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.
I was in the mood to make something comfortable, yet luxurious for my last winter 2020 project. March may be a little late to document my last finished project of 2020 but I had a bit of of backlog to get through. My next post will be the 2020 Costuming Year in Review (finally!)
To make the Wearing History pattern suitable for PJs you’ll want to cut a larger size so that it is loose. I also cut the bottom of the sleeves a little wider. (In the original you have tapered sleeves and buttons at the cuffs and I didn’t want that for PJs). I didn’t have any buttons that were right so I used snap closures. (In the original pattern the front closes with a placket and hooks and eyes, so you’ll want to add a little extra fabric for the overlap if you use buttons or snaps). I also added some black lace appliqués to the shoulders.
I purchased 4 yards of 53″ wide purple silk satin and had enough left over to cut out a camisole and still have a large remnant piece. I bought the satin on eBay but the last time I checked the seller seems to not be around anymore.
I wore black bedroom slippers with a big fuzzy pompom for a fun touch.
This was a fun project to round out 2020. It was nice to have something that was both glamorous and comfortable!
I liked the big lapels, sailor collar, and tulip-shaped pockets and cuffs.
I used a gray and black houndstooth wool for the skirt and accents and a yellow wool for the jacket. The black buttons are vintage Czech glass buttons and the the yellow ones are vintage handmade.
There are different options for collars and pockets in this pattern.
The skirt is made according to the construction methods of the era where there’s an internal waistband that actually holds the skirt up. The waistband you see on the outside is attached at the top but not at the bottom, allowing for the gathers in the back of the skirt to hang loosely.
I made myself a matching hat which was pretty easy! The base of the hat used the same pattern as the jacket belt. I wrapped it around my head at a jaunty angle and pinned it to fit. The center of the hat is just a giant pleated rosette with a pompom hiding the center hole.
I’m afraid I took my photos while it was getting dark quickly during winter, so they are a bit grainy.
Some sizing notes: This is based on an antique pattern from the period.
The original skirt is quite long (great for tall people) but WH includes a cutting line if you want a shorter version of the skirt. I am 5’6″ and cut the shorter version.
The shoulders of the jacket are rather broad. I had to take in the shoulders a little bit to reduce the width.
The jacket is very full and loose but this is intentional. Shaping is done by the belt. You do not need to cut a smaller size; it is supposed to be a bit tent-like. (For security I have some hidden snaps in the jacket and hooks and bars in the belt).
3 yards gray/black houndstooth wool: $31.50 plus tax and shipping from Fabricmartfabrics
Pattern from Wearing History: $28 plus tax and shipping
4 yards yellow wool: $65 including tax and shipping from a FB destash group
Vintage yellow buttons: $6 + tax from a marketplace
Vintage Czech glass buttons: from eBay; I’ve had them for years and don’t remember how much I paid
Thread, snaps, etc. from stash
I’m not quite sure of the total cost because items 1 and 2 had shipping bundled with other items; I don’t have receipts for everything, and I have leftover wool in both colors, but I hope this gives you an approximate idea of what it will cost you to make your own. Thank you for reading!
For Halloween I made myself a Victorian/Edwardian-inspired mashup witch costume. I got large amounts of sari fabrics rather cheaply from a local person after they were used as party decorations, and even after distributing most of it to friends I still had a lot left over, and decided they were perfect for a bright Halloween witch. Since this was a costume I didn’t worry about combining details from various decades.
The skirt is a basic pleated two-panel skirt with seams on the sides. One seam has a pocket and the other has an invisible zipper. Since the sari is thin and I had so much of it I flat-lined it with more of the same.
The blouse and vest patterns are both from Black Snail Patterns on Etsy. They are the 1890s Late Victorian Day Blouse/Bodice and 1890s Edwardian Ladies’ Vest. Because this was meant to be a Halloween costume I took a “theatrical” approach to the construction and skipped a lot of the detailed and historically accurate instructions in the patterns such as creating facings, boning, etc. so I cannot comment on those. As usual, I did find the pattern pieces to be well-drafted and needed very little adjustment. My biggest cheat is I sewed the sleeves from the blouse pattern directly to the vest to make one garment. This saved me a lot of time, and also made the costume less warm with less layers!
Instead of making lots of buttonholes for my small gold buttons I did hidden hooks and bars down the front of the bodice and the buttons are decorative.
The belt is made from a scrap of the green sari fabric, paired with a vintage belt buckle. The buckle is actually plastic painted gold but looks pretty good from a distance!
