10 Jun

I’ve got a number of posts lined up featuring costumes that were made pre-blog. They are hastily thrown together, so please excuse any typos! The project that is currently on my sewing table is my most ambitious yet. Remember the Empress Josephine post? Yeah… that’s happening!

Throwback post: Gaston

9 Jun


LINK: Gaston Reference

Back in June of 2013, my brother needed a Disney costume for a Disney themed piano performance so I volunteered to make one. I used a lot of fabric that I either had on hand or could acquire cheaply, since I knew this would only be worn once. I also cheated a bit by attaching the waistcoat to the jacket instead of making them separately and closing the gaiters with velcro. I’m most proud of the breeches, since they are the most accurate. It’s definitely a mix of historically accurate with the not-so-accurate-but-passable-from-a-distance. My only regret is that I couldn’t get him to wear a wig.

Patterns used:

Teal Regency Dotted Swiss

8 Jun



I’m not sure how, but this is the first regency dress I’ve blogged even though I’ve made about five so far. I think I need to find photos of the others and make a “catch-up Regency” mass post. Anyway…

This is essentially my wearable mock-up of the ball gown I am making for a Regency ball coming up. I used the Laughing Moon 126 and aside from narrowing the upper back piece slightly and gathering the skirt instead of pleating, this is without any major changes.


  • Pattern: Laughing Moon 126
  • Fabric: Dotted Swiss from Hancock Fabrics
  • Chemisette: from etsy (because I’m lazy/pressed for time)
  • Cap: from etsy (also for the above reason)
  • Straw bonnet: It wasn’t etsy because it’s not in my history and it’s been too long so I can’t remember. 😦

The things I would do differently:

  • Narrow the sleeves slightly. I don’t have skinny arms and they are still a bit too loose on me.
  • Add 2″ to the bottom of the bodice tapering from the sides to the front. I just need more length from the “waist” to make it over the girls. I’ll also be adding another 1″ to the front of the bib if I don’t plan on wearing a chemisette for coverage.
  • Add more width to the sides of the front skirt piece from the hips down. Because the skirt is basically flat aside from the massive amount of pleats/gathers in the back, I thought the skirt pulled a bit at my hips. Tapering the skirt out should help with that.
  • Lengthen the ties. I’d rather have them longer so they can be tied around the front under the bib than hang down the back, but that’s a personal preference. I’d also make them narrower.

Things to keep in mind:

  • I got away with doing gathers instead of the pleats because my dotted swiss is quite thin. If my fabric were any thicker, I wouldn’t have gotten all the gathers to fit.
  • The skirt is a perfect length for me and I’m 5’8″ so if you are shorter plan accordingly.


Here’s one more at the event I wore this to, a concert at the Fort Worth Botanic Garden, that shows the cap.


1880s Striped Bustle Dress

11 May



This is my favorite costume I’ve made so far! It wasn’t without challenges, but overall I’m really happy how it turned out. The bodice and skirt are Truly Victorian “1884 French Vest Bodice” (TV463) and “1889 Draped Skirt” (TV290). I have just enough fabric to add a ruffle to the bottom of a petticoat/underskirt (made in plain ivory) so I may do that for next time and bustle up the  existing skirt into an overskirt. I think the draped skirt needs a bit more structure in the back to “kick out” the back a bit in order for it to work as a skirt on it’s own.

The bodice itself required quite a bit of fitting adjustments to work on me. I always have an issue with TV patterns and shoulder width. It seems that the patterns are drafted to fit linebacker shoulders and I always have to chop off 3″ from each shoulder in order to get it even close to where my shoulder crease is. I do appreciate that TV has instructions for using different sizes for the back pieces vs the front, but it doesn’t solve all my issues with a small back/narrow shoulders/large bust combo. Following the instructions, I chose a back size and then the “adjusted front” size which put me using the largest size in the front, but when I tried on my mock-up, the front was nowhere near closing across my bustline. The back fit pretty well, but I ended up adding width to the side pieces. I considered doing a FBA, but decided to try an easy fix to see if it would work and it did! The other fitting issue is with the pesky “armpit crease” that happens when trying to fit a large bust without a side dart. With the mockup on, I pinched a dart as if I were going to make one into the armhole and marked it. I then “swung” it to the bottom of the bodice and redistributed it to the vest seam as well as two darts (the pattern only has one). This resulted in the best fitting bodice I have ever made (so exciting!). One other thing that helped was using the the neckline and shoulder seams on the back bodice size and not the front.

The next hurdle was the sleeves. I have a bad habit of not doing sleeve mockups. One day I will learn… I did cut out a sleeve and fit it to my arm, but I did it without sewing it into the bodice mockup. The result was a sleeve that fit but was inordinately poofy. Poofy 1890s sleeves is not a look I was going for in my 1880s dress, so I cut down the sleeve head drastically and still had to use gathers to get it to fit into the armhole. I think I may have cut down the sleeve head slightly too much, but that’s something I can fix next time as well as moving the front armhole in slightly. Overall, this was quite a success and not bad for a 3-day sewing spree complete with torrential rain and tornado warnings.


Top Row: Shows how I rotated the pinched out armhole dart into the body of the bodice.           Bottom Row: The fitting after the dart rotation. Added two darts plus removed some of the width in the vest seam. Last photo shows final bodice piece under the pattern in photo 3.

Things I would change for next time:

  • Shorten the upper back pieces to try and eliminate the horizontal wrinkles out. Boning would probably help with that as well. I ran out of time to do that for this one.
  • Rework the sleeve head
  • cut front of armhole another inch larger
  • trim the underlining fabric to stitch line to reduce bulk at hem and placket.

Project: Empress Josephine Ballgown

30 Mar

Once again, grad school has taken all my time and while I had planned a ballgown to wear to a recent costuming event, I just didn’t have the time to make it without fearing I would lose my mind. However, there is an actual Regency Ball coming up in June which gives me another chance! I am so excited about this ballgown and I can’t wait to start it. I don’t want this to be haphazardly put together, so I hope to start it soon to give myself time to do it well because this material deserves it.

My inspiration is Empress Josephine. I’m not recreating an exact dress, but I do have jewelry that is a passable reproduction to the pearls she wears in many portraits, including this one.

Victor Viger du Vigneau, L'Impératrice Joséphine, Rueil-Malmaison, musée national des châteaux de Malmaison et Bois-Préau

Victor Viger du Vigneau, L’Impératrice Joséphine, Rueil-Malmaison, musée national des châteaux de Malmaison et Bois-Préau

Here’s a sneak peek of what I’ve been collecting:


I would never wear this much gold and bling in real life, but that’s the beauty of costuming. I feel like in this case, it’s okay to be a little over-the-top. The base dress taffeta is a gold/ivory shot and the rose and gold stripe organza will be the sheer overdress. The other gold organza is for trimming as well as the lace panels for the bottom part of the sheer overdress. I’m hoping to figure out a standing lace collar out of the smaller pointed lace, but we’ll see how that goes. Lots of starch??? I was able to find some gold flats on ebay that will pass for Regency once I trim them and then there’s the ivory kid leather I ordered to make above-elbow gloves… so you can see that I have my work cut out for me. Here’s hoping I can get it all together and fulfill the vision that’s in my head!

Custom 3D Printed Dress Forms!

25 Jan

Every since the advent of personal 3D printers I’ve been anticipating the day I could scan my body and print a dress form. A shop in DC has started doing this and is considering expanding scanning stations if there is enough interest, so please contact them if you would like to see one near you. http://www.bitsofthread.com/classes/dittoforms-our-3d-body-scan-dressforms/IMG_1875

Redthreaded Corset Review

17 Jan

I know I should make my own corsets. I have supplies to make my own corsets. The problem is I have limited time to even make costumes, much less corsets! Up until recently, I have tried a number of RTW Victorian-style corsets and the best ones that work for my figure are underbust because the overbust ones do not have enough room and so when I sit, the “girls” are up around my chin. This is not a good look, not to mention it’s really not period. Because of this, unless it was Regency or Georgian, I was stuck making whatever would work with an underbust style.

Last year I stumbled across Redthreaded’s etsy shop and ordered some Georgian stays which turned out very well and when she opened up a special pre-order price for a Victorian style I thought I’d take a risk and try one. I am so glad I did. I don’t know how she did it, but I can actually sit down in this corset without feeling like I can rest a plate on top of my cleavage. It also has enough hip room so I can breathe while sitting down. I’d still love to make a corset at some point, but goodness, having one that at least fits just opened up a whole costuming world for me.

This is a single-layer, but has extra boning because of the larger size. There are also 4 grommets close together at the waist in the back so the lacing feels very secure. It’s certainly not for tight-lacing, but I’m comfortable with a 3″ reduction at the moment. It’s not the curviest corset and I kinda wish it was a little longer in the lower half, but it is an excellent basic.

IMG_7892 IMG_7893 IMG_7894