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 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 a Linen Robe à l’Anglaise: the bodice

So over the summer I binge watched the most recent season of Poldark. Although the costumes aren’t super historically accurate (I really enjoyed reading Frock Flicks articles on Poldark – and the rest to be honest – although I enjoyed the show!), I was really inspired by the simple look of the linen and cotton gowns worn by the lower classes. I was pretty unhappy with the fit of my previous Anglaise (no written posts, just a photo post here). It was my first 18th century dress, my first historical dress, so it was littered with mistakes and faults.

I wanted to re-do this style, since I think it’s my favourite 18th century style. I went shopping for linen way back in the summer, and I included the fabric I got for this in my last haul post . I got it at Goldhawk Road for £5 p/m, and I bought five meters. I thought it was a really good deal! It’s a really nice cream linen, but it has a plaid pattern on it and different patches with a whiter weave.

My starting point was the pattern I used for my previous Anglaise. I dug it out and cut it out of a mock up. I remembered the bodice fitted weirdly by a combination of issues with the grainline and it being too big. This first mock up fit very poorly. I struggled with the grainlines (since I put none of the original pattern which was drafted with Friendship’s Creating Historical Clothes – there was also no mention of grainlines in the drafting section) and the fit was atrocious. I fiddled with the fit and cut out a second mock up – the front piece was just not working at all, though the back fit really nicely!

 

So instead I cut the back away from the mock up and pinned it on my dressform. Then I decided to drape the front part of the dress. This wasn’t ideal – especially because I was still being really lazy with draping and used random scraps of fabric and pieced it. But in the end that’s what happened. I transferred the drape to paper and then cut a second mock up. This fit a lot better.

Draping. The super lazy way. Don’t recommend.
I straightened the centre front when I transferred it to paper I swear.

 

However I still wasn’t 100% happy with it, and I was awaiting the delivery of my American Duchess’ Guide to 18th Century Sewing, so I thought I would wait the couple of weeks there was for it to be delivered. (Quick rant: Amazon originally had the same delivery date as America, but then when I checked closer to the date, the UK release date was pushed back to December, then in December it said my order had gone out of stock and they didn’t have a new delivery day – I ended up cancelling the pre-order I’d done in JULY and bought it from Book Depository, which arrived within four days. For once Amazon sucked.) Point of this was I ended up delaying the Anglaise until the end of December, at which point I was making my Edwardian ensemble.

Even though I didn’t use this pattern, I used American Duchess’ Guide to 18th Century Sewing to help with the grainlines.
Fighting with grainlines.

I started working on this again in January and since a month had elapsed, I cut out a new mock up out of calico instead of flimsy cotton and was much happier with the result. I just had to tweak the centre front (really weirdly I couldn’t have a straight centre front, it had to nip in at the top more than anywhere else – so weird!) and a couple of other small things like raising the neckline and it was good to go.

I was really careful with fitting and trying this on, so I cut it out of the interlining layer of cotton twill first, and assembled that to try on (even though I would have to unpick it later). I tried on the interlining layer and it fit alright so I moved forwards.

Cutting it out of the twill to interline.
The centre front pattern piece.
Tried it on.
I think this ended up fitting better than the final bodice. Somehow.

To cut it out of the linen, I cut each piece individually so I could work on lining up the pattern. I made sure that each piece was a mirror of the other.

Aligning the stripes.
Worked!

And the back! I didn’t bother with the sides.

I unpicked the seams that I had sewn to try on the interlining layer. Then I pinned all the corresponding pieces together and basted them.

And basted,

Then I pinned the seams and basted them, trying to line up the pattern where I could, mostly the CB and CF seams. Then I sewed them. I started from the centre back outwards.

Basted seams.
Sewn.

I did the shoulder seam last. Once all the seams were sewn, it looked like this:

At this point I tried it on, as I was worried about the wonky centre front. AND I WAS RIGHT TO WORRY.

I honestly have no idea why it’s so wonky. The pattern looks right – maybe the grainlines? Or is it just meant to be like that? Either way, I could force it closed, so I went with it. I was already worried as the centre front wasn’t completely straight, because of my weird proportions.

I finished the top edge by rolling the seam inwards twice and then stitching that down by hand.

The finished top edge.

The next step was to sew down the seam allowances so that they became boning channels.

The guts of the bodice.

I used synthetic whalebone, which has become my favourite for boning everything since last May. I simply cut the length needed (minus half an inch at the top and bottom) and file the edges down with a nail file. Then they are inserted into every channel. Now that the boning was in, I could finish the bottom edge. I did the same thing as on the top edge, by rolling the raw edge inwards twice and sewing down by hand.

For the bodice closure, I handsewed eyes and hooks to two lengths of twill tape. Then I sewed the tape to the centre front of the bodice. I thought this would be easier, as when I sewed hooks and eyes to my first Anglaise, it was very time consuming and fiddly. I think it worked out well in the end. The bodice fit isn’t perfect in any way – it still really bothers me that at times it seems too big.

For sleeves, I started out with the same pattern from my first Anglaise. It was a fitted elbow sleeve, drafted with Friendship’s Creating Historical Clothes. The most important bits are the elbow darts. There are two: one on the bottom edge of the sleeve, and one horizontally on the sleeve.

I cut the pattern out of the linen and out of simple white cotton to line the sleeves with.

I sewed the darts first, on each piece individually.

The darts.
And on the lining.

Then I matched the edges and basted them together.

Just pinned.

I finished the side seam with a french seam, then pinned the sleeves to the bodice. I sewed them together by machine. However at this point, when I tried on the bodice, my arm’s movement was very restricted and I felt like the sleeves were tight. So I undid the french seam and inserted a gusset under the arm. A gusset is a triangle of fabric, larger on the arm scythe and thinning out towards the elbow. I sewed it on by hand.

I used the lining to cover the new seams. It worked in the end, and the sleeves were a lot more comfortable after.

I finished the bottom edge by turning the lining and the outer fabric inwards, and sewing them down together, finishing them in one go. And that was it for the bodice! (except some small sleeve flounces I added later). Next up, the skirt, fichu and flounces!

Although it’s not perfect on me, it fits a lot worse on my dressform!