Friday, October 24, 2014

Gothic Satin and Velvet Skirt and Bustier

I always wanted to try my hand at a gothic dress. I was partly inspired by doxiequeen1's gothic dress: , and I also had some nice fabric I wanted to use. I bought a satin dress from 50c in a charity shop. It had a gorgeous pattern, something like a brocade material would have. I looked on the internet for inspiration, and decided to make a satin skirt, and a satin and velvet bustier. Originally this was going to be a one piece dress, but I thought two pieces would be more versatile. Unfortunately the bodice doesn't fit me very well: it's just a bit too loose; so I'm selling the outfit on etsy: 
Here are all the bodice pieces. I used two layers: fashion fabric, and twill as a strength layer. Corset type tops need a strength layer due to the stress of being laced shut. Without the strength layer they can rip. 

The first step was assembling the bodice. This is based on a Burdastyle pattern. I pinned everything together carefully and sewed it. I then added boning channels using scraps of cloth: you can see the channels in the picture on the right.

Once the strength layer was ready, I started on the fashion layer. The central panel is satin with interfacing, and the rest is velvet. I was very lucky because I already had all the fabric that I needed. I had a piece of black velvet left over from Harley Quinn, and it was just big enough for this bodice.
My cat Pearl (it's the name he came with; I wanted to call him Othello but he wasn't interested) came in to help. I try to keep him out of the room when I'm sewing in case he swallows thread or gets pricked by a needle. It's surprisingly common for cats to swallow needles, thread or both.
 The final stage was adding grommets to the back. I use grommet pliers to set them. they're not as good quality as hammered grommets, but they do look nice.
The skirt was a little tricky to make. I didn't have very much fabric to work with. I could have been lazy and made a gathered skirt, but I knew that a circle skirt would have a nice drape. I found this amazing website that helps you calculate the radius of your circle skirt and how much fabric you'll need: . I drafted a half circle skirt in two pieces. I made the front shorter than the back, added some side gores for volume, and then added the curve in the front.
The rest of the process was quite boring. I sewed everything together and also sewed bias tape along the bottom, then hemmed it. I made a very simple gathered skirt to act as a lining. Finally I added a waistband and zip.  

Monday, October 13, 2014


A friend of mine wants to do an Adventure Time skit and asked if I'd like to be Fionna. Of course I said yes: Adventure Time is one of my favourite shows. I love the combination of surreal humour with an apocalyptic back story and occasional drama. 

A quick breakdown of the costume:

  • Top: Ebay, but I took it in for a better fit
  • Wig: Ebay
  • Skirt: Also ebay. Fits perfectly
  • Socks: I made these by pinning white lycra around my legs. The stripes are not actually drawn on the socks, but actually are on a separate piece of lycra. This piece of lycra is like a garter, so if I need the socks for something else, I don't have to worry about hiding the stripes - I can just removed the garter.
  • Bag: I had some leftover chintz which I painted green and sewed into a bag. There's a zip in the centre of the bag, so it is actually functional (because what's the point of non functional bags?)
  • Hat: I love fleece, which is just as well, because I've made and remade Fionna's bunny hat several times for my etsy shop. This is a simple fleece hat that fastens under the chin with a snap. The most recent hats have pipe cleaners inside the ears to help hold the ears upright. If you want me to make you a Finn or Fionna hat, you can request one from my etsy shop: 

Bombshell Harley Quinn: A Walkthrough

Although I've already got a lot of costumes done for Expo and Malta Comic Con, I thought I'd add yet another one: Bombshell Harley Quinn. Harley is a favourite of mine, and I love this design. 

Cheap and easy, I said. Really simple to make, I said . . .

To be fair, this was not an expensive project, because I already had most of the supplies: the wig, stretch fabric, goggles, the boots etc. I only spent 4 Euro on this project: 50c on the jacket, and 3.50 on the rib knit. 

I made the stockings by stretching material around the leg and pinning it into place.
 I then sewed it up. There's elastic in the stop and bottom of the stocking. I ironed interfacing on to the black diamonds, and sewed those on by hand. The stripes were harder to do. I partly hand-sewed them, partly sewed them on with a tiny zig zag stitch on the machine.

Next was the jacket. I bought a jacket from a charity shop and took it in at the sides. I also removed the sleeves and turned the lower part of the collar under to change the front of the jacket (hope that makes sense - you can see the basting stitches on the front), and shortened the jacket.
 Next I draped fake sheepskin over the collar to get the right shape and sewed it on. There are two layers of sheepskin.I then sewed on a piece of rib knit, and them added the zip. I also added epaulettes. These are just little rectangles of fabric sewn along the shoulders.
 The last steps were to reattach the sleeves and add the patch. Easier said than done. I had to keep trimming the arm holes to get the sleeves to fit. Lots of trimming and pinning to check the fit. The patch also took a long time to do, because there was embroidery on the back of the jacket that had to be unpicked and removed slowly. The patch was made by ironing interfacing on to a piece of white fabric, tracing the design on to the cloth, and adding detail with markers and paint. Next I used a narrow zigzag stitch to sew the patch on.
 The shorts were very easy to make: just cut off the legs of some trousers. I actually had to lengthen the shorts because they were just too short.

