Adora Belle Dearheart Part 2

With ten days to go until the North American Discworld Convention, my Adora Belle Dearheart costume is finished!

If you missed the first part of this blog, which talks about design, patterning, and building the main body of the dress, you can read it here:

Adora Belle Dearheart Part 1

When I left off, the dress still needed a collar and sleeves. The collar is a simple standing collar, which was very popular in the 1890s. It is lined with the same red fabric as the rest of the dress, and interfaced with canvas to keep it stiff.

IMG_3908.jpg
Stitching the lining, with attached interfacing, into the collar.

The sleeves are two-part with bent elbows. They are fitted through most of the arm, with a puff at the shoulder that gives them an almost spiky appearance.

They have false cuffs–meaning that an extra piece of fabric was superimposed onto the end of each sleeve piece before construction. This is merely decorative–the cuffs can’t fold down or anything, as they are permanently attached to the piece, and sewn into the sleeve seams.

IMG_3930.jpg
I attached the false cuffs with a row of decorative herringbone stitching in grey buttonhole silk,
IMG_3933.jpg
The under and upper sleeves with false cuffs attached.
IMG_3932.jpg
The upper sleeve has a slight gather at the elbow when it attaches to the under sleeve–this helps give it a bit  of flexibility when moving.

The sleeve lining is cut to fit smoothly into the armscye, while the fashion fabric is cut to create the large poof. There is a piece of wadded up stiff netting inside the puff between fabric and lining to keep it, well, puffy.

IMG_3934.jpg

I ended up having to tear out and re-pleat, reshape, and otherwise adjust the sleeves seven different times before I was satisfied with the look, but it turned out worth it!

With all the pieces attached, it was time for lots of finishing touches. That started with finishing off the raw edges of the crossover pieces. The neckline and armscye edges are simply turned under and overcast, but the shoulder seam edge has a piece of heavy cotton facing to give the buttonholes more stability.

IMG_3949.jpg

IMG_3954.jpg
The darts also each got a row of herringbone stitching, which both looks nice and holds down the extra fabric on the inside. I got this detail from one of the original dresses I referenced in Part 1.

At this point, I remembered that I wanted to add a pocket to this dress–never underestimate the importance of having a pocket in any costume you’re planning to wear at an all-day event!

The pocket sits flat inside the bulk at the back of the skirt, with an opening in the center back seam. It is just under the bum-pad, so that any bulk from items is completely hidden in the extra volume. It is made of three pieces–one back piece, and two front pieces, joined above and below a slit that matches up with the slit in the skirt.

Here is the pocket on the inside of the skirt. The ties keep the bulk of the skirt contained in a nice tail, so that it doesn’t just flop all over the place.

IMG_3961.jpg
I also stitched a piece of re-enforcing twill tape up the center back skirt seam to help keep it from stretching, since it is both cut on the bias, and the only part of the dress that isn’t lined.
IMG_3963.jpg
Adding a final row of herringbone stitch just below the collar.

I swear I also hemmed the dress, though I seem to have forgotten to photograph that part. There is a cotton hem facing out of the same material as the one on the shoulder.

The final task was also one of the most daunting: buttonholes and buttons. I don’t normally have an issue with buttonholes, but this particular dress required 47 of them. I did have a contingency plan whereby if I drove myself mad doing buttonholes before they were finished, I would close the lower half of the skirt with hooks and eyes, and simply sew buttons over the top, but I really liked the look of a row of silk-bound buttonholes marching down the skirt, so I pressed on. Adora Belle is a character whose clothes should be a pain to get off.

IMG_3966.jpg
I used a pair of calipers to mark the buttonholes evenly down the side of the dress.
IMG_3974.jpg
I was sewing buttonholes for days… I could get about six done on a week day after work, more on a weekend day.
IMG_3995.jpg
There are four buttons on the shoulder, and 43 down the side.
IMG_3976.jpg
I absolutely adore the vintage buttons I found on Etsy store The Vintage Pillbox! And there are still more available!

It was so satisfying to get the last few on!

I wrestled and fought with this costume a lot as I was building it, but I am so thrilled with how it turned out! The fit is great, the crazy closure worked out properly, and the way it moves makes me want to turn in little circles with joy! (You can see it moving in a video on my Instagram, which is also linked on the right.)

