Thursday, August 16, 2018

A dress made from curtains

I was invited to a small photoshoot, and needed a white dress to wear. I didn't want to buy one, and I need to use up my fabric stash . . .so to kill two birds with one stone, I made a white dress using cloth that I already had. This dress is made from old curtains and old sheets. The bodice and lining are made from white cotton. There's a poly-organza overlay on the bodice that came from an old curtain. The skirt is made from a very thin white cotton that was originally a curtain. I was trying to make a gothic style dress, but I think it might need more embellishments.
If I make a similar dress in the future, I'll make sure that the bodice fits me better. It was slightly too large, so that straps and back gaped a little. I'd also like to make the seams at the neckline neater; I think I need a facing for this style. I am quite happy with the gathered skirt though, and I like how it looks with the belt on top. 

Constellation Dress

I've seen a lot of galaxy and constellation-print clothing over the past five to ten years.
 I really love this trend, and have been wanting to make something inspired by it. Unfortunatley it's difficult to find galaxy print locally, and buying it online tends to be very expensive. Last year I found this fabric by Timeless Treasures (on ebay):
 It's a beautiful deep blue with a pale, glow-in-the-dark constellation pattern. It was quite expensive, but I saved up and bought three yards, plus some scrap pieces from another seller. It arrived in a few weeks, and promptly sat in my room for about a year. 

Eventually  I got the momentum and motivation to make a dress from it. I made some designs last year, inspired by Alexander McQueen and Haenuli.

The Inspiration:

My sketches:
I went with a combination of the two designs, partly because I couldn't figure out how to construct a bodice similar to that of the McQueen dress.

The Pattern:
The bodice pattern is an altered Burdastyle one. I left the front the same, then changed the back significantly. The original idea was to have a shirred back, but I struggled with it so much that in the end I dropped that element. 
I drafted the skirt pattern myself. I only had 3 yards of material, which wasn't enough for a very full skirt. I made this into more of a panel skirt than a circle skirt.
I also made a pocket pattern. I love a dress with pockets, and wanted to include some in this design. 

Sewing the Dress:
To start, I made a mockup from cotton. I checked the fit, then cut out the lining. The lining is an old blue sheet and it's the perfect colour for this dress. 

I didn't take enough photographs while I was working, but I did take a few. I cut out the main fabric. I pinned it on my dress for to see how it would look. I shortened the bodice slightly, then started sewing all the seam and darts of the bodice.

I lined the bodice first. I was following Burda's instructions, and they recommended a method that I'd never used before. You sew the lining and main fabric at the neck and arm-scye (the shoulder seam is not stitched at this point), clip your seams, then turn it right side out and press everything. You then sew your shoulder seam. This isn't the best explanation of the technique, but the end result was very clean and crisp. I then attached the skirt lining to the bodice lining, and the main skirt to the main bodice.  
 After I added an invisible zip, I then hemmed the dress. I used very narrow horsehair braid to hem the skirt, using the sewing machine to initially sew on the braid, then stitching by hand to do a blind-hem stitch. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Alice Royal Suit: Part 2

"How fine you look when dressed in rage" The Cheshire Cat

This is part two of the making of the Royal Suit, which will cover the lower sleeves, the bow, the skull, and the Vorpal Blade.

Lower Sleeves
These are made from black vinyl. I painted red stripes on with red acrylic paint. These "sleeves" were designed to be tight around the upper arm and loose around the wrist, but I added elastic to the wrist portion to create gathering. These are a bit rough and I wish I'd added more crenallations, but they're not too bad.

Alice's bow isn't a simple rectangle. It seems to be a tube or loop of fabric; it's a bit hard to describe. I used some leftover black satin and a lot of interfacing.
The gold details are more interfaced spandex. I cut out a lot of gold hearts and "ribbons", glued them on, then stitched them down.
I sewed the rectangle into a loop, then gathered the centre.
I covered the middle of the bown with a black rectangle of fabric. 
The bow attaches to the waistband with hairpins! 

The Skull
I originally made a skull for this costume years ago from upholstery foam and paper-mache. It was pretty rough and not very accurate.
I added details on to the basic skull using paper clay.
Once the clay dried, I sanded it down to make it a little smoother.
I painted the skull white, added details with grey and black, got annoyed at how dark it was and added more white, and finally got a reasonable-looking skull. 
Here's the final skull. It attached to the bow with a large safety pin.  

Vorpal Blade
 "The Vorpal Blade is swift and keen, and always ready for service." The Cheshire Cat

I based the Vorpal Blade on this tutorial: 

I used foam mats and a wooden dowel (from an old coat hanger)
 I used a template I found here: and cut out the pieces. 
 I forgot to photograph the next steps, but I used paper clay to smooth out the blade and to create the shape of the handle. After a lot of sanding I managed to make the knife fairly smooth, but since I don't have a dremel the knife is a little bit rough in places.
 I used 3D paint (puffy paint?) to add details to the hilt. I used a craft knife to cut the details on to the blade, and used heat to expand the cut, creating an engraved look.
I spray-painted the whole knife black, then painted the hilt gold, and the blade silver. I weathered the handle with brown/black acrylics, and the blade with watered-down black paint. 

