I mentioned in my last post that I’ll be going to Anime Central in May. I haven’t been to an anime convention in at least ten years, but it’s a wonderful chance to dress up and show off my costumes, so I’m going this year! I started working on my costume this week, and I’ve made pretty good progress, if I do say so myself!
I’m going with my little sister, and she was the one who picked our characters.
I’ll be going as the girl version of Ciel from Black Butler. which means I get to build a big, frilly ball gown!
I planned things out, and decided what changes I wanted to make to the original idea. the story is set in the Victorian era, in the late 1880s, so I wanted to make my costume more reflective of that period of fashion than it is in the anime. even the best-made versions of this gown I’ve seen still look… well, costumey, so I aimed to make mine look more like a real outfit from that time, a formal gown that a woman might have worn at that time. also, I wanted to change the color scheme from pink and white to pink and ivory, just out of personal preference.
I went fabric shopping this weekend… and really was disappointed, even more so than I usually am by my local fabric store. they didn’t have much in the colors I was looking for. as for fabric, I was determined to avoid satin – again out of personal preference; I don’t like shiny fabrics – and in the end I went with cotton calico, because they had both the colors and yardage I needed. it’s not as fancy as I’d have liked, but then again, this is a costume – something I’m going to be traipsing around in for hours, something that’s going to get dirty and probably stepped on.
I started working on the bodice on Sunday.
this was my first draft, which ended up fitting the best. I pinned it on my dress form with canvas, and then cut a mock-up out of a lighter weight cotton. the only alteration it needed was to cut the armhole a little smaller, so I was good to go!
the inner layer of the bodice is two layers of a heavier cotton calico that I had laying around. I put two bones at every seam and along the darts. I used cable ties for a few reasons: I had some available, for one, and I didn’t want this thing to be as heavy as a corset. the inner lining is heavy enough to keep the bodice up on its own, but the bones give it that little extra support. the shape was important to me, because a gown like this would have been worn over a corset in period, but I didn’t want to actually have to wear a corset under my costume, for reasons of comfort.
here’s the bodice with the outer layer attached. I made a mistake, and cut the fashion fabric using my first un-altered pattern, and so the arm holes were a little too deep. I didn’t realize until I had the thing put together. I left it that way because I didn’t feel like taking it apart, and because it doesn’t make a difference in how the bodice fits.
the pleated trim was just a tube of the ivory fabric turned inside out and pleated to fit. I somehow miscalculated and ended up with twice the length I needed for the top of the bodice… but no worries, because I need a mile of pleats for the underskirt, so I’m a bit ahead of the game there.
the bodice is finished! it looks bad on my dress form, but it fits me to a tee. it laces up the back with grommets. I debated a back-lacing bodice versus one that closed in the front, and went with back-lacing for two reasons: the gown in the anime does have a corset-ish black ribbon decoration up the back, and I thought it would look better than a front-closing gown with all that stuff right smack in the front. plus, I have seen a fashion plate with a back-lacing bodice on a ball gown, so I can call it period accurate 😀
I bought a grommet setter, and this project was the first time I used it. I’ve always used an awl and a hammer to set grommets in the past, but after slicing my hand open for the third time with my awl, I got frustrated, and decided to give the tool a try. I’m pleased with the way it works, after I got the hang of it! (my first few grommets came out pretty ugly, though!) I still don’t like the idea of punching holes in fabric – I think the awl is better – but it sure is quicker.
the black trim is grosgrain ribbon. the rose comes from a bouquet I deconstructed. the bow is the same ivory cotton which I painted with black fabric paint to get the stripes just right. I never thought of using fabric paint in this way before, but I’m pleased with the end result.
next week, I’ll tackle the skirts. I already have the ivory underskirt pattern made, and the skirt is finished except for needing hemming. then I have to figure out how to drape the pink overskirt, and of course I have to trim the both of them with a gajillion pleats. the pleating and the trim is going to be the worst part of the whole outfit, so if I can get it done on my next off week, I’ll be golden!