Disclaimer: I do not smoke, but you can find New Rule FX’s fantastically realistic cigarette prop (available in filter or non-filter varieties), here.

If you are interested in the wig I’m wearing, which is hand-tied human hair, and can be styled in almost any way you can imagine (I have so far used it for Snow White from Once Upon a Time, 1840s, and Adora Belle/1890s, and plan to use it in many more ways in the future), check out my day job at Custom Wig Company!

You can see pictures of this wig in action in other styles on my Facebook page or Instagram. You can also read more about the process of making one of these versatile beauties in my post To Make a Wig.

IMG_4014 (1)

IMG_4015 (1)

IMG_4016

IMG_4020 (1)

IMG_4024

Slideshow of detail shots, including me being very excited about my pocket! Also my super awesome black and red clocked stockings from Amazon Drygoods.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

IMG_4013.jpg

Only ten days left, so I’ll be fully immersed in Brandon’s golden jacket until we leave. I am so excited!!! In ten days, I depart for a city I’ve always wanted to go to (New Orleans), to attend an event celebrating my absolute favorite book series (Discworld), and just as an extra bonus, it’s my first anniversary! What could be better?

Edit to add a few photos from outside our hotel in New Orleans! (Including Brandon in his Moist Von Lipwig suit!)

Enlight5

IMG_4119

IMG_4125 (1)

IMG_4123 (1)

 

 

Spectra Spec-tacular: Part 1 (plus piping mini-tutorial)

Almost two years ago, I completed my first cosplay: Luna Lovegood’s dress from Bill and Fleur’s wedding in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. You can read all about the (rather haphazard) construction here. I picked that dress because it seemed simple, and I though I had quite a bit of sewing experience, I was only just wading into the world of making my own patterns.

Looking back two years later, I can hardly believe how far I’ve come in such a short time. Two years ago, it was the coat that scared me away from Luna’s iconic outfit from Half-Blood Prince. I knew that if I did that outfit, I would want a coat as similar to hers in shape as possible, and I definitely didn’t trust myself to make that pattern up. Now that I’m doing it, I’m glad I waited. I don’t know how I would have done the construction then, but I know it’s better now!

lunalovegood_wb_f6_lunalovegoodquibblerfulllengthpromoshot_promo_080615_port

I stared at pictures of this coat for a long time, and watched the scene it appears in over and over. There is never an unobscured shot of it. She is always holding the Quibblers, or has her arm up, or the shot is too close up to see, or it’s dark. Luckily, when she finds Harry on the floor of Malfoy’s compartment on the Hogwarts Express, she holds the magazines enough to one side that you can get a pretty good idea of how this all goes together. After all that, here is the quick sketch that I came up with:

IMG_2884.jpg

It’s basically a little bolero jacket with a pleated skirt portion attached. The placket for the buttonholes is part of the same piece as the pleated portion. It has a large collar and sleeves that have a gathered cap which is tall, rather than full. I assume that the pocket flaps are false, since They seem to flatten the pleats along the bottom edge more than they would if they actually opened, and I have no idea why anyone would decide to put actual pockets through three layers of pleated coating.

I draped the body on my dress form, then used those pieces to make a quick mockup. It fit quite well right out of the gate (not that it’s a particularly fitted garment). All I had to do was adjust the front placket and the shape of the center front edge of the bolero portion just a smidgen so that the closure wouldn’t gape between buttons.

I spent a long time staring at pink coating fabrics before I picked a pink, white, and burgundy wool blend from Mood Fabrics. The threads are a bit larger than the ones in Luna’s coat, but it was the only fabric I could find that had all three colors I was looking for that wasn’t a regular pattern like plaid. I thought about going with a plainer pink fabric, but I figured with Luna, always err on the side of more out-there. Even though it’s not exact, I also love the addition of the sparkly bronze bits in the weave as well. Makes it a bit more magical?

The lining is a deep purple linen/rayon blend from Joann.

I had to think long and hard about the order of operations on this jacket, since the construction is a bit odd. The bolero and the pleated skirt aren’t sewn together by a normal seam, but by the zigzag detail about an inch in from the edge of the bolero.

