Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

Here's a Happy New Year for all my fellow costumers and costume lovers!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Ever After: Danielle's 'Breathe' Gown

Ok, as far as labor and materials go, this has been my most intense costume to date.  There was so much research behind it, and I must have watched the Masqued Ball scene of  Ever After about 100 times.  I will probably edit and re-edit this post, but I thought I'd at least get it started.
I've loved this gown for a long time, and like many of my costumes, I simply have to work up the nerve to get it started.  Up until now, it seemed way out of my league.  There is soooo much detail to consider, plus the fact that you're working with a lot of delicate materials.  Then, there are those wings. Here is the basic run-down of how I created this costume.  I hope someone finds it useful!

The Pattern:  Simplicity #8735.  It is out of print now, but you may be able to find it on ebay.  This pattern served primarily as a base for the bodice.  The rest was heavily modified.  I didn't even use the sleeve pattern. 

The Fabrics:  For the underskirt and underlayer of the bodice, I went with the good old casa satin in white from Joanne fabrics.  Like the rest of the fabric, I dyed this satin in pearl gray (very lightly) then gave it a tea bath.  For the overskirt, I was actually able to find a gorgeous metallic crinkle silk in silver at  It looks very much like the fabric in the film!  For the alternating panels, I found some regular white chiffon that I dyed as I did my satin.  Not totally accurate, but I could not find the appropriate silk for those panels, and even if I did, I probably would have blown my budget.  I used dyed chantilly lace on the bodice, as it had the scallopped edge I needed.

The Trimmings:  This is where it gets interesting.  In the film version, there is a beautiful floral bullion trim edging out the overskirt and it is also found on the bodice.  Try as I did, I could not find bullion trim that even came close.  I assume that trim may have been made specifically for that gown and is not offered up to the masses.  I found some florall bridal trim that sufficed (after trying about 4 or 5 other trim samples), but it was wayyy to wide, so I trimmed it up, dyed it, then beaded it with some seed beads.  You'll find a variety of trims and laces on the bodice and sleeves as well, including metallic silver and gold ribbon, pearl trim, floral lace trim, and a beatiful lotus-shaped applique.  I found an applique on ebay that's pretty close, then I made the beaded appliques that span outward from it. 

Detail Work:  I'd say I spent about 4 months on the skirt embellishment...the chiffon panels were embroidered by machine--it took FOREVER.  I did it in sections--first, I'd cut a sheet of iron-on stabilizer and iron it to the chiffon.  Second, I drew the pattern to be embroidered onto the stabilizer.  Third, I used the tiniest of zig-zag stitches in silver metallic thread to embroider the pattern.  It was a slow, grueling process that took about 1.5 hours per section.  There were 5-7 sections per panel (the panels in back are longer).  After a panel was complete, I'd sew on the little pearls.  I used the tiny plastic pearls you buy by the bagful at Joanne's.  I ended up having to buy a second bag.  Honestly, I lost count of how many pearls had to be sewn on by hand (close to 2000?).  I reallylike the way it turned out, though.  When fabric can't be bought, sometimes you make it yourself!

The Sleeves:  The sleeves were made by layering sections of silk, tulle, more silk, more tulle.  The crinkle silk is at the top (connected to the bodice).  I was able to modify some lace to create the 'arched' look in the movie lace...the laces and trims were layerd down the arm.  It's hard to describe, so I'll let the pics do most of the talking for now.  Needless to say, the sleeves were made entirely by hand...everything was way to delicate, or there was the hand beading to definitely no machines!  The final section was made with 4 layers of tulle, edged out at the wrist with delicate bridal lace and the remainder of the pearl trim.  I cut flower shapes from the leftover chantilly lace and appliqued them to the tulle.  Rhinestones were arranged at the can see them on the film version!

The Shoes:  I shopped around for some shoes that were similar to the ones worn in the film and found some beautiful Indian bridals, but I had a budget to consider.  Luckily, I found a pair of clear Sam and Libby heels at a friend's garage sale for 50 cents.  There was only the clear band across the top of the foot and a really nice lucite heel whose shape is close to that of the film shoe.  So I set out the create the uppers with layers of duck canvas and satin.  I beaded the uppers and attached them to the shoe with E-6000 glue.  Lots of it.  I trimmed out the ugly edges with a tiny silver metallic rope trim which looked close to the screen worn version.  For the heel, I attached 2 filgrees and several Swarovski rhinestones.  They aren't 100% accurate, but they are pretty comfy and very sparkly!

