Katherine Pierce – Photos

I’m so excited to be making this post – here are the first photos of my wearing the Katherine Pierce gown this weekend, finally finished!

Continue reading


Black Lady – part one

I did say I was going to make a post about a costume I’d worked on this week.  It’s just not the one I intended to work on!

I was feeling inspired by all my planning for Anime-Zap! and the presence of a bunch of JoAnn Fabrics coupons in my wallet, so I decided to start working on my Black Lady gown, which is definitely the easiest part of all the costumes I’ve chosen for the con.  the gown is simple in design and construction, but I did hit a roadblock when it came to fabrics.

ever since I read the Sailor Moon manga as a kid, Black Lady’s character design had always been one of my favorites, even though she was a short-lived character.  so when I started thinking about how I was going to make this costume, I found that the image I had in my head of what it was going to look like was the same image I had first developed as a kid, and I was really particular about it.  in the art book, there is a comment that says her gown is made of black satin and organdy.  the problem is that I loathe satin almost with a passion – I’m hugely picky about satin and I hardly ever use it (in fact I don’t like fabrics that shine or shimmer in general.)  I went with black peach skin for the gown, which has a really luxurious look and feel to it and drapes more nicely than satin.  I did use pink casa satin for the lining, partly because it was on sale for $3 a yard, and partly because I couldn’t find anything I liked better in a color I could tolerate (although the satin is in a glaringly bubblegum-ish hue, it doesn’t bother me too much because you hardly see it.

I chose pink organza in the same shade of pink as the lining for the bodice and sleeves of the dress.  I would have preferred something a little darker pink (and not shimmery) but it actually looks better than I expected in combination with the dark dress, and it complements the lining.


I was lazy and I didn’t take any pictures of construction, but there wasn’t much too it.  I drafted the patterns for both the dress and the bodice on my dress form.  the gown is fully lined in pink casa satin.  it also has a gore in the back of the skirt and a very slight train.  the sheer bodice is a separate piece which goes to the waist – kind of inspired by 18th and early 19th century chemisettes.  it is open in the back.

there’s a little more to do here – after scouring the internet for days, I found the exact perfect jewels to go on the collar and cuffs of the gown, so once those arrive they’ve got to be sewn on.  I also ordered some pretty black lace to fancy the gown up a bit, which will arrive in a month or so.  and there is a chiffon panel that goes on the inside of the skirt, but it needs to be hemmed on all four sides and that’s some work that I’ll save for another day.

as for the rest of this costume, I still need to make the jewelry and the shoes, and of course the wig, which will be an adventure.  so look forward to a few more posts before Black Lady is finished.

Ciel gown – finished product

I found my camera (hiding in a bag of sewing junk – what a surprise) so I actually have some good photos of a project for once!  at least, as good as they get considering I’ve got no talent for photography.  If I take a picture without getting my thumb in front of the lens that’s pretty good for me!

anyhow, here it is – the Ciel “roses” ball gown for Anime Central 2014!


(it sits crooked on my dress form, I don’t know why.  I fussed with every layer for a half hour and couldn’t get it to lay right.  perhaps because it fits my body, which is not a dress form, perfectly?)

there are several layers to this costume.


first is the under petticoat and my “bustle” – a bum pad that I found in a box, I can’t for the life of me remember what costume I wore it with before!  the petticoat is my Jasmine petticoat from way back when.  I recall saying at the time that I might wear this over a bustle someday… I probably wasn’t imagining something like this costume, though!

DSCN0401 DSCN0399

the underskirt.  I draped the pattern for this on my dress form; it’s pretty simple, two panels and two gores, with a small train.  the back is just pleated where the bustle sits.  the pleats on this sucker drove me nuts, and I ran out of fabric and luckily was able to get a little more in the same color.


DSCN0403 DSCN0402

the top skirt, also draped on top of the other two skirts to ensure that the shape and the gathers were just right.  it was a fussy process, and I’m less pleased with the end result than I’d like, but I think I did as much as I could with my choice of fabric.  I wanted two layers of pleats on this skirt, too, but I simply didn’t have enough fabric.  I put a giant bow and some frills on the back just because.  this is supposed to be a big, frilly, girly dress.  nothing says girly like an ass bow with roses, right?

DSCN0406 DSCN0405

the whole ensemble.  it is a little crooked, but not so much on me as it is in these pictures.  the back does lace shut.


I made the little choker/neck frill thing from scraps of my ivory fabric.  then I went digging through my bags and bags of ribbon stash, only to find that I don’t have a single thin pink ribbon.  I did, however, have this frilly pink piece of trim, so I went with it.

DSCN0410 DSCN0411

and last but not least, the hat.  I covered a straw hat from Michael’s with the pink fabric.  by this point, I was nearly out of the ivory – down to scraps and worrying about how I was going to finish my pleats – but luckily, I had some really lovely silk in a nearly identical color, so the hat is lined with that and the bow is from silk.  I feel like the cotton would have looked a little cheap; the silk brings a nice fancy touch to the hat.  the roses under the brim only go round the front of the hat, and I stuck some in the back just for fun.  I still have some roses left over from that bouquet I butchered; I may do a little more trimming before I call this project complete.


whew!  now that this beast is past me, I’ve got another costume to get cracking on right away – my sister’s!  I worked on it a little already, but I’ll save it as a surprise, and cover it in another post once I’ve made some real progress.

the Ciel “roses” gown – part one

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.