So, up to a certain point, I needed to prepare the two sections separately. I started by sewing the skirt fronts and back together, and pressing the bottom and center front edges of both the lining and fabric under. Then I placed the lining on the fabric, slightly offset, and slip stitched the two together.

img_2835

I then folded the pleats and basted them in place ,and the skirt portion was ready to go.

The bolero is a bit more exciting: its edges get piped with patterned piping! I scoured Joann and found one that had a pattern with a lot of the same colors as Luna’s piping: purple, coral/orange, and white.

But before all the fun, I had to put the pieces together. It is very simple: no darts or anything, just one back piece and two front pieces.

IMG_2846.jpg

Because the edge of the bolero will over hang the skirt portion a bit, it needs a facing so that if the underside is ever seen, it looks the same as the outside. This is where the piping comes into play:

Mini Tutorial: Piping

Step 1: Cut fabric into bias strips. I only cut mine an inch wide, but to be on the safe side, I would recommend cutting 1.5 inch wide strips. Bias strips are cut at a 45 degree angle to the grain of the fabric. Since fabric stretches more on the bias, this allows the piping to go around curves without bunching.

IMG_2837.jpg

Step 2:

If you need lengths of piping longer than the strips you were able to cut from your fabric, you will need to sew some together. The best way to sew  bias strips together is to to it at an angle–you may have noticed this if you’ve ever paid attention to the seams in your commercial bias tape. You will do this by placing the diagonal edges of your strips right side to right side at a right angle as shown below. The pointy ends will hang over on each side.

IMG_2839.jpg

Sewing the seam like this means that you are sewing with the grain of the fabric, which will help the seam disappear. Since the seam is at an angle once you open up the pieces and press it, it also distributes the bulk of the seam allowance, making the join more, well, seamless.

IMG_2840.jpg

Step 3:

Fold your strip in half around a piece of cord in whatever size you would like your piping to be. For garments, I usually opt for ordinary butcher’s string/kitchen twine. It’s a good size, it’s very flexible, and best of all–it’s extremely cheap!

Make sure that from the bottom of the string to the raw edges of the fabric is at least as wide as your seam allowance–I had to offset my edges to make sure of this, but that’s ok, because none of this will show in the end!

Using the zipper foot of your sewing machine, stitch through the fabric right next to the cord but NOT through it. I always move my needle as close to the cord as I can get it by adjusting the “stitch width” setting. The closer you can sew to your cord, the neater your piping will look and the happier you will be!

 

SaveIMG_2841.jpg

When you have sewn all of your piping, put a ruler of measuring tape up right against the bottom of the cord and make sure that your seam allowance portion is the same as the seam allowance your are using for your project (1/2″ in my case). Trim off any excess. This may seam tedious, but I promise you won’t regret it!

Inserting the piping:

Step 1: Take one of the two pieces of fabric that will form the seam where the piping will sit. Pin (or Wonderclip!) your piping to your garment. Because you’ve trimmed your piping seam allowance to be the same as your garment seam allowance, this means you just need to line up your piping edge and garment edge just as you would if it were two pieces of fabric. The bottom of your piping will automatically be right at the seam line.

IMG_2847.jpg

Now, at this point, you could just sandwich the other piece of fabric on top and go to town, but I find that if I do that there’s always at least one spot where the piping shifted slightly and went under the needle by accident, meaning you’ll have to either live with wonky piping or tear that portion out and do it again. But, this can be avoided! Follow these next three steps and you can have perfect piping every time!

Step 2:

Still using the zipper foot, sew the piping to your one piece of fabric (in the case the outer fabric of the bolero), still keeping the needle as close to the cord as possible, right on top of the stitching that holds your piping together.IMG_2848.jpg

Step 3:

Pin the second piece of fabric (in this case the bolero facing) to the first, just as you would if you were sewing the seam as normal without piping.

IMG_2850.jpg

Step 4:

Turn the work over so that the seam that holds the piping on is facing up. Sew right along the same line. (My fabric was so heavy that the zipper food became awkward, so I switched back to the basic foot. You may find that continuing to use the zipper foot works best for you.) Doing this ensures the piping sits exactly where you wanted, and never either gets squished in the seam, or extends too far out, forming unsightly lumps and bumps.