The Wings: I started by drawing a template onto paper, then using some all-purpose wire I bought at Lowe's, cut and bent the wire into shape (not easily done...sore fingers!).  Copper tape held the pieces together until they were spot-welded together.  After welding, they were sprayed with silver chrome paint, and the outer edge painted gold.  I used light silver tulle to fill it all in...sewn to the wire with metallic silver thread.  That was a total exercise in patience.  When transporting them, I had to be very careful...the netting would rip or the thread would snap if you just looked at it funny. 
I wanted them to look close to the film version, so I made an undercorset to act as a sort of harness to keep the wings steady.  It was a basic corset pattern, but heavily boned in the back around channels that had been sewn in...the wing attachments would slide down into the channels...they stayed pretty well and weren't a huge pain!


I've only worn this gown one time-for the DragonCon Costume Contest.  I received lots of nice feedback on its construction and detail, which was great.  Brian was so sweet to act as my 'wingman,' carrying my wings to and fro and making sure they were secure.  Hopefully, I'll be able to wear it again, even though it is tough walking in any crowded areas with those wings!
I could not have made this dress without the awesome reference pics on Maggie's site  Many thanks!!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

'Tombstone'- Kate's Black Dress

This is a last minute, wallet-friendly costume I put together so that I would have something period-appropriate to wear while Brian is in his Reuben Cogburn at D*C.  I actually really like it now that it's all put together and all the accessories are finished.  Aside from True Grit, Tombstone is my favorite 'western,' and since I am too old to costume as young Mattie Ross and too young to costume as older Mattie, I chose something a little more old-west-femme-fatale.  Kate, Doc Holliday's 'special lady,' wears some beautiful dresses, and since I already had most of the materials, I went with this one.  Plus, it's all black.  Gotta love that.

Fabrics, etc.:  Black casa satin from Joanne's (40% off;), black sequin trim, black lace, jet swarovski bicone beads and faceted rounds, beaded fringe trim, black ostrich plume, black turkey feathers.

Accessories:  Black lace opera-length gloves, jet and pearl earrings (made them!), black beaded/feather fascinator (made it!), necklace created using spare beaded fringe trim

Patterns:  For the skirt, I used view A from McCalls 2851.  This is the only piece I used from this pattern.  For the bodice, I used Simplicity 4092.  Thinking back, I probaly wouldn't use this one again for this type of dress.  However, I liked the shape and it's a pattern I'm familiar with, so it was fairly easy to modify.  And it was modified.  Heavily.  I didn't use a pattern for the 'train' was pretty easy to throw together with leftover satin and lace.

Shoes:  Brian gave me a beautiful pair of black Victorian lace-up boots from Oak Tree Farms (for my birthday).  I LOVE them.  Not only are they perfect for this dress, I can also wear them with  my can-can.
These pictures are not very good...we're crammed into my messy sewing room.  I will have better shots after D*C.  And my hair is not styled.  But you'll at least get a look at the dress!

Friday, June 3, 2011

"Labyrinth" Ball Gown

I really liked this movie growing up....a little creepy at times, but where there is David Bowie, you can do no wrong.  Anyhew, I thought the ballroom scene was magical, and the dress worn by Sarah was the quintessential fairie-tale gown.  So I thought I'd make a version of it, wear it briefly to D*C, then sell it.  It didn't go exactly as planned.  But I love it anyway!

Patterns:  I actually used 3 patterns to finish this gown:  for the bodice: Simplicity 2966; for the sleeves: Simplicity # 4156; for the skirt: Simplicity #3791.

Fabrics:  Heavy white satin for the underlayer; white sparkle tulle and white netting for the 'middle' layers; iridescent sheet for the outerlayer. Crinkle organza would be more advisable.

Extras:  I hand-beaded the designs on the bodice in gold bugle and seed beads, and I also added AB swarovski crystals here and there.  I made the necklace out of several types of glass beads in clear and AB, twisted around gold jewelry wire.  The hoop skirt was purchased on ebay--a bridal hoop with 6 layers!  The biggest I could find!  I also made the hairpieces out of white and iridescent ribbon and wire.  The brooch on the skirt was made out of sculpey, then texturized.  I added AB swarovski rhinestones.  The beading took about 2 months to complete (around the bodice and the sleeves).  I wish *now* that I would have used gold lace instead.  Will consider if I ever decide to do a version 2.0!
I wore this gown for about 2 hours at D*C, but it was a very busy time, and it was difficult to move around in such a large gown.  So that was it.  I did get some photos in, though, and several people recognized the gown and wanted pictures.  A little girl wanted her picture taken with me, which was soooo sweet! 
Instead of selling the gown (which I still may do), I temporarily loaned the gown to a local production of 'Cinderella.'  It looked great onstage!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Marie Antoinette: Birthday Gown

