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Lady Tremaine (Part 4)

At long last the skirt for my Lady Tremaine outfit is done! I’ll post a tutorial for the under and overskirts later, but for now here are some pictures of the two together.

First is a side view. I stuffed a pillow under the skirt for the photos, but later I will be making a small bustle pad specific for this outfit.


Here is a view showing the open front with the black velvet underskirt.IMG_6139

And a view from the back.IMG_6125

I took some liberties with the flowers. I used a lot of poppies and leafy sprigs, while Lady Tremaine’s skirt has more abstract flowers and vines.IMG_6126IMG_6127

Since the skirt is open in the front, I put the closures on the side. The skirt is pleated into a velvet waistband made from the same fabric as the underskirt, and closes above the hip with some heavy duty hooks and eyes.IMG_6144

If you’ve been following the story, getting the material for the appliques was quite the saga!

  1. Supplier #1 sent me a bright neon green flocking material, when I wanted chartreuse. I couldn’t find chartreuse flocking anywhere, so I switched to wool-blend felt.
  2. Supplier #2 had to send me felt swatches twice, after the first set got lost in the mail.
  3. After I received the swatches, Supplier #2 said they didn’t have the full amount of chartreuse felt I wanted.
  4. I felt the felt (ha!) I did get in the end didn’t cut cleanly enough for the flowers to have neat edges, so I went back to flocking.
  5. I took a gamble on Supplier #3, where I bought a roll of flocking. Despite being labeled “green,” it was a little too yellow for me, but still better than the bright neon green I got at first.

I would have preferred a color in between the two below, but the bottom is still closer to what I wanted.


I used a Silhouette machine to cut the outlines of the appliques, then used a little hook and spatula to weed out the excess material (which took a really, really long time). What is left behind is velvety flocking on one side (and attached to a plastic backing sheet), while the other side has a heat-sensitive adhesive that melts into the fabric.IMG_5977

This was probably the most terrifying project I’ve done! The iron had to be hot enough to fuse the flocking, but not so hot it would melt the organza. I had to make sure the adhesive didn’t bleed through the organza into something else underneath, so I had to protect the areas around and beneath the applique with plenty of parchment paper.

Heat-transfer flocking is best done with a large heat press, but I used an iron. I had a little bit of puckering in some areas, but I think the iron gave me more control, especially over the small detailed areas, even though it took longer!

For the bodice I will be using black heat transfer flocking, which is luckily much easier to find. However, I’ll have to experiment again with the temperature sweet spot that will fuse flocking to sequins without melting them.

Read parts 1, 2, and 3 here.

Circulatory System Dress (aka the Heart, Blood, and Lungs Gown) at the Vampire Ball

Last night I attended the annual PEERS Vampire Ball wearing my circulatory system dress, complete with heart and lungs!

IMG_6037 IMG_6043I did not have time to make a new dress from scratch, so I modified a purchased dress.

I found this really neat gown that was covered in red embroidery that reminded me of blood vessels. (I think it might have intended to evoke sea coral). I thought “Hey, it would be creepy and cool to add organs to it!”

IMG_5999IMG_6005I have a friend with an embroidery machine (who has an Etsy shop), so I sent her the specs and I asked her to make me some heart and lungs in the size and color I wanted.

I cut them out of the fabric base, fray-checked the edges, and sewed them to my dress. The dress was a hit at the Vampire Ball. Lots of people told me the heart was grotesquely cool, and when I turned around they were charmed by the lungs as well. Sometimes I backed up against a friend and said “I’m breathing on you!” because I’m that kind of weirdo.

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There were lots of amazing costumes at the event. I didn’t take as many pictures as I would have liked, but they are on my Flickr account.

I originally planned to make a brain fascinator, but decided it might take the dress over the line of “elegant and creepy” into “just plain weird.” In the end I bought a red fascinator from Amazon (affiliate link: Red feather flower fascinator)

Lady Tremaine (Part 3)

I am done with the base of the green and black overskirt, and am about ready to start making and attaching the floral appliques to my Lady Tremaine traveling outfit. Last night I wore the skirt (and the velvet underskirt from Part 2) with a matching green and black witch hat and veil to the Gaskell Halloween Ball.

