So remember my rant on Butterbeer? Well, it turns out that Universal Studios also does a butterbeer soft-serve ice cream, and it occurred to me that this could be a great vehicle for my own version of the drink.
Happily, this time my online searching indicated that at least one person has gotten the recipe right and added actual beer to the mix. I decided to make the recipe from the Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream Book to see what all the fuss was about.
This ice cream was pretty fantastic– the oatmeal stout provided a nice backdrop to the main flavor, which was a deep molasses-y caramel, and the salt really brought out the buttery, almost pretzel-like notes of the brown butter. The texture, even after completely frozen, is soft and scoopable, and very rich on the tongue.
Butterbeer– An iconic beverage, prominently featured in the Harry Potter series and hugely popular at the Universal Studios Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Having heard that the recipe had been approved by J.K. Rowling herself I was eager to try it, and upon arrival at the park (after squee-ing over the storefronts and going on several rides) my friends and I purchased both varieties available– regular and frozen. We watched as the glasses were filled and topped with creamy foam from a special spigot (the bartender said that he was actually forbidden to sell it without the foam because it was such an integral part of the drink), and took our prizes to a table to taste.
Blech, was it sweet. Waaaaaayyyy too sweet. There were five of us splitting the drinks and we couldn’t come close to finishing them. And the drink contained neither butter nor beer, which seemed wrong given the name. But then– a ray of hope appeared– we had an idea. The Boar’s Head Pub, where we’d bought the sickly sweet swill, also served its own signature dark beer and maybe– just maybe– the stuff could be salvaged. We mixed the dark beer 50/50 with the sugary butterbeer, tasted it, and saw that it was good. And I decided then and there to perfect the recipe for my own butterbeer once I got home.
Here it is, the final outfit in action at Misti-Con 2015! I’m very happy with how it turned out– it’s always nice when something looks almost exactly as you’d pictured it (even if it did take a lot of alteration to get that way). Sure, there are a few tiny differences, but the costume was very well-received and I had a lot of fun wearing it. Definitely worth making, though if I attend the convention in 2017 I am definitely bringing more costumes with me– got to keep up with all the amazing fans there!
Once all of the structural elements of the dress were done with all the seams finished, I finally hemmed it. The first step was putting it on the dress form and doing a preliminary pinning, but then I put it on myself and had my husband adjust the height of the hem so it actually worked for me (not making the same mistake I did with the bodice here). I trimmed the extra fabric and used the seam binding to bind the raw edge of the hem, then used that edge to machine-hem the dress with a blind stitch. The video below explains it fairly well.
You don’t really need a blind hem foot to do this– just keep a close watch on where your stitches are landing relative to the folded edge. Especially with a more textured fabric, it won’t matter if your stitches are a little bigger than expected.
So I’ve got the main dress done, but I wanted to add a little something to embellish it at the neckline. I wasn’t about to do any hand-embroidery or beading in my limited timeframe, so I looked for some nice appliques instead. I looked at a lot of different types, including venise lace, soutache, and even sari trim, but eventually I decided on some silver embroidered appliques in a vaguely floral pattern. They’re not too shiny and not too ornate, so they embellish without overpowering.
While I’m waiting to finish up the dress, I’ll need to acquire some accessories.
I’d always planned to have a belt on this dress, but while the sewing pattern had an option for a fabric sash it just looked kind of boring. I wanted to find something made of metal or thin chains– kind of a veiled reference to the traditional “ghost = chained to the earth a la Jacob Marley” thing. A little searching online revealed that what I really wanted was a “concho belt,” traditionally worn in the Southwest and made up of silver medallions. The one I bought arrived looking pretty shiny, but I painted on some black acrylic paint, waited for it to dry a bit, then wiped most of it off with a paper towel– the paint stayed in the cracks (hard to see in the picture below) and gave it a nice antiqued feel.
So, I know that the “proper” way to get the sleeve-puff look is to sew a separate chemise and allow it to puff through openings in the oversleeve. I’m not going to do that. Instead, blatantly borrowing from numerous online tutorials on constructing sleeves for “Merida” costumes, I’ve constructed the puff and non-puff sections of the sleeves separately, and sewn them in a column to form the sleeve.
To draft the sleeve pattern, I took the basic straight sleeve and marked where I wanted my puffs to be. Then I cut along the lines and re-drew each piece, adding in seam allowances. The elbow puff is tapered at the inside elbow joint so it won’t bunch when I bend my arm. Similarly, the shoulder puff is cut right at the section of the sleeve under the armpit to avoid bunching.
Okay, so remember how I went to all the trouble of picking out lavender lining fabric and cutting all my pattern pieces out of it before moving on to my embroidered fabric? I honestly did intend to do a lining at that point, but after trying the dress on I realized that the inside really wasn’t all that scratchy after all. Plus, as the weather has warmed up I’ve realized that it’s going to be awfully hot at the end of May, and I won’t really want another layer of non-breathable fabric next to my skin to hold the sweat in. So I’ve decided to skip the lining. I’m going to put in a neckline facing to finish that edge, and since the inner seams will now be exposed (at least from the inside) I’m binding them with Hug Snug, a rayon seam binding that will finish the edges and prevent them from fraying.
First up is the seam binding. While more experienced sewers may be able to simply iron it in half and sew both sides at once, I opted to go with the more cautious method and first stitched one side of the binding to one side of the seam allowance, then turned it over and did the other side. It took FOREVER, but it made the inside of the dress look infinitely better than it did before.
Once those were done I finalized the neckline of my dress, then traced it out on paper to draft a pattern for the facing pieces. I made the facing out of material from the gores (interfaced with lightweight iron-on interfacing), and then sewed it, right sides together, to the neckline. Then I flipped it over and understitched it to keep it lying flat.