I've been on an 18th century kick this year, and the pattern I typically used for these is so easily modified, I decided to do another one for a grouping at D*C.  The gown worn by Marie during her birthday party has always appealed to me, mainly because of the slivers of color you seen in the underskirt and around the neckline.  The flouncy sleeves are nice, too!
I didn't really set out to make a screen-accurate gown here...more an 'inspired by' look. 
Fabrics:  The main gown fabric is a really thick high-quality home decor fabric given to me by a friend a few years ago.  I had just enough on the roll to make one or two gowns, so I've been careful about using it.  It is several shades darker than the screen-worn gown, but it is soft and has a pretty shimmer.  The sleeve ruffles are made of organza and chiffon...I alrealy had this as well.  The only purchased fabric was for the underskirt, which is turquoise silk dupioni I found half-off at Hancocks.  The flowers were made using  mango-pink and pastel pink satin and chiffon. 

Trims, etc.: The trim was made by gathering strips of beige tulle, then sewing an organza trim on top.  The trim around the cuffs is a pearl and sequin trim I found at Joannes on clearance.  The flowers were fun to make!  I actually found some spot-on vintage millinery flowers on ebay, but they were way out of my price range for this project.  So I cut and gathered the petals, then sewed bugle and seed beads to the center for that little something extra.   I'll also be making a flower fascinator using an extra flower plus an ostrich plume.

I have just enough trimming and fabric scraps left over to cover the shoes I found...thrift-shop mules for a buck. 
This gown was just finished tonight (yay!), so hopefully I'll be able to take some nice photos in the near future, including the gown and all the accessories!!
Total cost for entire look:  Less than $50.  Thank goodness I keep all my scrap fabric!

Friday, April 22, 2011

'Nine'-Stephanie's Black Dress

Before I even saw the movie (which I now have lukewarm feelings for...) I thought the costumes looked pretty cool.  I especially liked Kate Hudson's little black dress from one of the movie posters...which happened to be her dress from the introductory number:

Fabric:  I found some stretch sequin fabric on ebay (totally covered in sequins...epic).  It was a little pricey, but since I didn't need a huge amount...  I basically made this as a tube dress with a square piece at the top, adorned with glass faceted square beads.

Extras:  I strung the straps with a variety of faceted, czech glass, seed and bugle beads.  Most notably, though, are the large glass square beads I found at M&J.  They really allowed me to make this a little more screen-accurate, since the fabric would not allow me to make a slit up the left side (sigh).  The straps were tedious....I had to count the exact number of each bead used so that they would be symmetrical.  Worth it.  I found the boots online...ruched thigh-highs at costume express.  They are actually really comfortable!  What started it all was the hosiery....I had a pair of giant fishnets that I had ordered from Victoria's Secret YEARS ago....and when I saw the teaser pics of this costume I remembered having them stashed away.  As for the wig (I was not intended to be a blonde), it wasn't that bad.  This wig came from
All in all, very fun to wear!

Cassandra and I pose as a pair of woman actually knew who we were supposed to be!!!

Events:  D*C '10

Snowbunny Padme

I made this costume several years ago for CIV...and even though my 'Lake Gown' was much more labor-intensive, this costume actually got the most responses from con-goers!  Especially the kids...I don't know how many times I heard "Hi, Padme!  Can I take a picuture with you?" Funny old world, isn't it?  I would again like to thank Benae Quee for her tutorial on the made this costume so much more enjoyable to make. 
Pattern:  Benae Quee's tutorial...hood attached to a sweet cloak.

Fabrics:  White polar fleece with a lining made of ice blue cotton.  I could have opted for silk, but in keeping with my budeget, I stuck with cotton.  I suppose that is one of the benefits of costuming from an animated character--you get to choose the textures.  For the trim, I did use white faux fur which I dyed the same ice blue as the lining. (It took FOREVER!) The fur made a nice contrast against the smoothness of the fleece.  For the bodysuit...well...that was easy.  I simply ordered a head-to-toe unitard from a dancewear company.

Extras:  I used leftover fur trim to edge out the white satin gloves, as well as the tops of the white boots. The ties were made from round white shoelaces with dyed pom-poms glued to the ends.  The belt was made using a strip of rawhide leather left over from my Leia belt (painted white), and the holster came from a Rubies costume kit.  The blaster was purchased as well. 

As an added note:  wear nude or taupe undergarments!  They'll blend in with your skin, so you won't have to worry about show-through.  A set of Spanx wouldn't hurt either, since we are talking white spandex here.  I love mine!  No lines!

Brian and I posing with R2 at CIV....we had to stand still for a while..................

