Warm weather means pretty cotton frocks to me so I just recently completed this yellow floral dress, inspired by the cute “milkmaid” style dresses. A lot of cotton prints are a bit thin and require some lining, and I have a special trick to save time by using my serger instead of cutting out the lining twice (later in this post).
The dress is made of 100% cotton and the yellow print has white and gray flowers and foliage. (I bought 3 yards of a 58″ wide fabric and had some left over). I did not want the top to be see-through so I needed to line it. For this particular dress I decided to flat-line it, which means each individual lining piece is attached to the fashion fabric before the garment is assembled. (This is different from the approach of constructing the fashion and lining layers separately, then putting them together).
The classic method of flat-lining is to cut out the lining and fashion pieces and stitch them together, but I have a time-saving hack using my Janome FA4 serger! First, I put the fashion layer on top of the lining fabric, put in a few pins to keep it from shifting, and cut it out roughly with my rotary cutter.
Then I serge the edges of the fashion fabric, while using the built-in blade of my serger to trim away the excess lining. This saves me the trouble of carefully cutting out the lining and making sure all the edges line up perfectly before sewing!
After serging/flat-lining all the pieces I sewed the seams together normally. This is the bodice without the bust cups:
The bust cups are oval pieces of fabric that are gathered at the top and bottom to fit into the U shapes of the bodice. (The top is folded down to make a drawstring channel for the ribbons, which meet in the middle to make the top adjustable).
The sleeves have channels on both the top and bottom for elastic to gather it into a puffed sleeve. The underarm of the sleeve is sewn directly to the underarm of the dress while the top of the elasticated sleeve turns into the shoulder of the dress. A few tips I have for sewing this kind of style sleeve: (1) Finish off the top of the back bodice by folding down the serged edges before you attach the sleeve, otherwise you will end up with an odd corner in the back where some serging is visible. (2) Anchor one end of the elastic by sewing it down in the channel where the sleeve attaches to the back of the dress. Use a safety pin to keep the other end of the elastic from sliding back in the channel. Try on the dress, unpin the elastic and pull it tight until the sleeve fits you over the shoulders, then pin it back until you sew it down permanently. Tip #2 is especially important if you don’t have a helper; you can fit the sleeves yourself in a mirror because the loose elastic is in front!
The dress closes in the center back with an invisible zipper. Janome makes a concealed zipper foot (Z) that makes it easy to install one!
I am looking forward to wearing this dress this summer!
Last year I had the wonderful privilege of being one of the finalists selected to be in the Her Universe Fashion Show (HUFS), and then ultimately one of the winners! The show is normally held yearly at San Diego Comic Con during the summer but the applications open up in the spring. Since this year’s show announcement is coming up, I thought this would be a good time for me to write up a post about my experience and the many questions I’ve been asked since last summer. (If you want to see the FAQ that includes what the show is, how the contest is run, any advice, etc. please see the second half of this post after my design photos). In 2021 Her Universe held a virtual show, which meant that instead of walking the stage in front of a live audience in San Diego, we submitted a lot of footage that was edited for judging purposes and streaming as part of Comic-Con at Home. My experience is a little different from the in-person show, but a lot of the information is still applicable!
(Most of the photos in this post were taken by lovely friend Natalie while assisted by my other equally lovely friend Kelsey).
For those of you that don’t know, Her Universe and the HUFS was founded by Ashley Eckstein to promote geek fashion. The HUFS is a runway show where designers submit a “geek couture” design which is high fashion inspired by a fandom. The idea is to make something that wouldn’t be out of place on a Hollywood red carpet, rather than a direct cosplay of a character. Although Star Wars, Marvel, etc. are popular inspirations each year, ideas from books, TV shows, and obscure fandoms are accepted as well.
I was selected as the audience’s choice winner, and Teighlor Johnson and Skyler Barrett and were tied for the judges’ pick in Pokemon and Queen’s Gambit-inspired designs, respectively.
My design is called “This is the Way” and was inspired by the Armorer from Star Wars: The Mandalorian. This outfit consists of 5 pieces (a jumpsuit, a cape, a headpiece, a belt, and a purse). I have nods to her helmet in my headpiece, her fur cape in my epaulets, her tools in my appliqués, and the Beskar steel she works with in the fabric of my jumpsuit.
The jumpsuit is made of a silver and black silk and wool challis fabric woven to look like Beskar steel. The jumpsuit has super wide leg palazzo pants (with hidden pockets!) that are full enough to look like a skirt when standing still. The upper sleeves are fitted with a balloon shape in the lower sleeve, gathered into a cuff.
I love this fabric! Below from left to right is a dart, then an invisible zipper, then another dart. Running horizontally is a seam.
I used gold pleather to make a flame appliqué on the bodice to reference the forge where the Armorer works, and accented the appliqués with gold glass beads. The belt is a gold metal band that closes with an art nouveau clasp in the front. Gold chains hang from the belt on each hip.
The bodice has a wide boat neck that creates a peekaboo effect combined with the high-necked red pleather backless “cape.” The brick red cape (lined in the same color) consists of a neck piece that covers the collarbone and extends to the shoulders, and long open “sleeves” that are long enough to trail on the floor, creating a train effect despite having no gown. The cape is open in the front and back so the jumpsuit is fully visible except for the shoulders, which has light brown fur epaulets on the cape. More gold chains hang from the shoulders and across the chest and back.
The cape closes at the neck with hidden hooks and bars. Then the epaulets and chains go on top, and I have hidden magnets sewn into the shoulders of the cape and the underside of the epaulets. The magnets I used are encased in plastic so I can sew them on. Here are some test pieces I did so you can see what they look like:
The headpiece is inspired by 1920s/1930s flapper headdresses and consists of 3 brass bands across the top of the head, attached to art nouveau style large decorative brass pieces over the ears. The front band has small golden spikes like a crown. The bands and ear pieces are wired together but the spikes are attached by drilling holes in the bands and screwing them in. I also added some gold pleather padding inside the ear pieces for comfort.
