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Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo Costume DIY: Patterns and Materials For Your Cosplay

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My last post showed pictures of me having a fun time dressed as Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo from Star Wars the Last Jedi, at Silicon Valley Comic Con. As promised, here’s a compilation of my research and some tips and tricks to help you with your own costume. This is a long post; it covers fabric and colors, pattern, shoes, wig, jewelry, makeup, and more. (Please note, this is how I personally made my own Admiral Holdo cosplay; I can’t guarantee yours will be Rebel-Legion approvable).9N6A30909N6A3096

There are a lot of reference photos online, especially now that the DVD of the movie is out. I have a few important ones here in this post, but Google is your friend! The Official Rebel Legion has an excellent list of Holdo’s costume elements, so even if you are not going for RL approval, take a look at the list and the descriptions. To summarize:

  • Dress made of puce jersey or stretch fabric that drapes well
  • Fitted neck with draped front and exposed collarbones
  • Dramatic draped hood
  • Long, floor-length fabric on left shoulder
  • Long, fitted sleeves
  • Round-toe boots with chunky heel
  • Purple curly hair
  • Silver tiara
  • 2 silver cuff bracelets
  • Earrings with purple stones
  • Cluster ring
  • Ring with marbled stone

Yes, it looks like a lot, but is doable and I’ll tell you in this post where to buy all the materials you need.

FABRIC AND COLORS

Keep in mind, the Vanity Fair photo of Holdo’s costume released before the movie does a wonderful job of showing the draping, but this was styled for a photo shoot and it does not show screen accurate color or hair.IMG_6163

On screen, you can see that her hair has much looser waves in the front, and the color of the dress is much less purple. Depending on the scene and lighting, it appears to change color, ranging from brown to mauve. The director has said that the dress is puce, and you’ll see on the Admirals in Purple Facebook group a lot of discussion on what the color actually is and what fabrics would work. I recommend checking out that FB group regardless; it’s got a lot of great posts and advice, including a pinned post with shopping links.amilyn-holdo

My advice is to get some fabric swatches and see what looks good on your skin. If you want to be screen accurate, go puce, but not everyone can carry it off. This is my swatch card from Stylish Fabrics.  IMG_7986

My personal opinion is that “mauve pale” looks the most like the dress on screen, “mauve DK” looks most like the Vanity Fair photo, and “mauve 2017” is a compromise between the two. I looked like death in mauve pale so I used mauve 2017 for my own costume, and you can see that depending on the light it looks very different.

The fabric I bought is a rayon jersey, which is soft and stretchy, and has a nice drape. You do not need to buy rayon jersey, but your fabric cannot be stiff. It must be soft enough to give the waterfall effect on the back of the dress. The Stylish Fabrics rayon comes in several weights. I got swatches of the #406 (200 GSM), #409 (180 GSM), and #13390 (160 GSM). I purchased the 200 GSM, which is the thickest, for my entire dress and lining. Some other cosplayers have bought a thicker fabric for the main dress, and a thinner one for the hood to keep it lighter.

How much fabric to buy? I bought 11 yards, and had 2 full yards and some huge scraps left over, so 9 yards is plenty. I also self-lined the body of the dress, so if you skip that you can save a few yards.  I am 5’6″ and if you are shorter than me you can also use the width, instead of the length of the fabric and save even more. So depending on your height and whether you want a lining, you will use 6-10 yards of a 55″ fabric.

DRESS PATTERN

Given the nature of the construction of this dress, you will have to drape it, either on yourself or a dress form. This is not a project I recommend for a beginner because there’s no ready made pattern, and knits sometimes stretch and sag in unexpected ways. I having enough sewing experience to drape mine on a dress form, but if you need help getting started, Simplicity 1716 is a cowl-neck dress pattern that you can adapt by lengthening. (I haven’t used it so I can’t vouch for it, but it appears to me to be a decent base).

The hood is one giant trapezoid with pleated edges. These are the dimensions I used; if you are taller than me you will want to increase the width of the base. You can figure this out by having a friend hold a tape measure in a U shape on your back, with the ends on each shoulder and the bottom of the U just below your butt.  I am 5’6″ and a 60″ trapezoid base is perfect for me. (There’s no need to change the 12″ measurement; that creates the smallest U in the series of drapes on the hood).
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The easiest way to cut a large trapezoid is to fold your fabric in half like this and cut at the diagonal.IMG_E7594

Please note, this makes for a REALLY FULL and heavy hood, and A LOT OF PLEATING. I think if I remade the dress I would not use the full width of the fabric, and have shorter diagonals. The hood would still look fine. If you are shorter than 5’6″, definitely use smaller smaller measurements than what I have diagrammed above.