The bra was quite simple to make: I just stretched some red jersey over on cup and sewed it down. I sewed the diamonds n top. Not totally happy with the bra; sewing on the jersey crumpled the cup a bit. The bra is a bit skimpy, so I made a tube top to wear outdoors.

 Harley has a lot of accessories, such as this belt. I made pouches and the belt buckle. The pouches are made of scraps of jersey and interfacing. I added snaps, and glued on gems for decoration. The belt buckle is made of craft foam, PVA glue, and acrylic paint. The buckle and pouches have pieces of ribbon glued/sewn on to the back, allowing them to slide on to the belt.
I originally bought this wig from Coscraft for a female titan cosplay, but it's too yellow for my taste, and a bit too long (yes, I know I could trim it, but I hate doing so). I found a tutorial on how to turn a normal layered wig into a pony tail wig, and added red hair ties. There are clear hair ties on the ponytails for a more secure hold.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Etsy Sale!

Most of the items in my etsy shop are now reduced in price. I need to make more space in my room, and raise a bit of money for university.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Slopers, or, Why you should make a mock up

I'm preparing another costume (I know - too many. but there's no such thing as too much cosplay!). The bodice is a strange shape: not quite a princess seam; so I scrapped my original plans and drafted a sloper. I am so glad that I made a mockup, because this sloper is abysmal. It gapes weirdly at the armpit, and I don't know how to fix it. Oh well, back the the drawing board.

My next idea is to take the original bodice pattern that I had in mind, draft out the princess seam (Dawn Pages has a great tutorial for that and draw in my own seam lines. It would make the front of the dress much more accurate. I'm thinking of altering this pattern ( All I need to do is to make that centre piece a little bit narrower.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Grey Hooded Dress

Ever since I saw this picture on Mookychick ( I've wanted to make a hooded dress. It's such a great concept: practicality meets cuteness. I also had some patterns that were perfect e.g. Burda's Danielle Pattern

Initially I wanted to make a white dress, similar to the one in the photo, but I had absolutely no luck finding suitable material. I looked at so many different white pieces of cloth, then I stumbled upon this strange material on the clearance table. I don't even know what kind of material it is.

It's very stretchy but also seems to be woven, and frays a lot. It has a texture like brushed cotton on one side. The material also has an ombre effect, going from light to dark grey/purple (actually, it's a grey similar to the colour of Homura's skirt in Puella Magi Madoka Magica). It's very comfortable against the skin, and I like the pattern. It was something like 8 Euro for two generously sized pieces, which is a bargain in my book.

I used McCalls 4491 (I think) for this pattern. 4491 is actually a Medieval style dress, but it has a gorgeous princess seam. The trouble is that it is actually much larger than the sizes states, so I had to take it in by at least 10cm on each side. Crazy alterations aside, it has a lovely shape.  

After sewing the seams, I altered the neckline. I sewed the side seams last because I wanted to add pockets (what's the point of a dress without pockets?). Once the pockets were in I sewed up the side seams and finished all the edges with a zigzag stitch. The dress was too long, so I took it up and hemmed it so it's now just above my knees.

The next step was one that I forgot to photograph. I needed to finish the neckline and armholes. The armholes were simple enough. I made some bias tape and sewed it around them. I tried to do the same with the neckline, but disaster struck. The neckline went all wavy and looked stretched out and nasty. I rescued it by turning it under and hand sewing it down. It now looks a lot neater.

The last step was adding a hood. I traced one from a hoody and cut it out. I placed the hood pieces right sides together and sewed them, leaving a small gap. I turned the hood right sides out, sewed the gap shut, and top-stitched to keep everything in place. Finally I used snaps to attach it to the dress, so I have the option of wearing it without a hood.
I'm very pleased with the final dress. It looks smart and really suits me. I do want to know what went wrong with the neckline, and why it went all wavy when I sewed on the bias tape. If anyone has any tips, please share them with me. 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Retro Catwoman Part 2: Bustier and Accessories

The Catwoman costume is done, and in a very short amount of time; maybe a weekend tops?

I used a Burdastyle pattern for the bustier. I should have made a mockup, because it is a little large for me. Also, when the pattern instruction tell you to cut the boning shorter, you should do that, because the bones interfered with the top stitching. And maybe hot pink lining wasn't the best idea. Despite this, I'm very pleased with my first cupped bustier.
 It's not a Catwoman costume without some kind of cat ears. I used pleather scraps to make these ears, then glued them on to a head band. 
To complete the costume, I bought some goggles from ebay seller asvpshop.
I order a pair with red lenses. I was actually surprised that they came with two pairs of lenses: one black, one red. The lenses were a bit dirty; I think I need to scrub them with glasses-cleaning spray or similar.
 They fit very well, and are great for this costume,though I think I will wear them up on my head because seeing everything through a red haze is quite strange.