I’ve had a few work in progress requests, so are you ready? here we go!
For the dress I’m afraid I don’t have a huge amount of detailed pictures, as I was sort of fumbling through it. Let me start by saying a huge thank you to Kilayi and Penwiper who came way before me and without whom I wouldn’t have had a clue where to start. Also an enormous thank you to Jen at EPBOT where I think I first found a link to Penwiper’s The RPF thread, and where I found the courage to 1) find and go to a Con and 2) go in costume. I’m fairly introverted and not a huge fan of crowds (and yet Comic Con I hear you ask? I know. It was a big step. More on it later though) but seeing that other people with similar (and more chronic) anxieties could do it, I committed myself to do it.
Right, the juicy bits.
The dress is made up of an inner and an outer dress. The inner dress I originally planned to use an old maxi dress that I wasn’t wearing anymore, until I realised that it was jersey and so would stretch with the weight of the outer layer, ruining any kind of fit work that I had done, so I had to start from scratch. Luckily, a simple shift dress that is ultimately totally unseen, is relatively easy.
for this part you need:
any cheap fabric. I made my under dress out of an old bed sheet and pillowcase, so not that much.
sewing machine and thread.
A long zip. Mine was 20 inches. The longer it is, the easier it is to get in and out of.
I started with the skirt half. Measure your waist, divide by four, and add seam allowance. I added about 2 or 3cm to each piece, that way it would be nice and loose without being baggy. Next, measure the circumference of the hoop for the bottom. Divide that by 4 and add seam allowance again. The hoop holds the skirt out and makes it easier to walk and cooler on the legs. It doesn’t need to be huge, mine was about 125cm. For ease of putting it into the dress, try to get one that opens easily. Luckily, cheap ones tend to! For length, you want your waist to the floor, plus a few cm to create the tube to hold the hoop. Ideally you want it to juuust skim the floor so it doesn’t drag.
You’ll want those measurements to make 4 pieces like this –
(Again, huge thanks to Kilayi for this way of explaining. Words aren’t great!)
Match up 2 pairs, pin, and sew down the straight edges. then open them up and line the now two pieces up, and pin and sew down the diagonal edges. Fold up the bottom wide enough to fit your hoop in, and sew, leaving a small gap to insert it. Test that the hoop fits, but take it back out if you can – I couldn’t – as sewing is easier without it in. Once the dress is finished, push it in and through, then join up the ends again. Mine stayed back together fine, but no one’s going to see if you need to glue or tape it.
Tada! My front piece doesn’t have the strait seam as I managed to make it fit so it was one less seam to do! You might be able to see at the bottom that my seams are all on the outside. I did it on purpose – that way I don’t get irritating seams rubbing.
The top half I’m afraid I didn’t take pictures of, but I basically used an existing dress as a template to make essentially a tank top, and sewed it to the skirt. This next part is my favourite cheat. You might have noticed that with the tank top sewed on method, there’s no opening to attach the zip. I HATE inserting zips properly because it’s a nightmare. So, I pinned the closed zip on the outside of the back of the dress, and sewed it on. You will have to fiddle the zip up and down a little to get the machine foot past it, but it’s much easier than doing it properly, and it’s unseen.
But wait, you say. This zip doesn’t open anything! Open the zip, and then cut down the fabric between it. perfect zip placement, no zip irritating your back! You might find that loose threads catch on the zip, but they pull out easily enough.
Now the outer dress. You’ll need –
A huge amount of light grey fabric. I used more than recommended, I think I bought 5 metres, and used it all.
grey thread, and your machine.A large-ish needle and a contrasting colour thread for gathering. The colour makes it easier to pick out once you’re done.
Essentially, you want a large tube. The length needs to be from just under your arms to the floor plus a few cms to account for the angle, seams, and tuck under at the bottom. You then need an extra bit (I went for 10cm) for the tuck at the waist. Sew together the full width of the fabric to make one very, very wide piece, don’t turn it into a tube yet. Measure yourself around under the armpits, this will give you how wide it needs to be once gathered. using the contrast thread, sew long stitch across the top, with a knot in one end. Hold the thread tight, and push the fabric up evenly until it reaches the measurement you took. You can tie it off and leave it there until you are ready to sew it to the top part, but I did a run of machine stitch over it to hold it all in place.
For the top part you don’t need much. The front is an inverted bridge shape. Again I used and existing top to measure, and went a little larger to make sure, then trimmed it down. The back is two pieces, measured from a top and given a generous overlap for the zip. curved edges are tricky, so snip the edges to help with the bend. The back and front are only attached at the shoulder, this gives a generous armhole to allow movement.
Find the centre of the large skirty bit and line it up to the centre of the top, pin and sew. Keep the overlap in the back, and line it up too, pin and sew.
You can see above on the left where the front is attached but the back isn’t. If you line it up with the centre at the back you should be left with more than enough width in the armholes. I can’t stress enough though, try it on before you permanently sew it (mind the pins), because unpicking is slow, tedious, and irritating! Once it’s attached, you get this:
Crazy long dress 🙂
Put on the underdress and then the outer dress. That way you can see exactly where to pin it for the fold, and leave enough for the bottom. Pin directly to the underdress.
Please excuse the mess – sewing with three children has it’s downsides! Once it’s pinned take it off carefully and sew under where the fold will be, so it’s hidden. All that’s left is to sew the back up, and sew the bottom under. The bottom is easy enough, just tuck it under and pin and sew once the back is finished. For the back sew up to the bottom of the zip in a normal seam. for the rest, tuck under and sew close to the zip. Where the gathers are it will meet together easily and cover the join, but at the top you’ll want a fairly large overlap to cover it.
Then it’s time to paint! You want the dress upright really to paint it so you can see what you’re doing and get in all the creases, not to mention to stop it sticking together. The problem with this is that dressmakers dummies are ridiculously expensive, so I fashioned something that would do. I stuck a broomstick handle (a piece of dowel or something might be better, ideally you want it as tall as you or a little taller) into a christmas tree holder and glued a large hanger on top. Obviously it’s no good for actual dress making but it’s useful for this, or hemming I’d imagine.
For the paint, I was absolutely not buying that much fabric paint, and so I bought a tub of cheap matt white emulsion and a small tub of blacks. Start with a total covering of dark grey. Once it’s dry, add in a little white for mid-grey highlights, and use a sponge to add it to prominent areas. I did this again adding more white again for a few more highlights. I’d save the painting until you’ve made everything though, so the shades all match.
And you’re done!
More coming on the wings, mask and wig.