Making an Art Nouveau Meg cosplay: the photos

I originally made this costume last year. I’d only worn it to one convention, October MCM London in 2016, but I only got one or two photos on the day! I really love this costume and I loved wearing it, so I was determined to get more photos this year. I also did a few alterations that I think improved the costume. I made a whole new breastplate (the other one was too big and kept slipping down), I embroidered over the lace which I think looks nicer, and took in the skirt.

I’ll link to the Making Of blog posts below.

Art Nouveau Meg: making Worbla armour

Art Nouveau Meg: Construction

Art Nouveau Meg: Details

All of these lovely photos are thanks to the wonderful Lachlan Williams (check out some of his photography here).

I can only do silly poses kay

 

Fabric Haul: July 2017

Every other time I’ve written a fabric haul, I felt like I’d gone somewhere specifically to find awesome fabric. However, since, I’ve instead been going around the London shops whenever I need anything, not really buying more than enough for one project at a time. But now I need to collect quite a few things, so I decided to do a massive London tour and hit both Goldhawk Road and Walthamstow market!

I got everything I needed in the end, and enough for two petticoats, three dresses and a pair of stays. I’m always financially limited so I always go in with a list, a budget, and a compromising mindset. I wish I could buy silk – but for the moment I can’t afford it. This is what I liked about Walthamstow, everything was super cheap! AMAZING.

So onwards.

The most important thing I want to find was fabric for my new cosplay. I plan on making this for October MCM London but I want to do it ASAP because I’m so excited, but finding the fabric was a huge headache. I’m keeping the cosplay itself under wraps (cause I’m afraid it might go wrong and I won’t finish it), but think musicals! Unfortunately I haven’t seen this particular musical myself, so I only had about three photos to work off of. I spent a few weeks stalking everywhere online and getting samples from London fabric shops. None of them were what I wanted.

Most of the options were either too dark, too shiny, or too pink.

I was stuck on the idea of this peach/coral-y taffeta (silk, in my dreams) with a warm sheen/possibly two tone. I couldn’t find anything that was a)like this b)affordable. I found a really good contender that was completely out of budget but it was gorgeous, here but I can only dream of silk. Eventually I settle for this light weight satin that was super cheap somewhere in Walthamstow.

Thinking of the 18th century, I’ve watched so much Poldark over the past few months that I was really itching to make a simple linen 18th century dress. Probably a robe a’Anglaise, I’ve got a book recently about more working and middle class clothes in the 18th century, so I’ll decide after some more research. But I did buy this lovely simple linen in Goldhawk Road! I purchased 5 meters at £5 p/m.

Still with the 18th century in mind, I bought a meter of this ugly quilted thing, but my intentions are to make an ‘ugly puffer’ after American Duchess style. This should help with my 18th century silhouette! This was only £4.50 a meter.

Still for the 18th century, I had just finished drafting my own 1776 stays so I bought one meter of this lovely old Liberty print cotton, at Goldhawk Road, for £8.95.

I also snagged up a scrap of really nice suede brown leather to do the binding. I’ve been meaning to bind with leather forever, since it’s both accurate and aesthetically pleasing, but I found leader really hard to find. Originally I wanted it to match the maroon colour on this fabric, but it was impossible, so I settled for a really nice, warm brown. The scrap should give me approximately nine meters of binding (more than enough) and it was only £10!

And then I found this wonderful, weird… thing. I have no idea what it’s made out of or what it actually is, but it was £2 p/m and I thought it would make a nice petticoat, so I bought 3 meters. For some reason, in my head, this is a great petticoat for Belle’s Yellow Dress but there aren’t any clear screencaps of the undergarments you can see in the film. Either way, it’ll be used for something!

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And the last one is something I’ve wanted to make for ages now! Ever since I heard about it, I’ve loved the idea of Disneybounding AND Dapper Day. So I’m combining both and making a 1950s Peter Pan inspired dress. I AM SO EXCITED. I love the circle skirts and the rockabilly look, and I love Disney and Peter Pan so I’m just – so excited. The light green is really nice, light cotton which was £4.95 p/m at Goldhawk Road. I bought lining in both colours, a total of four meters, for around £2 p/m for both, at Walthamstow market. I’m not sure what the dark green is, but it had a really nice drape that I thought would be nice for a circle skirt, and it was £4.50 p/m.

