A fall coat from a vintage Burda pattern

Well, winter is coming upon us again – despite the fact that it’s averaging about 90 degrees here still, I can’t help but feel that cold weather is right around the corner.  I really hate the cold, and winter in general, so one thing I tend to do every year is buy myself a new, cute coat, so that there’s something for me to get excited about when winter hits – well, this year, I decided I’d make myself a new coat instead.

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Melody’s pink ball gown from The Little Mermaid 2

My sister’s pick for Anime Central this year was Melody in her pink ballgown from The Little Mermaid 2… and since there’s nothing I love more than a big fluffy ballgown, I was excited to tackle this project, which I thought would be fairly easy.  Rather, it should have been quite easy, but due to a combination of stress, extreme busyness, and tiredness and a lack of motivation on my part, this gown turned into a frustrating project that I had to slog through.

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Peacock pierrot – part one

I think I mentioned a while back that I was working on a pattern for a 1780’s-style pierrot jacket.  I did develop the pattern a couple months ago, and I was just waiting for the right fabric to drop into my lap to start on the real thing – and here it is:

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I scored this floor-length half-circle skirt at a thrift store for about two bucks.  It’s something like a heavy taffeta – the tag in the skirt declared that it is 50% poly, 20% nylon (what’s the other 30%?  no idea!) and also that it retailed for $158 at wherever it was bought – huh!  the color is just lovely, and ranges from bright teal to dark teal with flashes of hot pink and purple.  I had no choice but to dub it peacock!

I generally don’t sew during my work week, but I really felt like starting on this project, so I’ve just been working for fifteen minutes or a half hour each day on it.  you’d be surprised how quickly something comes together with just that much sewing.

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this was my rough pattern.

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cutting the pieces of the lining, which is a medium-weight white cotton with a striped pattern.  I know it’s hard to see what’s going on in this pictures, but there are five pieces to the pattern – bodice back, bodice front, zone front piece, shoulder strap, and collar.

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I cut all my pieces out except the bodice back, which I wanted to pleat on my dress form.  I studied a few different looks and had decided that the one I wanted for my jacket was back pleats going into a little ruffled tail, as opposed to the tail being a separate pattern piece.  I pleated it the same way I did my emerald gown way back, only a little less crookedly!

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stitching down pleats.  I took my time doing this – sewed one or two pleats at a time, over the course of about three days.

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all my pleats!

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I pinned my back lining over the pleated back piece to make sure they were all lined up properly before cutting the back into shape.  there is no lining piece for the tail because I planned on just hemming it; I thought the weight of a lining might disrupt the nice ruffled look of it.

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next, I lined the zone front pieces.  I pinned these to the bodice fronts and from there on, treated the two pieces as one.

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the bodice stitched together.  it’s starting to look like an actual thing, right?

at this point, I threw on my stays to do a fit check of the bodice… only to find it was quite a bit too big.  so I had to take it apart at the sides, and move the bodice fronts in about an inch, as well as cut away about an inch from the neckline because it was too high.  I always seem to overestimate how much room I need in the chest… I blame this on the fact that I had to spend years always adding inches to the chest area whenever I sewed.

as of right now, the lining has been assembled and is ready to be attached.  then I have to draft a sleeve pattern, attach sleeves and the collar, and then finish the front of the bodice, which will close with hooks and eyes but have buttons going down the front.  my next post will (hopefully) cover all that, providing I can keep up the pace I’ve been working at.

sweet sheet stays

I’ve been bad, I know; I haven’t been taking pictures of anything I’ve been making.  I mentioned some time ago that I have a brand spankin new set of 18th century underthings.  I was going through my camera roll today, and realized that I didn’t take one single picture of the making of any of them!  however, I do have one decent (I guess) photo of my stays, so today I’ll talk about those.

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and here they are.  (I look positively thrilled to be having my picture taken, no?)  a few weeks ago, I got all dolled up and went out into the very picturesque, yet hella cold snow to take some pictures.  this one was taken in the midst of me getting ready.

I drafted the pattern myself, starting with a basic conical block and adding seams to get the proper look of the mid-18th century stays.  I won’t go into detail about the pattern drafting, because I’m no good at explaining it, but Sidney Eileen has an excellent article on how to draft a conical block, which does a much better job explaining the process than I ever could.  I do mine basically the same way.  I made them strapless just because I didn’t have a pair of strapless stays yet, so why not?

these stays are fully boned with zip ties – my favorite – between two layers of heavy calico (this was, by the way, another stash project, and so I wasn’t much fussed about historical accuracy,) and the fashion layer is an old sheet that I thought was pretty.  it has this nice striped pattern with flowers, and so I smacked a big old flower right in the center.  pretty, girly – I love it.  in this picture, the stays still weren’t lined, but they now have been lined with a soft light blue linen.

the final product is imperfect.  the back needs to be higher – I was thinking that since I was omitting straps, I didn’t need to cut it as high, but in fact I do; the back tends to slide itself down under my shoulder blades if I slouch.  however, that aside, these stays are crazy comfortable – a lot more so than my other pair, which I think I might retire.  the shape of these stays is suited best to early to mid 18th century; very straight, flat, conical.  I’d still like to make a pair suited to the later part of the century, with that distinctive thrust shape.

oh, and as for the lacing… well, I had to dress myself, and the only way to accomplish that was to lace the stays loosely, slip them on, and then tighten from the middle, a la corsets of the next century.  so you can see the lacings tied around my waist.  I know that’s not period proper, but hey, what about this project was?

I’m nearly finished with the Ciel ball gown; just finishing up with some trim tonight.  so my next post will be about that!

Three Musketeers – Milady

here’s what I worked on today. this is one of Milady’s outfits. it’s made of mole skin, which I was cursing every second of the process. the color in the pictures isn’t quite true; the bodice is a dark burgundy and the skirt is more mauve-colored. (I know my pictures are sucking more and more – I keep forgetting to bring my camera with me! I only had my iPad and, despite what the ad might claim, it is not a match for my Nikon.)

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pleating the skirt. mole does not pleat well. or iron well. or really do anything that I want it to do well. I pleated this thing for like an hour before I was really satisfied with the look.

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my mum’s cat was extremely helpful by way of getting hair all over my fabric and chewing holes in my arms when I tried to remove her from the area.

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the nearly-finished bodice, front and back. I used the same pattern as before, slightly modified. I pulled the strap down to sit on the shoulder and made the bodice back-lacing and front-closing with hooks and eyes (not yet sewn on.) the top and bottom edge of the bodice is bound with bias-cut strips of the same fabric – quelle nightmare! when I say that stuff does not want to hold a crease, I’m not kidding. I love the look and feel of mole but when I was at the fabric store loading bolts into my cart, I conveniently forgot that I hate to sew with it. the bias-binding alone took me at least an hour.

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an almost decent picture of the finished product. the sleeves are open to the shoulder and will tie shut over a big poofy white sleeve. all that’s left to do is hem the skirt, which I want to do after fitting the actress, and the hooks and eyes, which I only didn’t do today because I ran out.

the style of this gown is kind of a mish-mash of several styles of the period, which I don’t like. but the director had some specific requirements for this costume, so I winged it. that should be my slogan, shouldn’t it? “wingin’ it: adventures in historical costuming!” hm, I might use that.

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sneak peak of my other in-progress project for this show! made from curtains! what do you think it’s going to be? 😀