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Costume College 2018 Outfit Recap

I went a little overboard at Costume College this year and brought 8 costumes. Originally I thought I’d just dress up for the evening events and then bring some vintage dresses for casual daywear. Then I got recruited into various group costumes and things snowballed from there . . . I’ll be following up this post with more featuring the costumes worn by the other talented individuals at Costume College, but for now, here is my parade!

At the Thursday Night Pool Party the theme was “In the Realm of the Goblin King,” so of course I had to dress as Jareth! Elizabeth was my baby Toby.IMG_0366

The boots are American Duchess Tavistocks and the blouse is a vintage Gunne Sax. Everything else was cobbled together from modern clothes.IMG_0476

On Friday I  wore my Victorian bicycling outfit with the “Adventurer’s” group of sporting ladies.IMG_0639IMG_0643IMG_0613

Friday night I wore my Crimson Peak Edith picnic outfit, along with my Elizabeth as another version of Edith, and Adrienne as our “sister-in-law” Lucille. I’ve worn this outfit before but it wasn’t fully finished then. I’ve made a number of upgrades and will be making a more detailed construction post on the blog.IMG_0674IMG_0737IMG_0735

It was a delightful surprise to even get some kudos on Instagram from Kate Hawley, costume designer for Crimson Peak!IMG_E1265

On Saturday I was a member of a surprise group of Downton Abbey maids. It was decided I was the “head maid” since I had the most lace, and our pregnant friend Christine played the part of “the fallen maid” that got a little too friendly with the young master of the house.IMG_0790IMG_0797

We passed out buttons as prizes to people who could identify us correctly. (As Asian costumers we’ve experienced people calling us by each others names at conventions for years, so we thought it’d be fun to dress alike this year). Christine also made embroidered patches for us to wear with this same design.IMG_0823

Saturday night was the grand gala! I have so many wonderful pictures for a future post, but here I am in my Vice Admiral Holdo, along with my brilliant friend Kelsey in her Queen Amidala.IMG_1017IMG_1022

On Sunday I wore a vintage peignoir with feather trim over a black nightgown, and joined other ladies wearing their glamorous “Sunday undies.” IMG_1136IMG_1139IMG_1169

For the rest of the day on Sunday I rewore my vintage-style Star Wars First Order uniform, with a new purse and re-tailored collar. I had the privilege of a photoshoot with Gloria of In the Long Run, and here is a preview image I received. I can’t wait to see the final photos!38122893_551589561924580_164237582304018432_o.jpg

Adrienne also took this slow-motion villain cape action video. (Click on the link, not the photo). https://www.instagram.com/p/Bl2G7-vDvse/?taken-by=freshfripperyScreen Shot 2018-08-10 at 10.17.34 AM.png

For those of you keeping track, outfit #8 was a fuzzy Totoro kigurumi (which I forgot to photograph).  It was very useful during the evenings when I wanted to feel cozy. (FYI, for anyone feeling a little unease, I am an outlier that brings more costumes than average. You are absolutely not required to dress all day, every day for CoCo. Many people attend classes in jeans, and not every attends the evening social events).

I had an incredible time at Costume College! Stay tuned for more posts featuring other costumers.

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Medieval Princess Dress

I recently made a medieval princess dress that isn’t historically correct (although inspired by 14th century cotehardies), but was fun to make, and a gift for teenage me. When I was in high school I wanted to have a medieval princess dress for prom but had neither the sewing skills to make one or the money to buy one, so this is a fulfillment of a dream! IMG_9966

Yeah, it was a bit breezy that day.IMG_9980

This dress was also a reminder that costuming and sewing is supposed to be fun, even if the details are “wrong.”  This dress has inexpensive polyester velvet, a zipper down the back, shiny jacquard trim, polyester sleeve tippets and a wrap belt made from curtain fabric, an impractical train, and princess seams! To someone concerned about historical accuracy these might be a bunch of no-nos, but this gown, despite all its anachronisms, is something I would have loved and felt pretty in back in high school. This dress is a gift for little former me.IMG_9969

I used Butterick B4827 as my pattern base. I skipped the back eyelet lacing and used an invisible zipper instead. The tippets and belt were drafted by me.  My goal was to machine-sew as much as possible, so the hem, neckline, and cuffs were machine-stitched and then covered with jacquard trim.MJNT1739.JPG

The tippets are T-shaped pieces of fabric sewn together and then turned inside-out to hide the raw edges. The tops of the Ts are then overlapped to make the cuffs.