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The satin portion is 2 layers of satin fabric, flat-lined for extra drape. Sandwiched in between the layers is a 6-inch wide band of horsehair crinoline sewn into the hem to give it more body. The crinoline actually cost more per yard than the fabric (and it doesn’t even show!), but it gave the hem the slight pop that I wanted. The sheer portion is 2 layers of organza, with an extra wide seam allowance at the bottom to form a black decorative band. The black and green portions were sewn separately, and then serged together at the top and pleated as one. I don’t do anything fancy; I just “eyeball” it and decide it’s even enough. =)


The waistband is velvet with heavy interfacing inside, to blend in with the velvet underskirt. The waistband closes with hooks and eyes on the side of the skirt near one hip.

I waffled back and forth between knife and cartridge pleats a few times. At first I intended to knife-pleat, since the movie skirt appears to have simple pleats. However, when I started that I realized my fabric was so bulky it was better to cartridge pleat. Then when considering cartridge-pleating 4 yards of 4 layers of fabric into a 14-inch area, I started thinking “Gee, I wish I used taffeta instead!” (Taffeta is so much thinner than the 2 layers of satin I’m using, but I decided to go with satin because I wanted a heavier drape and liquid-like flow, like the satin of Lady Tremaine’s ballgown, shown below).

Cinderella stepmother Ball gownPhoto from this blog.

In the end, I had to use knife-pleats, even though my waistband was a little bulky, because the skirt would have been much too short if I folded over the top edge to allow for cartridge-pleating.

For practical reasons my skirt is shorter than the movie version. I will be roaming around Costume College next year in this dress, and don’t want to trip because I am clumsy. Plus, trains get terribly dirty, and I can’t do a dust ruffle because it would show in the front. I am glad I made the choice to make a shorter skirt, because I was able to dance in this outfit. I loved the way the skirt swirled when I spun!


Lady Tremaine Costume (Part 2)

I’ve made some progress on the Lady Tremaine costume by finishing the black velvet underskirt. It is just a simple column skirt, so it didn’t require a pattern. (You can find basic drafting instructions here). I started sewing the green and black overskirt, but have been stalled a few times by a comedy of errors (more on that below).

Photo AI have the overskirt cut out and partially sewn. I am using 8 yards of green satin and 10 yards of black organza. I am putting two layers of organza over the satin, since one layer is too sheer.

IMG_5607Here is the crazy apple green sequined fabric I’m using for the bodice! I am almost afraid to cut into it.


I received the Vintage Pattern Lending Library basque pattern I am going to adapt for the bodice.


I threw everything on my dress form to see how the colors work together but I’m missing the supplies for the floral appliques.


I’ve had a few sewing hiccups recently that conspired to prevent progress. Some problems have been resolved, and some are ongoing.

  1. The foot pedal on my vintage sewing machine started crackling so I had to stop using it. I found and purchased a replacement, and now I no longer hear scary electric noises!
  2. My fabric wasn’t feeding correctly and the thread kept snapping, and eventually I realized the feed dogs had collapsed. I opened the machine and tightened things up the other night, and now it’s running smoothly again.
  3. I planned to use iron-on flocking for the floral appliques on the skirt. I thought it was a great way to save time, and avoid the fraying that would come from velvet. Unfortunately, the “chartreuse” flocking I ordered turned out to be a very bright and unflattering neon green, so I had to scrap that idea.
  4. I settled on using wool felt for the appliques but decided to ask for swatches this time to make sure I could find the right color. It’s been 2 weeks and I haven’t received them. The shop says they were shipped, but if so I fear they have been lost.
  5. Meanwhile, I went on the hunt for very thin black double-sided fusible interfacing by the yard to apply the wool to the sheer organza. It was easy to find single-sided, or pre-cut sheets, but not something that fit all my criteria. I finally found and ordered some, but the shop later emailed me to say they only had part of my order in stock, and asked if they could send me white instead of black! Now I will have to make a second order somewhere else and pay for shipping again.
  6. It would have been nice to avoid some of these problems by buying in person, but I am looking for very specific supplies that aren’t always available locally. Plus I work full time and have a toddler so shopping online is blessing (and just plain fun).
  7. I decided to add some body to the hem of the green layer of overskirt by adding in horsehair braid. I did find that at a nearby shop, but they had 6 inch instead of 3 inch, which cost more per yard than the satin it is going to hide inside, but the skirt won’t look right without it.