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Moulin Rouge! Pink Diamonds

After watching Moulin Rouge! several times, I knew I wanted to costume from it...but which one?  There are literally dozens of gorgeous dresses and costumes to choose from!   I 'analyzed' several of my favorites and decided that Pink Diamonds was the way to go.  From there, in the spring of '07, I started researching and compiling materials.  Knowing that this project could get expensive pretty quickly, I scoured ebay every few days for materials (I am a public schoolteacher, for crying out loud!).  Finally, I hit paydirt....thousands of light pink swarovski auction...and I won.  That was it.  I was making this outfit!   That being said, I also knew that ostrich feather boas were out of the question, but I could find suitable, if not screen-accurate--replacements.  Plus, I was looking forward to all that beading.  For the next few months, I would be applying these small crystals, stringing gold and silver bugle beads, and constructing my first corset.
Pattern:  Simplicity 5006 (modified at neckline)

Fabrics:  Lt. pink casa satin from Joanne's, light pink netting, white denim for interlining

Beads and Extras:  Gold and silver bugle and seed beads, clear swarovski round and marquis shaped rhinestones, light pink swarovski rhinestones, 2 yards of stranded rhinestones from Joannes.  I literally lost count of the rhinestones after 1000.
Pink and Light Pink feather boas:  15 in all...5 on each hip/back and 5 in the back.  I actually have added a few more in the past year for fullness!

Shoes:  t-strap Nine West sandals from ebay.  I added the rhinestones with E-6000 glue.  I am thinking about upgrading to a more screen-accurate dyeable pump before I wear it again. 

Gloves:  opera-length white gloves...dyed pink.  I'd like to upgrade these to dyed leather as well, but we'll see...........

Jewelry:  Clear rhinestone chandelier earrings and lots of stretch rhinestone bracelets....'diamonds' are a girl's best friend!  I'm still collecting bracelets to stack up my wrists!

*I even found the perfect little pink satin purse with diamonds at the handles at Claire's for $3!

Events:  D*C '07, '09, '10; AdventureCon '10, Dallas AllCon '11

Moulin Rouge: Pink Diamonds

After watching Moulin Rouge! several times, I knew I wanted to costume it....but which one??  There are literally dozens of gorgeous dresses and costumes to choose from, so I sort of 'analyzed' some of my favorites...and I felt that Pink Diamonds was the way to go.  I love the sparkle and the overall aesthetic of the costume...sort of showgirl, sort of burlesque, but totally sweet.  Plus, my goodness, all those beads and rhinestones!  I started researching and compiling materials in the spring of '07.  Knowing that this project could potentially get expensive, I combed ebay every few days for any materials I may find.  I knew that ostrich boas were out of the question (financially speaking....I am a public schoolteacher, for crying out loud!!), but I didn't really want to skimp on details.  There seems to be a few versions of this outfit used in the film, and the differences can be seen especially in the bodice area.  So I just sort of went with my gut in that area. 

Willie Scott: Club Obi-Wan

This, by far, has been my most ambitious project.  When it comes to hand beading, I'm a glutton for punishment (I really do love it).  But, I have been a die-hard Indy fan since I was a little girl, and even though Marion Ravenwood has always been my fave, you have to hand it to Willie--she knows how to dress.
As for the build, I was totally aware that this would not be 100% screen accurate.  The original gown was created with vintage beads and sequins, and there's just no topping that.  So it became a giant sequin-chase, complete with dozens of screen grabs and last-minute modifications.

Pattern: McCalls M4369--heavily modified in back, length, darts added

Fabric:  Red Casa satin from Joannes

Trims, Sequins, Etc.: Gold single-row flat sequins in gold--180 yards purchased; Red wavy sequin trim--10 yards, Red single-row sequin trim--3 yards, Gold bugle bead trim from M&J--6 yards; 12ss red siam swarovski crystals, several packs of loose gold bugle and seed beads

Gloves: one pair of red satin; one pair of gold satin; red stretch sequin trim, gold stretch sequin trim

Fascinator: gold shimmer tulle, gold single row sequin trim (small), red shimmer tulle, 36 gauge gold jewelry wire, silver clips

Shoes:  the closest I could find are gold ballroom dance shoes from Stephanie dance shoes online.  They are accurate except for the t-strap, which could be cut away, but I decided to keep them.

Wig: purchased at Performance Studios in Nashville and styled by me.  Gold spray and a blonde touch-up stick were used around the hairline.

Events: D*C '09, '10, AdventureCon '10
Honors: Best Media Recreation Design: D*C Friday Night Costume Contest

This gown is tough to walk only 'gripe' with it is its stiffness.  Kate Capshaw shimmies about the stage and you can see how flowy and swishy the gown is below the knees. Mine lacked that flow, and since the dress is basically un-alterable, there's little to be done about it.  It was very fun to wear, though, and costuming with Brian's Indy was very rewarding.  I'm glad I made it....the total time spent was about a year, and sometimes I just wanted to scrap the whole thing.  Definitely a labor of love!