Sunday, July 27, 2014

Queen Regina's Purple Dress - Part 1

You've read the fabric story, the measurement story, and seen the embroidery machine in action. Are you ready to find out how everything came together to create this costume?

Ready. Set. Go!

First step was padding out the dressform.  We used the actual bra that would form the peek-a-boo clevage effect and my client mailed me her hoopskirt which proved to be an excellent decision. From now on, any costumes requiring hoopskirts will be constructed over the actual hoopskirt. This one needed a shortened hem and elastic added to the waist anyhow.

For those wondering about how I set the dressform, I use a Dritz from JoAnn's which you can purchase for $100 if you wait for the right sales. I have two, a small/medium and medium/large which are all they really offer. Typically I set the form to the smallest measurements of my client - usually the underbust, and then pad out the rest to get the correct curves. This method works excellently except for cases when there is tight sleeve fitting or padding that collapses. I think I'm going to stock up on felt for future padding and also create muslins for the tricky sleeve fits and ship them out to my customers ahead of time for feedback before sewing the actual costume.

My living room was just barely big enough to cut out this dress. Really hoping we find a house that allows for a bigger work floor!

To keep costs (and weight!) down, I created the underskirt out of two different fabrics. I used a light, inexpensive lining fabric for the back of the skirt which remains unseen, and a more costly textured satin for the front piece that shows through the overskirt.

Draping the skirt on the form to see how it all lays.

Waistband inserted! Looking good?

Now that I had the added fabric in the waist, I could draft the top over it. Just used cheap muslin here to create a pattern by the draping method.

Once I had the bodice pattern pieces made, I could cut out the entire overdress. 6 yards was barely enough - if you're any taller and want to recreate this dress, I really recommend getting at least 7!

The lining was much easier to lay out, I think I used about a yard.

That was the easy part of the fabric cutting. Now I had to mark where I wanted each of the embroidered flowers to go! I tried to stagger them to make the finished garment look organic. Therefore the pieces are not mirror images of each other, to get more of a natural flow to the designs.

Then came 50 hours of the embroidery machine in the background.

The stabilizer was water soluable, so after completely embroidering a piece, I would clip all the threads, soak the fabric in water, hang it to dry, then iron it out. The embroidery did pull the fabric in slightly, which caused a few pieces to shrink minutely. It wasn't a huge factor, but in the future I'd cut any piece that needed to be embroidered with a larger seam allowance and cut it down after embroidering it if necessary.

Pinning the pieces in place to see how it all looks...

It was pretty exciting to see it coming together, but I knew I still had quite a ways to go! See just how far in part 2...

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