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.

Rat Queen completed

The costume is mostly finished; I just need to finish a few accessories (tights and gloves). 

Let's go through it piece by piece:

The Corset
This corset is made from pillowcase material and cotton sateen. It is definitely not designed for tight lacing. I used katafalk's tutorial to draft the pattern. This is the first time I've used a busk in a corset. Busks are a bit tricky to insert, but make it a lot easier to put the corset on. I used Bishonenrancher's video tutorials as a guide, and ended up with a piece like this:
I then sewed the fashion layer and strength layer. Note that I flatlined the grey cloth to a stiffer cloth before I started sewing all the pieces together.
Here's the corset with all the pieces sewn together. I think if I make this corset again I'll make the back lower.
The corset on my dress form. You can see here that I sewed in the boning channels, adding the plastic bones, then sewed on bias tape to finish the raw edges. Once that was done I added grommets to the back.
This is the basic corset finished: the front
the side
and the back. I added a modesty panel to hide the gap.
The next step was to decorate the corset. Emilie's corset is covered with rhinestones, chains, beads, sequins, and charms. I bought a bunch of these from ebay and glued them on with E6000. I began by sticking on the larger gems in a regular pattern, and using the smaller gems to fill in the gaps. Once that was done I sewed on the chains with embroidery thread, and added the key charm to the chains with jump rings.

Here's the finished corset, with the modesty panel attached. I think adding the embellishments was my favourite part of making this corset.
I still have a ton of gems left over, so I'll probably make some gem encrusted accessories to sell in my etsy shop and at Malta Expo.

The Wig
I didn't end up dying a wig after all. My friend wants me to play Fionna (Adventure Time) in a skit, and I need a long blonde wig (we're doing Good Little Girl/Bad Little Boy). I bought a wig from cosertstudio on
Coserstudio is a really nice seller. They asked me whether my item had arrived on time, and were generally very helpful and polite. The wig did arrive a little bit late, but only by a few days. I always order wigs in advance so that I don't have a panic before the convention.
The wig is a little bit shiny, but it fits well, and the colour is perfect. I might curl the ends slightly, but overall the wig is just right for this costume.

I bought this bra from ebay. It's exactly what I need, and has great details like the stitch lines and the black lace. I sewed in some padding in the cups for modesty, and glued on the gems with E6000 glue. And that's how you make a sparkly bra.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Retro Catwoman: Part 1: The Shorts

Sometimes it's good to take a break from a project and work on something else. Currently I'm taking a quick break from the Rat Queen costume, and I'm making a quick Catwoman inspired costume. The idea is to create a 50s pinup look, similar (but not identical) to the one I saw in Heroes of Cosplay (side note: I love Harley Quinn's skirt. It's the cutest)
I wanted to make hot pants and a bustier, but to make the styling of the costume rougher, more like a biker girl than a classy Catwoman.

I happened to have the perfect material for this project:
 Presenting what is probably the world's most ugly dress. I found this in New Look during the spring sales. It was a size 18 (UK) pleather tent, and I don't think it would suit anyone, but I figured that there was enough material there to make a dress or a corset, and that buying the dress would be cheaper than buying fabric.

I used a lingerie pattern from Burda style to make the hot pants. The pattern looks a bit like granny pants, but it lends itself surprisingly well to hot pants. It would probably be good for a Wonder Woman costume too.

The pleather is very stretchy so it was perfect for this pattern. I cut out all the pieces, which only used up the front of the dress. Next I sewed the front pieces together. I used a narrow zigzag stitch on almost all the seams, and leather needles just to be on the safe side. I added a side zip (the pattern calls for an invisible zip, but I used what I had). Next I sewed the other side seam, then the crotch seam.

Once I checked that it fitted (it fitted beautifully; Burda patterns have very accurate sizes), I finished the leg holes, then added some elastic to the waistband, and top-stitched it with a narrow zig zag stitch.

These look great on, but off they look a bit crumpled. You'll just have to trust me when I saw the fit is gorgeous; I really recommend this pattern (go look at Burda's website - you'll find it easily).

Next step: the bustier, the cat ears, and the goggles.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Madame Vastra: Part 2: The Shirt

I'm making progress on Madame Vastra. The shirt is now finished. I used white poly-linen for the body of the shirt, and a mixture of other fabrics for all the embellishments on Vastra's shirt. 
Madame Vastra's shirt seems to be a blouse with bishop sleeves, no gathers at the should/arm scye, and a lot of embellishments, such as the embroidered collar and applique/colourful material on the sleeve.
 The first step was to cut out the shirt. I was very lazy and didn't use a pattern. The body of the shirt is a rectangle, and the sleeves are a mix of triangles and rectangles. I actually made the sleeves bigger by adding triangles.  Next I sewed on the red patches on the shoulders. These are just rectangles of interfaced satin that were left over from a project. I turned the raw edges under and sewed them down.

 The next step was to sew on the decoration on the sleeves. It's difficult to see the exact pattern on Vastra's sleeve, but it looks something like this. I used a piece of pillowcase for the base, then sewed down bias tape to make stripes. I coloured the cloth with fabric markers to get the right colour, then added white spots with white acrylic. When everything was dry, I sewed it down.
 Here's what the shirt looked like spread out. I tried a new method, with was to sew the sleeve to the shoulder first, then to sew everything together.
 Time to gather the sleeves. This was tricky because the fabric kept unravelling. I just sewed a band of cloth around the end of the sleeve, turned it over, and sewed it down by hand.
 Still not finished but it already looks so pretty.
Next step: finishing the collar. This was just a piece of bias tape sewn around the collar. It was a bit difficult because I had to sew multiple pieces of bias tape together. 
And last, the embroidery round the collar. Luckily it was a really simple pattern, and I just backstitched it with some thick red thread.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Madame Vastra: Part 1: Skirt and Waistcoat

One of my planned cosplays for Expo in October is Madame Vastra from Doctor Who. This costume will be very tricky to make, the makeup trickier still, but I liked her a lot (The Crimson Horror is the best episode of season 7, hands down. The rest of the season is so very "meh"), and want to see if I can pull off the Silurian makeup.

 The first step was the skirt, which was a very simple half circle skirt. I just followed an internet tutorial for this, then made some adjustments. I added pockets on the sides, and the back of the waistband is partly elasticated to make it more comfortable. I also sewed horsehair braid to the hem: I have a lot of braid left over from making the Black Aristocrat dress, and I think it improved the look of the skirt, giving it more structure and volume.

 Madame Vastra's skirt is a weird colour: it's not exactly brown, nor is it grey or blue. I dyed tan brown cotton grey, and got a weird brown/grey mix colour.

 The next step was the waistcoat. I had a Burda pattern which I altered beyond recognition: it started out as a double breasted waistcoat with a stand collar! Once I got the desired look, I traced the pieces on to my paisley fabric, then basted the green mock-up pieces to the paisley pieces. This was to make the paisley material less flimsy. 
 Next I started sewing the pieces together, starting with the back, sides and front, then basting on the collar and finally the facing.
 I also sewed bias tape around the arm holes to prevent fraying. Once the front and facing had been understitched, I added buttons and button holes. the buttons are gorgeous, but you can't see them very well here. I bought a pack of metal buttons on ebay, and they all have this lovely pewter look to them.
 Above is the finished waistcoat. I'm really pleased with how it turned out, especially since i was worried about the collar. The collar was a bit tricky to sew on because I had to sew through many layers of cloth on the sewing machine, but it actually sits very nicely. The waistcoat looks really smart; I'm tempted to wear it to work.
Slightly blurry photo of the skirt and waistcoat together. Looks pretty good to me.