The purse is a clutch made of brick red pleather and lined in the same fabric as the cape. The purse flap is pleated like the Armorer’s apron and has her tools appliqued in silver. I created the design using my Silhouette Design Software and used glitter heat transfer vinyl.
The purse opens with a magnetic clasp and is decorated with gold metal half moons. As usual, I hand-sew in my labels.
Here is a video I made showing off some close-ups, when the online voting opened.
The talented artist Dani Balangawa drew this lovely portrait of my winning design and sent it to me as a surprise!
I was short on time and worldwide shipping was a little dicey at the time I was getting my materials so I bought a lot of things that I knew could get to me quickly. A lot of the items, especially the metal findings, may also be found through my usual sources of Aliexpress, eBay, and craft stores.
Where can I see examples of past Her Universe Fashion Show entries?
You can watch last year’s show on the HUFS blog, which also has links to photos from earlier shows. The site also has archives of footage from previous shows. I highly recommend you review those so you don’t inadvertently submit any similar designs.
What is the selection process like?
There is an online application where you can submit up to 3 original designs plus a written description. You will also be asked for a personal bio, info about your design/sewing experience, and some portfolio images. There may be additional questions about how you heard about the show, if you have any previous press, what you think about geek fashion, etc. You can also include links to your social media and personal website and an optional video about your designs.
Up to 25 finalists are chosen by a selection committee that consists of Ashley Eckstein and employees of Her Universe/Hot Topic. Those finalists are the ones that will appear in the HUFS during SDCC. There is one winner picked by judges at the show, and a second winner picked by audience voting. There can be more than two winners in case of a tie.
What should be in your portfolio/video?
The portfolio is a chance for you to show that you can complete your design. HU does not want to select a person who has a great sketch but doesn’t know how to sew. Your portfolio should demonstrate your skill and experience and prove you can deliver a finished item on show day. Personally I recommend submitting a collage for each image so that you can show some close-up shots of your details and accessories made, plus make sure that some of the skills and materials in your submitted designs show up in your portfolio. For example, if you submit embroidery or leatherwork you should show you have experience with embroidery or leatherwork.
The video is optional. There is a time limit of 5 minutes but it is a chance for you to talk about your designs and show off your personality or inspiration. You can hold up sketches, show off fabric swatches if you have any, etc. Not everyone submits a video with their application but I feel like it’s a great way to explain difficult concepts and convince them you should be in the show.
What is the general time line?
Generally, applications open in spring after WonderCon and the show is in July during San Diego Comic Con. In 2019 (live show) applications opened April 1 and closed April 19, notifications went to finalists on April 26, and the show was July 17. In 2021 (virtual show) applications opened March 18 and closed April 2, finalists were announced April 16, and the show aired July 23 but we had to be finished with our designs and submit photographs/videos by June 4 in order to give them time to edit the footage.
What prizes do the winners get?
The judges’ pick and the audience winner get equal prizes. Winners are invited back the following year to judge the next contest at SDCC and their travel is covered. There is also a cash prize (I’m not sure if the amount varies each year), a chance to design a collection for Her Universe/Hot Topic, and royalties from that collection.
What is the HU/HT collection? Do you get your designs reproduced or get to choose the theme?
The collection is determined by HU/HT based on their licensing agreement with an upcoming movie. The 2021 winners designed items to come out in time for the 2022 Jurassic World movie. Some past winners have designed Star Wars, Marvel, and Wonder Woman items. The collection is mean to be casual/streetwear garments and are sold online at HU and in HT shops.
Do you have to have a ticket to San Diego Comic Con to apply?
No, you do not need a SDCC ticket to participate in the show or come watch as an audience member. The HUFS is held at a hotel during SDCC, but is a separate event. Finalists in the show are also often gifted a pass to SDCC.
Do finalists have their costs covered?
No, you are responsible for buying your own materials for your design, and covering your own travel to San Diego. As stated above, you do not need to pay for a SDCC ticket. If you win and are invited back as a judge, then your travel is comped for your subsequent trip.
Is there an age limit?
You need to be at least 18 for HUFS. (One year there was an affiliated junior design contest for minors, but that was different from the main runway show). There is no upper age limit and you don’t have to be fresh out of design school. There are people in the show in their 30s and 40s, with established careers and/or kids doing this for fun.
The contest is called the HER Universe Fashion Show. Are men allowed?
Yes, male designers are allowed to participate. In past runway shows male designers submitted womenswear, but during the 2021 virtual show the finalists could also present menswear designs.
Do you have to model the clothing yourself?
No, you can have a friend model the clothing if you don’t want to wear it yourself and many designers prefer to hire a model for various reasons (runway experience, having a particular look in mind, ease of fitting, honoring a particular culture, etc.) However, many people also love modeling the clothing themselves! It is up to you.
Do you need to be a great fashion illustrator or submit professional drawings?
No, the design sketches just need to be able to convey your vision clearly to the selection committee. You are also allowed to include written descriptions and your sketch can be a collage that includes pics of fabric swatches, etc. You can also use your optional video to describe your design.
You are allowed to hire a pro artist or friend to polish up your designs, as long as all the ideas are your own. For example, maybe you’re not confident about rendering fabric or comfortable about your illustration skills, you can have someone do your final sketches, as long as they are not helping you design.
For myself, I have submitted before using my own drawings, and have also applied by having my drawings translated by costume illustrator Emily Hasty. You can see below my original sketches and notes and the professional rendering by Emily.
Here is the sketch from Emily I submitted as part of my HUFS application.
What is the “portfolio review” at WonderCon?
