A New Twist on the Queen of Hearts
August 21, 2013
It's costume season! Between conventions like DragonCon and an assortment of Halloween events on the horizon, I am officially in full-on costume stitching mode for the year.
Last year, when Disney teased a new line of dolls based around the concept of villains transformed Into couture-style gowns, I swooned. The design sketches captured me instantly, and I fell head-over-heels in love with the re imagined version of the Queen of Hearts from "Alice in Wonderland." It had all the ingredients to bake me an obsession cake: ruffles! red! a crazy collar!
So, needless to say, it went on the project list.
Here are the reference items I started with:
So, the skirt was straightforward, but time consuming. I used a combo of mirror organza cut into 6-inch strips and tulle spools in black (I used 4 spools for this project) to create the alternating ruffles. The base for the skirt was actually a skirt left over from another project that I no longer wear -- I just altered it to have a leaner line, going from a gathered waist to a flat one, and narrowing the skirt by taking in all seams. Then, I ruffled the organza (the edges are just serged) and the tulle, and applied the rows one by one, about 1.75 inches apart from one another.
This is the phase of the skirt I liked to call "The Ruffle Monster." At this stage, it was like wrestling with an organza and tulle alligator.
The bodice started out with a plain corset-style bodice top from an old McCall's Moulin Rouge pattern that I've used many times.
I used red Toscana velveteen for the fabric, it's underlined with twill, lined with satin, and I used spring steel boning when constructing the bodice -- I love this stuff! I buy mine from Farthingales -- they specialize in corsetry supplies.
To add the peplum on the bottom of the bodice, I cut two shallow half circles, lined them, then tested their placement on the completed bodice.
Here's a peplum piece, cut on the fold:
I ended up altering the shape a bit so they ended up more cigar shaped before I gathered them into place.
The collar was a bit challenging. I wanted the heart backing to stand and not droop, so I used wire to give it a bit of lift -- I salvaged mine from two wire hangers. It's inserted to a channel in the seam allowance of the two heart shapes stitched right sides together.
Turning it right side out with the wire involved was a little tricky. Once I had the heart shape squared away, I attached it to a simple strap that sits halter-style and snaps into the side fronts of the bodice.
Here's the quick test I did of the outfit at this stage:
For the white tulle netting on the collar, I gathered 4 wide layers of tulle together (25-30 inches wide) along the center of the stacked layers, folded along the stitch line, hand stitched it to the collar and strap, and then gave it a haircut to create the tapered shape at the front and even out the edges of my layers.
For the big bow at the back of the dress, I just layered rectangles of fabric together (each layer is actually two pieces of fabric stitched right sides together and then turned out), with the shortest piece on top and angling the longest bottom piece for a bow effect. Then I hand stitched a scrap of the velveteen around the center of my layered pieces to create a faux knot. It attaches to the back of the dress with snaps after the bodice is laced up.
My favorite thing about the project is the surprisingly comfortable skirt. Because the fabrics are light, it's quite springy; I don't need to wear a petticoat with it if I don't want to (a blessing in the Atlanta heat).
Now I just need my crown and maybe a golden heart-shaped handbag (or a scepter that has storage!). Then I'll be ready for flamingo croquet.
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