the “Kiki” Dress

My sister and I are going to be hitting up Anime Central for three days this year – and since time is short, I figured I could make one new costume for each of us and we could reuse some of the ones from the last convention (my Black Lady cosplay is something I definitely want to wear again.)  However, since none of my other projects are going right at the moment, I was feeling frustrated today and I wanted to do something else, something easy to get me out of my funk.  Well, there’s a super-easy cosplay that I’ve always wanted to do – Kiki, from Kiki’s Delivery Service, one of my favorite movies.  So, I thought about what I wanted my cosplay to look like, made a run to the fabric store, and started and finished this cosplay today.

Let me say ahead of time, this dress is one of my favorite things I’ve ever made in my whole sewing career, if not my very favorite thing.  I don’t know particularly why – maybe because it went together so easily?  Maybe because it’s so cute?  Maybe because the finished product was so exactly like the picture I had in my head?  Anyway, I love this dress to death, and since I was aiming for a “party dress” sort of look, really, I anticipate wearing it quite often, and not just for cosplay.

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This was my “pattern”… it’s basically a sack dress, which I elongated in the center to add pleats, for interest and volume.  The dress is made of exactly two yards of fabric, a dark midnight blue stretch taffeta from the David Tutera collection at JoAnn’s.  Although I wanted the black, they didn’t have any on the shelf, so I went with the blue instead – and I’m quite happy I did.  The dress took about six hours to make overall, and I’d guess it could be done in half that time without all the fussing I did to get the pleats the way I wanted.

Anyhow, the construction:  I cut a front and back dress piece on the fold, adding several inches to the center of each so that each piece was 30″ wide once cut, for a total hem length of 60”.  This dress was made of exactly two yards of fabric, because each dress piece (front and back) is 36″ from shoulder to hem, which is admittedly a tad shorter than I might have liked.  I cut the facings and the sleeves from the leftover fabric, and my sleeves are a little smaller than I’d have liked, too.  If I did this dress again, I’d probably use a good three yards of fabric.

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The front and back were sewn together with french seams, and then I did the pleats.  It took me some time to figure out exactly how to lay them out to get the look I wanted, but I ended up with four pinch pleats that I pressed flat in the front, and two large pinch pleats in the back – the ones in the front are for visual interest, but the ones in the back are mostly to fit the back of the dress a little closer to the body; this dress was remarkably huge and goofy before I pressed all those pleats flat.  I wish I’d taken a picture; I looked like Violet Beauregarde turned into a giant blueberry girl.

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After the pleats were all settled, I cut out a front and back facing from the same fabric, and attached that.  The sleeves are basic block sleeves, no shaping really, and were done with french seams, and then attached to the dress from the outside.  Normally to finish unlined sleeves, what I do is fold over the facing to cover the raw edge and sew it down by hand, but I cut my facings a tad too small, and they didn’t quite fit the sleeve holes.  So I turned over the raw edges of the facings and stitched them down, and then covered the raw edges of the sleeve seams with bias tape by hand.  Then sleeves and dress were hemmed, and it was done!

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And the finished dress!  My only gripe with it is that the sleeves don’t fit quite as well as if I’d had more fabric to work with – putting on and wearing the dress is no problem, but taking it off is another story!  Anyway, I knew they were going to be a bit of a squeeze, but I was counting on the stretch in the fabric to help me out a bit – and it did, just not enough.

It feels so good to have a project go so right, after all my other ones have been bombing lately!

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