“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.


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.


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.

“The Borgias” – part two

There’s nothing like a deadline to create serious inspiration!  The problem I have a lot of the time with motivation is that I’m super-motivated for the first day, or two, or three when I start a project… and if I don’t finish the entire thing within that time, I completely lose it.  However, I do love to work against a deadline.  Maybe that’s why this costume came together so nicely for me!

So, at last post, my Borgias inspired gown (which I’ve taken to calling the “cotton candy” dress, because the color scheme is so garish XD) was in need of sleeves.  They were a pretty easy build.  I drafted a sleeve pattern for a full-length sleeve, which I made up of my own design because I didn’t find any pictures of any sleeves that I particularly liked, and would have enough fabric for.  I had a scant half yard of the blue taffeta for both sleeves.  Yikes!  They are kind of inspired by the sleeves on the dark burgundy velvet dress that Danielle wears at the end of Ever after (did I mention it’s my favorite?), the ones with the gold-thread quilting.  Plus, it is November in Wisconsin, so I figured that quilted sleeves might give the costume some extra warmth where it would surely be needed.


the sleeve I drafted.  I played around with the shape a bit until I got what I wanted, which was a straight sleeve that would tie to the arm hole of the gown, with a very pointed part at the shoulder.


quilting!  yeeergh!  I admire people who quilt, because I do not have the patience for it.  Just doing these two sleeves was enough for me.  I didn’t use a grid or any kind of marks for my design, I just eyeballed it, so it came out not exactly perfect.  But I think it lends a handmade feel to it.  I didn’t want it to be too perfect.



The finished sleeves, inside and out.  I slashed the elbows because i liked the look of it, and bound all the edges with the scraps of the blue taffeta that were left (and believe me, I was down to bits and pieces by the end.)  The “peekaboo” fabric is some white crepe-y jersey stuff that I found in a box in my closet.  It’s kind of scratchy and definitely not period accurate, but it had the right look of what I wanted.  Rather than making full sleeves, I just tacked some pieces on to the holes, in true theater fashion.  For one, I didn’t have much of the fabric, but also the sleeves were kind of a tight fit to begin with and I didn’t think a whole bulky sleeve would fit well in there.


This was the inside of the bodice when all was said and done.  I used another panel of the crepe jersey, with a faux-lacing of silver cord on the front of the bodice.  However, I don’t have a picture of that.  The whole thing doesn’t look too pretty from the inside, but hey, I was short on time.

All that was left was to sew some eyelets up the back, and hem the darn thing, all of which I did this morning when I got home from work at 5 a.m.  (Last-minute sewing is the only type of sewing!)  Then, when I got up this afternoon, I managed to whip together a kind of short cape to wear with the gown, because it was, indeed, quite cold outside today.  I’ll have some pictures of me wearing the whole ensemble in the next post.

Since it’s November (novel month!) I’ll be taking a break from sewing.  But I’d like to revisit this costume again when I have some spare time.  For one, I’d like to sturdy up all those tacked-on pieces, or maybe change the design of how I did it.  Also, the front of the bodice of the gown is dismally unadorned.  I did have some pink and silver trim, and some pearls I intended to slap on there if I had the time, but I ran out.  There are also some small fitting issues that would require a more thorough deconstruction (the bodice back, for instance, could be shortened an inch or two, and the straps were a bit too big.)  So I’ll put this costume on the shelf for some more work later on down the line.

“The Borgias” gown – part one

I didn’t have any plans for Halloween this year. In fact, I actively avoided making plans, or a costume, because of money issues and the fact that I thought I was going to be out of town for the whole week. Last week my plans changed. So I decided to test my skills and make a costume with ten days to go (six of which were spent out of town.)

So I went digging through my stash and my inspirations pics to see what I might come up with. My original plan, months ago, was to make a gown from the movie Ever After (my number one favorite,) but the one in particular I wanted to do – the red velvet “ruins” gown – was rather out of my budget and I knew as October crept closer that that wasn’t going to be a viable option. In fact, any costume that required purchasing anything wasn’t going to be an option. So a stash costume it was.

I’ve been really into the Renaissance (or Renaissance-esque) period of costume lately, and after doing some online searching, I was coming up with a lot of pics of costumes from the show The Borgias. I haven’t watched it myself (I started it a while ago but haven’t had much time for TV watching,) but the images of costumes, mostly Lucrezia Borgia’s costumes, made me drool. So I tore apart my stash, and came up with… next to nothing I could whip into that sort of costume. Until this:


I had three yards of this blue taffeta stuff that I believe was unused fabric from The Three Musketeers. I was having a hard time figuring out just what color this was, and was just throwing random pieces of fabric at it until I hit this combo. You can’t tell very well from the picture, but the pink shot silk really brings out the pink in the taffeta. It’s a pretty garish color combo, but hey, it’s a Halloween costume. So I went with it.


First order of business was drafting a pattern. I basically did that the same way I do all my patterns, and then threw it on the dress form to make adjustments. I was short on time and not in the mood for fussing with mock-ups (not that I usually do much of that anyway) so I guess I was just hoping for the best. But when I’m doing costumes for myself, I’m usually pretty good at just eyeballing it and getting things right. (by the way, that sloppy-looking thing you see underneath there is a then-unfinished under bodice that I was working on, which I’ll cover in another post.)


The bodice back, pinned. The whole bodice was in four pieces. I wanted the front to have mock lacing, but the gown to be back-lacing.


Originally I cut the bodice just longer than empire-length, but eventually I cut it down to empire-length mostly for fitting purposes. This is a before pic.

Then I took two and a half of the three yards of taffeta, cut into three panels, and pleated them to the waist. The extra half yard I needed for matching sleeves.




One section done. Phew!


Aaand, pleating complete! I honestly hate pleating. There are some tedious things about sewing that I don’t mind, but pleating isn’t one of them.

So, I got this far and realized… I hate pinned all my lovely pleats through both layers of my bodice. Yaaargh. I wasn’t in the mood to undo and repleat that whole thing, so I just sewed it together as is, and decided to cover the waistline with some ribbon or tape or something.


There, all neat and covered.


The gown so far. Please ignore the pile of mess in the background there. I’m working with limited space and unlimited junk at the moment.

Next post will cover the sleeves, which I’m working on. One is entirely finished and just needs to be attached. I have to attach a front panel and decorate it but I’m not yet sure how. Then eyelets in back, and hemming. I have high hopes of the whole costume being done by the weekend, because, well, if it’s not, than I just wasted my time all over. But I digress.