It took almost exactly a year for the entire outfit to come together. Before that, though, I had been thinking, and researching, and planning, and sketching for nearly two years. At first it was just casual. At the time, my work consisted of four people: a Gryffindor, a Hufflepuff, a Slytherin, and me. So we cooked up a scheme to create four bustle gowns, one for each house. We wanted to make them, but mostly it was something to talk over in great detail over long days of tying hair. Unfortunately, the four house gowns never happened, but I couldn’t get the dress I wanted to create out of my head.
So I decided to do it anyway, despite the fact that I had nowhere to wear it, no goal in sight! I started planning in earnest: costing out silk, and saving money, shopping though patterns for good underthings, and base shapes, and thinking through the draping and drafting on elements that I knew I would have to do myself.
Now, more than a year later, I still have nowhere planned to wear it (hit me up with good events within a reasonable distance of Louisville, KY), but I do have something wonderful to share.
At the end of May, I had the fun of doing a photoshoot with the wonderful Ben Marcum Photography. I have done many kinds of shoots with Ben: headshots, my wedding portraits, beauty shoots, and cosplay. I can tell you this–if you are in Louisville, or coming through Louisville, and can find any excuse to have some professional photos done, go have your portrait taken by Ben. Especially if you hate having your photo taken. (Believe me, we also did some Adora Belle photos at the shoot, and next week I will reveal one of the only photos I’ve ever liked of my own profile!)
Even if you are nervous in front of a camera, Ben will make you laugh, make you comfortable, and make absolutely beautiful images of you every time. I always look forward to doing a shoot with him, because I know that I will have a great, goofy day, and come out of it feeling good about myself.
The wig I’m wearing is, of course, from Custom Wig Company, styled by yours truly. The beautiful cameos are from Dames à la Mode. The set was styled by Ben’s wife, my awesome boss, Heather Fleming. The books are a blend of antiques, and handmade replicas by Strano Books.
So without further ado:
You can read all about the ensemble’s construction, from beginning to end, on the blog.
Of course, I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t have ideas of ways to add to the ensemble! At some point, I would love to make an evening bodice to turn the gown into a stylish and practical day-to-night outfit. I also have ideas for a feather mantle wired with LED lights so that it glows from between the feathers.
Wow… what I had hoped would be another week or two of work on this bodice has turned into months. To be fair, not all of that was working on the bodice, since the bodice work ran into prep time for the Fort Frederick Market Fair, and I had to take a break from the Victorian Era to spend some time in the 18th Century. I hope you’ll all agree that it was worth the wait!
Truly Victorian’s 1871 Day Bodice made the perfect blank canvas for me to play with. I modified the back pieces in order to create the peplum I wanted, but otherwise I used the pattern as-is.
Truly Victorian includes a system in the pattern booklet to help you get a fit as much like a custom garment as possible. Using certain measurements, you decide which pattern size to cut each different piece of your bodice. My back pieces were one size, my front and side another, and my sleeves a third. It seems weird at first, but it worked great. The mock-up fit well right out of the gate!
The bodice, like the skirts, is made of silk taffeta, flat-lined with cotton organdy, apart from the sleeves, which are lined with cotton lawn for less stiffness. It has flat steel boning along the seams and darts.
The peplum also has a ruffle of feather-like shapes. You can see the gown that this was based on in my research post. I originally cut this with the shapes all one even length, then trimmed it down to a shape that I liked while it was draped over the bustle.
Before I could attach the ruffle though, lots of details had to fall into place!
Firstly, I made a triple row of piping in alternating colors to go around the bottom edge of the bodice.
Testing things out on the dress form:
The front edge of the bodice is faced with some of the blue taffeta:
And the neckline and sleeves are bias bound with more taffeta. It’s the easiest way to finish off the raw edges, and since they will be completely covered with trim, the binding will not be visible.
The feather peplum also has quite a few layers of decorative elements that needed to get done before it could be attached to the bodice.
The top, connected part of the peplum is covered with a layer of velvet, which extends partway down each of the feathers in a triangle shape that mimics the velvet appliqués on the skirts. Each of these triangles (of course), has its very own piece of bronze piping.
Using cord or braid to create a design on a garment was a popular embellishment technique throughout the 19th century. I used brown crochet thread to create more detail on each of the feathers.
When that was finished, I backed the feathers with another piece of taffeta to hide the stitches and complete the piping.
Ok, one section of embellishment finished, on to cuffs and collar!
There are rows of small knife pleats along the neckline and wrists, bound at the edge to match the pleats on the skirts.
The cuffs also have a band of feathers similar to the peplum, but in this case the chevron shapes are only at the feather tips, and since there is no velvet, I put a Fleur-de-lys in between each feather to fill in the empty space.
They are also backed with blue taffeta. There is a layer of organdy backing on the embroidered piece in order to help it keep its shape, since it will be defying gravity a bit.
