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DIY Generic Jedi Costume for Rebel Legion (A Head to Toe Guide)

I’ve had some questions about how I put together my Jedi costume, which is not of any particular character that appeared in the Star Wars universe, but follows the guideline of what a Jedi would have worn in the Old Republic. This kind of costume is called a “generic Jedi” in the Rebel Legion organization, of which I am a member. I made my costume according to the Rebel Legion Jedi Costume Standards, which is a useful reference even if you want a costume for fun and not for RL approval. (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).

Miss Vivien_s Con-Ex-4

Photo by Ribidib

Miss Vivien_s Con-Ex-1

Photo by Ribidib

The fun thing about doing a generic Jedi is you get to put a lot of your personality into it. You can choose your own colors and there are different kinds of shapes that are allowed. I’ll discuss some of the options available to you in each section.

The basic parts you need for a Jedi costume are:

  • Outer tunic (the beige part of my outfit)
  • Tabards (the blue parts that go over my shoulders and down the front)
  • Obi (the blue sash around my waist)
  • Pants or skirt
  • Belt
  • Boots
  • Lightsaber
  • Lightsaber clip on belt

For RL approval you need at least 3 out of these 4 items:

  • Inner tunic (the white part of my outfit)
  • Two or more (leather or resin) pouches
  • Food capsules (the colored things on my belt)
  • Hooded robe

I didn’t want to hang too many things on my belt so I opted to have only one pouch and fulfilled my requirements by having the other items. (If you are petite you may have trouble fitting two pouches and eight food capsules onto the sides of the belt and have to opt for one pouch and four food capsules).hoodfront.JPG

My inner and outer tunics, pants, and robe are made of linen. The obi and tabards are wool. These materials were personal preferences due to breathability and durability but natural materials are not required if you are on a budget.

The RL Costume Guide linked above has suggested colors; Jedi tend to be earth-tones so you’ll see a lot of brown, black, gray, beige, etc. but other colors are approvable. My blue ensemble is not particularly common but still allowed.

OUTER TUNIC:

The outer tunic is similar to a kimono in concept in that one side folds over the other side and there are big sleeves. IMG_0407

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You can see the opening on the right side here.IMG_0408

There are lots of tutorials and free patterns online for Jedi robes and tunics, so I will not reproduce them here. However, most of those are meant for male or unisex figures. They assume you have a boxy tunic that will be fitted to you with the belt, but creates some extra bulk at the waist. I opted to have a tunic with curved princess seams in the front and back to be more figure flattering. If you are not female-bodied or you want to save time by not worrying about extra seams, the free online Jedi tunic patterns are great. Otherwise, I would modify a wrap dress pattern for your Jedi.

I already had this McCalls M6940 Game of Thrones pattern (affiliate link) for a cosplay project so I modified it:68385897_722415068187496_2174166372844568576_n

  • Start with View A (the picture on the right).
  • Tape the skirt hip gore (yellow part with the lion) pattern piece to the skirt hip (red part above it) pattern piece so that you can use it as one big pattern piece. You should not have that extra horizontal seam at your hip on your Jedi tunic.
  • Shorten the skirt. My preference is above knee-level but you can make yours shorter or longer. (For RL approval it will need to cover your butt at least). You can also have a “hi-lo” tunic where the back is longer than the front.
  • Make a wide band (about 2 inches wide) for your collar instead of the narrower one in the pattern.
  • Use different sleeves. The Jedi sleeves are big cone shapes like wizard robes. I already had Simplicity 8723 Harry Potter robe pattern (affiliate link) so I borrowed the sleeves from that pattern, but made them longer. (For RL approval your sleeve should be knuckle-length).68369096_2548470338771719_1778429370386350080_n.jpg
  • Closures: instead of visible ties as shown on the McCall’s pattern, you want to have hidden closures on your Jedi tunic. I put hooks and bars on the right side of my tunic, and then a hidden ribbon tie on the inside left for extra security.IMG_0405IMG_0404

Unless your fabric is thick I recommend lining your tunic to give it better drape. A thin, flimsy tunic is going to look a little off if you want to look like an Old Republic Jedi or get RL approval. (If you are doing this as a casual Halloween costume then by all means do what’s quick and easy if you prefer!) I used two layers of “blanched almond” 100% linen from Fabricmart for mine. I have not used it myself but I have heard that Joann Fabrics has a “linen look” linen-rayon blend that is pretty good if you don’t have the budget for full linen. Crinkle cotton gauze is also a popular choice. You may be able to find a good polyester/cotton blend but it may be hot to wear.