I cartridge-pleated my hood. I think this makes it look neater and more even than gathering. It is time-consuming, but a good way to get a lot of fabric into a small space.IMG_7603.JPG

Have I mentioned this hood is heavy? It will want to drag and dip in weird ways, so be sure to put a strip of boning across the top to keep a nice straight line. I used a plastic cable-tie, cut to size.

The other thing you’ll want to consider to keep the hood where it should be is to have some type of internal harness. I’ve seen a few options:

  • Backpack-style straps. Run a thick piece of elastic across the top of the hood (where you have your boning), and then make loops that will go across your armpits like a backpack (but is hidden inside the dress). This is the approach used by Anachronism in Action. (You can pad the straps to make them more comfortable).
  • A front harness that is hidden below the neck drape. I haven’t tried this myself, but this is explained on Jen Eyre’s blog.
  • My own approach was to build a harness based on a T-back racerback bra. That way the weight was not only around my arms, but distributed across my chest. I got a bra with a front closure, and reinforced the elastic with a thicker kind. I also had another strip of elastic with its own closure running along the bottom of the bra for extra security. Now you’ll have support from the elastic running along the top of the hood, the elastic straps that come over your shoulders, the elastic T strap that goes down your back, and the elastic that goes around your ribcage below your bust. (Don’t pick a sports bra or a bra with wide straps; they will show because of the exposed shoulder blades on the dress).

The floor-length drape on the left shoulder is just a long rectangle, also pleated with the hood. The length will depend on your height and how much of a train you want. My width was 24.”

The sleeves are long and fitted, with a seam down the inside of the arm. If you look at this photo you will see they are actually gathered on the lower halves. nGLN19F.jpg

I constructed mine by cutting extra long sleeves and putting elastic on the inside seam of the sleeves. Stretch the elastic as you stitch it onto the lower sleeves, and when you release the elastic the sleeves will be gathered. IMG_7543.JPG

For the neck of Holdo’s gown you have a gathered high-necked collar with a long draped portion in the front. The back of the neck has 2 flat areas that are not gathered. I used a long invisible zipper down the back of the collar. The zipper was extra long so that I could pull the collar over my head after I put the dress on, and the extra length is tucked into the dress. The bottom of the front drape is attached to the dress, but the bottom of the back collar is attached to the hood using heavy-duty hooks and eyes, which are the last thing you attach when putting on the dress. (The jersey of the dress is stretchy enough that you don’t need a zipper all the way down the back of the dress, although you should still have a center back seam if you want screen accuracy). Use more hooks than you think you need! I’m going to add more for the next time I wear it so it doesn’t shift off-center again.9N6A3121.JPG

I highly recommend looking at how Anachronism In Action did her collar so you can see what the pattern shapes are. You will need to bone and/or interface the collar so that it is stiff enough to stay up.

Some other tips:

  • When you sew together the long side seams of the dress, add some twill tape, ribbon, or other similar materials to help control the fabric from stretching too much. I used 6mm Mobilon tape, a semi-transparent elastic, because I wanted a bit of stretch to remain.
  • Jersey fabric stretches enough on the straight grain; don’t cut your dress on the bias.
  • Your jersey may have a subtle direction to the weave that looks like parallel lines. If you care about having everything in the same direction, that will use more fabric than if you don’t care. (My 9 yards did include keeping everything in the same direction).

SHOES

Holdo wears boots with a chunky heel and a round toe that are a similar color to her dress. This style is not hard to find, and can be painted or dyed to match. I used the “Refresh Footwear Women’s Closed Toe Chunky Stacked Block Heel Ankle Bootie” in mauve from Amazon (affiliate link), however, there are other similar boots you can find that will work just as well.

I found the toes tight, and was able to stretch them out by putting in a shoe stretcher while using a hair dryer to warm up and soften the synthetic material. (If you get real leather shoes you don’t need to use the dryer trick to soften them before stretching).

I painted my shoes with a transparent spray paint called Tint It in plum (Amazon affiliate link). You can also get this at Michael’s, but my local store was sold out. It dries very quickly and a couple coats was good enough to turn my shoes from a pinky mauve color to a nice purple matching my fabric.IMG_8626

Use the Tint It in a well-ventilated area. Lay down newspaper and wear disposable gloves. Tape off the sole of your shoe using painter’s tape, and use a bristle brush or old toothbrush to brush the suede to distribute the color after spraying. Do this immediately, because Tint It dries fast!

WIG

I used the Arda Wigs Josephine in Dusty Rose. I’ve also seen other cosplayers use the Lavender color. Personally, I think Holdo’s hair is in between the two, and on my next wearing I might darken my wig. One way to do this is with “the Sharpie trick.” Put a purple Sharpie marker into some alcohol, let the ink dissolve, and spray it on.Screen Shot 2018-04-23 at 6.37.46 PM

The Josephine wig is finger-waved with tighter curls than you need. I relaxed the hair (especially in the front) by using a garment steamer and combing through while the wig was hot. (If you are coloring your wig, do it on a cool wig after you’re done with the steaming!) IMG_7667

If you prefer a lacefront wig, I’ve also seen the Arda Wigs Bucky Classic used with a Holdo cosplay, but it is $68 vs. $30 for the Josephine. However, you won’t have to steam out the curls.

JEWELRY

Admiral Holdo wears a lot of space jewelry. This page from the Star Wars Visual Dictionary shows her tiara, cuffs, earrings, and rings. 25587749_669110460143724_3186790248120470175_o.jpg

SILVER CUFFS

Holdo’s silver cuffs can be purchased from various vendors on eBay and Aliexpress for a few dollars each. I bought a pair each from these 2 vendors and they were exactly the same. I would recommend sanding them a bit, or lining them with some extra dress material. At the end of the day, my dress sleeves looked fuzzy from all the rubbing of the sharp edges.IMG_6153.JPG

HALO

You have several options for a halo: buy a 3D printed one from Etsy, bribe a friend with metalworking skills, solder your own, or make a decent-looking one with $3, thirty minutes, some pliers, and wire! I picked the last option. I may upgrade to a soldered one later, to be a little more screen-accurate, but the wired ends of my halo are hidden inside my wig so it doesn’t matter much.IMG_7950

I originally planned to use 1/4 inch armature wire for a thicker halo, but my local store didn’t have any, so these are the materials I ended up using: 12 gauge floral wire, 26 gauge paddle wire, and a metal hair comb. I bought the wire at Michael’s and I used one of these combs from Amazon (affiliate link), cut in half with tin snips.IMG_7951

I can’t draw, so please don’t laugh too hard, but here’s a diagram of how it was done:IMG_8814.JPG

RINGS AND EARRINGS

Holdo has a silver ring with a cluster of stones, and a gold oval ring with a marbled stone. (I don’t know why one ring is gold when all of her other accessories are silver. If the non-matching bothers your OCD self, go silver for both like I did). I haven’t found anyone selling exact reproductions, but this Google Doc from the Admirals in Purple FB page has links to a number of Amazon and eBay rings that could work.

For the oval ring you can either purchase a cats’ eye stone ring, or paint a plain stone with nail polish. Mine is painted. A tip if your rings are too big: you can put some hot glue on the inside bottom. It’s not obvious when it’s worn and it keeps your ring from slipping off.IMG_7672.JPG

The earrings are a bit trickier to find. The Rebel Legion standard is a semi-circular silver earring with dangling purple stones. I haven’t found a super close match and people seem to be modding their own earrings by adding stones to silver findings. I am using these lever back earrings (custom ordered in silver) from Etsy, because they work for both Holdo and my 18th century costumes.

BLASTER

Holdo favors a classic blaster, the DDC Defender-5. There are some nice replicas for sale, but if you are on a budget, I would get a plastic replica of Princess Leia’s blaster, Dremel off the extra length in the barrel (the skinniest part), glue the ends back together, and paint it yourself. You can get one on Amazon for about $10 (affiliate link). It’s not exactly the same, but close enough.

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MAKEUP AND MISC

Holdo wears lipstick, eyeliner, mascara, shaped brows, and nail polish. The exact products will depend on your skin tone, but here’s a few tips.

  • She has dark purple polish. I used Essie’s Smokin’ hot (Amazon affiliate link).Screen Shot 2018-05-06 at 2.23.43 PM
  • I can’t tell what color Holdo’s eyebrows are, so I’m not sure they match her hair. However, Laura Dern is a blonde with brown eyebrowns. My eyebrows are black, and I found them too stark compared to my purple wig, so I colored my brows purple. This is optional, but may be helpful to you if you are in the same situation. I covered my eyebrows with eyelid primer, filled in some spots with purple eye liner pencil, and covered the rest with purple eyeshadow. It’s subtle, but made a difference.IMG_7740.JPG

In the future, people don’t have to carry out money or keys, but in real life sometimes you need a way to carry your phone! I couldn’t add pockets to this clingy dress so I made a little drawstring bag to use at the convention. (Line yours with a non-stretchy material). I haven’t tried it myself, but I’ve also heard of others using a ladies’ stretchy lace thigh holster to hold your stuff.IMG_7682

Let’s talk storage! There are a lot of pieces associated with this costume, and I didn’t want to go hunting for all of them right before a con. I’ve found that a 23″ long (28 quart Sterilite bin) is just the right size to hold the dress, boots, wig, bag, cuffs, backup cuffs, halo, earrings, and rings. The bins are about $5 at Target and absolutely worth it to keep your stuff together. IMG_E8838.JPG

HOW MUCH WILL THIS COST?

Depending on what you buy, where you get it from, and what you already have in your stash, your costs are going to vary. However, here is what I spent to give you a general idea. (I like coupons and bargains).

  • 11 yards rayon jersey + tax + shipping, with a coupon: $63.44 from Stylish Fabrics
  • Swatch card + tax + shipping: $8.32 from Stylish Fabrics
  • Purple thread + tax, with a coupon: $3.26 from Joann Fabrics
  • Invisible zipper + shipping: $5.50 from eBay (since I couldn’t find a color match at Joann)
  • 20 yards Mobilon tape: $6 from eBay (I have a lot left over!)
  • Elastic: ~$2, from stash
  • Racerback bra: ~$15 from Target
  • Wig + tax + shipping: $35.50 from Arda Wigs
  • Silver cluster ring + shipping: $13.29 from eBay
  • Metal oval ring + shipping: $1.99 from eBay
  • Earrings + shipping: $16.94 from Etsy
  • Bracers + shipping: $5.56 from eBay
  • Shoes: $14.46 from Amazon
  • Tint-It spray: $12.08 from Amazon
  • Aluminum floral wire + tax, with coupon: $3.92 from Michael’s (I have plenty left)
  • Silver paddle wire + tax, with coupon: $2.19 from Michael’s (this will last me forever)
  • Metal comb: $1.40 from Amazon ($6.99 for a 5-pack)
  • Purple nail polish, with coupon: $3.99 from Amazon

TOTAL COST: $214.84

The fabric is relatively inexpensive, but all the extra accessories do add up! The jewelry was a chunk of my cost (~$40) because I did get some better quality items I could wear with other outfits. If you are on a budget, you may be able to get some costume pieces for less money, or find things in your stash.

If you’ve managed to read all the way to the end, thank you and congratulations! This was a long post, but I hope it will be useful to you when making your own Admiral Holdo costume. Good luck and Godspeed Rebels!amilyn-holdo

(If you’re wondering what are these affiliate links, it means I get a small percentage of any purchase you make from Amazon through these links, which I have to disclose. I don’t get any of the money from the ads WordPress runs on this site, and I’m happy to provide all my tutorials for free. The affiliate fees go towards my domain registration and hosting. Thanks!)

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Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo Cosplay at Silicon Valley Comic Con

Last weekend at Silicon Valley Comic Con I premiered my Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo cosplay. I had a great time wearing this costume from Star Wars: The Last Jedi!

Although I’ve been planning this since last year, I only had a few weeks to sew it because I was busy with other events. I will have a follow-up post with more information about the construction, materials, tips and tricks, and a materials list, but for now here are some pictures from the event!

This was taken in the lobby of the convention center, not long after arrival.CMEY9799

However, before SVCC, my friend Chris Weiner took a few photos in his back yard with his superior camera!9N6A3090

The back drape of this dress is what made me fall in love it when I first saw a photo of Lauren Dern as Amilyn Holdo in Vanity Fair Magazine.9N6A3096

There were so many great Star Wars cosplayers at SVCC! I met Praetorian Guards, Stormtroopers, and Darth Vader!IMG_7881IMG_7957IMG_7958

I also met Kylo Ren, who bowed to his Disney overlords.

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I was delighted to meet another Holdo. Double Holdo, double trouble!IMG_7858IMG_7860

I also encountered General Hux, and we had a stare-off.IMG_7930IMG_7931

Lego Obi-Wan was a delight!IMG_7822

I even found and ate a stormtrooper macaron cookie.IMG_7740

And it was an honor to be one of the cosplays featured on Business Insider!Business Insider

Business Insider Melia Robinson

Photo by Melia Robinson of Business Insider

My friend Adrienne took this video of me so you can see how the dress moves as I twirl.

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SVCC was a lot of fun; I’ll be sure to be back next year! See my Flickr album for more photos from the event.

A Regency Couple at a Winery Plus Costume Hack: How to Upcycle a Men’s Regency Outfit Using Thrift Store Items

My husband and I attended a Regency-themed event called “Wine and Peace,” hosted by the Greater Bay Area Costumer’s Guild at Wente Vineyards. My husband is not a costumer, but agreed to dress up when lured by the prospect of wine tasting. Thus, although this post contains some nice photos of the both of us, the real point is to show how a panicked person can put together a passable men’s regency outfit when time is too limited to make one from scratch.

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He certainly looks like he enjoyed himself!IMG_7454

It was too cold for me to take off my pelisse, so you can read about the silk gown I wore underneath in my previous post. The pelisse and bonnet are not new, although I’ve only had the chance to wear them once before, and you can read about those items in an older post.

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My husband’s outfit consisted of a navy blue coat, a green waistcoat, a white shirt and neck tie, ivory trousers, and black boots.IMG_7375

It is not completely historically accurate, especially the back where I had to fudge it a bit, but it did just fine for a quick outfit!IMG_7370

The coat is up cycled from a double-breasted woman’s coat. (Women’s military-stye coats are longer than men’s).  I made a number of changes:

  1. I cut an upside-down U shape out of the front of the coat to mimic the high waist of a man’s regency garment.
  2. I used that extra fabric to make cuffs, thus lengthening the sleeves for my husband’s long arms.
  3. I also used that extra fabric to make false pocket flaps for the back of the coat.
  4. I split the bottom back of the coat open to mimic a tailcoat, and added some more of the extra fabric in between the split to hide a gap.
  5. I changed the plastic buttons on the front of coat to ones that matched my own coat.
  6. I added the same buttons to the back, next to the pocket flaps.
  7. I changed the plastic buttons on the sleeves to small gold-colored ones.

Before and after: IMG_7250MMUF8222

I recommend looking for a coat like this during the winter. When the weather warms up you may have to go shopping at several places to get one!

I also recommend making sure your subject isn’t slouching or looking down when you mark the cutting line in the front of the coat. When I sewed it up I realized it was cut a little higher than I intended. The look is accurate and fashionable for the time period, but I had planned on a little more coverage.

The waistcoat is an even easier upcycle. Modern vests have pointed fronts while Regency period waistcoats have flat fronts. If you can find a vest with a nice pattern in the fabric, just fold up the front points and tack them to the inside of the vest. (We already had a vest for my husband, made by our friend Kim for our wedding in 2010).

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If the fellow doesn’t plan to take off his coat, very little of the shirt will show except the collar.  Find a nice dress shirt with a good stiff collar that will stand up. This will not work so well if you have a floppy collar that is not interfaced.IMG_7180.JPG

Flip the collar up, cut off the points, and hem nicely. The modern sleeves and buttons will be hidden by the coat.IMG_7270.JPG

The button at the throat will be covered by the neck tie, which is simply a long rectangular piece of cotton fabric. If you don’t have fabric around your home, you can cut up some textile from the thrift store. You will want the cotton to be thin, to make wrapping and knotting easy. In this case, a cheap bedsheet or semi-sheer curtain is better than a nice tablecloth that will be too thick. The neck tie I made for my husband is 2 yards long and 8 inches wide, made from cotton voile. IMG_7269

Hem the edges and taper the ends a little. IMG_7268

The trousers were a a tricky part of the outfit because of the fall-front, which is not seen in modern men’s fashions. I found a number of high-waisted sailor pants, but they were generally women’s pants in the wrong materials or cut. I then considered making them myself, but after pricing out a pattern from Laughing Moon and buying nice fabric and buttons, I realized it would cost me at least $50 to make and about $70 to buy them. Thus, the trousers were purchased from Historic Emporium. The lesson here is sometimes it’s worth buying and being done with it! (The pants come long enough for you to hem into breeches or keep as trousers).

007238_00The boots were Ovation rubber riding boots (affiliate link) purchased from Amazon for about $40. They weren’t real leather, but still looked pretty nice, and can be reused with other costumes in the future. If you are lucky, you may able to get some nice boots locally. Don’t forget to look in the women’s footwear section for larger boots! There’s a lot of “riding boot” style women’s boots sold during the fall and winter that could work with Regency.Screen Shot 2018-04-02 at 8.19.26 AM.png

I hope this post was useful, and now you can keep an eye out for the right kind of coat and other items to upcycle into a Regency men’s outfit!QVLO1071.JPG

A “Quick” Regency Silk Gown

I’m calling this a quick regency dress because there wasn’t a lot of planning ahead or blogging during steps, fitting was easy because I’ve used the pattern before, and the event I’m wearing it to is next week!IMG_7216

The pattern is Butterick B6074 view B, with minor modifications. The fabric is a printed silk taffeta from my stash.IMG_7222

The bodice is gathered in the front, and the stiffness of the taffeta gives the bust more fullness than I have in real life. 😉IMG_7217

The pattern has drawstring closures at the neckline and waistline, which is period, but I prefer hooks and eyes when the fabric is not a soft cotton.IMG_7220

If you’re curious about how to put in hooks and eyes to minimize gapping, I have the hooks away from the edge, and the eyes sticking over the edge. (Some people also alternate hooks and eyes on each side. I am lazy, and also wanted to use up the last few inches of hook and eye tape that I had).

I serged the armscye and bottom of the bodice to keep them neat. The shoulder straps are sewn in by hand. Here’s an inside look at the dress.IMG_7228

I have a pelisse that I will be wearing over this if the weather is cold, so I admit to be a little sloppy in some of my construction, but eh, I find most people are too distracted by pretty fabric to care. =)

I also made a matching reticule, with my leftover fabric and lining. I made the tassel out of some thick thread.IMG_E7254.JPG

Project costs:

  • 5 yards printed silk taffeta: $38 including shipping from a destash group; I have about 2 yards left over
  • Pattern: $0, already used for another dress
  • Bodice lining: $0, scraps from another project
  • Skirt lining: 2 yards cotton voile: ~$13 with tax and shipping (purchased with other items from Dharma Trading Co.)
  • Thread, lace scrap, and hooks and eyes: ~$5 from stash
  • Silk ribbon: $0, left over from another project

Total: ~$56 (even less if I sell the leftover 2 yards of taffeta to recoup some costs). Not bad for a silk dress!

I plan to wear this dress with my Pemberly slippers from American Duchess, and some beautiful new grape earrings from The Lady Detalle.IMG_7106.JPG

I look forward to wearing this print! Simple, but cute. IMG_7115.JPG

1920s Flapper Dress and Slip Patterns and Tutorial

My last projects of 2017 were a 1920s silk slip and a lace dress, made right before New Year’s eve. Neither of them are difficult to make, and I’ve made a pattern and tutorial for both. All the fabric for these two projects were kindly provided to me, free of charge, by Fabric Wholesale Direct.

The main dress is made from their mint iris guipure lace, and the slip and sash are made from their pink silk charmeuse. Thank you Fabric Wholesale Direct for the lovely materials!IMG_5943IMG_5929

1920s Slip

This pattern makes a basic 1920s slip. Choose a slinky fabric like silk charmeuse. You do not want to use anything thick!PIC 7
1) You’ll need the following measurements:
B = your chest circumference, across the top of your bust, plus 4 inches
H = your hip circumference, plus 4 inches
L1 = the length from the top of your bust to your hip, plus 1 inch
L2 = the length from your hip to above your knee, plus 1 inch
(These measurements include ease and 1/2 inch seam allowance).
2) You are going to make a long, slightly trapezoidal shape using the measurements above. The top is B divided by 2, and the total length is going to be L1 + L2. Cut this all as one piece. (The middle line is not a seam; it’s just to make sure it’s wide enough for your hips). You can draw this on paper first, or directly onto the fabric using rulers.
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3) Cut two of these trapezoids, place them right sides together, and sew the long edges together.
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4) You should now have a long tube. Hem the bottom and top of the tube, and if you like, add lace to decorate the top and bottom edges.
5) Cut two long rectangular straps for the shoulder that are 3 inches x 15 inches. (These are extra long; you will cut off the excess in a later step). Fold each strap lengthwise (inside out) and pin and sew down the long edge, making a skinny tube.
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6) Turn the long tubes right side out and iron flat. Add lace to the straps now if you wish.
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7) Sew or pin one end of each strap to the BACK of the slip, where your shoulder blades would be.
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8) Put the slip on and then pin the other end of the straps to the FRONT of your slip, over the top of your bust, and adjusted to the right length. Cut off the extra length. Sew the straps to the inside of the slip.
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Now you are done!

1920s Dress

This tutorial is to make a simple 1920s dress. I used a lace fabric, but you can use anything with a nice drape, such as silk velvet or a thick satin.

1) For the top half of the dress, find a sleeveless tank top style to use as a pattern base. (This should be made of a non-stretchy fabric, and a little loose-fitting, otherwise your dress will be too tight). The ideal length for the tank top is to reach your hips; if it’s too long you can fold the bottom up before tracing.
2) Lay the tank top on your fabric and cut around it, leaving extra space for a seam allowance and extra fit room. Depending on how loose your tank top is, that extra space may be 1-2 inches. Don’t forget the shoulders!
PIC A
3) Use that piece you cut out to trace a second piece, just slightly wider on the sides, to be the front piece of your dress. Sew the side seams and shoulders together.
PIC B
4) Cut a rectangle panel for the skirt that is 2.5 times the circumference of your hips. The width will be the length of your hips to below your knee. (If you want a historically-accurate dress the hem should be below your knee, and if you want a more modern look cut the skirt shorter).
PIC C
5) Sew the short edges of the skirt panel (right side) together, making a big skirt shape. Turn the skirt right side out. The top edge of the skirt will be gathered and sewn to the top part of the dress, and they meet at the hip.
PIC D
6) If you have a fancy edge on your dress top, have your top/skirt seam overlap with the top showing.
PIC E
7) Finish the neck and armholes by folding or rolling the raw edges of the fabric inside the dress and stitching them down.
PIC F
8) Optional: You can cut a sash for the middle that consists of a long rectangle with pointed ends. (You can use the leftover fabric from making your slip). The length and width will depend on personal preference, but the length should be at least double your hips plus extra. (Here the one shown in the photo is 55 inches long and 7 inches wide, with the edges tucked in). Wrap the sash around the hip area of your dress, tucking in the raw edges and sewing them down. For texture and visual interest, you can “wrinkle” the fabric while pinning and sewing it down.
PIC G
9) Optional: Embellish your sash with a shiny buckle and some little ribbon flowers. You can also put more silk charmeuse, ribbons, or flowers on the front of the dress to decorate it.
PIC H
The finished dress should allow for a lot of movement and be fun to dance in.

Thanks again for the materials Fabric Wholesale Direct!

18th Century Costumes at the Legion of Honor

Yesterday I saw the “Casanova, The Seduction of Europe” exhibit with the Greater Bay Area Costumer’s Guild at the Legion of Honor Museum in San Francisco. It was full of incredible artwork, and even antique garments on display. I highly recommend it! I spent the last few weeks working on a new outfit to attend the exhibit instead of blogging about it, but it I will post more about the construction details once I get the last bit of trim on (which did not arrive in time). I wore my new mauve silk Italian gown pinned shut, as is historically correct, but will be changing it to a hook-eye-and opening. (I was paranoid about marking up the silk so I wore it a bit loose).

Many of the photos in this post are used courtesy of John Carey Photographic Imagery. Thanks John!

I love how this photo reminds me of candlelight!

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Photo by John Carey

This one is outside the museum.

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Photo by John Carey

Here’s a few full-body shots from my phone:IMG_6848IMG_6850

My shoes are 18th century black wool Dunmores from American Duchess (affiliate link) and the earrings and necklace are from In the Long Run Designs. My fan is an antique. IMG_6852

There was much gossip and court intrigue with my fellow Taffeta Sisters, Kelsey and Natalie.IMG_6955

Some of it was of a highly shocking nature!IMG_6868

There were many gorgeous costumes in attendance.

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Photo by John Carey

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Photo by John Carey

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Photo by John Carey

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Photo by John Carey

 

There was unavoidable 18th century rump shaking.

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Plus other silly shenanigans.

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We enjoyed the stunning artwork, costumes, and artifacts on display.IMG_6814.JPGIMG_6829IMG_6805

I felt quite at home with the paintings. =) Many more photos have been uploaded to my Flickr account so please take a look!

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Photo by John Carey

Steamtorium Undercorset Belt and Teacup Holster (Steampunk Project and Pattern Review)

My most recent project is a steampunk utility belt with swivel hooks that accessories can be attached to: a teacup holster, a pouch, a fan pocket, and some skirt lifters/chatelaines. These items were made with two patterns from the Steamtorium Etsy shop: the under corset belt (which includes the pouch, fan pocket, and chatelaines) and the teacup holster.IMG_6440

And here it is without the teacup and fan.IMG_6442

Although this was designed to be a steampunk accessory, which would probably work quite well for a Wild West event I have this year, I think it would make a great sewing utility belt too!  I might wear this to a workshop some time. The fan pocket can be used for scissors, various tools can be clipped to the chatelaines, the pouch would hold small items, and I have to stay properly hydrated while sewing, of course. =) My favorite item is the teacup holster!IMG_6411

There’s a pocket for your saucer, a pocket with a secure snap strap for your cup, a pocket in the back for teabags, and some loops on the side for your spoon.IMG_6410

My first thought when I got these PDF patterns was “Wow! Step-by-step instructions clearly illustrated by color photographs!” The pattern is not a difficult one, but has a lot of steps and small parts, so the pictures help a lot, especially if you are a visual learner.

The belt pattern is multi-sized for 27-45″ waists, and the fan pocket comes in 2 sizes, while the rest of the accessories come in one size. Here’s some more examples made by the pattern-maker:

All the accessories are detachable and can be moved around because of a swivel hook and D-ring system.IMG_6429.JPG

You can wear this at your waist or hips.IMG_6439

Tips for easier sewing:

  • Don’t use a fabric that’s too thick! I used a heavy upholstery because I liked the pattern, but some of the straps are narrow and very difficult to turn if your fabric is thick. If I made this again I would use a lighter brocade or twill.
  • Read all the instructions carefully first before cutting out the pattern pieces. I ended up cutting some extra pieces that weren’t needed. (For example, if you make the teacup holster to be worn with this belt, and not your own, you will make small D-ring straps, instead of big loops, but both kinds of attachments are provided).
  • The pattern instructs you to sew ribbons to each end of the belt to tie it together. If you want to be able to swap the ribbons whenever you like, you can put eyelets or grommets into the ends, like I did. (This is the only change I made to the pattern).
  • Get sewing clips. Some parts of the project requiring sandwiching together many layers of fabric, and it’s much easier to clip them together instead of pinning.IMG_6352.JPG

Pros and cons:

  • Great, detailed instructions!
  • There are a lot of pieces. This not a difficult pattern, but it can be time-consuming. Don’t do this the night before a convention! I would recommend pinning the pattern to each fabric piece you cut out so you can keep track of all the small pieces.
  • Related to above, there are a lot of materials, and give yourself time to source all of them. In addition to your fabric you will need swivel hooks, D-rings, O-rings, foam batting, fleece batting, interfacing, ribbon, and thread. There’s a detailed materials list in the pattern.
  • The belt is made of 6 pieces of fabric (3 on the front and 3 on the back). I suspect this is so that the pattern pieces can fit on an 8 x 11″ paper, and so you can save some fabric yardage. However, if you have thick fabric you will have bulky seams, and it’s hard to match patterns. I think having an option to tape the paper pattern together to make one larger pattern piece to cut the belt out would be nice.
  • Very responsive customer service! I found a small typos/omissions on some pattern pieces, but Sherry, the pattern designer, said she would fix them right away. I think by the time you read this review the version in her Etsy shop should have all the updates!

Project cost: I normally provide a tally of the costs, but it’s a little hard in this case because a lot of the items are from my stash, or you use small pieces of it (like the foam interfacing),  and some of the hardware is sold in a large pack. (For example, you only need 1 snap, and it comes in a pack of 10). I’d estimate that if you were to buy everything from scratch it may cost $30-40 depending on the fabric and the type of hardware, and you would still have a lot of materials left over.

Final thoughts: This was a fun project to make, the patterns are good with clear instructions, and I recommend them!

Note: I was offered this pattern for free by Sherry Ramaila of Steamtorium, but I wasn’t paid for this post. All opinions are mine, and I used my own fabric. Thank you Sherry for the pattern!

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