Those raw edges were covered with a band of velveteen, piped with bronze taffeta.
The neckline didn’t get any feathers. They’re all done, thank goodness! But it does get a velveteen appliqué. This starts at the back as a reflection of the same shapes I used on the skirts, and the ends extend up over the shoulders and cross in the front, where they will be closed with a brooch.
I used pins to smooth out a piece of velveteen and sketch out the shape I was looking for.
I then piped the edges in bronze, and backed the parts that will not be sewn down with blue taffeta.
And then I stitched it down:
The final result:
For a fun contrast with the taffeta bodice, I covered the buttons with the velveteen, and embroidered a small feather on each with bronze silk thread.
The buttons, however, aren’t functioning. I was afraid that a velvet covering on such a small button would be too delicate to withstand a lot of use without shredding, so the bodice actually closes with hooks and eyes.
There we have it! It hasn’t quite hit me yet that this enormous, months long part of the project is finished.
All that’s left now is a hat!
Once that’s done, I’ll be doing a big photoshoot of the whole outfit with Ben Marcum Photography. I’m just showing the bodice for now because I want to do all the starching, and pressing, and adjustments, and get all the bits together with a beautiful backdrop and wig and everything before I spoil the effect!
With the biggest part of my new Luna Lovegood cosplay out of the way (the coat–which you can read about here), the rest of the pieces came together very quickly.
I bought the tights, a pair of pink Converse shoes, and the official Spectra Spec replicas. The tights and the specs got to stay as they were, but the shoes, not so much.
The Converse that Evanna Lynch wore as Luna in HP and the Half Blood Prince were a pair of special editions called Autumn Flowers, and since the movie came out in 2009, they have obviously long been out of production. I have an eBay search for them saved, but so far I haven’t seen a single pair, let alone one in my size. I’ll keep my fingers crossed. In the meantime, I wasn’t about to let that stop me!
Using a few pictures of the shoes, I drew out the design on my light pink shoes in pencil.
I painted the shoes with acrylic paint, which I water down slightly so that it soaks into the fabric and spreads really nicely. I painted the background color first. It’s an extremely dark brown, almost black.
I also gave the white soles a coat. It’s not a permanent solution, since it chips off of the rubber quickly, but it got me through Lexington Comic and Toy Con and bought me time to find a better solution.
Then I started filling in the base colors of the flowers, refining their shapes a bit as I went. I knew I was going to go back with a second coat of the background color at the end, so it was fine to leave a few pink spots here and there.
I painted things in one color at a time, so that once I had mixed a color, I wouldn’t have to re-mix it later in order to match what I’d done before.
Then there were the details. Each flower has a contrasting center, and some other details–smaller petal shapes or little dots around the center.
Once I went back and touched up the base color, I went around and outlined the details in black sharpie to make them pop.
After a couple coats of Scotch Guard, the shoes are ready for action!
Now, for that wonderful skirt. The original was from H&M. Once again, it has obviously been out of stores for many years. I’ll keep searching for an original on eBay, but since H&M clothes aren’t exactly built to last, I won’t hold out too much hope.
Luckily, I had a pretty good solution. My brother is studying to be an animator, and thus, is fantastic at digital art. He made me a design similar to that out-of-this-world horse, bird, star, and heart print, which I got printed at Spoonflower. The design looks great, but it’s definitely not a perfect solution. I ordered it on cotton poplin, but the printing process stiffens the fabric so much that it might as well be quilting cotton. It did soften up a bit after a wash, but it’s still pretty stiff.
The skirt is super simple: just a couple of rectangles stitched together and gathered onto an elastic waistband. I flatfelled the seams to finish them.
The entire thing is done by machine (a rarity for me), so it only took an hour or so!
Luna also has a bag, which any con-going cosplayer will tell you is a lifesaver! I could actually carry all must stuff around with me!
The bag is made of a fun blue woven with lots of other colors in it, and I lined it with some heart-printed calico from my stash.
It’s about the simplest bag in the world. The bag portion is two rectangles, the strap is attached on each side, and the join is then covered with another square of the blue fabric. I attached the lining with a zigzag stitch in purple for a bit of extra detail.
I didn’t quite get the final item of Luna’s outfit done in time for Lexington Comic and Toy Con, but it did give me something to do with my hands!
I even used an on-theme stitch marker!
I really need to get better about remembering to take pictures at cons–I’m lucky I remembered to have someone take the one of me knitting! Here’s one that was taken by another awesome cosplayer at the event (check out @queenaslaug on Instagram!).
This is definitely my comfiest cosplay so far, and it’s really fun to hang around as Luna!
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!
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
I drafted a sleeve pattern and then tested it several time with alterations in between until I was happy with this one:
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!
After that it was just buttons and buttonholes:
And a bit of top stitching to smooth out the edges and the pleats: