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

Costume College recap

A quick post to recap the rest of what I wore to Costume College. Lots of other bloggers have posted pictures of it, so I’m not posting any (also, as usual, I never actually took out my camera to take any ahem).

Friday during the day I didn’t dress up, because I was taking a class on foam fabrication and didn’t want to risk messing up my clothes.

For the Friday evening ice cream social, I pulled out my Venetian Gown.


I think this gown is due for yet more alterations. I originally made this gown to wear over a small Elizabethan chemise and not the much fuller Venetian camicia, which means the sleeves and straps are too tight and I can’t get them high up enough on my shoulders. Hmph.

For the Gala, I wore my Kaylee dress. So much floof!

Costume College 2016

After a few hours in that dress, I got tired of taking up a 5 foot radius, and changed into my 1930s gown. It was awesome to be able to walk through a crowd without banging into people!



The next day I wore 1920s. The dress is from the 1970s or so, and I just chopped off the bottom to make it mid-calf instead of floor length. One day I’d like to cut off the whole skirt and dub it an Edwardian petticoat what with all that insertion lace and ruffles… I also altered a straw fedora from Target into a cloche following The Dreamstress’s tutorial, although the hat is really doing its best to keep the fedora shape.

img_1049 img_1046

Phew! After Costume College I took the month of August to do all the boring sewing and mending I had been putting off including:

  • hemming 3 pairs of pants
  • sewing a button onto a jacket which had fallen off at least 2 years ago
  • hemming and taking up the straps of a bridesmaid dress I was wearing (all those rolled hems on the Kaylee dress were excellent practice for giving me the courage to do this).

Now onto sewing for Halloween!

Posted in 1920s, 1930s, 1930s slinky dress, Kaylee Shindig Dress, Renaissance, Venetian | Leave a comment

Bubblegum Titanic Dress at Costume College

I did in fact finish my dress for Costume College!

Thank you to Rebecca for taking all the photos here!




Yikes I direly need a petticoat to cover that corset line


And for some details:

What the item is: An Edwardian afternoon dress.

Fabric/Materials: ~4 yards of this bizarre silk. It looks like linen, but is very drapey and frays like whoa. Plus 2ish yards of ivory silk taffeta for trim, and the entire back of a lacey shrug for the lace cutouts.

Pattern: Edwardian Rose, 1912 Lady’s Fancy Afternoon Gown. The patterns sell under the name The Fashion Archaeologist, which is how you can find them on etsy or ebay.

Year: 1912

Notions: 24 ivory buttons. The waist tape inside is supposed to be twill tape or petersham, but I used the one yard I had left over of corset boning tape from the corset I wore underneath (I really need to get some photos of that…)

How historically accurate is it? The pattern is from an original fashion plate (and possibly original pattern?) so that note is very accurate. I’m not so sure about the bizarre drapey silk, although drapey and silk were both correct. The biggest issue here is a fitting issue, which I believe is more due to my height than any issues with the pattern. You’ll notice there is quite a bit of blousing/overhang at the waist. While this was very fashionable in pigeon-bust dresses of the earlier 1900s, from my research this look is not correct by 1912 (compare to these dresses in the 1913 Eatons catalogue). Gathers and looseness are fine in front, but not the amount of overhang that I had. The bodice pattern is kimono-style and is actually a single piece for the front/back/sleeves (except for the lace gussets on the shoulders). I couldn’t figure out how to alter it to get rid of the overhang (plus I was on a deadline for costume college), so I just left it in. We’ll have to call me old-fashioned.

First worn: Saturday at Costume College 2016!

Total cost: For me free, since everything here was stash fabric, and I got the buttons with an etsy gift card! However, if you were purchasing this today, it would be something like $40 for silk (it was $8/yard and I bought 5 yards), $44 for 2 yards of silk taffeta from Renaissance fabrics (you do end up with about half of it leftover, cut in oddly shaped pieces, since all the trim is long and cut on the bias), $10 for lace, and $24 for buttons.

I also ended up posting an absurdly long review of the pattern on the Historical Pattern Review Facebook group, some of which copied here for your convenience:

This is a solid intermediate pattern. Nothing about the pattern is overly difficult, but you need to be precise and meticulous to get the trim to lay correctly, to press a placket on a bias cut, etc. I found I needed to baste all my seams and lace by hand. The trim should also be sewn by hand if you don’t want seams to show.