For random bits, I bought two meters of cheap ivory organza at £2 p/m so I could make some petticoat ruffles, and a meter of an interesting textured chiffon for my secret cosplay.

And that is it for now! I’ve got enough for three different projects and a few other bits and bobs. Hopefully I’ll be posting about the making of these projects very soon!

Making a Cream Dress: the Photos

This dress was a project on a whim. I was on holiday in Spain and I’d seen an awesome fabric shop but had no immediate projects. So I set out to the internet and found a photo of a costume in Reign that I used as inspiration. I wanted it to have that romanticised medieval look, so though it is historically inspired, it is in no way accurate. I am quite happy with it! It was very good practice on building bodices, drafting sleeves and general dressmaking skills. I also got to embellish it with beads and pearls, which I loved! You can find the posts about making it below. These photos are, like all of the others, taken by amazing friend and photographer, Raquel Gaspar. Also, this dress does have a sash to go with it, which I mentioned in the blog posts, and it annoys me so much that I forgot to take it to the shoot! It really completes the look (and hides some mathematical imperfections in seam making). But alas!

Making a Cream Dress: The Bodice

Making the Cream dress: sleeves, skirts and details

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Twirling to try and show off the skirt! Instead, it got covered in mud.

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Bloopers: very unladylike boots.

Fabric Friday: NYC haul

I’ve recently gone to New York for the first time and the thing I was the most excited about was the opportunity to go to the garment district! I’d heard so much about it from watching Angela Clayton’s fabric hauls that I couldn’t wait to find it for myself. I often complain about the fabrics in London because there’s not really a fabric district. The closest is a street called Goldhawk Road, but it’s quite far away from where I live and the nicest stuff is not affordable. So I was excited for the lower prices in NYC! And I was not disappointed.

My favourite thing about the garment district wasn’t even the prices, it was the variety. I feel like in London there’s a good variety in the type of fabric, so you can get silk chiffon and taffeta and this and that, but they’re in all in solid, boring colours (maybe I’ve been looking in the wrong places – if you know otherwise, please let me know!). So I went shopping in NYC without any particular projects in mind, I just wanted to buy something different. So whatever caught my eye that I thought I wouldn’t be able to buy in London ended up in my suitcase.

I used this video as a reference of which shops to go into. I went into quite a few, pretty much all that she mentions. So on to what I bought!

Because of where I was at the time I headed to the NYC garment district, I ended up and MJ Trimmings first and maaaan was I in love. So many options, so many colours! All of the shelves dazzled me. Though it seemed like all the trims that I liked and picked up where the most expensive. I left behind one burgundy embroidered trim that was $15 a yard that still haunts my dreams. But I did buy this gorgeous blue trim for $7 something and this nice red one for about $4 a yard. I got three yards of each, and I can’t wait to figure out what I’ll use them for.

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The shop also had this warehouse clearance section, where I found three that I bought. I thought these were really good deals, as they cost between $7 and $10 and they all came with more than 9 yards. I bought a nice simple broderie anglaise lace, that I thought would be good for petticoats. I bought a leafy looking pale blue – the colour of this is amazing. And embroidered soft grey and green trim.

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I went to the garment district in a few different trips. The first shop where I bought something was called Ayazmoon Fabric. This fabric has a really nice colour that refused to photograph properly – though it’s shiny, it’s a lot softer and more like lavender than the purple that shows up here. It’s 60” wide and very drapey. However, this was my least favourite shop of the ones I went into. Though the staff was very nice at first and I haggled down the price of this, they cheated me on the total value and I only noticed after paying. Since the owner had quite a forward personality, I was too shy to dispute and instead just swiftly walked out.

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I loved the next shop. I went into Hamed Fabrics, which was recommended by Angela in her video. There I met a really nice lady who told me she’d been shopping in the NYC garment district for 30 years and this was the best shop. They had a huge selection of different fabrics for $5 a yard. The only fabric I was determined to find on this trip was something satin-y and pale green/mint for an 1860s ball gown and I found it! It’s a lot greener than this photo shows (damn lighting), and it was only $5 a yard. I think I got around 6 yards, which might be a bit short… but I was confused by shopping in yards rather than meters at the time!img_1099

This fabric was also only $5 a yard only. I’m not really sure what sort of fabric it is – it’s very light and feels a bit linen-y. But! It’s wonderfully two toned, purple on one side and this wonderful gold on the other. It’s also 60” wide and I thought it’d make really nice trim or something on a gown, so I bought one yard.

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And just as I was about to leave, I spotted this wonderful silk hiding in a corner. I’m not sure I got the best price for this – it ended up being $8 a yard – because it is silk, but it’s also quite flimsy. Nevertheless, I loved the colour, so I got two yards of it which hopefully will be enough to make the top of something. Maybe a jacket or a coat.

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The next shop was also a hit! I went into Amin Fabrics and made my favourite purchase of the trip. It’s this lovely stiff… something, but it’s stripey and a lovely shade of blue with some golden highlights. Wonderful! I thought it’d look lovely as a robe à l’Anglaise or something (is it too soon to make another?). I think I bought 5 yards of it for $6 or something? Can’t quite recall!

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In the same shop, I found this lovely (I think) chiffon. It’s pale cream with a gold shimmer and I love it to bits. I bought a yard at $8 a yard, I think. My memory is fading fast on these prices.
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My next purchase was a lovely golden brocade, but unfortunately the shop didn’t give me a card so I don’t remember the name. It was on 39th street and 8th avenue, one of the first on the right side of pavement. This brocade is gorgeous and it really surprised me because I’d seen in before, when I went fabric shopping in Alicante, Spain! I remember leaving it behind at the time because it was a bit expensive, but compared to the asking price of $25 a yard in NYC, it was cheap in Europe. I managed to get the price down to $15 for a yard and a half, which should be enough for a lovely bodice for a dress.

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My last purchase was the last two yards and a half of this golden stripey upholstery fabric. It’s 60” wide. I wanted to get more, so that it would be enough for a big skirt, but this was the last of the bold so I’m not sure what it’s enough for yet. It was a total of $12 and I also don’t remember the shop name, as I didn’t get a card.

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And that is it! I loved the garment district so much, I wish it could be my regular shopping place. Thanks for reading!

Bonus photos: I went to the MET and saw the costume institute exhibit! You can read more about the exhibit here. Here are some of my personal favourites:

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Making a Robe à l’Anglaise: Bodice

I had been meaning to embark on a true historic challenge for a while now, since I’ve been making so many undergarments and nothing to wear over them. After rewatching Marie Antoinette and getting an amazing deal on Plush Addict’s fabric sale, I settled on attempting a Robe à l’Anglaise. I dug around the corners of the internet and found a lot of useful information about it. While I also like the look of the Robe à la Française and the Robe à la Polanaise, they seemed more challenging for a first project.

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Easily my favourite dress from the film, I think

I picked up both The Cut of Women’s Clothes by Norah Waugh and Creating Historical Clothes by Elizabeth Friendship. I’d used neither before, but I’d worked with Waugh’s patterns before from her Corsets and Crinolines. Now there’s just something about scaling up patterns that really gets me, but I find the process SO PAINFUL. Maths, eurgh. So instead I went with drafting my own paper pattern with Friendship’s instructions.

Then I made a mock-up for the bodice, which required a lot of alterations, and eventually a second mock-up. I had to add half an inch at side seams, at 3/4 at the back seam, add another half and inch to the front seam and half an inch to the waistline. I thought this was odd since I technically drafted it with my measurements, but I think I maybe forgot about adding ease and that screwed me over. But nevermind!

Mock up number two! It’s worn over my 1770s stays

I then used that pattern to cut out of the golden fabric to make the bodice and out of plain cotton drill for the lining. The lining will have the boning in, so I needed it to be a stiff fabric.


Then I flatlined the lining pieces by using long machine basting stitches, and then sewed on the boning channels. I pieced it all together and used most seams as boning channels.


I cut out pieces of boning I had at the time, which wasn’t much. I didn’t want to wait for delivery so I just went ahead and prayed for best. I used cable ties, as I had bought some of these with the intention to try to use them for the Simplicity Outlander corset, as American Duchess recommends in her pattern hack. I used some spiral steel as well, that I had leftover. I filed all the edges with sandpaper and covered them with zinc tape. Then I sewed half an inch along the top, which creates a stopper for the channels and a guideline for turning the edges over. I turned the top edge inwards by hand, but only once and not twice because I AM LAZY  the wrong side of the bodice will be put against the wrong side of the bodice so there won’t be any visible raw edges. I assembled all the seams of the fashion fabric too and then sewed it to the lining by matching it and whip stitching around all edges. Now, I don’t recommend this. It’s not the first time I’ve just attached the lining to the bodice through the edges and I’m not sure exactly what I’m doing wrong, but it always looks… floppy. I think I’ll start flatlining the fashion fabric to the lining after I’ve sewed the sewing channels and before assembly. I then added loads of hooks and eyes and it was done!

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The inside of the bodice

Now to be honest, I’m not very happy with it. It still needs some good time with my iron but you can see some obvious issues in the photo below. It fits really well though and I’m quite happy with that. I also really enjoyed the fabric fashion, but it was too soft for this and it was also hard to hand sew through because it’s made of almost like velvet nap so every time it made a dent on the fabric. Oh well! Hopefully it’ll look better when it’s ironed, on a body with skirts. Oh and sleeves!

And finished!

Holiday Haul!

This summer, I spent three weeks between Spain and Portugal. Since we were driving there, I had plans to take full advantage of being able to fill up a car rather than sticking to a suitcase weight limit. Every time I grumbled about the expensive prices of fabric in the UK, I got replies from friends and family defending it would be cheaper in the south, so I nurtured high expectations.

I was disappointed.

I saw plenty of beautiful fabrics, particularly in Alicante, Spain. But they weren’t affordable, to the point where in Lisbon, all I bought were remnants. Nevertheless, I’m happy with the fabrics I got from the Spain and the diversity of stuff.

First up are these remnants I bought in Lisbon, at a chain called Feira dos Tecidos, which has loads of shops up and down the country. The remnants were in pretty good condition and they are all at least a meter, I reckon. My favourite is the one at the bottom of this pile, which is a peach coloured shantung. I was kind of all over the oranges and the peaches, I don’t even know why.

At the same place, I bought this little remnant of this dark red sheer fabric with a really cool pattern on it. Next to it is a flimsy black organza (I think!) and some black suede. I got both of these from grandmother and they are short lengths too, but I thought they were cool.

Now, in Alicante I went to the most amazing shop. It’s called Julián López and it’s three floors of absolute wonderland. The bottom floor has all sorts of dressmaking fabrics. Literally, all sorts. The second floor had home furnishing and decorating fabric, and the third had all sorts of (very expensive) silks and a haberdashery. The shop in general was very expensive, but I was lucky enough to walk in during the big summer sale – they had stacks and stacks of discounted, amazing fabric at very affordable prices. I bought seven meters of this blue stripped fabric for 0.99€. It’s very soft, slightly sheer, a pale blue, and I have plans to make it into an 1871 evening gown. Pray for me. Then I found that little blue remnant in Lisbon, which has a nice pink effect in some of it. I thought it was magical so I snapped it up, though it’s just a little bit.

From the same shop in Alicante, I bought these beautiful three fabrics. The middle brocade is 1 meter, it cost 6€ a meter and its’s for the bodice. The white fabric was 4€ a meter, it’s also 1 meter long and it’s for flowy sleeves. And the beige fabric on the left is for the skirt. It was 3.99€ a meter and I got four or five meters. It’s got a really nice discreet pattern to it.

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For the skirt!