INNER TUNIC: 

Although not required I highly recommend having one. It’s a layer that you can launder without having to wash your whole costume each time. You can either make a full shirt or just a dickey (false shirt with just a collar and a bit of a front and back). The important part is that the collar shows.  Mine is a full wrap shirt with a band collar about 2 inches wide. IMG_0402

As you can see it is a very simple shape, with just a snap closure, because you won’t be seeing most of it while the costume is worn. My pattern is self-drafted but you can modify any basic shirt pattern. The easiest thing would be finding a wrap blouse pattern  with a V neck to start with, but if you have some basic sewing skills you can extend one “flap” of the shirt pattern over and cut out the neckline to be a V shape.IMG_0403

Mine is made out of linen because it wicks moisture. Wearing lots of Jedi layers can get warm!

TABARDS:

When worn, tabards look like two pieces that go over your shoulders and down the front and back of your outer tunic.  They are NOT straight rectangles because they need to be angled to sit right. You can cut them out as Y-shapes but I preferred to have pieces where the seam was hidden by the obi because it saved fabric. Here is an in progress shot to show you what I mean.  The top pieces need to be long enough to cover the front and back; there is NO shoulder seam for Jedi tabards.IMG_8962.JPG

The exact dimensions are going to depend on your height and how broad your shoulders are. They should be wide enough to extend past your shoulders slightly. Mine are 5″ wide  but I am not a very large person. For the upper pieces cutting out rectangles about 6″ x 36″ wide was a good starting point for me. I am 5’6″ tall and that was enough fabric to have 0.5″ seam allowances and a lot extra to trim off when angling the ends. (The tabards are double thickness so cut 4 identical rectangles out).

The bottom half of the tabard is where you have a lot of chances to show off your personal preferences.

  • The ends can be squared off, pointed, or rounded. Mine are pointed and curved on one side.
  • The length can vary but must be at least as long as your outer tunic (for RL approval).
  • You can have the tabards meet and become one piece hanging in the front.
  • The back tabards can cross or not.
  • They can be fabric or leather.
  • You can put decorative symbols on them with paint or embroidery.IMG_8928.JPG

For the lower tabards I started with 4 rectangles that were 6″ x 28″, which like the upper tabards were enough for seam allowance and extra for trimming. My curve starts about 6 inches from the end.

I constructed the tabards by sewing the right sides together, turning them right side out, and top-stitching. They are the same on the front and back.

OBI:

The obi is the wide sash around your waist. The RL standards say that the obi should be the same width as your tabards or about the 3 times the width of your belt. I did the first option so my obi is 5″ wide, but yours should be proportional to your height and shoulder width. The length will depend on your waist measurement. You’ll want to have add at least several inches for overlap in the back, plus more for seam allowance.

The easiest obi is just a long rectangle, but a lot of people like to add texture and visual interest. Mostly this means pleating or scrunching up the top layer horizontally. I put in a series of diagonal tucks. I have not seen anyone else do this so I want to note that even though I got approved, if you are going for RL submission your judge’s opinion may vary. IMG_8956.JPG

The obi cannot have any visible closures. You can use velcro, hooks and eyes, or snaps but they must be hidden in the back overlap. (I used 2 large snaps). Some people also do not add closures and rely on the belt to keep the obi closed, but that makes it a little harder to get dressed.

I recommend sewing your tabards to your obi. (Then you put it on like a backwards vest, with the obi closure in the back).  This will keep them from shifting while you are wearing them and they will hang symmetrically without having to adjust  them each time. If you are clever about it, when you sew the tabards to the obi you will form small pockets between the tabards and obi for your credit cards and cash, or stickers and trading cards to pass out to kids.

BELT:

Leather and pleather belts are both approvable, but I chose a leather belt for durability since I plan to wear this costume a lot. My belt was custom-made for me by Mag Mel Creations on Etsy.  David does really great work and has wonderful customer service; I highly recommend his shop.

The classic Jedi belt consists of a wide belt with a skinny belt down the middle, with a buckle and studs holding the skinny belt in place.  My belt is dark brown leather and 2.5 inches wide but the width can vary depending on your height. There are different buckle types you can get but mine is the “Obi-wan” style. The buckle in front is not actually the main closure for the belt. Jedi belts overlap in the back and closes with studs (mine), Velcro, or snaps that are then hidden by a loop of leather that slides over the opening. IMG_8522.JPG

Your belt can be brown or black but should match your boots.

BOOTS:

Like the belt, your boots can be brown or black but need to coordinate with the belt. If you are following RL standards:

  • They should be tall but not extend over the knee.
  • Boots should be low-heeled.
  • Laces are not allowed.
  • Zippers are ok but need to be facing the inside of your leg.
  • Decorative buckles are ok but not if they are overly numerous.
  • I have an elastic gusset down the back of my boots, which are considered ok if they are discreet and blend in.

Like the belt, boots can be leather or pleather, but if you are going to be trooping a lot or marching in parades get some good quality leather boots to be kind to your feet!