At WonderCon, a few months before SDCC, and before the HUFS application officially opens, the Her Universe/Hot Topic team will usually host a portfolio review at WonderCon. (This is separate from the HU panel that consists of the past year’s winners that will be judges for the year). This is a chance for aspiring applicants to have a few minutes with some HU/HT reps to get some quick feedback about their designs. This is completely optional, and is a nice bonus for anyone who’s already attending WonderCon who wants a second opinion, but is not a requirement to enter. (The HU/HT reps may or may not be the same people on the final selection committee).
Is there another place to get feedback?
There is an unofficial Facebook group called “The Workshop” that is a support group consisting of many past finalists and people who are interested in applying. It’s a friendly place to ask questions or talk about your designs.
What is the HU panel you referred to at WonderCon?
The panel consists of the previous year’s winners and gives info on the upcoming show plus a sneak peak at the HU/Hot Topic collection that is being released.
Would you recommend participating?
Absolutely! I had a wonderful experience and the people involved in the show (both organizing and participating) were lovely. The HU/HT staff provided lots of guidance, were available for questions, and were really responsive. Prior to applying for the first time I had talked to previous finalists about the general vibe to see if HUFS was something I wanted to join. Everyone I asked said that it was the type of show where people hyped each other up and helped each other backstage so please keep that atmosphere going if you participate! Since the 2021 show was virtual, we had weekly Zoom meetings hosted by HU and a private Facebook group. People were offering to help each other shop for materials in the LA Fabric District or mail spare supplies. When online voting opened the participants were encouraging their followers to check out the other finalists as well. It definitely felt more like a bunch of theatre kids banding together to put on a show rather than competitors in a pageant. I am very grateful to have been part of this experience and am looking forward to being a judge this year and cheering all of you on!
I was making a Borgias-inspired Renaissance dress and decided to lean into to the green gold color scheme and make it a historical Loki variant costume. I wanted a Renaissance gown but being shiny and pretty was more important to me than historical accuracy so this isn’t pegged to a specific decade, but rather a look inspired by both the Borgias HBO show and the character Loki from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The dress is made from beautiful green and gold shot raw silk suiting. The bodice uses the same fabric but with a silk/rayon organza burnout overlay, and the lining is a black cotton canvas for structure.
The skirt is made of pleated rectangular panels. Each of the front and back are 1.5 panels wide, with the seam hidden under the metallic jacquard trim.
The sleeves are basic sleeve shapes but cut a little loose to allow for the chemise underneath. They are somewhat like tie-on sleeves except instead of ribbons I sewed them at the meeting points with a glass pearl and some gold bead caps.
Underneath the dress I wore a Tudor chemise because that is what I had on hand. (It was also made using a pattern from the Tudor Tailor book). However, at a later point I’d like to make a Renaissance camicia with a different neckline and much fuller sleeves to puff out through the gaps in the green sleeve.
I bought the Loki crown as 3D printed pieces from Parton Prints on Etsy. The horns come as separate pieces for ease of shipping and I glued them on using E6000 glue. After a little sanding, I used a primer that someone recommended to me for 3D printed plastics Tamiya Gray Fine Surface Primer (Amazon affiliate link) I finished up with two coats of Rust-Oleum Metallic Spray Paint in Gold. Originally I used more E6000 to glue on a black elastic strap but decided to cut them off. Instead I used the nubs of those straps as an anchor point to sew on some gold necklace chains both as decorative dangling elements in the front and also as a visible gold band across the back to hold the crown on.
I am wearing a wavy black wig from Amazon (affiliate link) under the crown. I wish my hair was that luxurious! The necklace is a secondhand eBay find.
And here is a video of the dress in action!
I had so much fun pretending to be a villain. Here are a few of the fun TikTok videos I made as Lokizia Borgia:
Transforming into Lokizia Borgia:
2. Asking you to join me in ruling the galaxy:
3. Starting my villain arc:
5 yards green/gold raw silk suiting from Fabricmartfabrics.com: $52.50 + $9.99 shipping (some left over)
2 yards organza burnout from Fabricmartfabrics.com: $16.10 (shipped with silk suiting, a lot left over)
Winter is here and I wanted a cute and cozy accessory that was a nice shawl, but also a surprise hood and scarf! I made this out of a wool knit jersey but other soft fabrics with a bit of drape would work as well. I added some pompom trim for whimsy but that is optional; this surprise hood would work well untrimmed, or finished with decorative stitching or other touches. This was inspired by Victorian mantelets with front lappets, knit sontags, chic old Hollywood head scarves, and modern cozy.
Note: I am a member of the Janome Maker program and this project was sewn on a Janome Skyline S9. (This post is sponsored by Janome but all content and opinions are mine).
WHAT YOU WILL NEED
Soft fabric with drape (wool jersey, lightweight cable knit, rayon challis, lightweight wool suiting, etc.)
The yardage depends on how wide your fabric is. (I used 1.5 yards of a 58″ wide fabric by alternating the wide and narrow ends of the pattern pieces while cutting).
Thread, scissors, chalk, pins.
Optional: 5 yards pompom/ball fringe trim, lace, rickrack, etc.
DRAFTING THE PATTERN
Don’t worry if you don’t have any pattern drafting experience! I’ve broken it down into squares/rectangles/triangles so if you have a ruler you can draw these shapes. Start with these basic geometric shapes; I find it is easiest to draw the square first, then the rectangle, then the triangle on a large piece of paper. (It doesn’t have to be fancy or special drafting paper; a roll of gift wrap works great).
Next, draw the curves indicated in red on the diagram. Then, discard the shaded areas.
Now you have your pattern that you can cut out of paper and use to trace onto your fabric! (This includes 1/2 inch seam allowance. You can add more when cutting out your fabric if you want your shawl a little wider or are skipping any trim).
