Can I throw every piece into the fire now?

This EXPLETIVE shift just does not want to get made.

After taking out the gathers, cutting down the shift sleeves and sewing them in, I popped the shift back on again. Sleeves were still too long. I ended up taking off another two inches from each. This left the cuff opening to only be about 1″ long on each sleeve, but I can still get it on so good enough.

I just spend some time practicing my first hand-sewn buttonholes before putting the actual ones on. Just grabbed the shift to draw on the buttonholes.

One shift sleeve is inside out. I sewed it the wrong way. I can either take out the whole thing and flip it, or leave the gore inside out and redo the cuff.

The other sleeve is right-side out, except for the cuff. Only way to fix it is to finish the cuff.

Fuck this noise. I’m shoving this shift into a corner and doing something else.

All of these items are my shift

All of these items are my shift

Posted in 1700s, 18th c shift | Leave a comment

An 18th century shift

I have some fun 18th century sewing plans coming up, which I shall describe in EXTREME detail in a future post (due to doing a ton of Research).

That means it is finally time I make an actual shift, instead of continuing to wear a tank top under my 18th century clothing. I plan to hand sew the whole thing.

I went with Sharon Burnston’s amazing instructions for cutting and constructing a shift. Free pattern, free research, free info, what’s not to love?

Of course, nothing can ever be that simple.

First my fabric – I had gotten some linen on sale from Farmhouse Fabrics years ago. Since Farmhouse Fabrics is generally $$$ and high quality, I assumed this linen would be too.

It was… ok?

It took absolutely forever to pull threads to get my pattern pieces. I couldn’t get the thread to pull for more than 4 inches or so before it would break, so that was super tedious.

Ok, finally got the pattern cut out. I did make some changes to the neckline – I know that I always have issues with patterns falling off my shoulders, so I narrowed the neck on the sides and front by a good inch before cutting. Then I tried the body fabric on with just the neckhole cut out with my stays. I ended up lowering the front several inches in order to hit that just-barely-appropriate level right above the top of my stays.

I do highly recommend trying on the shift body with stays before cutting out the neckline fully and hemming it. You can fix a too-small neckline, but too big is not really a fixable problem.

And then things got more gnarly.

According to the pattern, the fabric for the arm should be a 17″ by 17″ square. I sewed up both sleeves, and did all the stroke gathers and attached the cuff on one.

(Can I say here how much I detest stroke gathers? I get they are just super tiny cartridge pleats which I enjoy, but the small scale is a massive pain. Especially with linen which is not super tightly woven, so I was actually trying to count threads to get even narrow gathers).

At this point, I stuck the sleeve on my arm just for fun.

And the cuff was nearly at my wrist.


I pinned the sleeve onto the shift just to make sure.


This sleeve is supposed to hit just past the elbow, not all the way to the wrist.

I was also concerned that it would be too full to fit under the 1780s gown sleeve I had planned (although it would have been perfect for 1750s or so).

So, I gritted my teeth, and undid these beautiful stroke gathers and flat fell underarm gores in order cut down each sleeve. I ended up taking 3″ off each end of the sleeve to make it a 14×14″ square.


Goodbye stroke gathers 😦 You were hours of work 😦


Goodbye flat fell gore as well 😦 Taking out backstitch is more annoying than you would expect. 😦

I also took another 2″ off the shoulders on the shift body, angling down to nothing where the original gore had been cut out.

I honestly don’t understand how this measured so incorrectly. Like yes, I am short, but I doubt my arm is a full elbow-to-wrist length shorter than the average woman’s elbow, and Sharon made her pattern based on averaging out a bunch of extant shifts.


Posted in 1700s, 18th c shift, Undergarments | 4 Comments

2016 recap

All the cool kids are doing it, so here’s what I made this year:

January through April I spent all my time on my Jordan Con costume contest entry, my magnum opus, the floofiest froof of a dress to ever exist, my Kaylee shindig dress:


This consisted of the ruffled and wired hoop, the bodice, and the skirt. I was able to wear this again at the Costume College gala and I can’t wait for a chance to wear this again!