I’m afraid I didn’t do a great job tracking the yardage since I had basically unlimited fabric, but I would estimate that I used 3 orange saris (since everything was 2 layers) and one green one. The saris I got were used and pre-cut and were 3-5 meters each. Thus, my rough estimates for project costs are as follows:
4 saris: ~$20 (yeah I got a great deal!)
25 yard roll of pleated grosgrain trim: $9.50 from Amazon, and I have a lot left. (The trim usually runs about $40 a roll but I’ve bought other colors through random price drops).
Gold buttons: free from a friend
Vintage buckle: ~$10? (I don’t remember).
Thread, hooks and eyes, collar interfacing, lining: ~$5 (stash and scraps from other projects)
Bodice pattern: $8.60
Vest pattern: $7.37
Printing costs: $5.56 plus shipping (I had my A0 patterns printed by PDFplotting.com and the shipping was bundled with other things)
Total: ~$45 for materials and ~$25 for patterns I will reuse
Some final thoughts:
This project was all polyester. The fabric was pretty enough it didn’t “matter” if it was silk and I hope this a reminder that costumes don’t need to be expensive.
Did you notice that I pleated the front of the skirt differently than I did the back? I didn’t until I put the waistband and zipper on, and I didn’t care to redo it! Here’s a reminder that maybe “mistakes” aren’t really that big of a deal and probably most people won’t notice.
I did some cheats to simplify construction. What works for you is what works for you, whether it is historically accurate, historically appropriate, historically adequate, or historically adjacent!
Thank you for reading!
My necklace is antique glass and brass from the 1930s and my shoes are from American Duchess.
I made an 18th-century inspired mashup of Belle’s iconic yellow ballgown and her hooded winter outfit from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.
The costume has aspects inspired by 18th century fashion but is not a historically accurate reproduction particular to a specific decade. I was heavily inspired by Brunswicks (the hooded traveling outfits) but you can also see elements from robe a la anglaise gowns, caracao jackets, and side-opening petticoats.
The yellow fabric I used is a quilted cotton harvested from a king-sized bedspread! It saved me a lot of time quilting, but the material created some challenges: I had to employ strategic cutting in order to maintain symmetry in the stitch designs in the final costume, and to keep the finished edges in the skirt, peplums, sleeves, and hood. The winter-appropriate thick cotton batting meant to avoid bulky seams I had to carefully pick out excess batting in the seam allowance of each pattern piece while maintaining (or restitching) the lines of quilting stitches. Raw edges were also serged to prevent fraying and loss of batting. Interior excess seam allowance had to be sewn down by hand since ironing was insufficient to keep seams pressed flat. In addition, the pleated areas were too thick to fit into the sewing machine and had to be stitched by hand.
However, I really like how the thickness of the material gave the garment a lot of structure, especially in the jacket peplum.
The scallops were also a feature I liked.
I lined the hood with scraps of white silk dupioni left over from a previous project. It was hand-stitched in so I could keep the scalloping on the hood.
The jacket was decorated with realistic foam roses on wired stems that I trimmed and shaped with pliers to create a base for hand-sewing onto the jacket. Each rose is accented with red crystals I glued on individually using E6000 Fabri-Fuse glue, which I highly recommend. (This is not the regular E6000 glue. Fabri-Fuse is low-odor, dries quickly, and comes in a squeeze bottle with a sharp tip for detail work).
The yellow and white striped bows are made from vintage French ribbon with picot edging, accented with antique lace. Each sleeve has embroidered tulle lace, large red satin bows, and a rose.
The outfit was a combination of self-draping and Frankensteining. The main body of the jacket and sleeves used a heavily modified version of the Period Impressions 1780 Polonaise pattern, which I previously used for my Outlander dinner party dress. However, I took out some back seams and altered the sleeves around the elbow region. The peplum was created by holding and pinning material up to the upper jacket on the dress form until I got the length and fullness I wanted.
The hood doesn’t stand up by itself, so it’s being held up here by a piece of boning to show you the shape:
No pattern was needed for the quilted petticoat, which was constructed in the same manner as your usual 18th century petticoat with side slits. The front and back panels were pleated into twill tape that served as waistbands and ties. Because of the thickness of the material there were less pleats than usual and I left a large section of the front center unpleated to allow for the jacket to sit flat over the stomach.
Total: ~$161.73 (I’m not including the shoes or jewelry because those were items I already owned for other costuming purposes. About $40 of the total is a wig I can reuse, plus I had some left over materials, so I’m calling this project a win for my pocketbook!).
I had a lot of fun making and wearing this costume. I even entered it in my first ever cosplay contest and was delighted to be a finalist in the Cosplay with Singer contest this fall! Here’s a video of the costume in action that I made for the contest:
Enjoy this silly video of me trying to fit my large costume through a small space.