Cut out 4 identical pieces of fabric. 2 will be the fashion layer and 2 will be the lining. (If you want, you can use a different fabric for the lining but then the hood will be a different fabric when flipped up).
Sew the center back seam of the 2 fashion pieces together. Repeat for the lining layer. Press the seams flat.
Put the fashion and lining layers right sides together. If you plan to use pompom trim or lace, this is the time to sandwich your trim in between the two layers as shown, with the edges flush. (This is so that the pompom balls are “inside” when sewing the edges but will be on the “outside” when the shawl is flipped right side out). You will have trim everywhere except the neckline. (If you are using rickrack, instead of sandwiching it in the layers you should sew it to the fashion layer before it is attached to the lining).
Sew all along the outer edges of the shawl, except for the neckline, as shown in the earlier image.
Turn the right sides out through the opening in the neckline, exposing the pompom trim. Fold in the raw edges of the neckline and topstitch closed.
Right now you will have a long flat piece as shown below. (The ends are folded in so I could fit everything in the photo).
Pleat the neckline area (up to where the pompoms start) to fit the curve of your neck. The finished curved area should cover the back half of your neck. (If you have a dress form handy, an easy way to determine how to do the pleats is to pin the center back seam to the center back of the form, pin where the pompom trim starts to the shoulder point on the form, then pleat using the neck of the form as a guide). To keep the pleats in place, stitch down the pleats over the previous topstitch line either by machine or by hand.
Optional: Use one of the embroidery stitches to add some extra decorative details to your shawl. Some ideas include using a continuous stitch along the edges of the shawl, or putting a monogram on the tails. You can also do a decorative stitch along the edge after the shawl is sewn, rather than using pompom trim. (These examples are under the Decorative stitch menu on my Janome Skyline S9).
HOW TO WEAR
This can be worn multiple ways!
Wear the draped back and front tails down as a shawl.
Pull up the draped back over your head as a hood (with the tails in front or pushed behind your shoulders).
Wrap one or two front tails around your neck like a scarf.
I am happy to provide all patterns and tutorials for for free on my blog. It is absolutely optional, but if you would like to donate towards my domain registration and the data costs of hosting the many photos on my site, consider buying me a “coffee”: https://ko-fi.com/freshfrippery. Thank you!
I made this fantasy costume back at the start of the year and realized I never wrote up a post! With the 20th anniversary of the Lord of the Rings films coming up, this is a good time to finally blog about this dress with elven vibes. I had fun walking around in nature, pretending to be regal, and hope to wear it to an actual event some time!
I made the main body of the dress using an embossed navy blue velvet, and the cape is a sheer netting with silver glitter stars.
I created moon phase appliqués out of silver glitter heat transfer vinyl with my Silhouette machine to decorate the front of the dress. (If you’re not familiar with HTV, the material is on a plastic backing. You iron on the appliqué and then peel off the plastic backing, revealing your design).
I glued crystals around the moons using E6000 Fabri Fuse (which is not the same as regular E6000). I glued larger crystals onto a piece of grosgrain ribbon to make the belt.
The pattern I used is Butterick B4827. It is a princess-seamed fantasy dress and I made very few modifications. I turned the lace-up back into a zipper back, and I added the cape. The cape is a long rectangle, pleated into the back neckline, with a cut open center slit part way down the back to access the zipper.
The front of the cape is sandwiched into part of the armscye shoulder seam, with excess removed, as explained in this video.
I made my flower crown by spray-painting sola wood flowers with Rustoleum silver spray paint. The base of the circlet is silver floral wire, and the flowers and a necklace are attached to the base using 26 gauge wire. I also glued crystals onto the petals using E600 Fabri Fuse. This video shows the process:
I have a few scraps left of the velvet and I am planning to make a pouch for carrying items. In my haste to whip up the long seams of this dress quickly, I serged all the panels together and forgot to add pockets!
4 yards embossed navy velvet: $52.59 including tax and shipping from Amazon. The blue is sold out but there are other colors like black and ivory still available from Amazon (affiliate link). You can also find it at Fabric.com
2 meters glitter star fabric: $19.84 including shipping from Aliexpress
Crystals, glue, flowers, thread, ribbon, wire, paint, etc. were items I already owned and mostly left over from other projects, but I’d estimate if I had to go buy that all new from a craft store I’d spend ~$20.
Total cost: $72.43 out of pocket plus miscellaneous stash items.
Thank you for reading! I took these photos on a cloudy day. Maybe one day I’ll get a chance to take some atmospheric night time photos!
Last weekend I was invited to a hobbit picnic full of food, friends, and hairy hobbit feet! I didn’t have time to make a dress so I put together an outfit using items mostly from my closet. I’ve gotten questions about where I got my items so I will list my sources so you can put together your own hobbit costume!
My dress is an embroidered dirndl that I bought secondhand from eBay, but it was originally made by a company called Ernst Licht, an Oktoberfest/Tracht supplier.
My blouse is originally an Amazon one that I modified. It is called the “Floerns Women’s Square Neck Puff Sleeve Button Lace Elegant Top Blouse” (affiliate link). I removed the wide ruffled lace because it was a bit stiff and scratchy, and replaced it with a cheerful floral yellow trim. I used the same trim on the sleeves. (The elastic in the sleeves was a little tight so I removed some and covered it with the trim).
I wore a mushroom in a glass dome necklace I bought on eBay many years ago. It’s no longer available there but I’ve seen some very cute ones if you search for “mushroom terrarium necklace.”
The apron I wore is a vintage one gifted by a friend. It is made from cute printed handkerchiefs! You could make your own by sewing together some handkerchiefs, or make a simple apron by just gathering up a rectangle of colorful fabric and adding waist ties.
I hope this post was helpful to you for putting together your own hobbit costume!