Next up in May I needed a breather, and made a chemise that can work for most of the late 1800s:

full length

In June I made a 1910s corset (which I still haven’t taken photos of or done a final writeup of, bad blogger). I was going to take photos this weekend, but then I came down with a cold and taking cute photos was the last thing I wanted to do.

IMG_1006 (1)

In July I trimmed two hats, and made a 1912 afternoon gown for Costume College:



A straw hat where I bent one bit up in a jaunty angle. I brushed on melted gelatin to set it (actually works!) I wrapped a random lace sash around it, and glued on the least-fake looking flowers I could find at Joann.

straw cloche

A cloche made from a fedora using The Dreamstress’s tutorial. Glued on more of the fake flowers from the other hat, since I thought it looked pretty.

In August I took a break and did a bunch of regular hemming and mending.

In September and October I became the slowest sewer in the world, and made a dress for Melisandre from Game of Thrones (also slowest blogger as I still don’t have photos of this dress).

Apparently I did nothing for all of November? Sheesh.

In December I made a 1930s sundress for my Intro to Flat Pattern class at Cañada College


Not too bad! I only ended up with 3 new outfits, but I got some underpinnings and accessories out of the way. It is however confirmed that I am the slowest sewer compared to every other blogger I read, who all somehow managed to make 10 bajillion outfits each, corsets and undergarments included…

On to 2017! My first plan is a (more historically accurate) Eliza Hamilton (nee Schuyler) 1780s dress from the play Hamilton, plus a fun little cosplay thing for Jordan Con (Sevanna, for those who read Wheel of Time). After that, who knows, as I have waaay too many ideas floating around in my head…

Possibilities include:

  • early 1830s day dress for ginormous ugly sleeves
  • late 1830s day dress or late 1830s evening dress or both? When the giant sleeve has moved to the lower arm.
  • mid 1890s something or other, again for ginormous ugly sleeves (see a trend here?)
  • A really elaborately flossed and decorated corset.
  • Plus I have fabric for 1700s, I’d like a simple day dress instead of all fancy stuff.
  • Or using my new pattern drafting skills to do something 1930s that will actually fit me
  • Ditto above, but 1910s daywear
  • Oh and I desperately need a petticoat and corset cover for the bubblegum dress above because you can see the line of my corset on my hips, ick.
  • And do I really want to go on 3 years with nothing new to wear to the Renaissance Faire?
  • And I bought 10 yards of this amazing silk check which will be a wonderful bustle gown, or natural form gown, but that will take all new undergarments…
  • And I’m taking the Advanced Flat Pattern class at Cañada College which will require making a few things. Maybe I’ll make something 1920s for the final project as that could plausible fit the super skinny dress form *and* me…

You see my problem here.

Posted in 1900s, 1930s, 1930s slinky dress, 1930s sun dress, Bubblegum Titanic Dress, Corsets, Edwardian Chemise, Edwardian corset, Fantasy/Scifi/Cosplay, Hats, Kaylee Shindig Dress | 3 Comments

So behind, plus a 1930s sun dress

Hello blog that I have not posted on since Halloween!

With my usual last minute sewathon, I finished my Melisandre dress for Halloween (literally, I started sewing the hem at the time the party was supposed to start). But then the necklace I commissioned broke on its first wearing, and I didn’t want to take photos without it, as the necklace is a key piece. So all I have right now is this badly lit cell phone photo (plus bonus Faith Militant husband, in his tradition of making a complementary costume to mine in 30 minutes. Check out that excellent snuggie action!).


A long swishy wig is tons of fun to wear! The cat enjoyed it too, before I stopped letting her attack it, since I didn’t want her eating tons of plastic hair strands.

After that I had to work on the midterm garment for my Flat Pattern class (which could be a half scale and/or muslin of the final garment).