IMG_2851.jpg

IMG_2852.jpg
Perfect!

As long as I was piping things, I also made the false pocket flaps. In addition to the piping, these get a row of decorative zigzag stitches about an inch in from the edge. Once they were on and I stepped back, I realized that just one row of zigzags didn’t show up much against such a busy fabric, so on the collar and the bolero, I ended up doing two rows right on top of each other.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

And then I draped the collar, since I was too lazy to do that back when I was makign the rest of the mockup.

The collar is made in the same way as the pocket flaps, with piping and zigzag details. When it was made, I basted it to the neckline of the bolero.

I was running low of fabric when I did the collar, and worried about having enough for the sleeves, so the underside is more of the crazy fabric from the piping!

IMG_2885.jpg

So, both the upper and lower parts of the coat were basically ready (minus the sleeves–I decided that it would be easier to attach sleeves to the full coat than to worry about them getting in the way while I tried to attach the two halves.

After doing one row of the decorative zigzagging around the edge of the bolero, I pinned the lower half inside of the upper one, making sure that it overlapped the zigzagging completely.

IMG_2880.jpg

And then I simply sewed a second row of zigzags right on top of the first, which made it much more simple than if I had wanted just one row of stitching!

IMG_2881.jpg

Nearing completion!

IMG_2882.jpg

I drafted a sleeve pattern and then tested it several time with alterations in between until I was happy with this one:

IMG_2883.jpg

When the sleeves were on, I sewed a lining for the upper portion of the coat. I machine sewed it to the neckline, with the collar sandwiched between, then pressed it down and anchored it with a row of stitches below the collar. Then I just turned the jacket inside out and folded the edges of the lining under and slipstitched in place.

Finally, I made a pair of decorative bands for the ends of the sleeves. After attempting one, I realized that if I piped them the same way as everything else, I couldn’t turn them back right-side-out. The piping made them too stiff, and the fabric was so thick, but so loosely woven, that I ended up with an unraveling mess when  I tried! So, I sewed the piping to one piece (I used a quarter inch seam allowance), then pressed the seam allowance to the wrong side and covered the raw edges with a piece of bias tape sewn along the back of the strap.

The straps are sewn down, and the buckle is entirely decorative, since the finished straps were far too thick to be able to go through the buckles twice!

IMG_2893.jpg

After that it was just buttons and buttonholes:

And a bit of top stitching to smooth out the edges and the pleats:

IMG_2901.jpg

And we’re finished! Now I just have to get the rest of the costume finished in time for Lexington Comic and Toy Con this weekend!

Now back to sewing, painting, knitting, (and, of course, hunting wrackspurts) to make everything as magical as possible!

Read more:

Spectra Spec-tacular Part 2

Snow White Riding Outfit 4: Finishing Touches

I was finally able to get back to work on Snow this month, after my break waiting for the final materials to arrive turned into a break to finish Christmas gifts! Snow is finally finished. I only have dress-form photos at the end of this blog because next week I have a studio photoshoot scheduled, so keep an eye on my Facebook and Instagram for the good stuff!

If you read Parts 2 & 3 of this blog, you know that things were nearly finished–the pants were fronted with suede, the skirt drapes and the jacket were made. All I needed was to bind and bead the jacket, and make the belt. (I’m also making a little costume for my bow, since Snow’s is wrapped in leather and fur, but I’ll show that off at the photoshoot.)

4332d572ba947702f7c65878266f4fcd
Here’s the real costume, designed by Eduardo Castro

It took forever to get a hold of faux leather seam binding in exactly the right shade of off white. It turns out that not a lot of places sell faux leather binding at all, and those that do mostly have tan and black. I finally had to order off white from the seller Neotrims on Amazon (they also sell on eBay), and while it’s the perfect solution, it took weeks to get here–most of the reason for how delayed this blog is!

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/5e/3c/c2/5e3cc253453f047be4590b023befd7ad.jpg

Sewing faux leather binding turned out to be another one of those places where Wonderclips are invaluable. Since this binding is basically just one strip of double-sided poly leather with a slit down the center of one side to facilitate folding, you can’t sew it like fabric bias tape. It doesn’t open up.

