Fun fact: Janet is me!
What do you think? I kind of love it.
Caveats: I couldn’t get the lighting right, the hair needs a little work, and the gigantic smile (yet without crazy-eyes) still eludes me, but I’ll try it again the next time I wear the costume and update the post with better photos if I get any!
The blouse was kind of difficult to manage– I didn’t feel like sewing one (and in any event the actual fabric was sold out online), and couldn’t find anything similar ready-made, so I decided that I would try to paint a plain white blouse to match. After a lot of digging on eBay I found a blouse with a banded collar and a ruffle down the front— not quite the right shape of ruffle, but I figured it was close enough to start with.
I decided right away that I would only bother painting the design on the sleeves and collar, since the rest of the blouse wouldn’t show beneath my vest. I carefully detached the sleeves from the blouse, then removed the cuffs and unpicked the stitching from the long seam up the sleeves so I had flat pieces of fabric to work with.
To make my pattern for the painted design I went to the Mood Fabrics site where the fabric was available for sale and adjusted the zoom on my screen until the ruler was actually correctly sized (as measured on screen). Then I just put a piece of paper up to the screen and traced out the design in pencil, going over it in heavy black pen afterwards.
I traced the design out onto my fabric using Jacquard water-based resist, basically forming a dam blocking off the areas I wanted to color in. Once the resist was completely dry I stretched the fabric over cardboard frames I’d constructed from a storage box, and pinned the edges to keep it taut. Then I diluted some Jacquard Dye-Na-Flow fabric paint and did some blotchy watercolor painting inside the resist lines in shades of blue.
It totally didn’t work.
Sorry for the delay in posting about this costume– I was waiting for a zipper to arrive, and then it turned out to be out of stock (thanks a lot, FashionFabricsClub.com, for making me wait three weeks without bothering to tell me you didn’t have my order), and I had to order it from Amazon.
Anyway, Janet’s skirt is a bit more flared than a standard A-line, but doesn’t have the fullness through the hip of a circle skirt. The panels (I think there are nine, since there’s no center front seam) are actually fitted through the hip and then flare out from just below the hipline.
To draft my pattern I took my waist measurement and my hip measurement (8″ down from the waist), and divided by nine to get the fitted top part of the skirt. From the hip point I continued drawing the lines along the same angle just for reference, extending them down to the hem (the panel was a total of 25″ long). Once I determined where the original lines would be, I extended the width of the panel by 3″ at the hem (total, so 1.5″ on each side) to get that extra flare.
It’s no secret that I enjoy making elaborate Halloween costumes. But the first Halloween with our baby daughter, to my surprise, my husband agreed right off the bat to my first idea for a family costume– Mary Poppins and Bert, with the baby as one of the dancing penguins in the Jolly Holiday animated scene.
I recently started watching The Good Place. To be more specific, I had a free weekend and decided to try watching an episode on Netflix, and before I knew it I’d binge-watched the first two seasons and was eagerly awaiting the arrival of the third. It’s just such a fun show! (I promise no spoilers for season 3 if you haven’t seen any episodes yet)
One of my favorite characters has got to be Janet– basically Siri or Alexa come to life. The actress, D’Arcy Carden, delivers her lines with a deadpan helpfulness that cracks me up every time, and her costumes are reminiscent of vintage flight attendant uniforms in a way that evokes the same feeling.
So with Halloween fast approaching (and a newfound awareness that it’s always nice to have an easy, casual daytime outfit for more involved costume convention weekends), I decided to put together a Janet costume.
I originally planned on finding a purple suit to start with, but it was harder than I’d anticipated to find one– mostly because all of the suits had pencil skirts instead of flared skirts. The closest I came was a wool suit with a pleated skirt, but the pleats bugged me and I’d still have to convert the jacket to a vest. I would have to start from scratch.
So at last my 1860s ballgown is finished! I got to wear it, hoop skirt and all, to a Victorian ball this summer, and it was a hit! It took a little getting used to, dancing with such a gigantic skirt, but it was just so much fun!
Besides my floral hair wreath, I accessorized with some simple pearl earrings (leverback, so not technically historically accurate, but close enough) and a blue cameo strung on a black velvet ribbon. I also had short white gloves, but had abandoned them by the time these pictures were taken– just as well, they kind of made my hands blend into my skirts, which looked weird.
All in all I’m very happy with the dress– it’s got just the right silhouette and the embroidery makes it extra-special. Looking forward to wearing it again sometime!
So as you recall, I had some issues with the seams rippling in my bodice— I wasn’t sure what was causing it, but after some consultation with other costumers online we determined that it was likely due to the bodice being too long. The extra length was being pushed up and forwards by the curve of my skirt, causing the seams to buckle.
One way to remedy this issue is to fix the shape of the bottom of the bodice– since the original pattern hadn’t provided a stitching line or directions for how to shape it, I’d just done a basic pointed bodice, front and back. However, closer examination of the fashion plates and extant gowns showed that pointed bodices back then had an entirely different shape– much more curved, with a distinctly long front point when compared to the rest of the bodice. This allows the skirt more room to bell out without pushing out the bodice edges.
I removed my piping and adjusted the shaping of my bodice hem to get it closer to that high arch on each side of center front– I couldn’t make it nearly as extreme as the example above, but I think it’s a little better– besides, not all period gowns had the extreme arch shape anyway.