Meiko Camellia for Anime-Zap! – dress and petticoat

Do you ever have one of those just horrible sewing days?  Where everything goes wrong, nothing turns out like it should, and you just feel like giving up?  Well, I had a grand one of those today.

So, I finished the red petticoat yesterday, as planned – yes!  It went pretty well, too.  These big fluffy skirts were actually a lot of fun to make, despite the hours of labor in involved – maybe because I could the results of my work as I went along.  With each tier of ruffles, they got bigger, fluffier, poofier!

For the red skirt, which has a sort of high-low hem, I knew I didn’t want a circle skirt.  I began with a tube of fabric which I then cut into the shape that I wanted.  It wasn’t quite big enough, though, so I added a gore in the back for some volume.

Then I began adding the tulle.  I made an attempt at math, and failed again.  So, it was back to guesstimating.  I’ve done enough of it to be pretty good at it by now ;D

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Here’s the first layer of tulle around the hem.  Not even remotely fluffy yet.

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Eight layers of tulle.  Starting to get pretty fluffy!

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Fourteen layers!  So fluff!  I was just kind of making it up as I went along, but I had a general idea of where I wanted the layers to go.  There are two that go all the way around the hem, then ten short layers across the back inside of the skirt, and two more layers around the hem at the top.

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Here you can see the shape of it.  It needs a little tweaking because the tulle has a tendency to go off in whatever direction it likes, but it’s what I was looking for.

As well as things went with the petticoat yesterday, they went totally the opposite with the dress today.  I just couldn’t do a thing right.  I was determined to bully through it, though, and I spent about 8 solid hours on it today, and it is finished.  But it could be better.

I wasn’t taking a lot of pictures today, but I do have a few.  (Really, three.)

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Some late-night pattern drafting last night.

I ran to the fabric store this morning and grabbed a bunch of white peach skin, which is what I particularly wanted for these costumes.  I really loathe satin almost all of the time, and my other choice for the image I had in my head of this dress would have been silk taffeta or dupioni, if budget allowed.  Peach skin was my first choice, though, and luckily there was just enough on the bolt.

I cut out my pattern pieces, started on the sewing… and immediately started making mistakes.  sewing pieces together backwards, sewing the wrong pieces together, sewing my lining to my fashion fabric.  The pattern is basically a halter top that zips up the back, and it took me about an hour to assemble eight pieces.  Then, because I cut my pattern too shallow in the underarm and too short in the back, I had to go back and add pieces to make it larger.  Ugh!  So the dress top is kind of a pieced-together mess, but once the black vest is on, you won’t be able to see any of it.  Still, I know that it’s there, and it irks me.

The skirt went easier, although I overestimated how thick the peach skin would be – it’s fairly see-through even with a (albeit white) lining.  So instead of an unlined skirt, as I planned, I cut two of each panel and lined the skirt with peach skin.  I can always run back to the store for more fabric if I’m short on the other dress I have to make, but I pieced it out and I should have just enough.  So there’s one thing that went right.

I stitched a length of horsehair into the skirt hem to give it some weight and shape.  When it’s actually on top of the red underskirt, it floats up a little bit, so I may add snaps or something to hold it down.  I don’t want to attach the skirt to the underskirt because they’re two separate pieces, but now that I think about it, it could be done super easily.  So maybe I will.

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The scalloped neckline gave me some food for thought.  In retrospect, I made it more complicated than it probably had to be.  I cut eight scalloped pieces to make four double-sided pieces, two for each half of the neckline.  The halter neck closes in the back with hooks.  I did a sloppy job with the whole neckline and I was getting frustrated by then.  But it was close to being done, so I charged ahead.

I attached the top and skirt at the waist, and then put in an invisible zipper – backwards the first time, and the second time the waist was out of line by an inch and a half.  But the third time’s the charm, right?  After that, it was just a matter of tacking the lining down on the inside to finish the dress.

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Like always, it fits the dress form not quite as well as it fits me.  It doesn’t ride up quite so high in the neckline.