IMG_2674.jpg

So I just clipped it onto the edges of the jacket and slip stitched each side. At first I tried sewing both sides at once by putting the needle all the way through the jacket and both edges of the tape, but I lost so much time constantly turning the piece this way and that to make sure the needle was coming through in exactly the right place, and fighting to pull it through that many layers that I decided just sewing each side seperatly would be more efficient.

IMG_2632.jpg

As usual, Marionette was determined to help out by sitting exactly where the project needed to go.

Once I had put binding on the jacket and sleeve pieces, I put in grommets to attach the sleeves to the jacket.

IMG_2638.jpg
Putting in grommets is very satisfying, as it’s one of the very rare times in sewing when it’s acceptable to hit your project with a hammer.
IMG_2649.jpg
Don’t listen to that nonsense on the package about using scissors! I always open up holes for eyelets or grommets with an awl, which doesn’t sever the threads of the fabric, and therefore keeps the hole much stronger. It also alleviates the risk of opening a hole to big for the eyelet, thereby ruining the project.

Here’s the jacket body with binding and eyelets:

IMG_2639.jpg

It took me forever to find a bead/stud that I liked for the centers of the diamonds. It is almost impossible to tell exactly what they are either in the show or in any photos of the costume I’ve seen. Eventually, I found these small rhinestone shank buttons on Etsy.

IMG_2538.jpg
Here is a link to the seller’s page.

She didn’t have a big enough listing of them up, but she was very helpful and was able to special order 550 of them for me from her supplier. They were definitely the priciest part of this costume simply due to the quantity, but I think it was worth it.

Beading, as usual, took much longer than planned…

Because I decided to leave beads off of the area under the belt and down the center of the back (to avoid getting them tangled in my wig), I ended up using a total of 424 beads.

I left attaching the sleeves until later and moved on to the final piece of the puzzle: the belt.

I started with measurements. With the jacket on, my waist measures 30″, so I needed something with a 30″ finished length, plus a tail. It needed to be slightly narrower in the center than two of my rhinestone brooches, since they hang over the edges ever so slightly.

IMG_2667.jpg

IMG_2527.jpg
I found these brooches at a shop that sells all sorts of stuff for events, and at less than $5 apiece, I don’t think I could have done better!

To make the belt pattern, I used a piece of stiff buckram interfacing. I measured and sketched out the shape I needed, then cut it out and tested it with the jacket.

After a few minor adjustments, I used that pattern to cut out the outer layer (silver metallic knit from Joann), and an inner layer of muslin, sandwiched the interfacing between them, and basted, leaving one end free to attach the buckle. The other end got two layers of off-white leather for the holes.

I them bound the length between buckle and leather with the same off-white pleather binding as the jacket.

IMG_2672.jpg

While I was putting on the binding, I also added a loop to hold the excess length of the belt. It is a piece of the binding folded in half and sewn into the binding at the back of the belt. It then wraps around the front of the belt, and back under the binding on the other side.

When the belt was finished, I simply pinned the brooches in place.

IMG_2678.jpg

The final step was to attach the sleeve pieces to the jacket. I used a worsted weight cotton yarn since I was having trouble finding any twisted cord of the right size and flexibility. The yarn is tied in a cow hitch (both ends through the grommet, then pulled through the loop left on the other side) around the upper portion, then both ends are put through the corresponding grommet on the lower portion and tied off. The dangling ends are each adorned with a silver beadHere.

Here it is, all finished! I’ll have awesome photos of me in the full costume in a couple of weeks, so check back, or follow me on Facebook and Instagram (@fabricnfiction)!

img_2683img_2684img_2686img_2687img_2688img_2689img_2690img_2691

Edited to add these amazing photos from a shoot with Ben Marcum Photography! Wig by Custom Wig Company.

IMG_2874

IMG_4039

Snow White Riding Outfit 3: Not Just the Jacket

Since I can’t do anything else on the jacket until the binding and beads arrive (cross your fingers for some time next week!), I’ve been working on other parts of the costume instead.

Snow’s pants are your basic stretchy riding pants, but with a false front to make them look as though they are made of suede.The suede piece covers just the fronts of the pants from waist to where they go into the boots. The join is easily visible in the character shots. I assume the costume department didn’t expect anyone to notice that Snow’s pants weren’t all suede, but it’s easy to see in the show with all of the action she has in this costume.

