Recently in Costumes Category
October 27, 2013
Today's entry in our scarf series has a flair for the dramatic -- so much so that you can use it to fill in any costume gaps in the last few days before Halloween. I'm making a boa out of scraps -- yep, it's another stash buster! This project is ultra simple, though it can be a bit time consuming because it involves lots of cutting. On the upside, the cutting is basic, so you can do it while watching TV.
To start with, you need to cut strips. Lots and lots of strips. Mine range from about 1-1.5 inches wide, and 8-12 inches long. For fabrics, I used chiffon, satin, lace, mesh, assorted knits and ribbon. Anything works; you just want a mix of textures and weights. I cut my wovens on the bias to minimize fray, but if you want a fuzzy, frayed effect, you can cut with the grain, too. And I wasn't especially careful with cutting straight lines. I used a rotary cutter at first, but found I was faster with my shears, so stuck with those after a while. In total, I cut right around 300 strips.
Once I had a healthy pile of strips, I started feeding them into my sewing machine. I set two to four strips at a time across the machine, overlapping a little and trying to keep the center of the strips more or less in line with the needle.
Then I would stitch slowly as a pushed the strips up inder the presser foot, mashing them together as I went so they gather together. Every inch or so, I would backstitch and then keep moving forward. This just gives the whole thing a little extra stability.
Working with 300 strips, I ended up with a boa about 2 yards long, all full of fluffy goodness. You can trim and shape it at this point if you like. Just clip any of the pieces that stick out more than you like.
This technique can be used to create costumey boas, or eye-catching scarves. Remember to use as many soft fabrics as possible in your scraps to prevent itchy neck syndrome.
Here is the same shot with different light values so you can see all the texture that you get from using all those different scraps.
With a little creativity, this project can serve for a variety of things -- golden tones for a lion's mane, rainbow colors for a unicorn or pony, all hot pink or animal prints for a diva accessory, or pastels to go with a royal gown. You can even make a smaller version to use as trim on sweatshirts and sweaters. Have fun and use those scraps!
September 24, 2013
I have been not-so-patiently waiting for this year's Halloween freebie pattern from Hot Patterns. When it landed in my inbox, I'm pretty sure I squealed aloud. What makes me love this one so very much? It can work its wiles long after the holiday has passed! You can make it up in sparkly, costumey fabrics, but it's also completely able to blend into your year-round wardrobe when you make it out of versatile wardrobe fabrics. And it's made for knits (loooove!). AND it involves no hemming (double looove!).
The first thing you'll notice when you assemble your pattern is that there's a lot more curve to the skirt pieces than you're probably used to. This is where the magic is -- it sets this one apart from the pack. Even though it's a fairly simple pattern -- just these pieces and a rectangular waistband -- the curves and assymetry of it mean that cutting may take a little while. (Since construction goes quickly, it's a fair trade-off.)
I made several versions of this skirt in different fabrics to give you an idea of what you might expect from different textile choices.
The first version I made was in a very inexpensive sparkly knit from my stash. (Seriously, I think I paid less than a dollar a yard for it -- it's a bargain bin find.) Because the fabric is so flimsy, it wouldn't be a great choice for repeated wearings in your wardrobe, but it's perfect for a modern take on a witch or fortune-teller costume.
For my second version, I used a spandex knit that would normally be used for swim or activewear. This one has great body and drape, though you might be surprised at how quickly the weight adds up with this fabric.
When I first selected a plisse knit for version number three, part of me was trepidatious. I wasn't sure how it would come out, but I really, really love this version! The springiness of the fabric gives it a really nice body. I love the plum color so much that I didn't want to use a different knit for the waistband, so I cut a narrower version of the waistband piece out of the plisse and inserted elastic to make up for the lack of recovery in the knit. This one can easily do double duty as a costume element or a wardrobe piece.
Next I wanted to play with contrast a little bit, so I used a gray and black striped knit paired with a solid black for the draped pieces. The striped fabric is a polyester knit I had in my stash, but it's not very stretchy -- it stays crisp compared to the poly lycra jersey I used for the ruffles. I wore this one while tootling around town yesterday and got a compliment on it from a stranger on the train, so I call that a win! (Has it become abundantly obvious that this is a year-round style in my book?)
Spurred by the success of the first contrast experiment, I forged ahead with a higher-contrast chevron knit combined again with black. My chevron is an ITY, so it's very, very fluid. The black is the same poly lycra I used in the previous skirt. This has great swing and movement.