As someone who loves both fall and Halloween it is the perfect time of year for me to make a cozy robe made of super soft Cuddle minky fabric using my Janome Skyline S9. The print I chose is called “Eye of Newt” by Shannon Fabrics. A lot of robes are only a single-layer but I wanted to have mine lined with a plush fabric for extra warmth and luxury. I used “Luxe Cuddle Glacier” (a textured black minky fabric) for my lining.
Note: I am a member of the Janome Maker program and this skirt is sewn on a Janome Skyline S9. (This post is sponsored by Janome but all content and opinions are mine). All the fabric was gifted by Shannon Fabrics.
WHAT YOU WILL NEED (exact amounts depend on your measurements and the width of your fabric):
4 or more yards of 58-60 inch wide fashion fabric (minky or fleece fabric)
2 or more yards of 58-60 inch wide lining (more minky for extra softness, or a non minky fabric if you want a lighter robe)
thread, elastic, pins, scissors, chalk, etc.
Any wrap robe pattern with a shawl collar can be used as a base. I adapted Butterick 6837 view A with modifications in order to turn it into a lined robe. I used this pattern because I already had it on hand from making PJ bottoms for my family, but if you use this pattern you may want to make these same changes:
Keep in mind this pattern runs large and you should size down unless you have broad shoulders or a large torso.
I added a lining, which the pattern does not include instructions for, so my construction methods are adapted for that.
I shortened the robe to make it knee-length instead of calf-length.
The belt loops and pockets are very large and the recommended placement on the pattern is too low.
Since this robe is lined, it is not necessary to cut separate collar pattern pieces because the robe fronts already have the under collar attached, and you will cut out collar facings.
CUT OUT THESE PIECES OF FABRIC:
Robe (out of your fashion fabric): 2 fronts, 1 back, 2 collar facings, 2 sleeves, 2 sleeve cuffs, 2 sleeve facings, 2 pockets, 2 belt loops, and 1 belt
Lining (out of your solid fabric): 2 fronts, 1 back, 2 sleeves
Wash and dry your fabric before cutting and sewing. (Cuddle minky can be machine-washed on gentle in cold water, and then dried on low heat). Serge all sides of the pockets. The rest of the pieces do not need to be serged because raw seams will be hidden by the lining or turned inside (like the belt).
CONSTRUCTION OF THE ROBE FASHION LAYER:
Make the belt loops by cutting out two rectangles that are 5 inches by 3 inches. You will make a tube by folding the right sides together lengthwise, stitching it down, and then turning right side out. (Alternatively you could make one long 10 inch tube and then cut it in half). Set aside.
Sew the 2 fronts to the back at the shoulder seams. Do not sew the side seams yet.
Sew one sleeve cuff to the bottom of each sleeve.
Sew the top of each sleeve to the shoulder where the front/back meets.
Pin the side front to the side back (right sides together). Pin belt loops at waist level, sandwiching them between the front and back, with the unfinished ends inside the robe.
Sew the sleeve seam and side seam shut as one long continuous seam, catching the belt loops as well. (The reason why you don’t assemble the sleeves and top separately and then try to sew them together is so you don’t need to carefully set the assembled sleeve into the armhole opening and try to make it fit).
To make the pockets fold all the edges of your pocket piece inwards, with the top part having a deeper fold. Pin the pocket to your robe fronts at the desired location (checking that they are at a comfortable level for your hands). Top-stitch the sides and bottom to sew the pocket into place.
Stitch the two shawl collar facings at the center back seam. Then put the curved facing edge along the curved front edge and stitch together.
To make the belt you will need to cut out a very long rectangle (78 inches x 5 inches) with diamond pointed ends. Fold the right sides together lengthwise and stitch all along the edges, leaving a 4 inch area unstitched towards the center of the belt. You will use this opening to pull the right sides out.
After the belt is right side out, fold the raw edges in and pin the opening shut. Top stitch the opening closed, and continue to top stitch the entire perimeter of the belt. This will make the belt lie flat since the fabric is puffy. (See below for a comparison).
CONSTRUCTION OF THE LINING:
The construction of the lining is very similar to that of the fashion fabric but you do not have pockets, belt loops, or the belt. You also need to note the directionality of the sleeve facing.
Sew the 2 fronts to the back at the shoulder seams. Do not sew the side seams yet.
Sew the sleeve facing to the bottom of the sleeve lining. If you have a print, sew the sleeve facing with the print upside down since it will be flipped up when the cuff is rolled.
Sew the top of each sleeve to the shoulder where the front/back meets.
Sew the sleeve seam and side seam shut as one long continuous seam (as seen in step 6 of the robe construction).
Put the lining inside the robe fashion layer, wrong sides together. (Put the lining sleeve into the robe sleeve).
Pin the curved edge of the lining front to the robe front, then sew them together. (Remember that the robe front is already attached to the collar facing, forming a sandwich consisting of collar facing, robe front, and lining. The right sides of the printed collar facing and fronts are together, while the wrong sides of the front and lining are together).
Flip the collar facing inside the robe, covering part of the lining. To finish the collar facing: Top stitch the outer edge of the collar facing about a half inch from the edge. Fold the raw edge of the other side under and slip stitch closed to the lining (indicated by the pins).
To finish the sleeve cuffs: Line up the bottom edges of the sleeve cuffs and sleeve facings and fold the raw edges of both inward. Top stitch the edge closed, then flip the finished cuff up to show off the sleeve facing.
Hem the bottom of the robe: Fold the bottom of the robe inside, covering the raw edge of the lining, then fold the robe fabric inward again to hide the raw edge. You may want to cut some excess lining before hemming to reduce bulk. Sew down the edges to finish the robe.
Put the belt through the belt loops and you have a finished robe!
Thank you again Janome and Shanon Fabrics for making this project possible! I hope everyone has a beautiful fall season!