Monday, June 4, 2018

Hipster Ariel

Just a short post about an outfit I made over the past two days. I needed a break from the Royal Suit, and decided to make a summer outfit. I had this beautiful green mermaid fabric, and I wanted to make an Ariel inspired look (my very first cosplay was Ariel, so this is also a nod to that).

I used an existing skirt to create a pattern for this one. I traced the pattern on to the mermaid cloth, cut it out, and sewed the pieces together. I added a waistband, then a zip for closure. Originally I wanted to have pockets, but they gaped open and looked so ugly that I got rid of them. One day I will learn how to make pockets that do not gape open. 

For the top, I was inspired by an Annika Victoria tutorial:

I made from crop top from an old, cut up t-shirt. The resulting top is a bit wonky, but at least it looks nice from the front. 

Alice: Royal Suit: Part 1

"Is it mad to pray for better hallucinations?"

I have been wanting to making Alice's Royal Suit from "Alice: Madness Returns" for the longest time. Probably since the game came out. 

But I never felt confident enough to make this costume until now. This is partly due to the amount of detail involved, but also because for the longest time I couldn't figure out how to make the bodice.
 I finally figured out how to pattern the bodice after I saw this post on tumblr: . ParadoxJane's blog was also very helpful:

I also found some second-hand satin dresses that seemed perfect to reuse as materials for this costume. 
I finally got the urge to make this costume a few weeks ago. I managed to finish the dress, and start making the apron. 

The Mockup
The mockup (which is also the lining) is made from a poly-cotton pillowcase. I used a basic bodice pattern from Burda, then drew on the seam lines for the black and red pieces. I transferred these lines to paper and made pattern pieces. 

The Dress

I cut out the red and black pieces. Unfortunatley I didn't have quite enough red material, so I piece some of the sections of the bodice. I stitched the red and black pieces together to form the basic bodice.

Once the bodice pieces were sewn together, I started planning the applique. This involved maths and placing bits of paper around until they looked good, so I'm not going to go into much detail about it. 
The appliques are made from interfacing spandex. I had a lot of gold spandex for a costume that I never ended up making, so I iron the interfacing on to it, and cut out the appliques. I used fabric glue to attach them initially, then I stitched them on by machine.
When the gold appliques were sewn on, I started adding trim. This costume requires a lot of trim. This is gold trim almost everywhere, and a surprising amount of white trim on the bodice too. 

I used a white loop trim and a gold ric rac. The bodice took up a huge amount of trim; I actually had to buy more white trim because I was 20cm short!

To make the skirt portion of the dress, I was lucky with the red dress that I'd bought. The skirt had enough volume that I was happy to use it for the Royal Suit. I added a panel of black fabric to it to get the correct colour.
 The black panel is copies from a red panel that I had cut off the skirt before. The gold appliques are also gold spandex. I used gold ric rac to form the stripes.  
I also added trim to the skirt. The trim is made from gold piping, white ribbon, and black ribbon. This trim was really annoying to sew on, especially the piping, and involved a lot of pins and fabric glue. The good thing about this trim is that it makes the hem of the dress stiff and gives it a nice shape. 

 Then it was time to sew the skirt to the bodice. I messed this up the first time because I put the gathers in the wrong place, and the front was too bulky. I had to unpick the stitches and regathered the skirt to make it more flattering. 

 I also made a collar for the dress. The artbook shows Alice wearing a ruff, but in the game the dress has a simple collar. I used another pattern from Burda to make the collar. I used gold piping on the edges instead of sewing on trim, because I thought the thinner lines might look better. 
 I also had a chance to make Alice's necklace. The Omega is made from polymer clay. I painted the clay first with acrylic, then with spray paint. I used to jump ring to attach it to a chain necklace. 

I followed this tutorial to make the sleeves:
I used a pattern for a slightly puffed sleeve, but instead of exactly following the tutorial. I added diamond shaped pieces. The resulting sleeve was a bit floppy, so once the bodice was lined I ended up stuffing the sleeves with tulle to add volume. 
The sleeve bands are just rectangles of satin with some interfacing iron on. The gold hearts were cut from spandex and glued on. I did try to sew them on but they looked terrible. The fabric glue is not terribly secure, so I might give in and use hot glue to properly attach the hearts. The gold stripes are made from piping. I had a huge bag of gold piping from when I first started cosplay and tried (and failed) to make an Ouran blazer (we thought gold piping would look fancier). 

I made a lining for the bodice and sleeves. I sewed it into the dress by hand, using small stitches and trying to keep everything neat. 

Once the zip was sewn on and the lining was ready, the dress was basically done!