My last version is out of a simple poly/lycra blend knit with tiny stars printed on it. I love how the solid black of the non-printed side peeks out here and there in the cascading drape of the ruffle inserts. I have a feeling this one will be a repeat performer in my fall wardrobe, because it's beyond comfy and will pair perfectly with T-shirts and sneakers for weekend wear.
So, after six, I had to restrain myself. But there are so many other combinations I would love to try! Color mixes, different prints, using sheers for the ruffles, reversing the curve of the lower edge -- there are so many ways to make this skirt uniquely your own. That's some good voodoo.
Get your free pattern here, and have fun creating!
September 20, 2013
Remember my purple lion costume? Well, I made it with the intention it would be worn for at least a year and it is going on 2 and its still hanging in. I love it and so does my daughter. My only issue is that she insists on wearing it everyday, in Georiga, in summer. It gets hot. Very hot. She will sweat buckets and not admit its too hot. She's a lion and will not break character. So I knew we needed a summer time costume change. I decided a t-shirt rehab would do the trick. I used a combination of the original pattern and a little out-of-the box experimentation to get the job done. The finished product turned out to be a short sleeved jersey lion jacket, complete with tail. It is a success and my daughter enjoys it but she is still anxious for it to cool down so she can get back into her fleece original (insert eye roll here).
I started with 3 t-shirts, 2 body color (turquoise) and 1 coordinating (light blue). One of the turquoise shirts was a youth-small size and it would be the jacket and the other 2 tshirts were the largest I could find since they would be cut up for pieces. From the giant turquoise shirt I cut the hood, ears and tail and from the giant coordinating shirt I cut the mane, belly and tail fringe. I cut the youth small shirt right down the middle and added a separating plastic zipper. I choose plastic because the teeth and the pull were bigger and easier for her little fingers. When adding the belly piece the top of the belly and the neckline of the tshirt did not exactly meet up so I just recut the top of the belly piece to line up with the shirt neckline and when I sewed on the hood it covered any other discrepancies. This worked out well since altering the neckline of the belly piece shortened the belly piece a bit and it fit on the shirt better too. I just sewed the tail right to the hem stitching of the shirt in the back. I re-enforced it by first sewing the it on with the tail flipped up toward the neckline then I flipped it down and top stitched it. I stuffed it again just like I did with my fleece version.
What I would do different is I would make the mane, ears and tail from interlock instead of jersey knit. This would make it stand up more and curl less. I would also make matching pants and mittens from jersey or interlock. It sound like a lot of layers but my daughter's only complaint with this outfit is that she didn't feel complete. She continued to ask for her claws and pants.
I am planning to make another version of the original Kwik Sew Pattern only the dinosaur from french terry as another warm weather alternative. For that version I am planning on interfacing the ears to make them stand up and using fleece for the mane and fringe as it adds just the right fluffy and cuteness. This is a great quick version or play version. If you remove the tail or make it shorter you can use this hoody everyday. You can easily layer under this if you aren't sure of the weather or if you live in a warmer climate like the South. If you live in a cooler climate substitute the t-shirt for a sweatshirt.
September 11, 2013
Well, I have a baby so you must have seen this one coming. For the most part I'm a pretty laid back mom but I always, always like for my girls to look good. This is especially true for halloween since I love Halloween. I really love it. In fact I was planning hallween costume a few minutes after I found out I was pregnant. When it comes to babies though I don't let anything irritate, distract or inhibit them- it just makes my job easier. So I set out to make a super cute costume for my youngest that would not distract her from her job-walking, crawling and getting into trouble- but would make for some memorable photos. It is amazing how well some key clothing items can be configured into great costumes for little ones.
For my daughter, we decided it would be funny for her to be Shrek the Ogre for Halloween. You see, when we told my oldest daughter that we were having a baby she named her soon-to-be sister "Baby Shrek" until even after we found out "shrek" was a girl. To make this costume all that is needed is a tiny vest, leggings, a t-shirt or onesie and a knit hat. Since the weather in Georiga is tempermental and I never know if it will be warm or cold on the big day I like to keep my options open to make sure my kids are comfy. For this costume I can use a long sleeve shirt or short sleeve. I have also decided to use a pink shirt instead of Shrek's white just to show she's a girl (people like to know). To create your own baby Shrek costume try these tutorials to make your pieces.
Vest: I modified this baby shirt pattern to be an open vest just sewn at the shoulders and sides. I cut the back piece on the fold but not the front to create the open vest. I left off the sleeves. I used some brown interlock knit fabric to prevent curling and because it is thicker and will hold up to the grommets better. I added 4 grommets just like Shrek. I didn't hem or bind arm holes to give it the haphazard, worn look Shrek rocks.
Leggings: This is a a great pattern to use to make all kinds of leggings or knit pants for your kids. I used the same brown interlock just in case it is chilly that night. I know Shrek wears tartan leggings but I wanted to be able to use the leggings for everyday use and I'm not sure if I have too many outfits that will match Shrek's particular tartan.
This costume idea can be adapted for other characters as well. For animals you only need change the hat and keep the t-shirt and leggings the same color to coordinate with the animals. Try searching Ravelry for the hat pattern. Here's a great Despicable Me minion crochet hat pattern. For Princess Leia, try this pattern. If you want to sew an animal hat, check out this collection on Pinterest.
September 8, 2013
As is my tradition, I make a new witch costume every year as Halloween approaches. You can see previous witchy projects here and here. But this year, with all the Gatbsy buzz, I wanted something that borrowed a little bit of 1920s style. I didn't want to go full-out hsitorical with it, because I don't have time in the schedule for that this year, so I settled on a Simplicity pattern by LeAnn Marshall that had the feel I was looking for.
The dress itself is cut primarily on the bias, but even so, it's not a fabric hog. I used 3 yards of chiffon, 3 yards of stretch charmeuse, and 1.5 yards of Jacqueline lace so I could add a little texture to my draped overskirts. I ended up with a chunk of the charmeuse leftover. The trickiest bit about the dress is dealing with bias-cut chiffon. It can be a little finnicky. But with a little patience, it can totally be handled.
Here is the basic dress, sans embellishment.
To add a little sparkle to my witch, I first used some leftover scraps of the rhinestone-dotted net from my ballgown witch two years ago; I cut them into roughly 6-inch wide strips and gathered them all in one continuous ruffle at the center. My second salvage operation involved overdying the blue appliques from my De La Renta Snow White to a black color, and layering those with the gathered net.
While my dress was on my dressform, I did a little test draping of the trim along the neckline and down the side of the overskirt.
I liked the results, so I ploughed ahead. I ended up additing additional clear and black rhinestone crystals using my hotfix applicator, and added additional appliques along the waistband and at the pleating of the overskirts.
I hand-stitched the ruffled trim along the neckline, but the waist appliques are machine-stitched into place.
Now I just need to find a handsome warlock to Charleston and shimmy with! (Oh, my ... now I want to make my husband a 1920s warlock ensemble ... )
September 3, 2013
Now that it's September, we are officially into Halloween and costuming obsession time as far as I'm concerned. And part of that transition from summer into fall prep for me is DragonCon. If you don't know what DragonCon is, it's a massive (and always growing) pop culture convention that takes over downtown Atlanta each Labor Day weekend. There are SO MANY COSTUMES at DragonCon. And many of them are really lovely. I always leave the show with loads of inspiration, so I wanted to share a taste of some the finery I spotted on fans this year.
One thing you always see a LOT of: corsets! I really liked the way this costumer used trim and color blocking on her corset, and offset the brown with a brighter color.
Fans of "Dune" will recognize this Bene Gesserit costume. The baldcap application was perfection.
I couldn't help but notice that royalty was super popular this year. This one is from the anime "Trinity Blood."
I really, really love the film "Wreck-it Ralph," so I was super excited to see Turbo circulating in the crowd. Turbotastic!
Look! It's Winnie, Mary and Sarah from "Hocus Pocus"! These three were beyond adorable.
This guy made an amazing replica of astronaut Jim Lovell's NASA space suit. Absolutely beautiful, and clearly a labor of love. He won an award for Best Historical Recreation in the Masquerade Costume Contest.
I love the theming on this lovely trio. That parasol is darling.
This costumer started with a white dress she found at a thrift shop and ran it through a dye bath to create a quick princess ensemble.
As I mentioned earlier, a LOT of fabulous royalty was roaming the hotels.
Most creative Queen of Hearts design EVER! The entire outfit is made of playing cards.
These ladies were my favorite of the weekend -- lovely dandelions. I first saw them in the parade and was so charmed! Simply adorable, and really well executed.
This is just a tiny sampling, a mere smidgen of what one sees during a convention like DragonCon. While the show is huge and can be overwhelming at times (foot traffic on Saturday could make even the most zen con-goer exasperated), there is really something for everyone. I hope you find all this creativity as inspiring as I do. I know I came home on the last day exhausted, but eager to jump into a project!
August 25, 2013
Last year, Harrod's holiday window display featured Disney princesses wearing dresses created by famous designers. It was such a revelation to see how different fashion houses interpreted the classic tales into modern couture looks. Snow White fan that I am, I was completely enraptured when I saw the De La Renta version. (Side note: I never was really into De La Renta in years past. I always recognized the quality of the design -- it just wasn't my taste. But lately, there's something in each of his collections that I just fall in love with. I'm not sure if I'm evolving or Oscar is -- or a little bit of both -- but it's a new sensation for me to like the brand so much!)
After looking at the sketch and some photos of the window display, I set out a plot to make my own versions of the two pieces involved -- the gown and the duster -- and set to work.
For the gown, I started, as I often do, with a pattern from my collection. This one is near and dear to my heart -- it's the same one I used to create my wedding gown 17 years ago! (I had to cut it a little bigger this time around.)
It's a basic princess-seam dress; there are plenty of similar patterns on the market all the time. I made a slight alteration to the neck line and made a plan to change up the sleeve, but otherwise cut the pattern as-is using a yellow Mi Amor Duchess Satin.
For the blue lace overlay, I started with an assortment of white Venise lace appliques. I pick these up anytime I find them in my travels, in bulk if I can. Specialty sewing shops sometimes carry them, and online suppliers often do as well. Sometimes you can even find bags of them at flea markets. Knowing since last Christmas that I wanted to make this one, I've had an eye out all year for suitable components.
I started with white appliques, and then dyed them blue using iDye.
I did my dye work on the stove and then ran the appliqués through the wash in a lingerie bag to remove remaining dye residue.
Once I had the front of my dress assembled, I started arranging the appliqués. I would place a few at a time and then stitch them down, and worked my way through the placement of the design that way until I was done. I machine stitched mine, though you can bet the couture gown was done by hand! Here's a shot of just the front of the dress clipped to my dress form (sloppily) as the applique layout is in process.
After the appliqués were all in place, I finished the dress as normal, substituting a knit chiffon drape sleeve for the cuffed sleeve in the pattern.
The pins at the top of the bodice are keeping things in place on the form -- on me, it stays up just fine. :)
For the duster, I once again turned to the pattern stash. BUT, because this satin evening coat doesn't appear to fully wrap or close at the front, I knew I'd have to alter a pattern for the narrower fit. I went with a long, fitted coat pattern, and I only used the side front, back and side back pieces when cutting. I widened the side front piece a little bit to make sure the shoulder seam would match up with the back and allow a little more coverage than just the side front alone.
I also drafted an alternate collar -- it sort of mimics the shape of the iconic white collar that Snow White wears in the movie. The blue area in the image below is the center of the collar, which is cut on the fold. I'm not sure why I had that point in there at the center initially -- it got clipped off into a smooth line.
For the voluminous sleeves, I cut simple rectangles about 22 x 30 inches, sewed them into tubes along the long edges, and then pleated them to the right size at the shoulder seam to fit. I gathered the bottom edge, then added small pleats to mirror the pleating at the shoulder. I added small bow details at the outside of the sleeve just to bring a little more Snow White flavor to the duster.
I like that this feels Snow White but is different from a standard costume. It's got a grown-up vibe, but the colors and inspiration are still there.
Do you get inspired to recreate pieces you see in magazines or online for your own use? I have a mile-long list of such projects. Of course, it's tempting to make more designer-style princess dresses, too!
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.
August 11, 2013
I get so inspired by animals -- there are so many colorful creatures that I want to emulate! Especially butterflies and even some of the more flamboyant moths. They're the starting point for this week's costume projects.
I wanted to make something I could run in (I participate in several costumes running events each year) but that I could also wear to a party if I wanted. I also wanted completely unique garments. There is also a lovely Luly Yang couture monarch gown that's been swirling around in my head for years, but I definitely wanted to go more casual than that.
I started with an assemblage of reference materials. I sought out photos of Luna moths and Monarch butterflies to inform my designs. Using a photo editor, I made circular repeating collage designs of wings -- these would be used to create the skirting for each of my dresses.
I settled on McCall's 6754 for my pattern because it's a simple knit dress with a relatively full, nearly circular skirt. I went with solid activewear fabrics so they'd be comfortable for running.
After cutting my pattern pieces, I assembled my skirts, leaving one seam open so I could lay them flat. Then, I got out my opaque projector. (I really can't say enough about how much I love that thing. It was one of the best investments I've ever made in terms of creative tools.) I had to fold my printed-out circular skirt design to get it to fit into the projector, which gave me only a partial image of my circle, but since I was already going to have to work the design into less than a full circle, that was aok.
I used a very fancy setup for my design transfer. Meaning: I draped my fabric over a box, pointed the projector at it, and transferred a little of the design at a time using a permanent marker. This is not a precision affair. As part of the adjustment from full-circle to partial, I had to edit some elements of the design as I went, shortening a wing here, widening there, and free-handing a few details to fill gaps.
Once I had the design more-or-less transferred, I set up a painting space on my sewing table by covering it with plastic -- I just used a garbage bag and spread it out flat. Then, section by section, I applied acrylic craft paint that I had mixed with textile medium. If you've never worked with textile medium before, it alters the viscosity of the paint so it doesn't dry so stuff and crunchy. I used a bunch of different brushes and foam sponges. That's definitely a thing you want to test for a project like this -- your design size, fabric texture, paint flow and personal preference are all factors, so it's great to test with a scrap first.
Tip: frosting containers make great paint cans! Small enough to hold in your hand, and you can just pop the lid on if you need to step away.
As I finished each section, I would let it dry and then reposition for the next section. Since I was working on two at once, I could paint one, then let it dry while I painted the other. This method worked quite well in terms of timing.
Once all my painting was done, the rest was a breeze. The pattern goes together in a flash.
I am ready to run ... err, flit ... along in my runnable costumes! While I'll probably leave them sleeveless for comfort while I run, I will likely use my upper-arm coverage method if I wear either of these for parties.
Of course, you can adapt this idea to any fabric. Wovens are easier than the activewear fabrics I used because you don't have the problem of the fabric stretching under your paint strokes. Regardless of your fabric choices, this sort of garment does require a little bit of extra laundering care. You can toss fabrics embellished with acrylic paints in the washer, but your design will usually fade a bit. I recommend hand washing with a gentle soap.
August 4, 2013
It's no secret that I love tutus. I adore them! And I don't mean to scare you, but Halloween is going to be here sooner than you may realize. While turning over those two things in my mind -- tutus and the approach of Halloween (squeeee!) -- I started thinking about ways I could fill my costume closet this year with new approaches to tutus. I wanted skirt pieces that would be fun and different, not just the standard tulle affair. And I wanted the kinds of pieces I could glam up with fancy tops, or even pair with T-shirts and leggings for a more-casual-but-still-costumey outfit.
For my first tutu experiment, I started by making a simple yoked skirt out of slipper satin. Nothing extraordinary here -- I mostly just wanted the seam where the yoke and skirt join together as a guide for ruffle placement.
To cover the skirt with ruffles, I gathered two spools of novelty tulle -- red with white polka dots -- by running the tulle through my machine and making pleats with my seam ripper as I went along. I don't like using a ruffler foot with tulle; in my experience, I end up with torn fabric and frustration rather than pretty gathers. But if you have good luck with pairing the two, by all means, stick with it! The novelty tulle spools are fab because the cutting's already done for you.
Once my two spools were all gathered, I stitched the ruffled tulle to the skirt in four rows at regular intervals. For me, two spools was exactly the amount I needed. I finished with a 2-inch wide piece of tulle left.
And by adding a black shirt, I've got a quick-as-a-wink Minnie Mouse vibe going. A pair of mouse ears and some black leggings or tights would finish this off perfectly. The same style skirt made in one of the animal novelty prints would be great for creating a safari look, or you could use one of the glitter spools to kick off a glam witch ensemble.
For my second tutu, I used Simplicity 2067, but I altered the look of it by adding a layer of lace over the two layers of gathered tulle called for in the pattern. I just love how that one extra layer turns the girlie factor up. For the waistband and yoke on this one, I layered my lace over the same satin I used for the lining layer.
A tutu like this is the perfect jumping-off point for a princess costume. You could embellish the lace with tiny flowers, beads or ribbon. Pair it with a fitted or corseted top and a tiara and you're off to the ball!
What I love about projects like this is that they usually inspire a next step towards a costume or some other creative project. While I may never get through the whole list of things I'm inspired to do, that exciting moment of "What if I made _____ next?" is really one of the most magical things about sewing to me. I think that's part of why I love Halloween so much -- the rules are relaxed and it's just about letting your creativity take the wheel.
Are you ready to get the jump on Halloween stitching?