I do have some red tulle left, probably just about enough for one more tier of ruffles, so I’m going to add another one to the outer edge of the underskirt.  That will fill in some of that gap between the white and red skirts.  Also, more ruffles!

I’m really happy with the petticoat, but the white dress isn’t one of my better costuming efforts.  With the black vest, though (which I’d like to tackle tomorrow as well as the other white dress) to hide some of the flaws, I’ll have to be happy with it.

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“The Borgias” gowns – photos

It occurs to me that I never posted any photos of me actually wearing my Borgias-inspired gown from last Halloween.  That was mainly because the few photos I did get were really pretty bad.  Since I’ve now got two of these gowns to choose from (and my favorite new hairpiece, the half-wig), I threw them on today and did an impromptu photo shoot.

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We just went to a nearby small park for some not-really-fancy nature pics.

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This is my favorite photo, for some reason.  I think I was trying to show off my shoes.  I wore my new red velvet 18th century heels, which aren’t even close to period accurate but I wanted to break them in a little.  I look super washed-out in this pic.

This gown needs some definite reworking.  I was in a hurry when I made it because I think it was like four days to Halloween, so I didn’t rework any of the original problems with the fit, which are mainly in the bodice.  It’s too long and too wide, for one, and there’s no structure to it.  I think putting an entirely new bodice on this dress would make it pretty amazing, but we’ll see if I ever get to it.

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My “Halloween Borgias” gown.  I’m really in love with this gown, despite its still not being quite finished.  It fits better than the other, for one.  That’s because I drafted the pattern better and structured it with canvas and boning.  I’ll cover that some more in the construction post for this gown, eventually.

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Some different views of the dress, and me showing off my shoes again – they match!

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And here’s me sitting on a step.  Hmm don’t I look excited.

There’s almost nothing I’m dissatisfied with about this gown – the only thing is the upper sleeves, which I think could have been constructed better in a different way.  It needs some more bedazzling (I never did get around to those pearls and trim I mentioned) but even if I don’t finish it, I like it the way it is.

 

In other news: I did finish my red Camellia petticoat today, as I hoped!  I need to take pictures and then I’ll have that in a post, and I’m starting on the dresses tomorrow.  Also, I’m currently (finally) in the process of getting some of my costumes up in my Etsy store, to clear up some space in my closet.

Camellias for Anime-Zap! – skirts, part one

I’ve officially hit that point where I am way the heck behind on my sister’s and my convention costumes.  I have three to make for each of us; as of the start of this week, I had one of them started, and nothing else.  So it’s time to get my butt in gear with these things.

On Saturday of the convention, we’re planning to do sort-of matching Vocaloid costumes.

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My sister wanted to do Megpoid (the green one) and she picked out Meiko (in red) for me.  These are costumes I love.  Big and fluffy and ruffly.  Immediately I knew what I wanted: yards and yards… and yards… of tulle.

I knew these skirts were going to be a pain so I decided to get them out of the way first this week.  I went out and got a few bolts worth of tulle, and some matching colored broadcloth for the skirts.  I began with a simple circle skirt pattern:

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Then, before cutting into my tulle, I sat down with a calculator, a pen and paper, and a stumped expression, and did some math.  and some calculating.  and some more math.  and still more math.

The truth is, I almost never measure or calculate anything when I sew, and that does fairly often come back to bite me in the ass.  Even when I do, I somehow always get things wrong.  For instance, I figured that I needed nineteen pieces of 10″ by 28″ to make the ruffle that would go at the hem of the skirt, and I ended up using fifteen.  That might have been due to under-gathering in some spots, but that’s still a lot of extra yardage to waste.  So anyway, after that, I went back to my usual method of doing things: eyeballing it.

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I made a makeshift cutting board out of some other fabric I had at hand, because no way can I cut nineteen straight lines in tulle.  I can maybe do it in regular fabric.

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Four little piles of tulle strips.  I sewed them together, end t0 end.  I was so happy when I was finished because it seemed like I had not screwed it up and gotten some of the seams on the wrong side… when it turned out that I had, in fact, somehow flipped it over halfway through, so half of my seams went one way and half went the other.  Not that you can tell, it’s tulle.

