Pendragon Desree Dress – Part 1

I went to the LA Renaissance Faire two weekends ago and while I was there I took the time to browse the costume stalls, as I usually do. The fanciest and priciest outfits belong to a vendor called Pendragon Costumes. I’ve been looking for a relatively easy costume for a while, and I noticed a particular outfit called the Desree Dress that looked pretty simple:

It’s basically a bodice sewn to an open front skirt with an underskirt. How hard could that be? I noticed theirs had no lining and boning only alongside the front grommets. That’s ok, I’m not so bad at doing lined bodices and adding boning to seam allowances.

I started with Butterick 5757 for the skirt, which I’ve worked with 3 times thus far with great results, allowing for an extra 6 inches of width along the fold so that the piece would wrap around partways in front like the Desiree picture. I cut two pieces so that one could be used as lining.

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Next I used McCall’s 4107 for the bodice, opting for the simplest option with front laces, and eliminating the back laces. I cut outer fabric to match the skirt above, as well as interfacing and lining (dark color to hide sweat stains better).

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Next I ironed the interfacing to the outer fabric:

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And then I began to sew the outer bodice, clipping around curves and praying to the sewing gods:

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Here’s the first two pieces, and then the finished outer bodice:

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I did the same to the inner bodice lining:

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Next up: tackling the boning!


Forgotten Project

I’m back! The craziness of my day job is finally subsiding, so now I can go from being antisocial due to work back to being antisocial due to my hobbies. ūüôā

I was going through the mounds of fabric in my work room today, and I discovered something I’d set aside almost an entire year ago: a pile of completely cut pattern & fabric pieces for Simplicity 3637. Why I didn’t see this earlier in the year I have no idea. I even remember buying the green & gold damask fabric, a purchase I was particularly proud of given that I managed to nab all 22 yards for under $100.

This is not an intimidating pile of fabric at all.

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On the other hand, the part of sewing I hate most is pinning and cutting out the pieces, so I can either start from scratch with a simpler pattern and be miserable until the cutting is done, or I can get started with sewing on this insanely difficult pattern.

Decisions, decisions…

Ever After Gown – Part 4

Sewing the lining for the underskirt. As you can see I did a stellar job cutting out these pattern pieces on the line.



And sewing the overskirt. This took FOREVER, and I unfortunately forgot an entire piece, and then I also forgot to leave a seam open in the back for the zipper!  ARGH!



Then a miracle occurred…

No, kidding. I just forgot to take pictures because I was too stressed out. The last steps were (1) sewing the overskirt to the underskirt, (2) sewing the skirt to the bodice, and (3) sewing the zipper. Since the zipper traveses the green skirt and the gold bodice, I had to use green thread on the bottom half of the zipper and then gold thread on the top half. Very glad I remembered this before I started sewing the zipper!

Here’s the finished gown from front, side and back:


And here’s a side-by-side comparison of my gown with the Ever After gown that inspired it:


Ever After Gown – Part 3

Finally finished the sleeves! Yay!


I screwed something up cutting up out these pieces because the sleeves barely fit.  See how tight they are, especially around the elbow? Ah well, time to seam rip and widen.

I ended up adding a thin strip of gold fabric down the entire length. I debated covering that strip with the same green velvet and red trim but decided I liked it better plain. Here’s how it looked:


I had to widen the armhole too. Since I didn’t want to widen the entire side of the bodice, I added a triangular piece of gold fabric:


Here’s me wearing the finished bodice with sleeves. Cute, right?


Next up is the underskirt and underskirt lining. This is just a giant 6-piece circle skirt, so I won’t bore you with the details. But just for kicks, here’s a pic of me sewing the shiny gold dupioni:



And here’s me wearing the skirt and bodice unattached. The skirt is pinned in the back right now because a zipper needs to go there, and I can’t add the zipper until I finish the underskirt with lining and then sew the overskirt to the underskirt. Fun times ahead, yo.


