As soon as London MCM April was over, I started looking towards October. Unfortunately I postponed making decisions for a while and wasted a lot of time fabric browsing and shopping. However, after listening to the Hamilton musical so often, I decided I wanted to make a dress from the show. Not only do I love the musical, the songs and the characters, but the 18th century inspired costumes also made me really excited.
I ran into some problems pretty quickly. I have never actually seen the show (though it’s set to open in London in November and I’ve got tickets for next year YEEEES), and I could only find two HQ photos of Angelica’s costume to go off of.
This was a struggle. First with fabric picking. I read somewhere that silk taffeta was used for their costumes, so that helped with fabric choice, but from these two photos, I wasn’t sure about the colour to pick as I think the stage lights have quite the influence on the colour in these photos.
I was a bit averse to pink, so I wanted to keep it closer to a peach/coral tone. However, I could find no nice taffetas in these colours. I ranted a bit about fabric shopping in my fabric haul. Essential I checked every shop that I could and online too.
Eventually I settled for a cheap satin I found in one of the shops at Walthamstow Market. I regret this fabric decision. Though the colour is nice (though much brighter out of the dark shop), the satin is of very poor quality and anything snags it and it kept rumpling and not ironing properly. But oh well! It was £2 p/m, what did I expect.
So here are the fabrics that I am using for this project: 5 meters of coral/peach satin that was £2 p/m, a meter of textured cream chiffon was that £4 p/m and one meter of matching lining that was £3 p/m.
Once that was settled, I started thinking about silhouette. From the photos that I research, I could see that there was still a distinct 18th century silhouette in her costume. I knew what this meant! I’d been meaning to make new late 18th century stays for a while, so this was the perfect opportunity. I have a blog post about them here.
I also picked up the bum pad I had already made from the American Duchess Simplicity pattern. I had made this just because, way back, and though I think it’s meant to be earlier 18th century, I really liked how it matched Angelica’s silhouette in the musical.
I decided to only go for one petticoat for comfort and picked up a simple rectangle one I already had.
Now onto the bodice! I decided to use the block I had made for the stays. I drew the outline of the stays on the block and then changed some of the lines to what would hopefully match Angelica’s design lines. I thought this would be easier than draping and would ensure I kept the conical-like shape and that it would fit nicely over the stays.
Once the pattern was done, I made my first mock up. It needed some adjustments around the armhole and the back taken in, but thankfully there wasn’t too much to change.
So I moved on to cutting the pattern pieces out of cotton drill (for interlining), the lining fabric and the outer fabric. I added a half an inch seam allowance to all pattern pieces, and then trimmed back the cotton drill seam allowance to a quarter inch, to try and keep the seams and edges less bulky.
Since the satin is so cheap and flimsy, I decided to interface the satin in an attempt to make it stiffer.
This went pretty bad the first time. I struggled to get the right temperature on my iron and I was rushing through it, so the stain wrinkled in some places.
I took a deep breathe and carefully tore the interfacing away. The satin was okay except for some drops of glue that remained attached to the wrong side of the satin. But since I was going to try to interface it again, it didn’t matter to me.
So I tried a second time, kept my patience, and it worked out nicely. (One day I will actually find affordable woven fusible interfacing instead of the crappy paper-like one I have).
I flatlined the cotton drill to the outer fabric by basting with large machine stitches around all the edges.
Then I assemble the bodice by sewing up the side seams, front seam and shoulder seam.
I ironed all the seams flat, and basted them down to create boning chanels.
The boning is only meant to support the bodice so that it stays in shape and straight, so I used lightweight synthetic whalebone.
Then I went around and turned all the edges inwards. I only turned them inwards once to finish the edge, as the lining would be covering the raw edges of the fabric. I sewed all of these down by hand.
I also added some boning to the curve neckline as I thought this would help keep it crisp.
Before attaching the lining, I went ahead and made the ruffle details, so that the lining would also cover the ruffles’ raw edges. I measured around the neckline and the gap at the front and multiplied it by 2.3. Then I cut two long rectangles and one square (due to fabric width limitations, otherwise I would’ve just cut it an odd and large T-shape). I seamed the two rectangles to the square and then folded the edges down.
The folded edge at the top would be the top of the ruffle. I ironed everything into place and basted the raw edges together. Then I sewed gathering stitches (longest stitch on my machine and high tension helped to gather it as I went). I also sewed a row of gathering stitches on the bottom of the square. Then I gathered everything down to the required measurements.
I noticed that where there was only one layer of chiffon, so the square, it was too see-through so I cut out a square out of plain cotton which I hand basted to the gathered square. This made it more opaque so that the stays wouldn’t be visible through the chiffon. I pinned this weird T-shaped ruffle to the neckline and then handsewed it down with a large backstitch, making sure the stitches didn’t come through to the right side of the bodice.
Meanwhile I made and inserted the sleeves, but I will talk about the sleeves on the next post. They were set in before sewing the line, so that the lining would also cover the armhole seam.
I assembled all the seams on the lining, turned the edges inwards and pinned it to the bodice. This way, I would sew the lining down and finish the lining edges at the same time. I know there’s a wonderful 18th century stitch where you finish all edges at the same time, but I only remembered it after I’d already turned the outer fabric edges inwards. I sewed down the lining with small running stitches.
The only thing left to do was add some eyelets! Since this is a cosplay piece, technically, and not historical, I decided to add metal eyelets. This is much quicker and I didn’t mind the look of them. I marked the placement with pencil, leaving a one inch and half gap in between each eyelet. Then I used my small scissors to make a small hole and used my pliers to set in the eyelets.
And done! I’m quite happy with it, even if the bodice wrinkled in some ugly ways. I hope the end result will look okay and the fabric will stop battling me.