Screen Shot 2016-10-23 at 7.28.56 PM.png

I ordered my pants from State Line Tack. I basically just picked the cheapest pair of light tan riding pants I could find. The faux suede is from Fashion Fabrics Club.

I started out by just cutting two rectangles of suede a little wider and a little longer than I needed to cover half of the fronts. I put on the pants and pinned the suede to it, marking on the suede where the seams were underneath so that I knew where the finished edges of the piece should be. I did this with the pants on because I needed them to be stretched so that I knew everything would fit once the suede was on.

IMG_2459.jpg

I used the first piece to cut out a symmetrical second piece and sewed them together at the center front.

IMG_2468.jpg

I then hemmed all the edges with a double row of stitching, first cutting out the corners so that my poor machine didn’t have to sew over four layers of this stuff!

At that point, all that was left was to attach the false front to the pants, which meant making sure that I had the pants stretched enough. I started by sewing the center front seam to the center front seam of the pants. The pants don’t stretch as much vertically as they do horizontally, so that was pretty easy, and it gave me somewhere to work from.

IMG_2473.jpg

I also checked to make sure the outer edge was hitting about where I wanted it.

IMG_2474.jpg

I put the pants on and had Brandon mark where the bottoms of the false front should hit.IMG_2475.jpg

From there, I sewed them on down the inseam, careful to stretch the pants just a touch so that the ends landed right on Brandon’s line. Then I put the pants on again, and had Brandon pull the outer edge as far as it would go and mark where that should fall so that the suede would be as tight as possible when I had it all sewed down.

Here’s the finished product. I didn’t manage to get it quite as tight as I hoped, but I think the backs of the pants end up stretching a bit more once the suede is on to make up for the fact that the front doesn’t stretch as much anymore. Oh well, at least most of the loose bits will be covered by other parts of the costume!

IMG_2496.jpg
For some reason teh pants look very yellow in this photo. In reality they are quite a bit browner than the waistband.
Screen Shot 2016-10-25 at 9.22.57 PM.png
The boots are Yuu Soo Riding Boots from JC Penny

After the pants I moved on to the skirt drapes. They are made of pincord fabric, and lined with the leftover suede from the pants to keep them stiff.

After making a basic waistband, I draped them on my dressform, careful to keep a large seam allowance around the edges so that I could wrap them around the lining and finish. They are very simple shapes, just wonky rectangles with one little pleat in the front and one in the back for shaping and drape.

IMG_2490.jpg

The fabric is the same size as the lining at the top, but gets wider as it goes down so that it has a bit of drape separate from the stiff lining. Since that meant I couldn’t pin them together laying completely flat, I attached the two by pinning the seam allowances away then lining up the lining piece with each edge and wrapping the fabric back around it before pinning in place.

IMG_2491.jpg

IMG_2488.jpg

IMG_2492.jpg

Once the sides were pinned, I fiddled around a lot with the placement of the pleats until they fell as straight as I could get them.

IMG_2493.jpg

I couldn’t sew the fabric and lining together until I was happy with that, or I’d just have to rip it out again.

IMG_2494.jpg
Folding under the raw edges in preparation for hemming.

Since, after all of my futzing with the pleats, the lining edges and fabric edges don’t line up exactly at the very bottom, I both top stitched the edges and hemmed. This ensures that the edges stay nice and sharp, and the fabric doesn’t balloon away from the lining oto much.

IMG_2512.jpg
The finished pieces ready for the waistband. I swear that pincord wrinkles if you look at it.

Since the waistband won’t be seen at all in the finished costume, I was able to just top stitch it shut instead of doing a nice slip stitch, which saved a bit of time.

Here’s the progress so far (sans pants since the dressform doesn’t do that):

img_2515img_2516img_2517

Maybe steaming those darn drapes will get the wrinkles out. It seems like every time I set them down and pick them up again, they’re a mess!

There won’t be a blog next week, since I’ll be too busy getting ready for our Halloween party to get much done, plus it’ll give the final materials a chance to get here. There’s not much I can do until the seam binding and beads arrive! Things should really get fun once that happens!

See you in November,

Hannah