I also collected loads of lace! As I decided to do the 1871 evening gown, the design required a lot of lace, so I went into every haberdashery I saw. It was surprisingly hard to find lace – though my requirements were tough to meet. I needed wide white lace, not too floral (I’m picky), and at an affordable price. In Lisbon, I saw loads of amazing laces but I can’t afford to pay 20€ a meter. Instead, I found these beauties! The first two are ecru laces from Julián López. They were on sale and I got three meters of each. The blue lace I found for 2€ at Colombo, in Lisbon. The white lace was gorgeous and I wanted a lot of it, but they only had under two meters of it. I found it in a haberdashery in downtown Lisbon for under 2€ as well. The last lace I found in a haberdashery in my hometown in Portugal. It was super affordable, just over 2€ per meter, and it was what I wanted for the evening dress, so let’s hope it works!

I also bought beads! Beads are surprisingly expensive here in London, so when I saw these little fake pearls for 1€ a pack I bought five. The other glass beads are from Lisbon as well and they were around 1€ each as well. I think it’s always good to have some golden beads around and I liked the brass tones of these. The green ones are for a ball gown I’ve been dreaming up, but haven’t found the fabric for.

Now my grandmother had already given me some fabric scraps but she also had a huge stack of things she just wasn’t going to use. So I grabbed it! Not all of it, because even in a car I wouldn’t have had enough space. First up she gave me buttons. A lot of buttons.

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And more buttons. And still loads I didn’t picture!

But I also got a bunch of random trim! Things like this really nice purple velvet-y bias binding, pink satin bias binding, loads of different satin ribbons, lots of zippers and scroll trim.

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And that is it! I’m fairly happy with that, and considering I’m already working on my Art Nouveau Megara, my robe a l’anglaise and I have fabrics for two other complete dresses, I have a lot to keep busy with.

Thanks for reading!

 

 

The beginning

It has now been little over six months since I bought my sewing machine and I’ve fallen head first into a world I had never thought would have a place for me. My interest in sewing was a symptom of attending comic cons and envying costumes. From then, I made the resolution that a costume would be made — and since at the time I could not sew, my amazing grandmother came to the rescue and so Esmeralda was made (excuse my face, it daunts me too).

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Now I can’t take much credit for this. I chose the fabrics, helped with the design and made the corset, but that was about it. Again, amazing grandmother.

But it set me off and soon after, I realised I had to make more. So I did! I started with little crafts, a small pumpkin pin cushion, some stuffed hearts, and then fell into historic costumery. God knows how.

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But look how cute it is! I’ve lost so many needles in it

So then for May Comic Con I had my first big project! I decided to make a Merida cosplay. My greatest influence and help was Angela Clayton, over at Angela Clayton’s Costumery & Creations. Her blog posts on how she made hers guided me through this strange world of velvet and chiffon. And I ended up with this:

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I’ve deleted most of the WIP photos of this because I thought I’d never write about it. Oops! Well moving on, I’ve bought a bunch of commercial patterns. I thought these would be good for understanding how piece fit together and onto a person, which is what I’ve been mostly struggling with. Exhibit A, my university summer ball dress I made based on my own pattern:

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I mean, the lace sort of makes up for the fact that the bodice fits horribly. … right?

So on we go! So far I have made:

  • the 1630 stays from Corsets and Crinolines by Norah Waugh
  • the 1776 stays from Corsets and Crinolines by Norah Waugh
  • a Victorian corset, pattern by Redthreaded
  • one 18th century chemise
  • one 19th century chemise
  • one petticoat
  • one 18th century bum roll (it’s huge, like, what?)

What I should be working on soon:

  • 18th century stays
  • an 18th century ensemble, maybe a robe à l’anglaise, I’m not sure yet
  • and my big big project, my cosplay for the October Comic con, Art Nouveau Megara! This redesign is by the awesome artist Hannah Alexander (seriously, check her out, omg) and it looks like this:
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redesign by Hannah Alexander, link above

Amazing, right? So far, I have figured out how to make most of it. Painting the swirly things on the bottom of the skirt of the chiffon (the shiftiest of all shifty fabrics) is still a mystery. I have bought and received the chiffon (yay), I’ve ordered the dyes for it. I’ve bought the Worbla and actually made my armour pattern tonight! But guess what? I’m actually taking photos and documenting how this goes, so pray for me!