I adore the red and white toadstool mushrooms known as Amanita muscaria (aka fly agaric) and wanted to make a cute skirt inspired by them. I’ve worn it in my photos with a monogram cardigan and big fluffy petticoat for a 1950s style look, but this skirt could be styled with a romantic shirt and a flower crown for a cottage core outfit. The front half of the skirt has a flat waistband for a smooth look while the back half of the skirt has an elasticated waistband for comfort and for adjustability!
Note: I am a member of the Janome Maker program and this skirt is sewn on a Janome Skyline S9. (This post is sponsored by Janome but all content and opinions are mine).
SKILL LEVEL: Beginner/intermediate
TIME REQUIRED: 4-5 hours
WHAT YOU WILL NEED (exact amounts depend on your measurements):
2 or more yards of red cotton fabric
1 yard or various scrap pieces of white cotton fabric
3-4 yards or more of white pleated trim or lace
strip of interfacing the same size as your waistband
thread, elastic, pins, scissors, chalk, etc.
Before you begin you’ll want to take a few basic measurements: your waist circumference, and the desired length of your skirt. For the latter you’ll want to measure from the smallest part of your waist to wherever you would like the skirt to stop (above the knee, below the knee, etc.) Use the diagram below to convert those measurements into A, B, and C for the pattern pieces.
Using the pattern diagram as a guide, use chalk to mark the rectangles on red fabric. Cut out your front and back skirt panels, front waistband, and back waistband. Use the front waistband as a pattern to cut out a piece of interfacing the same size, then iron or sew the interfacing to the front waistband.
Note: the 5 inch width of the waistband pieces will result in a final 2 inch tall waistband (once it is folded over with 1/2 inch seam allowances). If you want a shorter or taller waistband you can adjust the width when cutting.
Fold the red waistband pieces in half lengthwise and iron to mark a crease down the center.
Cut circles and ovals out of your white fabric in a variety of sizes from 3-5 inches wide. These will become the mushroom spots. The number of spots depends on personal preference and the size of your spots and skirt, but for reference I have 28 total on my skirt.
Pin the mushroom spots onto both the front and back skirt panels in a scattered, random pattern. Leave enough room at the top, bottom, and sides for seam allowance and hemming. (There are half inch seam allowances on the side and top, and you will want the bottom 2 inches free).
Use your machine’s appliqué stitch (shown below on my Skyline S9) to attach all the spots to your skirt panels. (If you do not have an appliqué stitch on your machine model you can use a zigzag stitch but it is recommended you use a white fabric not prone to fraying). If you are using the appliqué stitch start with your needle just outside the mushroom spot.
Sew up the side seams and press open flat.
ATTACHING THE BACK WAISTBAND:
Sew the WRONG side of the back skirt panel to the RIGHT side of the back waistband with a 1/2 inch seam allowance. (This means you will start by putting one of the long edges of the waistband against the top inside edge of the skirt). You should have the ends of the waistband extend slightly past the seam. Sew down the long edge then flip up the waistband up, creating a clean finish on the inside of the skirt.
Using the ironed center crease to help you, fold half of the waistband over towards the outside of the skirt, then tuck under the seam allowance.
Pin down the edge of the waistband on the outside of the skirt and topstitch. You will now have a channel to thread your elastic through.
Cut a piece of elastic the same length as what your final back waistband will be. (This is half your waist measurement plus another inch, for 1/2 inch seam allowance on each end). I used a 1 inch wide piece of elastic to reduce bulk, but you can use up to 2 inches wide if preferred.
Insert the elastic through the back waistband channel, which will cause the waistband to gather up. (A tip: Use a safety pin to anchor one end of the elastic to the waistband so it doesn’t get lost as you use a second closed safety pin attached to the other end of the elastic to thread it through the channel).
Securely stitch down each end of the elastic inside the waistband channel.
ATTACHING THE FRONT WAISTBAND:
Gather the front skirt panel across the top edge into a final width equal to half your waist size. To do this, sew 2 rows of straight stitches 1/4″ apart, then pull both threads at the same time to gather the skirt into the desired width.
Attach the front waistband in a similar manner to the back waistband by first sewing the WRONG side of the skirt panel to the RIGHT side of the waistband. Make sure the ends of the front waistband (with the seam allowance folded over) overlaps the raw edges of the back waistband. Flip up the waistband and turn your skirt over to look at the outside.
Similar to the method used for the back waistband, flip half of the front waistband over to the outside front of the skirt, tuck in the raw seam allowance, and pin down, covering the gathered portion.
Top-stitch the front waistband along the bottom edge and the sides where it meets the back waistband. Also top-stitch across the top edge of the entire top front/back waistbands of the skirt.
To mimic the gills of the mushroom you’ll want to add trim to the hem of the skirt. I’ve used a pleated chiffon trim but you can also use lace or a plain white fabric ruffle.
Measure the bottom circumference of your skirt. You will need to cut some trim the same length plus an extra inch for seam allowance. Sew the ends of the trim together to make a big circle. Pin the top edge of the trim UPSIDE DOWN to the hem of the skirt.
Remove the original pins as you fold the bottom up, then over again, to cover all raw edges and re-pin. Stitch where the pins indicate.
Press the hem flat. If your trim is sheer you’ll want to press the red fabric upwards behind the main skirt panel so that it doesn’t hang down behind the trim. (This folded hem is to add a little extra body to the hem of the skirt. If you prefer, you can also serge the trim to the skirt but should shorten the panels and trim accordingly).
Note: Originally I wrote this post in early 2020 but did not publish it. Given the global pandemic I felt it would be irresponsible to imply one should gather in groups. However, it is now 2021 and some people are making plans for the future or have been inspired by movies and TV shows to seek out like-minded individuals, and plus there are many virtual events happening as well. In addition, I’ve seen a number of people say their people skills are a bit rusty since they’ve been isolated for so long, so perhaps some reminders and tips as you plan and dream for the future might be helpful.