I have very narrow calves so my options are limited, but I was able to get “Gabi” boots from Slimcalfboot.com during a sale. They also have a sister company called Wideshaftboot.com.Screen Shot 2019-05-24 at 1.39.46 PM

PANTS:

Getting pants are the easiest part of the ensemble! Only a little bit between the bottom of your tunic and top of your boots show, so there’s a lot of leeway to choose pants. You may even already have some in your closet that work.

  • Pants should be plain and in a solid color.
  • If there are pockets they should be hidden by your tunic. (No cargo pants with pockets down the side of your leg).
  • Whether they close with elastic, drawstrings, or buttons doesn’t matter because it won’t show. (Your outer tunic is supposed to be long enough to cover your butt).
  • Skirts are also allowed by RL instead of pants but they are supposed to be long enough to not expose any skin.

I made my own pants to match my robe, but many people buy nursing scrubs or use khakis. My pattern is self-drafted but you can use a pajama pants pattern and then taper the legs a bit.IMG_0398.JPG

I added 2 pockets to the back big enough for a phone and a wallet. My waistband is elastic because that’s a lot faster than putting in a zipper and placket. IMG_0400.JPG

ROBE:

The robe is an optional item but fun! Jedi robes are very oversized with really large hoods and sleeves. I used the aforementioned Simplicity 8723 Harry Potter robe pattern (affiliate link) but made a few adjustments:

  • Wizard hoods are pointed. Jedi hoods are rounded. You’ll want to cut off the pointy tip and round out the back of your hood pattern piece.
  • You’ll need to cut your hood bigger by extending the pattern pieces in all directions. Jedi hoods are HUGE. Did I emphasize they are SUPER BIG? They are so large that when you wear them the sides of the hood cover your shoulders. hoodfront
  • When the hood is down, the back of it almost touches your butt. To get all that fabric into your neckline you’ll need to do big pleats. (Your hood does not need to be lined, but I did because I wanted all the seams and edges to be very neatly finished. I’ve seen Jedi with serged one-layered hoods get approved so it’s not necessary).robeback.JPG
  • The sleeves are humongous and long enough to cover your hands. If you are using the Harry Potter robe pattern you’ll need to extend the length of the sleeves.
  • The robe should be close to floor-length.  (The RL standard is no more than 2 inches off the floor). The HP robe pattern only goes to about knee length so you’ll want to lengthen the robe. Please note, if you plan to run, drop the robe!68369096_2548470338771719_1778429370386350080_n

POUCHES:

Jedi have leather pouches attached to their belts. (If you want to use it as a RL minimum extra you’ll need 2). The pouches are allowed to be pleather or resin. There is a lot of leeway to the pouches as long as they match the look of your belt. A lot of people use military surplus ammo pouches because they are easy to find and inexpensive. You may prefer to find a pouch large enough to hold a phone or wallet. I opted for a small pouch due to my proportions, and because I already put pockets in my pants.

My pouch is a military surplus leather slingshot pellet holder (affiliate link) that I darkened with a few layers of shoe polish and wax.

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Some Jedi belt makers will also make you a custom matching pouch if you ask.

LIGHTSABER:

Lightsabers are a very personal item with lots of possibilities. As a generic Jedi and not a specific character you can pick a design that appeals to you instead of looking for screen accuracy.  If you want a fun costume you can pick up a plastic lightsaber at a toy shop. If you want a nicer one with a metal hilt the cost varies wildly depending on design, if it has a sound board, if it can do multiple sound effects, if it can change colors, if you had a saber smith do custom engraving, etc. I’ve seen lightsabers cost anywhere between $50-$1000 or more. There are a number of companies out there making lightsabers so make Google your friend. IMG_9995

However, if you are interested in mine, it is a YDD from Amazon (affiliate link), which was recommended to me as being good for small hands. At about $80 with sound effects it is a great deal. I like the smooth look because it’s comfortable to hold. As far as I can tell it is the same as the Kyojin Tiny Giant from Pach Store, but I have not purchased from that company myself.Screen Shot 2020-01-15 at 9.06.25 PM

LIGHTSABER CLIP:

There are two main ways to attach your lightsaber hilt to your belt depending on your lightsaber. If your hilt has a D ring then you will need a “hook” type of attachment and if your hilt has a Covertec wheel then you will need a Covertec-style belt clip (affiliate link).

I have a hook attachment for my belt. You can buy “Jedi lightsaber clips” but a really cost-effective way to get the look and function is to buy an archery quiver clip (which is used to hold the quiver of arrows to your belt) from a sporting goods store. Mine is a “Neet chrome belt clip” (affiliate link). One end hooks onto your belt and the other end is a hook for your D ring.

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FOOD CAPSULES:

Clipped to the belt are also little metallic pieces called “food capsules.” If you are going for RL approval you will need at least a set of 4; some people have 8. I bought my Jedi food capsules on Amazon (affiliate link), and they come in a set of 8 but I only use 4 of them.IMG_0017.JPG

HOW MUCH FABRIC DO I NEED?

The amount of fabric you use will depend on your size of course, but to give you a rough idea this is how much I used (as a 5’6″ tall slender person):

All fabric was wide widths (about 54″).

HOW MUCH WILL THIS COST?

The cost of your Jedi costume will vary widely depending on what sort of materials you use, how fancy your lightsaber is, and whether your goal is to be Rebel Legion approvable or have a quick Halloween costume. I plan to wear this costume multiple times a year for many years and need to be comfortable during long hours so I invested in nice fabrics (all linen and wool) and high quality genuine leather boots and belt. Including my lightsaber (which was on the low end of the price range) I spent about $500. DON’T PANIC.  If you use cotton or polyester fabric and pleather boots and belt I think you could put together a Jedi for $200, or even maybe $100 if you get creative at the thrift store. If you are on a budget I’d recommend going to a thrift store and looking for used boots there, and seeing what curtains and sheets you could use to make your garments instead of buying new fabric. If you have a bit of skill you can try your hand at making your own belt as well. (If you are not looking for RL approval you have a lot more flexibility in terms of faking the look with a store-bought belt). If you skip the robe, which takes up a lot of fabric, that will bring your costs down as well.

I wrote this guide with Rebel Legion approval in mind, but if you are not interested in that you can simplify or skip items. Also please keep in mind that your goals are your goals. Don’t let anyone make you feel embarrassed if you have a low budget, like unusual color combinations, or want a costume for fun and not for official approval.

Good luck and May the Force Be With You!Miss Vivien_s Con-Ex-1

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My Rebel Legion trading card, graphics by Colin Adams (OddViking)

HEY WHAT’S UP WITH ALL THESE “AFFILIATE LINKS”?

I am required to disclose that if you buy something through the Amazon link I get a small percentage of the sale that goes towards my domain registration fees and other costs associated with hosting the many photos on this website. (I don’t generate a profit on this blog; I just hope to break even). If you feel extra generous you can buy me a “coffee.” Thank you for reading!

An 18th Century Weekend at Wagner House

This past September there was an 18th century themed weekend at Wagner House (Lakewold Gardens) in Lakewood, Washington, hosted by Vanessa of @pinksewing. The weekend consisted of a picnic and a dinner, plus a day of workshops. Jenny of Jennylafleur taught a historical hair class and Denise of Romantic Recollections taught fly fringe. Additionally, photoshoots were provided by Gloria and Mike of In the Long Run Designs and there were trunk shows from Redthreaded and Dames a la Mode.

Here is a photo of the attendees of the picnic, taken by In the Long Run Designs.wagner-house_48828852158_o

And the following are the beautifully attired dinner guests, photo also by In the Long Run Designs.48844032341_9d21e5cf42_o.jpg

Wagner House is not huge but very elegant. The rooms of the house have been converted to conference/meeting rooms. Downstairs there’s a dining room, solarium, bathroom, marbled foyer, library, and kitchen. We were not allowed upstairs but could take photos at the bottom of the stairs during dinner. In my opinion though, my favorite parts were the gardens and the beautiful woods surrounding the property! IMG_2735IMG_2731IMG_2717

I am in love with this library!IMG_2740IMG_2737IMG_2742IMG_2743

Wagner House is not set up for overnight stays so most of us stayed in a nearby hotel or Airbnb and drove to Lakewold Gardens for the events. Some guests were local to Washington state.

In the first group photo I am wearing my 18th century shepherdess costume, and you can read more about it in my previous post.(Photo by In the Long Run Designs).48867872061_9edf6e25a0_o

In the second group photo I am wearing a mauve silk Italian gown that I previously wore to the Casanova exhibit at the Legion of Honor, but added additional trim to for this event. (Photo by In the Long Run Designs).wagner-house_48829563677_o

I normally wear this dress with a large split bum pad, but it would have taken up half the space in my suitcase, so I opted for a smaller half-moon bum pad and a petticoat. More petticoats would have created a fluffier look, but sometimes we have to make allowances for travel!

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And here are photos of some of the beautiful guests! I enjoyed seeing old friends and making new ones.