Here are the good things about this pattern:

The instructions are good. They don’t include any pictures (except for pattern layout), but I was mostly able to understand all the text clearly (exceptions below). Even things like the ingenious placket which finishes all the raw ends, yet has a hidden under-placket for hooks and eyes was totally doable.

The pattern maker Patricia is very responsive. In the mockup stage I wasn’t really sure what things were supposed to look like, and she responded to my questions posted on the facebook page within a day or two!

It’s a fun and unique pattern. You don’t see too many patterns that include all the pattern pieces for all the trim.

Here are some problems I encountered:

Not all the instructions were clear or correct. There was a pattern piece which said to cut two, when you only needed one (note, Patricia has already said she will correct this). It was extremely unclear whether the neck was a bias facing or a bias binding. I had to look at photos on the pattern facebook page to figure out it was a facing.

BUY MORE BUTTONS. The pattern called for 24 3/8″ buttons. I had 24 5/8″ buttons, and I had to leave off the very bottom button and the one that would be hidden under the waistband because I didn’t have enough. And note that I am only 4’11”, so a taller person would absolutely need more, especially if your buttons are smaller or you want to space them closer together the way they are in the original fashion plate.

Another issue that I really think comes down to my height. You’ll notice there is quite a bit of blousing/overhang at the waist. While this was very fashionable in pigeon-bust dresses of the earlier 1900s, from my research this look is not correct by 1912. Gathers and looseness are fine in front, but not the amount of overhang that I had. However, I don’t think a taller person would have this problem. The bodice pattern is kimono-style and is therefore a single piece for the front/back/sleeves (except for the lace gussets on the shoulders) so I really couldn’t figure out how to alter it to get rid of the overhang (plus I was on a deadline for costume college). But, even being a few inches taller than me would avoid this problem, so it’s not really the fault of the pattern.

There are no pictures at all in the instructions. Given that this is a digital pattern, and the fact that the pattern maker has pictures of the finished dress on her website, it seems like a no-brainer to take full sized color photos of the construction process and include them in either the pattern instructions or on her website. I really think this will be the future of digital patterns.

Construction suggestions

Baste everything, especially if your fabric is loose and drapey like mine, or you will get puckers.

Most of the sleeve lace ends up being covered by the trim. If you wanted to save on lace, you could use a single piece of insertion lace between the two bands (and it would not have the extra lace triangle by the wrist), instead of a large piece underneath the whole thing

The pattern had an additional piece of fabric beneath the lace/trim of the sleeves, but since I wanted the pink to show through anyways, I left this off and attached the trim to the sleeves directly.

I found it very effective to thread-trace where I would be pressing the front placket over, especially on the top where the placket is on the bias, and it would be very difficult to press a straight line otherwise.

I really did like this pattern and definitely plan to try more Edwardian Rose patterns in the future.

Posted in 1910s, Bubblegum Titanic Dress | 3 Comments

Bubblegum muslin

A retrospective post! I did finish the dress in time for costume college (2 days before even! Not the day before!), but here are some photos of the muslin.

The first one I made was super pouchy and blouse-y. Like a lot. This isn’t really a flattering look, but I kept telling myself that this is meant to be a relaxed afternoon sort of gown, and is not meant to be form fitting.

Muslin #1:

The top is a very interesting style – it’s a kimono style top, being one single piece of fabric all the way around. There is a gusset above each shoulder which will be made of lace in the final version.




However, this is not how the dress is meant to be worn. The waist should be at the natural waistline, or even an inch or two above. There is meant to be some loose fabric above it, which means you need to use a tie to see what this dress is meant to look like, as otherwise it will just hang as far as the fabric allows.





At this point I posted these pictures on the pattern maker’s Facebook page asking for advice, since I wasn’t sure how to alter this. They are very responsive! All my questions were answered within a day or two. She pointed out that this is meant to be a very blouse-y top, and thought it looked fine. I did end up taking an inch off the top (from the bottom), since I thought the blousing was still a bit excessive. That’s really the only way you can alter this pattern, since the whole top is one piece.


This looks like a more appropriate amount of blousiness.


Back looks great!

Then it was fabric cutting time! Which the main dress was only 3 pieces, all the trim on the dress was something like another 15 pattern pieces, so this was rather tedious.

Posted in 1910s, Bubblegum Titanic Dress | Leave a comment