Mad Hatter Costume

Like I said, as part of our family costume my husband decided to be the Mad Hatter. Honestly, I mostly put his outfit together from pieces I bought– a velvet blazer, some plaid golf pants, a pair of argyle socks– but some items I just had to make myself.

First and foremost was the hat. You know me, I’m the queen of decorated top hats, so while I bought the base hat on Amazon I knew I’d be going to town on the embellishments.

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The hat itself is huge– not just tall (which it totally is, unlike many of the dinky little so-called “top hats” you find at the lower price points), but also big in circumference. My husband has a pretty big head, and this hat literally fall down past his ears, it was that big.

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Queen of Hearts Costume, Part V: Sleeves

Once the main dress was done, I made a set of detached sleeve-puff thingies to wear on my arms. I bought some black satin and stitched it in stripes with the extra red satin from the back side of the shawl. Once I had two long striped pieces, I cut out some equally long but much narrower pieces of red cotton and attached them to the striped sections as a lining.

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The inner layer being narrower than the outer layer allowed the striped layer to puff out a bit along the vertical axis. Then I sewed narrow channels into the top and bottom edges and ran elastic through them, which gathered the sleeves horizontally into nice puffs that would stay up on my arms. I did have to stuff the puffs with fabric scraps to give them body– otherwise they were a bit droopy. Next time I’ll take the time to find some netting to do the stuffing– it would hold its shape better.

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I finished off the costume with a tiara from eBay and a pair of black satin gloves. Hint: do not balance your tiara on your head just to see how it will look, then forget it’s not pinned on and bend over to look at something– it will fall off, clang on the floor, and lose half a dozen tiny rhinestones which you will then have to locate and glue back in. (sigh)

Stay tuned for pictures of the finished costume!

Queen of Hearts Costume, Part I: Design and Fabric

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For Halloween this year my daughter decided she wanted to be a kitty– not really a surprise, since she loves cats, but it was a bit more difficult to figure out what our family Halloween costume would have to be to coordinate with a cat. Could we all be cats? What about different animals? It all seemed kind of boring.

Then a friend suggested that she could be the Cheshire cat (pink and purple cat, talk about tailor-made for my kid’s preferences!) and my husband and I could do Alice in Wonderland-inspired costumes. It sounded like a great solution. My husband could be the Mad Hatter and would just need to add an outrageous top hat and maybe a cravat to a regular suit. As for me, since I’m not blonde and have no intention of wearing a wig, being Alice was out. But I do love fancy gowns (and have plenty of random accessories lying around), so I decided to be the Queen of Hearts. All I’d need would be a red dress to applique some hearts on, a crown, and maybe a plate of fake tarts to carry around, and I’d be all set! I even had my old high school prom dress, which was bright red satin with a full skirt. Perfect!

Right?

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Steampunk Mini Top Hats

Hello, all! So Halloween is approaching, and while I know I’ve already posted about the Great Hat Project, I thought I’d mention that there are a still few hats left for sale in my Etsy shop! (there are a even a few that aren’t listed, so if you’re interested just shoot me a message and I’ll find pictures of the unlisted ones for you). Here are some examples of what I’ve got in the shop!

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These are on major sale right now, because I’m looking to make space in my closet for more projects. Here’s hoping that someone out there can give them a good home!

And now back to your regularly scheduled programming…

Adjusting Simplicity 4055

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Okay, so you’ve seen so far that I’ve made three dresses based on Simplicity 4055, which is the commercial version of Jennie Chancey’s Regency gown pattern from sensibility.com.** As you can tell, I’ve made a lot of adjustments to the pattern, mostly the bodice, to get it to work for me. I thought I’d detail them here so you can see how it was done. I’m not talking about basic stuff like lowering the neckline (by about an inch, otherwise it’s too high for most looks) or lengthening the bust to allow for any size over an A-cup (there are instructions available for that on Ms. Chancey’s website)— I’m talking about some structural changes for more period-accurate details.

Forgive my clumsy graphics– I’m not great at tracing things out using a laptop trackpad!

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Drawstring Regency Sari Dress

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I admit it, I’ve been bitten by the Regency costuming bug. It’s just such an easy period to sew for, and there actually seem to be enough places to wear the results, that I can’t help myself. For my excuse to make this one I told myself that I was planning a costumed picnic for this summer, and that I would need something new either to wear myself or lend to someone else for the event. Makes sense, right?

Anyway, I considered breaking up this post into several installments, as I have with other dressmaking projects, but honestly the dress went together in a single weekend– it was that easy– so it hardly seemed fair to make you all wait for longer than that to see how it turned out! I’ll just put in headings for organization…

Fabric

Part of this project is driven by fabric– I found a lovely vintage cotton sari on eBay that I was dying to use, especially once I diagrammed out how I could make best use of the border print. Sari fabric is actually a very period fabric for Regency dresses, as the British colonies in India were regularly supplying it for use in England.

The sari itself is extremely thin and delicate– it looks like a cotton gauze, and it’s so light and airy that it’s basically transparent. I hand-washed it so it wouldn’t get messed up in our washing machine, and let it air-dry in the sun before ironing it to get it ready for use.

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It has a wide border down one side and a narrow border down the other, with a double-wide border on one end (the “pallu”).

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Blue Regency Day Dress, Part I: The Idea and the Pattern

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So a while ago I was thinking about going to an event in Regency finery, wielding a katana, and basically being Lizzy Bennet in “Pride, Prejudice & Zombies.” I already had a Regency ballgown that I’d worked on several years ago, so I figured it would be one of the easiest costumes ever– the only thing I’d have to do would be to buy a plastic sword. But things are never that easy, are they?

Because while I knew in my heart that I wouldn’t need a new dress, that didn’t stop me from looking around the internet at pictures of other Regency gowns, “just for fun.” I thought maybe one of my friends might want to join me in my Regency zombie-battling, and she would need a dress too, so of course I had to look at dresses and sewing patterns and fabrics, right? And then I came across a fabulous Regency-themed dance weekend that just happened to be occurring near me in only a few weeks’ time, and it had both day and evening activities including afternoon tea, a picnic, and a ball. It sounded great, and I even found friends willing to go with me!

But wait! My ballgown was nowhere near appropriate for daytime events. How could I ever show my face in a group of reenactors if I wore (gasp) a ballgown during the DAY? It just wasn’t done. And of course, that’s when it all got out of hand…

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