Here is Beth in her beautiful candy stripes.IMG_2922

Ginger is so fluffy!IMG_2934

Laina and Cathyn made a striking couple.IMG_2952

The colors that Denise and her husband wore were luminous in person.IMG_2951

Lindsey looked so pretty in pink, and I loved her hair!IMG_2946

Sacque gowns are fantastic from the back!IMG_2944

A shot of Ginger from the picnic.IMG_2904IMG_2801

Taylor and Jenny in stripes during the daytime event.IMG_2796

Guests were milling about before dinner.IMG_2966IMG_2965 2

Dinner was delightful! Vanessa took care of every detail, including limiting the number of seats at each table to fit all our giant dresses. There was also a pianist and bartender! 😉  I’m afraid my camera wasn’t good enough to do the food justice under the lighting conditions, so I’ll just provide the menu here so I can reminisce fondly:

Appetizers:
Bacon Wrapped Chili Chicken Bites
Cranberry Brie Bites
Herbed Mushroom Puffs

Dinner:
Mixed Greens Salad w/Apples, Goat Cheese, w/Balsamic Viniagrette
Tuscan Chicken
Beef Bourguignon
Garlic Parmesan Pasta
Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Roasted Herb Zucchini
Foccacia Bread

Dessert:
Rose & Lemon Macarons
Black Forest Trifles
Vanilla Cream Puffs

As a parting gift we all received an engraved fan as a memento of the weekend, as well as a champagne and macarons enamel pin by Aimee Steinberger.

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Thank you Vanessa for a magical weekend!48844032341_9d21e5cf42_o

18th Century Shepherdess Costume

Earlier this year I got to spend a magical 18th century-themed weekend at Wagner House in Lakewood, Washington. I’ll share pictures of the event activities and the gorgeously attired attendees in my next post, but in this one I’m sharing the “18th century shepherdess” costume I put together for the picnic. It is historically inspired but not historically accurate, but was still delightful to wear!

Portraits in this post are by Gloria and Mike of In the Long Run Designs. I was lucky to have a photoshoot with them inside and outside Wagner House.48867872061_9edf6e25a0_o

Since I had to fly to the event, to be efficient with suitcase space I decided to wear an outfit where I could reuse the undergarments (stays, shift, bum pad, under petticoat) for my evening look. I already owned most of the items needed for my outfit except for the moire petticoat and embroidered apron I made.48867352163_323dd5c8f8_o.jpg

A number of small, women-owned businesses made this outfit possible! My beautiful embroidered silk stays were custom made by Redthreaded. My delightful bergere hat is a concoction by Atelier Mela. And of course, as always, American Duchess was the source of my shoes (Dunmores) and clocked stockings. I carried a little stuffed sheep that was named Sarah, at the suggestion (insistence) of Sarah of La Dauphine Costuming.48867872956_9ffc34cd0a_o

I made my petticoat in an 18th century style with front and back ties and side slits for my pockets. There are tutorials online that you can find to make your own and also one in the American Duchess Guide to 18th Century Dressmaking (affiliate link).  It is a simple design with one front and one back panel pleated into the waistbands. I used a vintage moire fabric I purchased from Elizabeth Emerson Designs and “rococo” ribbon trim from Mokuba.JEDE5176

I added a pleated decorative “ruffle” to the bottom of my petticoat. Due to the thickness of the cotton rayon moire the pleats don’t iron down as crisply as taffeta pleats, but the ribbon trim across the top helped!IMG_2304

I have some of this fabric left and I am thinking of making a matching jacket at some point.

For the apron I used a scrap of embroidered netting that I got from a friend. The length of the apron was determined by the size of the remnant I had. (Some of you may recognize this as a “shabby chic” curtain that is used by many cosplayers who make Queen Padme Amidala’s picnic dress!)IMG_2301

The apron is attached to a simple waistband with organza ribbon ties. The raw edges of the netting were hidden by some lace I had in the stash that were just the right color!IMG_2306.JPG

My linen shift is not actually a historically correct 18th century one, but has a drawstring neckline and sleeves so that I can adjust it for different outfits. I originally made it for my 1660s outfit, and you can find instructions for it in the post about my Cavalier dress.

My hair consisted of a wig I styled myself using tips from the American Duchess Guide to 18th Century Beauty (affiliate link) and 18th Century Hair and Wig Styling by Kendra van Cleave.IMG_2912 copyIMG_2901

Wagner House was quite beautiful and I’ll share some pictures of the rest of the weekend in my next post!48868069312_3170d2cb39_o

1830s Dresses at the Romantics Picnic

This past weekend the Greater Bay Area Costumer’s Guild held an 1830s-themed picnic, and I finally got to wear the 1830s cotton day dress I made a few months ago. Before the picnic I got dressed and took a few photos at a friend’s house.IMG_8621

I reused some accessories (like the bonnet and pelerine) from my 1830s silk dress ensemble, paired with a new moire ribbon belt and carved shell buckle. IMG_8618.JPG

Thank you to my friend Kaila who helped me get dressed, and wore a lovely silk gown that day.IMG_8609.JPG

Also joining us was Mena who had the most epic frilled cap!IMG_8622.JPG

The picnic was at Ardenwood Farms and it was a lovely day with a good turnout of wonderful costumes! I was impressed by how many people embraced the silly hair and giant sleeves of the 1830s. (The following group photos are all by Lori Clayton, used with permission). IMG_8431jkl