I folded the entire long as hell strip in half, pressed it (carefully) so it would hold a crease, and then I sewed a loooong piece of cord down one side for gathering.  I’m really fond of cord gathering, rather than doing it on a thread.  Then I sewed the whole mess to the hem of the skirt.

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Here it is with one tier of ruffles, just the one at the hem.

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Here it is with two.  The second tier was two inches longer than the first, and sewn on right above it.  But already I knew that if I kept going like this, not only would I need a gajillion yards of tulle, but the shape wasn’t what I wanted.  So for the next layer, I went back to 5″ wide ruffles, and sewed them to a long piece of green broadcloth, which was then gathered and stitched down two inches under the waistline.

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The inside of the skirt, with the “yoke”.  Not the easiest thing to assemble – I kind of went about the whole skirt backwards, I think.

It was still not quite enough poof.  I took my remaining tulle and cut it into four 18″ wide strips, which were joined together, and folded in half to make 9″.  This I gathered and stitched down on the underside of the yoke, to give the hip part of the skirt a little more oomph.

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The completed skirt, laying flat(ish), and a view of the poof.

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And here it is on my dress form – complete with an underskirt view ;D

Tomorrow, I tackle the red version of this poofy mess, which is going to have twice as many ruffles!  We’ll see if I can finish it in a day; this green one took me two afternoons, but I probably could have finished it in one day if I’d gotten out of bed earlier.

wigs and such

I’m collecting wigs at rather a rapid pace these days.  eventually I’ll have to have enough so that I don’t have to buy a new one for a new costume, right?

anyhow, one of my recent purchases was this long, curled half-wig from Ebay, which I bought for two reasons – it was cheap, and I needed something for my renaissance costumes, because my own hair is not quite long enough yet.  and I actually don’t own a plain, long, brown wig – all my wigs are styled for certain costumes.  so I figured, hey, even if this half-wig turns out to be a cheap mess, I can butcher it for some other purpose, which is what I seem to end up doing anyway.

this thing is freaking amazing.

for reference, here’s my own hair:

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it’s almost hitting my shoulders now, and I chopped it all off the august before last.  it’s getting to a manageable point again, but it’s not really anywhere near being useful for most costuming pursuits.

with the wig:

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I bought it with the intention of styling it with some braids for renaissance-esque hair, but honestly, I think I might just wear this everyday.  it’s easy to wear and looks pretty close to natural.  I ordered light brown, and it’s still a little darker than my natural color, but more so at the ends – the color near the top is a fair match for my own.  it’s a little shinier than my natural hair too, but not obviously-wig-shiny.  and it’s honestly as easy as just plopping it on your head and pinning your bangs back over the front (a headband would work too, I imagine.)

 

I’ve got two more wigs coming in the mail soonish – a blue one and a pink one.  lately I’ve been thinking over the herculean task that is going to be styling my Black Lady wig, and coming up with a few ideas, but the thought of spending so much time on a wig I’m going to wear just once makes me want to just cringe.  however, the thought of doing a Black Lady costume with a sub-par wig makes me cringe even more.  if you’re going to do something, you might as well do it right, right?

The Borgias, take two – first photos

I don’t know why Halloween makes me long for Renaissance fashion.  I did a Borgias-inspired gown last year, and I wasn’t entirely satisfied with it – for one thing, it wasn’t very Halloween-y; it was pink and blue.  I tried really hard to resist temptation to even make a Halloween costume this year, because I’m really behind on other projects as it is, but I gave in and started on one this week.  Here are some preemptive pics of the almost-finished product.

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I’ll cover the construction in the next post, but it basically went the same as my costume from last year.  The first two pics are before the sleeves went on, and I threw on my Ever After chemise underneath just to see how it looked (it was a tight squeeze, too.)  I’ve got some finishing touches to get done tonight – more trim and more pearls on the sleeves – but it’s essentially finished!  Not bad for ~3 days of work.