Ever After Gown – Part 2

Ok, I finally got started on this gown! ¬†Here’s a pic of the pattern when it arrived about a month ago:


I started by cutting out about 50 pattern pieces, which took me two weeks on & off. ¬†The bodice alone has 9 pattern pieces, and since I need to cut facing, interfacing and lining, that was 27 right there! ¬†Here’s a pic of me getting started on the cutting. ¬†I decided to go with a green velvet instead of purple, because it looked better against the gold.


I had to be careful ironing the interfacing to the bodice pieces, because the silk dupioni tends to crinkle under high heat and steam. ¬†There are still wrinkles there that I haven’t figured out how to get rid of. Here’s the beginning of the bodice, with some red trim I found that looked absolutely divine against the gold and green fabrics:


And here, many many hours later, is the finished bodice, front and back:

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I’m not sure what went wrong when I cut out the pattern pieces, but as you can see from the back view, the pieces were uneven even though I matched the notches perfectly. Oh well, There’s a reason why I cut them out a bit bigger than the pattern.

the thing that really bugged me was that the green collar was uneven. See how the right side is narrower and ends a bit higher than the left side.  Well, after a bit of puzzling, I decided to hand sew the left side to be just as narrow and high as the right side.  Here are a few pics:

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And the finished bodice, with even collars:

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Next up – the sleeves! ¬†These are of gold dupioni with green velvet accents and red trim. ¬†Now, the green velvet was supposed to be puffy, but the velvet fabric was so thick and the dupioni so thin, I didn’t see a good way to affix the velvet puffs to the sleeve in a manner that wouldn’t rip the thread or eventually tear the sleeve.


Here’s what the puffs would have looked like. I definitely needed stronger thread, because what I used ripped twice while I was trying to gather the velvet. That’s when I gave up.


More to come later!

Red Renaissance Outfit – Part 2

Finished the matching full skirt yesterday, using Butterick 5757 again and taking a whole bunch of shortcuts.  No pockets, no lining (which seems to have been a mistake because this fabric unravels like crazy), and did a simple elastic waist by folding over the fabric and sewing the elastic into it.

I first sewed the end of the elastic to the fabric, then pinned and sewed the waist fabric over it all around, leaving a one inch gap for the elastic to stick out through.  I then gathered the fabric around the elastic until I reached an acceptable waist circumference, then cut and sewed the elastic to itself through the fabric, and then closed the one inch gap.

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This really only works when the fabric print is so busy you don’t notice the extra stiches, or when the waistband will never show, as will be the case with my costume because the corset¬†and the overskirt will cover it up.

Here’s the finished skirt:

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Next up is the black overskirt. I’ve cut this already and started sewing pockets already. I’ll be putting some gathering in it, a bit like this brown skirt:

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Now it’s bedtime. Had a long stressful week at work, and I just got back from a long afternoon and evening at Disneyland so I’m beyond pooped.

Ever After Gown – Part 1

After scouring the web for a pattern similar to the green & gold Ever After gown worn by Anjelica Huston at the royal ball near the end of the film, I finally ran across McCall’s 3053. ¬†This is strangely marketed as a bridal gown, but pattern option C looks almost identical to the gown, with the exception of a full train in back instead of the two separate draped pieces hanging down the back off each shoulder. ¬†I don’t have enough purple velvet to make the train, so I’ll either omit it entirely or figure out a way to make the separate drapes.

Ever After gown:



McCall’s 3053:



I originally wanted the purple velvet to go with the blue dupioni, but it turns out this pattern takes about 6 yards of dupioni and I only have 3 in the blue.  The only dupioni I have enough of is the gold, so it will be a purple and gold gown instead, which is a more traditional color pairing anyways.

Purple velvet & gold dupioni:

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Ok, off to buy the pattern! ¬†But first, here’s a fuzzy screenshot of Anjelica Huston wearing the gown: