether it’ll be at the back or at the side, but it doesn’t really matter. I then added a hook and bar so that the skirt closes.

And the skirt was done! So I supposed I had to try the toga bit. I started by using my dressform to try and envision better how manipulate this square into the toga bit. The bit about the sleeve was really doing my head in but I started by sewing all the gathering stitches I knew I would need. So I sewed two rows on the top yellow edge and then two rows down precisely the middle of it. Then I gathered down the top edge so that it would sit comfortably in that drape , and the middle section to as small as it would go. Then I attached the sash to the top yellow edge with french seams. I took the sash with me on holiday, so that I could work on my embroidery. The sash is a meter and a half of cotton sateen for stiffness overlayed with the purple chiffon.

I used a small hoop and goldish yellow thread. I back-stitched the outline first and then filled it in with a sating stitch. I had some problems at first, because I tried using four strands and it looked horrible.

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YUCK

But after some advice from the embroidery gurus, I cut it down to two strands which took way longer but looked way better (each set of the greek key took me about three hours).

Once attached with french seams and all gathered, it looked like this:

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Not bad, right? I was pretty chuffed, so I had to move onto the sleeve. It took me FOREVER. First I sewed up the side seam with a french seam. I sewed ten inches down from the sash, left a gap, and then sewed the rest. The gap would be the armhole. I don’t know why but the idea of french seaming the sleeve in just completely baffled me. The sleeve ripples down from the top, so that the edges actually end up at the top of the sleeve. But I managed! I then gathered down the top ten inches so that it sat nicely on the shoulder. And then I hit the lace debacle. The design has beautiful purple motifs next to the sash, but I didn’t want to hand embroider these because it would take a long time and I knew I wouldn’t be able to make them look delicate enough. So I perused Etsy for lace for hours and ordered some. I tried dyeing it in several different dye baths with different dyes, but because it must be some sort of polyester, the dye just WOULD NOT TAKE. So I was forced to paint it with acrylic paint, which did the job but took the life out of the lace. It looks terrible. Then, it was being an absolutely pain to attach. The thread kept getting caught on the sharp, now stiff with paint, edges and the chiffon would take the opportunity to shift everywhere. So I did a bad thing.

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I glued it on.

IknowIknow but it was so quick and it looks okay! Don’tjudgeme.

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And with the lace attached, the construction bit was officially over! My next post will be about the final details. I still needed to make the Worbla belt, arrange all the accessories, and paint the golden motifs onto the skirt and toga, and add the chains. And it will be finished!

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