The hair consists of 2 fake braided buns on a headband:

  1. Cover a headband in fabric matching your hair; I used black velvet.
  2. Make a short braid and cover in a hair net to help control flyaways.
  3. Wire the braid to the headband using gold wire, and insert pearls as you go.
  4. Make 2 long braids and coil each one into a bun shape.
  5. Use bobby pins to secure the bun shape.
  6. Glue pearls to each bun.
  7. Cover each bun with a hair net to control flyaways.
  8. Glue the bun to each end of the headband.

Project materials:

  • 7 yards micro-velvet from Fabric Wholesale Direct: $62.93 (I had some leftover; if you are petite and cut carefully you might be able to get a dress out of 5-6 yards).
  • 1 yard gold jacquard damask 118″ wide from FWD: $10.99
  • 6 yards jacquard trim from eBay: $12.62 (including tax and shipping)
  • Thread, buttons, pearls, wire, etc. from stash: ~$5
  • 2-3 packages of fake braiding hair and headband from stash: ~$10

Total cost: All of the fabric was a gift from my friends at Fabric Wholesale Direct, so my out of pocket cost was about $27.62 (instead of ~$101.54 plus tax and shipping). Thanks FWD!

If you’d like to make a medieval dress of your own, check out this tutorial I made. Happy sewing!EJIY8518

The Lilac Petticoat (Upcyling an Old Bridesmaid’s Dress)

My last project was all about taking a 70s bridesmaid’s dress and giving it new life as a petticoat and bum pad for a late Victorian or Edwardian costume.C18CCFD1-8D0C-4032-9873-C16C3C447BA4

There was so much lace, taffeta, and chiffon that I couldn’t resist. (The striped fabric is a scrap from another project).IMG_0155

I love upcycling and repurposing, but it has to be from something that is modern and mass-produced, really damaged vintage, or ugly and unwearable as-is. I was on the fence about this dress because it’s not entirely bad looking, and there might be someone out there who likes to wear 70s bridesmaid’s dresses. Might be. This is what the dress looked like before. 91758DB7-052D-4B41-8F10-616F530AD3AB

In the end I decided there were enough issues with it that it would be better to repurpose it. The dress had some stains and tears, it was meant for an unusual figure (slim and super tall), and the lace was scratchy. I figured super models who like itchy clothing are hard to come by, so out came the seam ripper. (Can you guess what movie I was watching?)IMG_0130

A list of my modifications:

  • I separated the bodice and skirt and removed the back zipper.
  • I put a new waistband at the top of the skirt and added a hook/eye closure.
  • I hemmed up the bottom of the skirt lining and enclosed a strip of horsehair braid for structure.
  • I removed the bottom flounce of lace because it was too long.
  • To make a bum pad out of the bodice I sewed up the openings, stuffed it using parts of a lumpy pillow I was about to throw out, and added some ribbon ties.

 

There was nearly no cutting, so aside from the loss of a zipper, some lace, and some hooks and eyes, some intrepid fashion archaeologist could conceivably remake this dress in the future.

Note: I don’t condone cutting up nice vintage! Please don’t cut up nice old wedding dresses unless they are really trashed. There are plenty of neglected polyester prom dresses that you can use for your own petticoat project.

This dress was thrifted, and most everything else was leftover from another project, so this cost me about $20-25 total! I don’t think I could have bought all that lace new for that price.

Vintage-Inspired Star Wars First Order/General Hux Costume

Recently I went to a themed party wearing a General Hux First Order costume with vintage styling. I had a lot of fun putting together this outfit and pretending to be sinister. Want this look? I’ve got links to all the accessories and base dress in this post.YAFE4962

General Hux wears a tunic and greatcoat with First order emblems and armbands signifying his rank, as well as a funny little hat with a metal emblem.IMG_8926IMG_8927IMG_8928

I substituted a dress for his tunic and a cape for his greatcoat. My gloves are vintage kid leather with lots of little cut outs, and my shoes are the 1940s Nita ankle strap heels from Royal Vintage Shoes.IMG_9632

I didn’t have time to make it all from scratch (except the cape) so I purchased an “Audrey Hepburn” dress on Amazon (affiliate link). The dress has a keyhole neckline and some cute button details. It has some stretch, and I would definitely size down if you are between sizes. I had to exchange the first dress I bought for a smaller size. The sleeves were a little wide on me, but I have skinny arms, so you may not have to tailor them like I did.IMG_E8909

The dress comes with a matching fabric belt with a pleather backing. I flipped the belt around, cut off the buckle, and added this metal buckle blank (Amazon affiliate link) to make it look more like a leather First Order belt. You can also buy it at your local Tandy Leather store.
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I bought the medium sized (3″ wide) shoulder patch from Mirror Universe on Etsy.IMG_E8911

You can buy the arm bands online, but I made my own using white soutache trim (Amazon affiliate link). At first I tried to sew the soutache directly on the sleeve, but it was a little difficult getting everything to stay straight. In the end, I sewed the white soutache trim onto some matte black ribbon, put Misty Fuse on the back, and ironed the ribbon strips onto the sleeve. A few tips:

  • Misty Fuse is like Wonder Under or Stitch Witchery, except it’s black and very light. It doesn’t add bulk, and is dark so even if you mess up a little it won’t show up like white iron-on adhesive.
  • Use matte ribbon, not a shiny satin ribbon, to keep your ribbon backing from being too obvious.
  • Open up the sleeve seam so that you can tuck the raw ends of your ribbon and soutache inside before sewing it closed again for a clean finish.

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My “stewardess pillbox” hat was purchased from Amazon (affiliate link). I added some vintage veiling, and added a nice metal pin that I purchased from The Empires New Clothes on Etsy.

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Just for fun, I wore a “Thirst Order” pin from Dahlia Bunny on my dress.Screen Shot 2018-06-04 at 9.28.44 PM

The cape is self-drafted, but not difficult to make. I used a soft, low-pile velvet that I draped on my dress form. Originally, I made it floor length and super full so I started with 4 yards of fabric that became significantly less in the end. A last minute addition was a red lining to make my dress stand out, which meant more last minute shopping online with Prime to get this faux dupioni (Amazon affiliate link).IMG_9619

A trick for when you have an item that is two colors (or you’re just lazy) and you can’t topstitch without the wrong color thread showing on one of the sides: sew some Misty Fuse or Stitch Witchery onto the wrong side of the fabric. When you flip it over and iron the edges your cape and lining will fuse together.IMG_9527.JPG

Since it is somewhat off the shoulder I added snaps to the dress and cape to hold them together. This was done right before the party, so it’s not lined up perfectly. Next time I think I will add more snaps or hooks and bar so the collar will hug my neck better.

Final project cost tally:

  • Dress: $29.99 from Amazon
  • Hat: $13.99 from Amazon
  • Patch: $11.74 ($7.99 + $3.75 shipping) from Etsy
  • Hat pin: $13.45 ($9.95 + $3.50 shipping) from Etsy
  • Dress pin: $9 from Etsy
  • Cape fabric: $30 from Facebook
  • Cape lining: $8.72 from Amazon
  • Belt buckle: $4.17 from Amazon
  • Soutach: $4.99 from Amazon
  • Thread and misc from stash: ~$3

Total: $129.05

The shoes, gloves, and seamed stockings are part of my regular vintage wardrobe.

I had so much fun with this outfit! I am looking forward to wearing it again! (Sorry for the slightly blurry photos; the event had really dim lighting!)

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How to Make Your Own DIY Mermaid Tail Tutorial

Happy Mermay! I recently completed a shiny sequined mermaid tail, and decorated a shell bra bikini top to go with it. I am not sure yet where I will wear this, but it was fun being a mermaid for a little while!IMG_9098.JPG

The shell bra was purchased from Aliexpress, and then I added hot-fix rhinestones and sewed on faux pearls.pic13

I used the mermaid sequin scale fabric and power mesh lining from Fabric Wholesale Direct for the tail, which has a swim mono fin inside.pic12

This is actually a pretty easy project, and a simple pattern.pic2

The complete tutorial with a materials list and illustrated instructions can be found on the FWD website.  Thanks Fabric Wholesale Direct for the fabrics and the chance to play mermaid for a day!IMG_9048.JPG

(All the fabrics for this project were provided to me by FWD, but I was not paid for this post).

Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo Cosplay at Silicon Valley Comic Con

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lego Obi-Wan was a delight!IMG_7822

I even found and ate a stormtrooper macaron cookie.IMG_7740

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

Business Insider Melia Robinson

Photo by Melia Robinson of Business Insider

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

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

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

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

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He certainly looks like he enjoyed himself!IMG_7454

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

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

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

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

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

Before and after: IMG_7250MMUF8222

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hem the edges and taper the ends a little. IMG_7268

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

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

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