There were lots of charming ensembles in a variety of colors.IMG_8449IMG_8442IMG_8437

There were also a few gentleman in attendance (not all pictured).IMG_8399

And some of us got sassy showing off our corded petticoats.IMG_8441

The picnic spread was delicious.IMG_8634.JPG

Overall I had a lovely day out with friends! (Photo below by Sara of La Dauphine).from Sara McKee.jpg

The rest of my photos can be found on my Flickr album. IMG_8627

Edwardian Dress at the Monet Exhibit at the de Young Museum (Plus Butterick B6229 Pattern Hack)

Last weekend my local costume guild organized an outing to see an exhibit of Monet paintings at the de Young Museum in San Francisco and I wore a dress made of blue cotton sateen and antique lace.IMG_7850

I had to take photos looking upwards because my broad-brimmed hat created shadows on my face, and I was also trying to hide a splint on my hand, so sorry about the weird poses! It was a bit cold that morning so I wore an antique Edwardian blouse underneath my dress as a guimpe.IMG_7818

I needed a quick and simple dress so I used Butterick B6229, with modifications. I picked that pattern because I was already familiar with it after using it for my Downton Abbey maid costume, and knew it fit.IMG_8004

This is what the pattern looks like before I hacked it.IMG_7539

The 4 main changes I made to the pattern for this dress:

  • I changed the dress from front-opening to back-opening. The front button closures were turned into back hook/bar closures. (Cut the front bodice piece as one piece instead of two, and cut the back bodice piece as two instead of one. Do the same for the skirt panels).
  • The sleeves were shortened. (I cut them off a little below the elbow and turned the edges inside the sleeve. You don’t need to cut the cuff pattern pieces).
  • I cut a square neckline and omitted the standing collar. (I pinned the lace collar and strudel panel on the unfinished dress while it was on a dress form and marked where to cut the neckline).
  • Instead of having the belt go completely around my waist it does not cover the center lace panel. (I shortened the belt and based on my waist measurement minus the lace panel plus seam allowance).

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I am calling this my Strudel Dress because of the slits in the lace panel down the front. I bought the panel a while back and wasn’t sure what to do with it until I realized it was perfect for this dress. I had just barely enough; I literally had 1 inch of lace left over. My shoes are American Duchess Theda Edwardian shoes, aka “Skeletor,” which also have a bit of a strudel-y look to them.IMG_7560.JPG

The Supima cotton sateen I used has a lovely sheen to it, but is a bit thin and prone to wrinkling so I flat-lined all the pieces with cotton broadcloth. In retrospect I should have skipped the flat-lining for a more flowy Edwardian look, but perhaps having no flat-lining would have made the dress wrinkle even more when I sat down.IMG_8006

The dress closes in the back with hooks and bars, and the belt is sewn down on one side and attaches on the other with hooks and bars. The buttons are decorative only. (They were made with a covered button kit).IMG_8018

The collar is antique lace, picked up at the Costume College Bargain Basement.IMG_8007

The “strudel” lace is from a Costume College marketplace vendor.IMG_8008

The antique lace cuffs were a scrap piece left over from my Downton Abbey maid project, and I had just enough!IMG_8015

Dress Cost:

  • 3 yards blue Supima cotton sateen: $13.20 including tax with stacked coupons at Joann’s
  • 3 yards white cotton lining: $12 including shipping from eBay
  • Pattern: $0, already previously used
  • Lace panel: $5.50 from Costume College vendor
  • Lace collar: $1 from Costume College bargain basement
  • Lace cuffs: $0, leftover from other project
  • Lace for buttons: $0, gifted
  • Buttons, thread, hooks and bars: ~$3 from stash, bought in bulk

Total cost: ~$34.20

Woohoo, less than $35 for a dress!

My hat was made from a straw beach hat I already had and I don’t recall how much I spent on it, but they are easy to find. I hot-glued a lot of fake flowers from my stash onto the hat and filled in a few spots with assorted feathers. (Tip: buying a floral garland from the craft store is cheaper than buying individual stems).IMG_7915

Oops, I just noticed that stray thread. I admit this dress was a bit of a rush job. Aside from the closures and hemming, I made the bulk of it in a weekend using a machine and forgot to iron flat all the seams like I usually do.

There was a neat doorway in the garden where I posed for some photos.IMG_7952 copy

And here are some of the other lovely ladies that were there that day. There were many more that I forgot to capture.IMG_7855

Overall it was a lovely day!IMG_7906

Good Intentions Don’t Excuse Bad Behavior (Sequel to “It’s Not Necessary to Be Mean: Snark in the Costuming and Cosplay Community”)

About a year ago I wrote a blog post called “It’s Not Necessary to Be Mean: Snark in the Costuming and Cosplay Community” and was meaning to follow up with a part two post on the anniversary, before the holidays buried me. No time like the present! If you haven’t done so, please read that previous post first; it goes over some tips and general manners for both newcomers and veterans to treat themselves and each other kindly. Consider this post a slightly more advanced primer about how good intentions don’t excuse bad behavior! I hope to get people to think about what they have been doing and whether it is unintentionally unkind.

Are your “helpful” comments really helpful?

You may think you’re giving constructive criticism, but please consider carefully if it is 1) wanted by the recipient and 2) whether it could be interpreted as condescending. Here are a few comments I’ve seen that the speaker probably thought were benign or even helpful, but a newcomer or sensitive person could find very hurtful:

  • “I don’t know why you wouldn’t want to take a little extra time to look so much better by doing XYZ.”
  • “Oh yeah, I used to wear stuff like that too when I was new. You’ll learn.”
  • “I prefer to costume at a higher caliber but I guess you can do what you want.”
  • “If you care what others think you should do XYZ.”

To be clear, those can sound judgmental and are not okay to say to someone! Well, what’s okay then?

  • DO: “Do you want to know where I buy my shoes?”
  • DON’T: “Instead of boots like that, you could get accurate ones at this company.”

The first example takes into consideration what the other person wants, and gives them the option to decline. The second example assumes the other person needs and wishes to “improve” and doesn’t have health or funding issues that require them to wear certain footwear.

  • DO: “I’ve had a really good time at that particular costume event, and feel free to ask me if you have questions about going one day.”
  • DON’T: “Costume tourism is the best! You’re missing out on the most amazing experience by not doing a fully immersive week in a castle!”

The first one is a topic of conversation about one’s own experiences and is framed with an offer of help. The second makes the other person feel bad if they haven’t had the opportunity to put together a wardrobe and the financial privilege to travel.

It’s great to be helpful! But be mindful that your suggestions don’t imply that you are judging someone, or that person will be judged by others.


Don’t put yourself down.

Some of you reading this may not realize it, but there are others that look up to you. They may be brand new or established in the hobby but admire your work. Perhaps you are a friend of theirs, or someone they follow on Instagram, or write a blog they follow, but you have more influence than you know.  Many of us are our own harshest critics and may joke about our work being “trash” but others are listening. Imagine how disheartening it would be to think that something you admire and aspire to is “not good enough” for someone you see as a role model, and thus worry your role model may be judging you too. Please be kind to others by being kind to yourself first. We all start somewhere.

I understand that some people make negative comments about their own projects to avoid seeming snobby, or to keep others from making the same mistakes. There is nothing wrong with taking a compliment gracefully with a simple “Thank you.” If your goal is to be helpful, spin your self-critiques positively.

  • DO: “Oh thanks! It’s a good pattern but watch out for the fit on the collar; I found it a little tricky.”
  • DON’T: “Oh I can’t believe you like this! My collar looks horrible!”
  • DO: “I’m glad you like my cape! I was afraid it wasn’t going to turn out right because I picked a really inexpensive fur that sheds a lot.”
  • DON’T: “This cape? Ugh, it is so cheap-looking I’m putting it in the trash when I get home.”


Don’t touch people without permission.

Good intentions don’t excuse bad behavior, especially when it comes to physical contact. Wanting to compliment someone or take a closer look at their costume does not mean you can touch someone without permission. Because you are at a convention or a fellow costumer does not mean you are automatically entitled to permission. No means no!

You would think these are obvious rules, but I am listing these out because of incidents that have actually happened to me or my friends:

  • If you are allowed to touch some fabric on a person’s body, touch their arm and not their butt.
  • If you get permission to examine someone’s corsetry, do not squeeze their breast.
  • Do not approach a gentleman and try to lift his kilt.
  • If you are in a noisy area and trying to get someone’s attention, it may be appropriate to gently tap the person on the shoulder. It is definitely not appropriate to grab their wrist and pull them towards you.
  • Keep hugs (ask permission!) gentle so you don’t break anything.

Please do the following:

  • Remember to ask permission. Ask. Really, ask.
  • Ask yourself if it’s really necessary to touch a costume, prop, wig, or person to have an understanding of it.
  • Consider whether your comment is meant to make the other person feel nice about their work, or fulfill your need to get attention from them.
  • Don’t get mad when someone says no, or try to guilt them into changing their mind.
  • Don’t assume that because you saw someone else (who may be a close friend) touch a particular cosplayer that you should be allowed to as well.


Don’t talk about a stranger’s race.

I’ve sometimes encountered individuals who said things like “Oh, it’s so nice to see a POC in the hobby!” I know they mean well or are trying to demonstrate how “woke” they are, but really the message they are sending is that regardless of my friendliness or skill in costuming, the very first thing they noticed and thought was important to comment on was the color of my skin.

If a particular ethnic group is underrepresented in your circle, a great way to make them to feel welcome is to treat them like everyone else. Specifically pointing out what makes them different may alienate someone.

Don’t assume that just because someone is a POC that their costume is ethnic in some way. If you assume wrong you may make someone very uncomfortable. One year I was at a convention wearing a Game of Thrones costume, along with a dozen other women using the same pattern. I’m pretty sure not everyone was asked questions like “Is that a kimono?”  “Are you Korean?” “Is your hairstyle part of your culture?” “Are you supposed to be a geisha?”

And please never tell someone it’s “not historically accurate” for someone of their ethnicity/ gender/ disability/ age to participate in or be present at a particular event or time period. If you’re a dentist 40 hours a week and pretending to be a Civil War soldier on the weekends, you have no business telling someone who they can’t pretend to be for fun. If you’re into fantasy stuff and cool with orcs and elves but you’re weirded out by the idea of black people in medieval Europe, maybe you should find another hobby.

What if you are an organization?

Note: If you are a reenactment group, living history site, or museum you have the right (or even an obligation) to set your own rules and educate the public about historical facts. My comments are directed at casual costuming groups such as sewing clubs, cosplay conventions, theme parties, etc. to prevent feelings of exclusion and gatekeeping.

Mentor newcomers! Host workshops, have resource lists, create an online forum where they can ask questions, etc. Write out a defined non-bullying policy and make it clear that derogatory comments about a cosplayer’s body shape, culturally insensitive costumes, etc. are not permitted. Allow for beginners to explore their interest in the club without requiring costumes that require a lot of upfront investment in time and money.

Don’t have an intentional or unintentional hierarchy with “elite” club members; encourage everyone equally. For an example of doing it right: my local costume guild had a fashion show this past week. Calls for models were public and open to all skill levels; they were not just friends of the president or “the best of the best.” There were no applications, auditions, lengthy rehearsals, or onerous requirements to enter that would scare off newcomers. The models were all ages, genders, and body types, and wore self-made and store-bought costumes, or even literally artfully wrapped bedsheets, and no one was turned away. There were other activities so that the fashion show was not the main focus, and the organizers made it clear they did not want anyone to feel left out.

Depending on the size of your organization you may require more formality to herd the squirrels. But if you don’t need to, don’t add layers of complexity that scare away shy or new people.

If you are a visitor to an educationally-minded group like a living history site, do remember the distinction between trained employees/volunteers and members of the public.  If your idea of playing along is to dress up in a historical costume that is correct for the time and area that site portrays, great! That does not give you the right to shame others that don’t or make snide comments about how someone’s clothes are off by a decade.

Just remember, time travel should be fun. Enjoy and don’t take yourself too seriously.

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About to drop the hottest album of the 18th century.

2018 Costuming Year in Review

The past year was a rough one health-wise, so it’s a bit of surprise to me writing this post and tallying up my costumes how much I got done! That makes me optimistic for what I can achieve in 2019, even though I’m going to be reasonable in order to keep myself sane and less stressed.

I went to the Legion of Honor museum wearing my 18th century mauve silk dress in February, which I started in January.

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Photo by John Carey

My other January project was to make this steampunk belt and tea holster.IMG_6436

In March I made a Regency outfit for my husband and new dress for myself. (The pelisse and bonnet are not newly made).IMG_7449IMG_7216

At Silicon Valley Comic Con in April I premiered my Vice Admiral Holdo costume, my proudest achievement of the year! (I also joined the Rebel Legion with it!)

Business Insider Melia Robinson

Photo by Business Insider

In April I wore a Victorian/Edwardian-inspired bicycling outfit to a train ride and BBQ.

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Photos by Chris Wiener

May was a mermaid month, with a tail and shell bra.IMG_9098

In June I wore a vintage-style First Order Uniform, inspired by Star Wars.

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Photo by Gloria Sheu

For fun, in June/July I made a medieval fantasy princess dress.EJIY8518

In July I wore Crimson Peak 2.0 (an outfit that I made in 2017 but upgraded to wear to Costume College).

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Photo by Gloria Sheu

It included a big lilac petticoat.C18CCFD1-8D0C-4032-9873-C16C3C447BA4

During the summer I also made myself a cotton novelty dress.IMG_0120.JPG

In October I wore this Gibson Girl dress to a GBACG event.IMG_2856

I also made a big trained petticoat for it.IMG_2162

My last big project was this 1830s Romantic day dress, worn to the Dickens Fair in December.IMG_4506

I also made a blouse using a Wearing History pattern.IMG_4738.JPG

I’m surprised at all the projects from this year and look forward to more! On the horizon I’ve got some more Star Wars outfits, an 1890s sweater, an 18th century dress, a 1920s robes de style, and a lot of vintage-style daily wear.