Narrowing it down to one dress was tricky, but I ended up going with something relatively simple since we had to make the final dress fit one of the dress forms in the class. I did not want to spend a ton of time (or material) on a dress that wouldn’t fit me at the end!

I found this 1930s sun dress on pinterest. It was a great candidate for the class final, since it would involve doing lots of the things we learned in class such as the yoke, moving the darts to the bust, drafting a skirt pleat extension, etc. I did not make the silly visor, although if I had the original pattern I would have tried it out…

pattern front

Vogue 7358.

So many interesting things from just a pattern envelope! The price was 40 cents (less than the price of a stamp today). Size 16 had a 34 bust and 37 hip!

The practice half-scale version, next to a sleepy cat for size:



Fun fact, that gold fabric is from some old sheets a friend gave me, and is also the lining of my Melisandre dress.

Then I had 2 weeks to make it full scale, and spent all my time doing that:




Since I don’t know much about 1930s construction (and I was only working off a pattern picture, not the actual pattern) I reached out to a 1920s/1930s costuming group on Facebook for advice, and here is what I was told:

“Seams were often whipstitched by hand or zigzag stitched on a machine, unless the fabric was not likely to fray, then it would be left raw. Facings were very rare and the most common finish was to machine sew rayon tape to the right side edges, then turn over, press and tack down on the inside with barely visible stitching. Lining was also not all that common, especially on homemade items because people couldn’t afford it. Instead they would wear a slip underneath. ”

I did fully line the top, because I couldn’t think of any other way to deal with the super sharp corners on the back. I did do the skirt as a single layer, with french seams on the sides and bias tape around the pleat bit in order to finish all the seams. It would definitely require a slip, since the skirt is a bit sheer.

It was also my first time doing buttonholes on my Bernina, which can do all of it in one (compared to my last machine, where it was 3 manual parts). It was so pleasant, I want to put buttonholes on all the things now!

I’ll be selling the dress, since I am definitely not the same size as the class dress form. If you have a 25″ waist, 35″ bust, 35″ hips, and are interested let me know!

Now back to sewing for me! I’ve got 18th century on the brain…

Posted in 1930s, 1930s sun dress, Fantasy/Scifi/Cosplay, Melisandre | 2 Comments


For once, making the mockup for this dress was incredibly easy, thanks to the amazing classes I’ve been taking at Cañada College.

I already had a sloper fit to me from a previous class. In the current class I am learning flat patterning, so it was easy to follow the book instructions to change the darts to princess seams, and create a surplice (aka wrap) front.


The only changes I needed to make here were taking in the waist a bit (there was too much ease in the sloper) and lowering the neckline.

The sleeves were a little more tricky. I did a bizarre frankenpattern of my sleeve sloper plus the sleeves from Simplicity 4940.

I also moved the seam from the underside of the sleeve to the outside, and made the bottom straight across instead of pointed, similar to dresses on the show.


Sleeve pattern, or bunny ghost who wants a hug?

I know, it’s super weird looking. It’s impossible to imagine what that will look like once sewn up.

I mocked it up, and popped it on the bodice.


So, I had put the seam going straight down the outside of the arm from the shoulder. This resulted in a sleeve opening which is too far to the side. Like, this looks good if you stand still with your arms down. Turns out that’s not really what humans do. We tend to have our arms forward a lot of the time.

To move the opening, I cut a straight line across the bicep, rotated the bottom so the opening was facing the front of the body, then used a french curve to trace a new seamline joining the ends of that top seam. I realize this makes no sense to describe, but it’s the best I can do. That gave me a flat pattern which looks like a slightly janky version of the one posted above. It’s even more impossible to visualize what it looks like when sewn up, but I know it works.

After this, I frankenpatterned the skirts from the Simplicity pattern above onto this bodice, and could finally start cutting!