I and other costumers are often asked “how do I get started in historical costuming?” At first I gave out advice on beginning sewing tips and classes and where to get fabrics and patterns, but I’ve realized some people are actually asking “how do I get started in historical costuming adventures?” This post gives some advice to hopeful guests and some planning tips for both aspiring and experienced hosts.
How Do I Go on Costuming Adventures?
First off, I want to emphasize that you do not have to go on fancy costume trips to have a good time, and not being invited to a private event is not a reflection on you, your skill, or your worth. Although reenactment weekends, themed birthdays, cosplay balls, etc. can be quite fun, they are not necessary for you to feel like a full costumer. Some people are perfectly satisfied with making things for themselves in their own home and find the most enjoyment out of the process. Others find fulfillment out of wearing the costume to an event. Neither mindset is wrong. Please read the “Let’s talk about FOMO” section on a previous blog post.
OK, I Get It But Really Do Want to Wear Things Outside My House
To find like-minded people start your search online for local costume groups. Try Googling your city/county/state name and keywords like “costume” or “costumers.” If you’re willing to travel then expand your geographical search and include terms like “convention,” “festival,” and “fair.” You may also try “historical society,” “living history,” and “reenactment.” If you also like sci-fi and fantasy use “cosplay” and “cosplayers” in your search terms. If you enjoy story-telling and acting looking for “LARP” (live action role-playing). If there’s currently a hot new costume show you might throw that into your search. There are also lots of costuming groups on Facebook where you can find people with similar interests. You may end up finding a formal nonprofit organization or an informal Facebook group.
If you cannot find a local group perhaps you can post in an era-specific group “Hey, does anyone live in this area? I’m from ____ city and would love to go to tea with you.” Please use common sense when meeting up with strangers and also be understanding if someone nearby doesn’t want to meet up with someone they don’t know. I’ve become In Real Life friends with people that started out as online acquaintances that I later met at events, but that doesn’t mean I accept invitations from strangers who say “Here’s my phone number. Come to my house.”
If you encounter costumers “in the wild” don’t be afraid to approach them in a respectful way. If you take a tour of a historical home from a well-dressed docent, you can ask if they made their costume and have any local organizations they can recommend you join. If you spot a costumed group at a museum or park you can ask if they are part of a public club. Basic manners still apply: don’t gawk, follow them around, or make them feel unsafe.
Have Realistic Expectations
You will not be invited to every event right away. You may find out about some events after they have passed. There is no secret formula or handshake to get into private dinners. The best way to be included is to make friends.
When you go to events make a point of introducing yourself to others; don’t always assume someone else will do it first. Before you complain about being “snubbed” please ask yourself if you put in some effort yourself and tried to reach out. Some icebreaker things you can say are:
“Did you make your costume? It’s lovely.”
“I’m not familiar with the character/cosplay you’re portraying but I’d love to hear more about it.”
“That’s a great color on you!”
“This is my first time here so if you have any tips they’d be very appreciated!”
Private events are fun but don’t forget that public events are great, too! Everyone likes to feel special, and I can understand why a private weekend getaway seems more special than a public picnic at a public park, openly advertised on FB. But please ask yourself, do you want to attend the event because it’s fun, or because it’s exclusive? And if it’s the latter, think about if you’re missing out on some great events while chasing after some other ones.
Reasonable vs. Unreasonable Requests
As a hostess and participant, I sometimes get comments and messages after I post photos on social media about an event and I’m willing to wager a lot of others do as well. If you are seeking a future invitation I cannot emphasize enough to make your correspondence extra polite since tone can be hard to gauge from text. Many people enjoy organizing events, and they are much more likely to invite you for future events if you don’t accidentally appear snide, prying, or offended:
“Wow lovely! Was this a private or public event?” vs. “Looks like another secret party for popular girls.”
“I’mthinking of renting the same venue; do you mind giving me a DM about the cost to see if it’s in my budget?” vs. “How much did everything cost?”
“Is there a club website or newsletter where I could sign up for event notifications?” vs. “How come I didn’t know about this?”
Can I Ask Though?
Others may disagree but I believe so, yes, under certain circumstances. My personal opinion is that a VERY polite, direct inquiry is ok: “Hi, my name is ____ and I am a costumer who lives in _____. I apologize if this a private event but in case it is open to others I’d like to indicate my interest in attending and making new friends.” (What is not very polite is a short “Can I come too?” because it’s not clear if you are serious or will be offended if they say no). If you have an Instagram account, blog, etc. include it. This is not to see if you’re “good enough.” Sometimes someone doesn’t recognize a name but does recognize your face, IG handle, or a costume and realizes they know you after all. Help the hostess figure out you’re a “safe” person already in the community, and not a random creep on the internet.
If you get a reply that the event is/was a birthday party for friends only and not a public festival or reoccurring guild event, then thank the person politely instead of trying to guilt them for not including you. Maybe you’ll get to know them better at another event and you may be invited next time, if you didn’t come across as entitled and unpleasant.
It’s natural to feel envious about not being able to participate in everything. But before you jump to self-doubt or accusations of elitism, ask yourself would you feel the same way if this was a t-shirt and jeans meetup at the pizza parlor? If a few people gathered at the local pub for drinks and darts, would you feel like they knew you well enough to include you just because you live in the area? If the answer is no, then there is no obligation. The answer does not change because the t-shirts got swapped for gowns.
Also remember, just because you didn’t hear about it doesn’t mean it was secret.
On the subject of asking: Aside from invitations if you have a costume question it can be fine to reach out for help (if you tried doing a little research first), but please remember that some people have businesses to run, children to care for, etc. If they have a lot of followers and get lots of messages they may not have the ability to respond to every comment. If someone can and wants to personally mentor you that is lovely, but it is not an expectation you should have of everyone. You don’t know how many other requests they get or what else is on their plate. Also remember that there are many talented people who are not “famous” who might be delighted to hear from you, or have excellent expertise in a particular area.
Is the Cost Fair?
I’ve seen people complain about ticket prices and it can be a fair criticism if a group claims to be interested in outreach but makes no effort to be accessible through member discounts, scholarships, public workshops, etc. However, ultimately the cost is up to the organizers and it rude to leave comments on the event page discussing your personal finances or calling it a scam. (It is ok to ask what perks you get for your ticket price if the event details are vague).
If the hostess wants to include the cost of professional catering in the event ticket instead of making hundreds of tea sandwiches and cookies herself or hoping she gets enough volunteers, she has the right to charge for food.
If the event is held at a historical mansion that needs a donation for its preservation efforts, it is not snobbery or greed that the cost happened to fall outside your budget.
If the event’s ticket price to a public venue is higher than the regular ticket price, consider that perks like party favors and decorations or administrative costs like PayPal fees have been included, not that a profit is being generated.
If the event includes a souvenir, drinks, etc. do not demand a prorated ticket for declining part of the package; it would be chaos for the organizers to keep track of those small details for everyone.
Tickets to Venice, renting a mansion, reserving a room at an inn, catering, etc. are not cheap. Although I believe strongly that groups should try to have some lower-priced events like picnics or casual meet-ups for recruitment purposes, they are not obligated to have every single event be budget-friendly. If once a year your guild wants to have a fancy dinner in a nice hotel that is ok. Someone wanting to splurge and treat themselves does not automatically mean they are trying to be exclusionary. Costuming is a hobby, not a necessity, and by that nature it is a luxury even if you don’t use luxury materials. (That being said, if every event, workshop, and social activity your group puts on is prohibitively expensive, I would ask you examine why that is the case and who is being left out).
Tips for Hosting an Event (and Keeping Your Sanity)
Pick a date: As host(ess), you have the privilege of picking the date. If you want to, you can pick a few dates that work for you and have people choose from them but remember you get the final say. You can do a poll or vote but trying to get a large group of people to all agree on a single date will not happen. It’s lovely to be accommodating but don’t let anyone make you feel bad for not being able to find a date where 100% of your friends can come.
Have firm RSVP dates and deadlines before the event date: In your invitation state the deadlines to RSVP, to pay for tickets, pick a meal choice, etc. It saves you a lot of stress. You don’t want to scramble for extra chairs or plead with the caterer at the last minute because a few people added themselves the morning of the event.
Limit the number of guests: You are not obligated to invite an unlimited number of guests. If you want an intimate candlelit dinner party, or prefer to not have a roommate at the Airbnb, or don’t have the time to make 40 party favors or collect ticket money from 60 people, that is your right. It is your event and you get to decide how many people you have the energy to wrangle.
There are also practical/legal considerations: Find out what your location can comfortably hold, or what the fire marshall has decided is the safe limit of people. Some venues increase the price significantly over a certain number of guests; find out the point at which “party” pricing turns into “wedding” pricing. (Don’t assume that you can just raise the price of the ticket to make up the difference; any cost increase may mean a decrease in RSVPs and you might lose money or price out people you want to include).
Be aware of your local county or venue regulations. Sometimes beverage licenses, insurance policies, or hiring a security guard is required when your guest list exceeds a certain number.
Be firm about the number of guests: If the event sells out you will probably get people pleading for an exception, complaints about “unfairness,” plans to gatecrash, or other attempts to step on your boundaries. If you keep increasing the ticket blocks you are sending the message that if someone bullies you enough they can get their way, even if it puts you at risk of burnout or fines. (Also keep in mind many people complaining about a sold out item or event do not actually end up buying anything even if offered that opportunity later. You may be putting in extra work for no additional turnout).
Make the dress code easy if you want more guests: If your goal is to welcome lots of people or make it easier on your friends, do not pick an obscure or niche era. Pick something where it’s easy to sew (Regency), or has lots of patterns (Victorian), or can be purchased online (1920s). Casual Edwardian events are also nice because it is accessible to people with limited time or skills: you can thrift a white blouse and long skirt if necessary. If you do pick a very specific theme, give people lots of advance notice to get a costume together.
No guarantee of refunds: State if someone paid for their tea or dance ticket and had to cancel, they are responsible for reselling their spot and getting their money back. If there is still a lot of time before the event you may refund on a case-by-case basis. (I like to help someone find another buyer if there’s time but I also don’t want to box myself into a situation where someone can cancel suddenly and demand a refund after I’ve already paid the restaurant or vendor).
Send out reminders: Don’t bombard invitees with messages but “Hi, tomorrow is the last day to pay before I close ticket sales” etc. is often appreciated. If your invitation is through Facebook and the guest is list is small, you may also make a post tagging individuals who RSVP’d yes but forgot to send their deposit. (I would not do this for a large event where a number of people simply clicked “interested”).
Have the guest list be viewable to guests if it’s a Facebook invitation: People can see who else is going and arrange carpools, roommates, etc. without having to bother you about it. (This does not apply to non-Facebook events like a ticketed website; participants would find it odd to have their names listed publicly).
Do events at different price points: Weekends at castles are lovely but don’t forget a picnic here and there. It’s a lower barrier to entry and great for making new friends, plus less stress for you!
Consider venues with built-in entertainment: Museums, historical homes that come with tours, amusement parks, aquariums, and plays are a great place to have a good time without you having to plan a lot of party games.
To All Aspiring Guests and Hosts:
Thank you for reading and I hope this guide was helpful to you. May the future be kind to you and we all have a chance to gather together safely again soon.