IMG_0241 IMG_0247

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.

IMG_0308 IMG_0310 IMG_0311

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.

IMG_0313 IMG_0317

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!

18th century inspired cape

just a quick and dirty post with some quick and dirty pictures of the pelisse I made a few weeks ago.  it’s inspired by the styles of capes in the mid to late 18th century, but isn’t wholly period.  I was experimenting with styles and techniques.



it’s made of almost entirely thrifted materials, and was therefore wonderfully cheap.  the faux fur came from a huge fur coat I picked up at a thrift store (I really mean huge; I’ve still got enough fur left for a whole other cape after this one!) and the red velvet I snagged at an estate sale a while back.  it’s not really as vibrant as it appears in the photos.  the cape is inner-lined in flannel from my stash, and lined with maroon cotton, which was the only thing I bought for this project.

I’m not sure I’m happy with the way the hood looks; at the time I was working on it, I was feeling too lazy to mess around with pleats and get that characteristic look of 18th century hoods.  the hood is entirely lined with fur, for warmth, but it’s pretty full and pointy looking.  something I may redo at some future point.

I’m just waiting for the weather to warm up a little – at least to bearable temperatures – to get some decent photos of my pretty new winter things out in the snow.  but I also have another project that I’m working on this week, of which I may have some pictures soon.

the “stash cotehardie” + bonus ball gown

hello again! here’s a nice long post. I’ve been working very hard the past few weeks. mostly on this ballgown that I made for a friend of mine, which was a little bit of a nightmare.


I just have the one picture but I wish I’d taken some good ones. this dress was gorgeous. it’s made of champagne-colored satin with the over layer of a gorgeous gold-red changeable crinkle chiffon, of which the picture does not do justice. the pleating on this gown gave me such fits. but it was worth the two weeks I spent on it because in the end, it looked fabulous.

what I’ve been working on this weekend is my “Cassandra cotehardie” (a.k.a. the “stash cotehardie”, a.k.a. the “it’d be nice if I knew what I was doing!” costume.) I went through my fabric closet and was amazed at what I didn’t even know I had in there. among other things, I found these three piles of gorgeous silk velvet that I had bought at an estate sale about two years ago. there was a dove gray, ruby red, and a really nice moss green that just had me drooling. unfortunately, there were only about two yards a piece, which is hardly enough to make anything decent.

I’ve been wanting to make some more medieval-age costumes for a while, but to be honest it’s not really my area of expertise (although I’ve done enough research these past few days to make up for that!) so I decided I could whip out a two-toned cotehardie, using some of my velvet and some nice black linen that I had about five yards of. I actually based the design on a sketch of a character from one of my own novels… is it weird to want to cosplay as your own character? but the design and color scheme was just what I wanted, so I went with it.


the first image is my original design for the outfit, and the second is the revised design taking into account the pieced-together idea. unfortunately, however, once I got started, I realized very quickly that there just wasn’t enough of the red velvet to scrape this one by. so I went with the gray as a second choice. it’s a lovely fabric, but it just doesn’t have that same flair as the red… sigh.

my first piece of business was to start drafting a pattern. like I said, I hadn’t done any costumes this medieval before, so I began with research. then, with some draping on my dressform (which is actually rather my size now that I’m less busty,) I came up with a two-piece pattern with a seam down the back and down the front. the plan was to have the gown simply lace up the front.


this is my mock-up. (yes, I actually exist! for a costuming blog there sure aren’t many pictures of me wearing costumes :/) it’s made of a green linen tablecloth and runner, which was surprisingly plenty enough fabric. it has four gores in the skirt. I literally sewed myself into it to check the fit, and it was pretty spot on. I made this just to test the pattern and see how much work I was getting myself into, but I was planning to use it to line the real gown if it worked out. so that’s where I went with it.


cutting out the gray velvet. because I was planning on piecing the bottom on separately, I only cut the pieces to about knee-length. I cut the gores the same, and then added panels of the black linen to the bottom. if I did it again, I’d probably do it differently – instead of adding a panel to each gore and skirt piece, I’d sew the gores in and then add one long panel to the bottom of the skirt. but it turned out okay anyway.


a gore with the linen panel. the linen turned out to be pretty thin once I had it up next to the velvet, and just didn’t hang as well. so I doubled up on the panels to give it some weight, which also conveniently enclosed all the exposed edges of the fabric, which were quickly fraying away to nothing. velvet. sheesh.


I pinned the dress at the waist just to check the fit and the drape of the skirt. in the second two pictures, you can see how the black panels don’t quite line up in some areas. I guessed that would happen, and even before I began stitching the pieces together I’d decided that I was going to cover up where the fabric joined with some kind of gold trim or something. it should be the same I’m going to use on the sleeves, and possibly with a band at the hem of the gown as well.


drafting sleeves.


pinning. I sewed both pieces together at the neckline and down the front. and man, flipping that whole thing inside out was definitely a workout. and that’s as far as I’ve gotten! I’m thinking about working on some eyelets tonight. actually being able to lace the thing up will do a lot for the pictures, I’m thinking. :p