Then realized that due to the massive width of the sleeves here, I needed another *4 yards* of fabric. So much for doing this dress on the cheap from the stash. The sleeves were slightly too wide to fit two of them across the width of the fabric, which means I’ve ended up with 4 yards of fabric @ 20 inches wide left. At least it’s a beautiful fabric, useful for many time periods!

And also promptly went on vacation for my honeymoon/first anniversary, and therefore am very behind on sewing this in time for a party on Saturday..

Posted in Fantasy/Scifi/Cosplay, Melisandre | Leave a comment

The night is dark and full of fluff…


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Planning Melisandre

Halloween is coming up! (yes, it’s a month away. Yes, it takes me that long for even relatively simple costumes).

I was deciding between Rey (of Star Wars Episode 7) and Melisandre (of Game of Thrones) and ended up deciding on Melisandre mostly because I already have some red figured silk taffeta in my stash to use. (Of course, I’m pretty sure I don’t have enough of it given that I need giant drapey sleeves. This was bought over 3 years ago so I hope it’s the same color…).

I don’t plan on making any specific Melisandre dress, just something recognizable. So, I went studying Game of Thrones dresses. Annoying, since Melisandre is all spooky and witchy, I swear most of the screenshots of her are in dim lighting.

Wrap-front dresses with dangly sleeves are by far the most common:


Note the tie at the waist

Melisandre's dress from a Game of Thrones exhibit in the Netherlands. This dress has princess seams going to the shoulder, which is a bit unusual. Most of the dresses have princess seams going to the armscye.

Melisandre’s dress from a Game of Thrones exhibit in the Netherlands. This dress has princess seams going to the shoulder, which is a bit unusual. Most of the dresses have princess seams going to the armscye.

Cersei in a standard King's Landing dress. Game of Thrones long sleeves tend to be open/squared on the bottom like this.

Cersei in a standard King’s Landing dress. Game of Thrones dangle sleeves tend to be open/squared on the bottom like this.

I’ve noticed that Melisandre has at least two dresses where it looks like the sleeve is tacked up around her wrist. Hooray, this makes it easy for me to not care too much about the length of the sleeve, and take up any extra length here!

That is definitely a line of stitching to hold the sleeve at the wrist like this. Folding it would not stay. It also shows the seamline starting at the shoulder and going all the way down the outside of the arm!

That is definitely a line of stitching to hold the sleeve at the wrist like this. Folding it would not stay. It also shows the seamline starting at the shoulder and going all the way down the outside of the arm!

Similar to the previous sleeve, the cuff/wrist is tacked up, and the seamline is down the outside of the arm.

Similar to the previous sleeve, the cuff/wrist is tacked up, and the seamline is down the outside of the arm.


So Melisandre gets undressed in this scene. Forget any prurient implications or plot implications shown here. The most important part is you can see how the closures on this dress work! First she unties the wrap dress at the waist, then clearly does a move to unhook the dress at the top, showing there is some kind of hook-and-eye or hook-and-thread-loop holding it together. Woo!

I’m not entirely sure what to do about undergarments. Other characters are shown wearing chemises and stays which look a lot like 18th century examples. Melisandre, as has been demonstrated above, gets naked a lot in this show. It’s pretty clear she isn’t wearing anything under her (extremely low cut) dresses. That is probably some combination of artistic license, plus her being prepared for *ahem* encounters? Or as a Red Priestess who doesn’t get cold, she doesn’t need the extra layers for warmth? (Although historically, layers aren’t just for warmth. They also keep your body oils off the outer dress which is hard to clean, and make it so you only have to clean an easy-to-wash linen or cotton chemise). I’m probably just going to wear some kind of slip and super low cut bra, and attempt to convince my brain that historical accuracy doesn’t matter when you are making a fantasy costume sheesh.

I’ve already spent 2 weeks-ish working on a pattern on and off and I’m still not done, because I am slowwww. Hopefully it will be fast to put together once I decide on one (although I kinda want to hand sew the thing, which isn’t really how fast goes…)

Posted in Fantasy/Scifi/Cosplay, Melisandre | 1 Comment