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!