This project keeps accumulating miscellaneous expenses, but I am still quite excited and hope it will be worth it in the end!

Read my previous post with my costume analysis here.

Costume Analysis: Lady Tremaine (Cinderella’s Stepmother)

My next big project is making one of Lady Tremaine’s outfits from the live action Cinderella movie. I love the dress she wears when she first arrives. Isn’t it fabulous? I have been spending many hours to trying to figure out the details and source the materials.

Lady_Tremaine_with_her_daughtersHere’s a movie clip. Don’t you love the way the dress flows?

Her outfit consists of 3 main parts: the chartreuse green/black bodice, the black underskirt, and the green and black overskirt. The underskirt is easy enough to figure out; from the video and promotional photos you can see it is a tight black velvet column skirt with a slit in the back. The bodice and overskirt took a lot more research (aka Googling photos, rewatching the Youtube clip over and over, and buying a doll).

The narrow underskirt with a full skirt and tight bodice is a silhouette that appears in many of her outfits, such as this one, this one, this one, and this one. (The last shows that the overskirt is pleated).

The bodice looks yellow in some photos, and even some websites refer to it as yellow. However, Sandy Powell’s sketch is green, and the official doll has a green bodice.

960x540IMG_5657In the end I decided the bodice is a chartreuse that looks yellow in certain light. I found a lovely high-res still here, which made me realize that the bodice isn’t just sparkly, it is sequined! (I highly encourage you to see the full-sized photo to appreciate the details). The sequined fabric is then covered with black velvety flowers. I quickly realized that finding a flocked sequined fabric is very, very hard, unless you like cheetah print. I briefly considered using a flocked damask, but that is not at all like Lady Tremaine’s fabric. That means I have to make my own by applying appliques to sequined fabric.

The sequins are also arranged in neat rows, and each one is quite small and flat. It is easy to find the large, randomly arranged beveled sequins when shopping for sequined fabric, but maddeningly difficult to find something that doesn’t look like a Vegas showgirl costume.  Many times I would find the right color, but not the right size sequin, or the right arrangement, but not the right color. I finally had to make a special request of a shop located in India to get something close.

Cate Blanchett is the Stepmother in Disney's live-action feature CINDERELLA, directed by Kennth Branagh.

The overskirt consists of multiple layers. There is a green base fabric (which could be silk satin or taffeta) that is covered by a layer of black organza, which is decorated with beautiful chartreuse flowers. (It reminds me of a gorgeous chartreuse gaufraged velvet I found years ago at a store that is now out of business, but alas it was $100/yard). There is a black border across the bottom that I think is just the organza folded over and appearing darker, and it appears that the organza and green fabric are flat-lined together.  I can see a glimpse of some green fabric at her hem so there is possibly a green skirt beneath the green/black floral skirt, or perhaps the organza and green base fabric aren’t flat-lined together after all.

IMG_5644Since buying the perfect flocked organza or velvet burnout fabric is impossible, I will have to cut and apply the appliques myself. Madness!

I do not know what the inside of the overskirt looks like, but based on the hint of green seen in the hem I think that the inside is also green, instead of being lined with black organza. Given the yardage required, double-faced silk satin is a little out of my budget, so I am going to use 2 layers of regular satin.

The way the doll’s clothing is constructed might give some clues. There is only one layer of green satin, a layer of organza with velvet flowers, then a final layer of organza on top of that.