It’s not a secret I love the 1930s, and my usual daily uniform consists of a buttoned vintage-style blouse, high-waisted pants, and a cardigan. I originally purchased the Wearing History 1930s Day or Evening pattern intending to make solid-colored, long-sleeved, long-peplumed blouse for a fall outfit, but decided to start with the short-sleeved, short-peplumed version.
The fabric I used is a Liberty of London print that was a holiday gift. It’s a modern print with flowers and strawberries but I thought suited the 1930s pattern very well. The green buttons, chartreuse grosgrain ribbon, and white buckle were all vintage.
I did modify the pattern to allow for buttons since that’s my favorite style of blouse. The original pattern has 2 closure options for the center front: a hidden placket with snaps, or button loops and buttons. This means if you use the pattern as-is, your right and left fronts will meet in the center. If you decide to modify the pattern to have buttonholes, you need to take account adding enough ease in your fabric to allow for the overlap. You don’t need to change any other pattern pieces. Please also note that if you like the center bow in the stock images, using the pattern as-is may be a better choice.
My shoes are from American Duchess. The hat is an 18th century straw bergere that I trimmed with flowers and ribbon. The purse is a crocheted 1930s reproduction.
Another small modification I made was to take the shoulders in slightly. This is not an issue with how the pattern is drafted; I have narrow shoulders so that is a change I normally make for many patterns. The other consideration is that strong shoulders are historically appropriate for 1930s and 1940s blouses, but can be overwhelming on my smaller frame. I cut out the blouse and sleeves as directed, but at the attachment point I took a larger seam allowance in the upper half of the armscye. This allows for a slight reduction in both the bodice and sleeve without the need to redraft.
I lined the cape with a blue and black plaid fabric I got from a friend but constructed my cape in a way to make it reversible.
The cape is inspired by an antique cream and black one.
I made mine using a light-weight wool for spring/fall usage.
One of the cute details this cape has is the contrast on the collar, which I repeated on the lining to make it fully reversible.
This cape pattern is available in PDF format but is a gridded pattern you have to scale up. To save time I just printed the pattern extra large and taped the pieces together.
The closures are hidden under the back of the cape. The front pieces wrap around and you can finish them either by with hooks and bars or a ribbon bow. I had to trim a little bit off the ends because of my body shape. If you are large-busted you may need to change the size of the darts on the front wraps.
Overall, it’s an easy, good-looking cape and I plan to use this pattern again for a witchy wardrobe!
Like all the other Wearing History blouse patterns I made, I am quite happy with how this turned out. It is not a complicated pattern because there are not many pieces. There’s some leeway to adjust the fit by moving the buttons and buttonholes a bit.
The shoulders have a split which make for a cute detail. Plus there’s a belt in the back with a buckle.
I loved the way this blouse looked with the red cigarette pants, but I had enough fabric left over I decided it would be also fun to make matching shorts. This way I would have the look of a romper but the convenience of a 2-piece outfit.
I made my costume according to the Rebel Legion Jedi Librarian/ Archivist/ Historian Costume Standards but please note, I am not a RL judge and this post reflects my own experience making my costume and is not an official guide of any sort. This blog post will take you through the layers of my costume (with a dressing video at the end).
I used heavier fabrics like wool and cotton twill because I intend to use this for winter events; you’ll want to stick to cotton and linen if you plan to use it in warmer climates.
The bronze and blue colors I used are the same as Ravenclaw house colors, hence my Jedi name being a reference to a founder of Hogwarts.
UNDER TUNIC AND SKIRT
I made the under tunic out of a poplin fabric with slight stretch. You actually don’t need a full shirt; a dickey just showing the collar is sufficient. However, for warmth and laundering reasons I wanted a full shirt.
Any mandarin-collared shirt pattern will do but I used a modified Simplicity 8768 (affiliate link), simply because I already owned the pattern. It is the top half of View A. Instead of a zipper I put snap openings down the center front. (The pattern runs large so I had room for the overlap closure).
The CRL guide requires either pants or a floor length skirt. I opted for a navy cotton twill skirt with a very full sweep. The skirt is self-drafted, but if you have basic sewing skills you can make one. Mine is made from gored panels to reduce bulk at the waist, but if your fabric is not thick you can do a simple gathered skirt. Please note that if you are planning to wear this for Saber Guild or any activity that requires stuntwork, I recommend a full circle skirt for mobility reasons. You can’t do a high kick with a narrow skirt!
I’ve also seen that some people do sew the the inner tunic and skirt together, so you don’t have to fuss with waistbands if you prefer.
As before, I have a hidden tie closure inside the tunic, plus hook and bar closures on the outside.
The use of a coat weight wool for my tunic means it hangs beautifully like a real coat, and will be cozy for the winter!
BELT AND TOOLS
The belt is hidden under the obi, and is only used to hold up the tools. I’ve heard that these “tools” may be keys of some sort. They are actually optional items, not required for RL approval, but I think they add something interesting to the costume and are fun to make! Since the belt is not seen, I just used a modern belt.
My tools are based on the ones that Jocasta Nu wore in the Star Wars prequels.
Since I do not own a 3D printer I made the tools using items like broken pens and other items I had around the house.
The bulby thing used a wooden honey dipper (Amazon affiliate link). I drilled a hole in the top of the honey dipper, added a button cover and 2 pen parts on bottom, then added pairs of metal jump rings to the handle and top of bulb.
The stylus thing consists of 5 pieces from various pens reassembled plus half a jewelry clasp at the top.
Everything was glued together with E6000 and painted with Rub ‘n Buff. Key rings were added at the end and then I cut leather straps to hold them to the belt.
The CRL specifies the pouch must be suede with a drawstring closure. I found a suede pouch on eBay and then modified it. I punched extra holes and moved the cord so that the pouch would be gathered in the center front similar to Jocasta’s. I also cut a leather strip (slightly wider than the ones I used for the tools) and sewed it to the back of the pouch to give it a hanging loop. I swapped the wooden bead with a different closure I had in my stash.
If you want to make your own pouch from scratch, it’s a simple U shape. This is what it originally looked like before modifications:
OBI AND TABARDS
I would say that the defining feature of the Jedi librarian are the long tabards with the geometric designs. The original ones that Jocasta had were embroidered, but I’ve also seen people use upholstery fabric that’s woven with designs, or draw them on themselves with fabric pens or paint. I opted to make my own custom fabric using navy heat transfer vinyl flocking on to of bronze silk shantung. (At the time I made my costume I had not seen anyone else in the Rebel Legion use this technique for librarians, but I was approved and the CRL is vague about how to achieve the geometric designs).
I used a Silhouette machine (like a Cricut) to cut the designs after drawing them in the software. For those of you not familiar with these machines, they look like printers but with a thin blade instead of an ink jet. After cutting you peel away the excess material, apply it to your fabric with a hot iron, then remove the clear plastic backing. I used flocked HTV so the navy blue material had a velvety texture against the bronze silk. Here’s a test piece showing you what it looks like up close.
Here are some videos of the process.
My obi closes in the back with hidden hook and bars. To keep the tabards level I have them sewn to the obi.
As for more explanation about the pattern shape for the tabards/obi and what shapes are acceptable under RL guidelines please refer to my Generic Jedi post. A few important points:
There are no shoulder seams. The top portion of the tabards curve from the front to the back.
The tabards are angled like a Y. They will not sit right if you just try to have 2 very long rectangles. You can save fabric by hiding the seam behind the obi.
The exact dimensions depend on your height and size, but for me I started with a lot of 6″ x 36″ rectangles and cut off extra as needed. You will need 14 rectangles (2 top tabards, 4 bottom tabards, 1 obi, then double everything for a lining). This includes seam allowance.
The tabards and obi have 2 layers: sew them right sides together on the long edges and one short edge, flip right side out to sandwich the raw seams, then hem the remaining short edge to your desired length. The hemmed end hides under the obi.
I used silk shantung which is lightweight by itself, but got heavy enough with the addition of the appliqués. I recommend using interfacing if you use thin fabric because you will want the tabards to have a decent weight to not flap around when you walk.
To help prevent the tabards from slipping off my shoulders I have a hidden snap on each shoulder.
My boots are the same ones used in my Generic Jedi costume: “Gabi” boots purchased from Slimcalfboot.com during a sale. The CRL calls for “low-heeled and closed-toe shoes” for skirts and calf-high brown or black boots if you’re wearing pants. Zippers must be on the inside of the leg if present.
Finally, here is a quick video of me putting on all the layers! The 3D printed Jedi holocron is from 3D Pro Designs on Etsy. I put my hair up in a bun and have 4 vintage U-shaped hair pins sticking out.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
Your cost will vary a lot depending on what materials you use. I used a lot of wool, silk, leather, and flocked HTV, which raised my costs, but I got my fabrics on sale and reused my boots, which lowered my costs. If you’re on a budget I recommend looking at upholstery or drapery fabric for materials that already come with geometric designs, and sticking to cottons for your tunics. I also got really lucky on a crazy deal for my wool, which should have been the bulk of my cost. I’m also a bargain hunter when it comes to cosplays and go looking for deals on eBay or other places instead of buying everything “new.”