“The Borgias” gown – part one

I didn’t have any plans for Halloween this year. In fact, I actively avoided making plans, or a costume, because of money issues and the fact that I thought I was going to be out of town for the whole week. Last week my plans changed. So I decided to test my skills and make a costume with ten days to go (six of which were spent out of town.)

So I went digging through my stash and my inspirations pics to see what I might come up with. My original plan, months ago, was to make a gown from the movie Ever After (my number one favorite,) but the one in particular I wanted to do – the red velvet “ruins” gown – was rather out of my budget and I knew as October crept closer that that wasn’t going to be a viable option. In fact, any costume that required purchasing anything wasn’t going to be an option. So a stash costume it was.

I’ve been really into the Renaissance (or Renaissance-esque) period of costume lately, and after doing some online searching, I was coming up with a lot of pics of costumes from the show The Borgias. I haven’t watched it myself (I started it a while ago but haven’t had much time for TV watching,) but the images of costumes, mostly Lucrezia Borgia’s costumes, made me drool. So I tore apart my stash, and came up with… next to nothing I could whip into that sort of costume. Until this:


I had three yards of this blue taffeta stuff that I believe was unused fabric from The Three Musketeers. I was having a hard time figuring out just what color this was, and was just throwing random pieces of fabric at it until I hit this combo. You can’t tell very well from the picture, but the pink shot silk really brings out the pink in the taffeta. It’s a pretty garish color combo, but hey, it’s a Halloween costume. So I went with it.


First order of business was drafting a pattern. I basically did that the same way I do all my patterns, and then threw it on the dress form to make adjustments. I was short on time and not in the mood for fussing with mock-ups (not that I usually do much of that anyway) so I guess I was just hoping for the best. But when I’m doing costumes for myself, I’m usually pretty good at just eyeballing it and getting things right. (by the way, that sloppy-looking thing you see underneath there is a then-unfinished under bodice that I was working on, which I’ll cover in another post.)


The bodice back, pinned. The whole bodice was in four pieces. I wanted the front to have mock lacing, but the gown to be back-lacing.


Originally I cut the bodice just longer than empire-length, but eventually I cut it down to empire-length mostly for fitting purposes. This is a before pic.

Then I took two and a half of the three yards of taffeta, cut into three panels, and pleated them to the waist. The extra half yard I needed for matching sleeves.




One section done. Phew!


Aaand, pleating complete! I honestly hate pleating. There are some tedious things about sewing that I don’t mind, but pleating isn’t one of them.

So, I got this far and realized… I hate pinned all my lovely pleats through both layers of my bodice. Yaaargh. I wasn’t in the mood to undo and repleat that whole thing, so I just sewed it together as is, and decided to cover the waistline with some ribbon or tape or something.


There, all neat and covered.


The gown so far. Please ignore the pile of mess in the background there. I’m working with limited space and unlimited junk at the moment.

Next post will cover the sleeves, which I’m working on. One is entirely finished and just needs to be attached. I have to attach a front panel and decorate it but I’m not yet sure how. Then eyelets in back, and hemming. I have high hopes of the whole costume being done by the weekend, because, well, if it’s not, than I just wasted my time all over. But I digress.


Ren faire again!

Hello again, welcome back! Oh, wait, I shouldn’t be the one saying that, should I? Seeing as I’ve neglected this blog for months again. I haven’t been doing much costuming, due to a lack of time and (more importantly) money. But I have done a little.


I went to the Bristol Renaissance Faire this year! And, of course, dressed up, although my costume was pretty slapdash owing to the fact that we didn’t decide to go until two days before we went. I went with two of my sisters, neither of whom had ever been to ren faire.


I’m wearing the green corded bodice from last year, which you may recognize. The orange skirt I whipped up the night before and it’s pretty rough. Underneath I’ve got my short sleeved shift (which as you can see needs to be reworked a little; the underarm gussets are too small, I think, and the sleeves won’t stay on my shoulders,) and my tan petticoat from last year as well. The sash at my waist was originally supposed to co around my head, but I tied it around my waist to hide the ugly back of my bodice.



Here’s a picture of my concept, which was kind of a piratey theme. In the end, however, I didn’t have the hat and waistcoat done in time, so I gave it up. Who’d have thought it would be so hard to find a decent pirate hat at this time of year?! The waistcoat, actually, was finished, but I was two hooks short of being able to close it properly – so close!

Anyhow, it was a lot of fun. Maybe I’ll pull out the pirate idea again next year, with some proper planning. (But really, where’s the fun in that?)