IMG_5658Obviously, some sacrifices in the construction had to be made for the doll, but I found it interesting that there is a top layer of organza over the flocked layer, whereas I can’t see one in the film. (Perhaps I might end up using 2 layers of organza anyway if one layer doesn’t look dark enough over the green but I’m not sure about covering the appliques unless they turn out too brightly neon).

This picture taken by Maison Mouse shows that the skirt is cut so full it wraps around the front a bit, even though the pleating or gathering ends at the sides of the hips.


In this screenshot I took of the film clip you can see the silhouette from the side. I’m not sure how much of it is due to the fullness caused by the pleating in the back, or if that is a small bum pad under the skirts, but that is something I will have to experiment with as well.

Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 9.06.11 PMLady Tremaine’s accessories can be seen clearly in the high-res photo linked earlier: she wears a pair of black suede gloves; a black velvet scarf; gold and citrine brooch, earrings, and bracelet; a veil; black and green high-heeled boots; and a dramatic hat. The hat is semi-transparent and decorated with birds and flowers. The hat that came with the doll is a nice reproduction!

IMG_5654Getting 100% screen accurate will be impossible, especially because of the appliques and exquisite details, but I am aiming to get a costume that is recognizable, even if I have to take some small shortcuts. This project is going to be a lot of work, but it will be a great learning experience. So far I have 22 yards of fabric, and I am not done buying!

Retrimming an 18th Century Bergere Hat

This weekend I am going to a fancy tea party, so I decided to retrim a small straw bergere hat I have. I was originally going to use silk ribbon and make little puffs, but realized I didn’t have enough to trim the hat and also have matching ribbon ties. Instead I used the leftover ribbons and ribbon roses from a dress I made. My other idea was the cover the hat completely in silk, but I decided to skip that for now.

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Previously, the hat was trimmed to match another outfit that consisted of a navy blue skirt and red and blue jacket. This is what the hat looked like before:


I am considering trimming a pair of gloves to match, but that may be a little too over the top. =)

Embroidered 50s Dress, Vintage Jewelry, and Other Finds

I’ve been doing a lot of small tasks lately, like mending, replacing buttons, adding trim, cleaning jewelry, etc. so I don’t have a big sewing project to share. Instead, I am showing you some beautiful vintage items I have recently found.

First is this really cute embroidered 50’s dress!

IMG_5387 IMG_5389 IMG_5391 IMG_5392Unfortunately it needs a lot of love and attention. It has many stains and damaged areas, although the embroidery is in good shape. The zipper has some rust, and the bodice lining and outer nylon layer has some holes and tears. There are some tears at the top of the dress so I can’t hang it up until I sew in some hanging loops. The dress fits me perfectly though, so I hope I can rescue it!

I finally got around to cleaning the jewelry I bought at Costume College, either from the bargain bazaar or a vendor, and here are the pieces.

First is an adorable dress clip with a happy couple. I’m not sure what to wear with it yet, but I’ll figure it out. Next is a brooch featuring carved coral tulips and green stone leaves. I have some other vintage coral tulip jewelry, although not in such a deep pink color.IMG_5378

This heart-shaped pin features a little ivory flower. I am in love with this tiny millefiori pin!IMG_5380You can see how tiny it is compared to this other millefiori pin I bought years ago from the Alameda Antiques Fair.


Next are these two little pins that are probably not vintage, but cute anyway. I am going to put some green thread on the artists’ palette to fill in the missing part. Isn’t the little dangling button on the needle just perfect?


The enamel pin is missing its center stone. I’m not sure what it was originally, but I am adding in a faux pearl. The shiny brooch on the right is a piece of modern costume jewelry, but I liked the fun colors, even if it’s missing a few stones. I can repair it, but until then, I don’t think it’s very noticeable if worn at night!IMG_5383Lastly is this pair of hand-embroidered pillowcases. I have a friend who loves to embroider, so I am going to pass these onto her, since I know she will give them a good home.



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