1860’s ruffled petticoat

The next step on my path to mid-1860’s costuming is a big ol’ fluffy petticoat.  I had an exact picture in my mind of what I wanted to create – a full, gathered petticoat with three tiers of ruffles – and this project turned out just about perfectly in my opinion.

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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



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


Eight layers of tulle.  Starting to get pretty fluffy!


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.)



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.


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.


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.

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:



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.


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.

Alois Trancy’s “maid” costume

So, you know that I am going to Anime Central as Ciel Phantomhive in his girl getup.  my little sis wanted to go as Alois Trancy in his girl getup.  I think it’s a cute idea, the both of us dressed up as boys dressing up as girls!

anyhow, I’m just about finished with her costume – just some hand-sewing finishing touches to put on.   this project took much longer than it should have.  I’ve been feeling crummy all week and I just did not have the motivation to get this done.  but I’ve got so much other stuff I need to start on, that I had no choice!


here he is in his lovely maid outfit.  there are not a lot of (reliable) good pictures of what this costume actually looks like, but it’s pretty simple.  I made my version a little more period-accurate, as I did with the Ciel gown.

the bodice and skirt are made of cotton sateen – the only thing I bought for this costume besides the pattern.  I used Simplicity 1558 for the bodice pattern, mainly because I won’t have a chance to fit this costume on my sis before the event and I didn’t want to fuss with drafting a pattern.  instead of making the gown one-piece, I did a bodice and a skirt, which has a more period look.

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I made a little petticoat so the skirt would have some volume.  yes, the petticoat is cockeyed – no, I don’t care much.  it doesn’t affect the look of the skirt so I’ll fix it if I have time, but otherwise, I’m not bothered.  it’s made from a thrifted sheet, and it’s actually really soft and luxurious, I think it’s Egyptian cotton.

(edit: while disassembling this outfit from my dress form, I discovered that I put the petticoat on sideways.  that’s why it’s cockeyed.  durh!)


bodice and skirt together.  I used some vintage lace from my stash on the cuffs and the collar.  I haven’t put the hooks on yet; it’s pinned up the front on my dress form.

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the whole shebang, front and back.  (ignore all my pins; tacking the trim on the bodice is one of the three things I still have to do on this costume.)  I took a little liberty with the apron for a more period look.  it’s also made from a thrifted sheet that’s quite soft and sleek.  I just love thrifty costumes!


and there it is!  a project that should have taken me less than a day somehow took me the better part of three, but it’s done now and I’m satisfied.  I have to make the little hat thingy, too, but that’s the last of the things that need to be finished.  the only thing I wish was different was I should have made the apron a little longer.  oh, in case anyone wonders, the total cost for this costume was less than $50, including the pattern that I bought not on sale.  of course, my Ciel costume cost a bit more than I projected, because I ran out of stuff, so it balances out.