11th August 2015: LFCC I had a fantastic time at LFCC in this dress. One of the best compliments I received was that my Belle was the most screen accurate they'd ever seen! Best compliment ever!
There are a couple of changes I want to make before Glasgow. I need a liner for the corset and I need to close off the ends of the boning in the bodice. Both simple to do - I've already got some fabric for the liner.
I also need to practice at the hair style! I kind of rushed it for London, and I wasn't happy with the result. Using the hair extensions (which don't extend my hair, just thicken it!) was more difficult than I expected, it was difficult to pull it all up into a ponytail, so rather than flip it and create a bun, I just pulled through a top-knot, which mostly slipped out by lunchtime.
13th July 2015: Nearly finished! I ran out of thread last night, with just a little way to go! Grr. So, new thread bought today I hemmed the skirt and the swags, and sewed in the hook and bar for the skirt.
The bodice is complete, and I'm really happy with the shoulders, despite the ton of handsewing I ended up doing to get the chiffon on the elastic and looking the way I want. I sewed on one covered button at the middle; to be screen accurate I need a smaller one on either side but I'm not sure I like how it looks. Maybe it's just a case of getting the positioning right but I might just leave them off.
I've got the swags pinned in place, ready to gather and sew on with the covered buttons and then I'm done!
10th July 2015: One week to go! Main body of both the skirt and bodice are done. I'm adding the shoulders to the bodice, attaching them to some elastic to pouf a bit around the arms. Then I'm going to add in a bit of rigelene boning to two seams the back to keep it from bunching.
The skirt needs hemming and a hook/eye closure added to the waistband, then the drapey bits added - I've sewn a length of chiffon into a tube which I'm going to add two seams too, to make it slightly less flat, ruche it and sew it on with buttons.
Then, I need to not forget to check my petticoats don't show!
30th June 2015: Big skirt! So despite my worries the skirt has worked out pretty well - although I haven't tried it on with the crinoline yet! The ruching is fairly uneven because I hurried it a bit but overall I think (hope!) the effect works. Maybe after LFCC I'll take it out and neaten it up. The waistband is pinned in ready to sew, so I just need to add the pockets and swags. I've covered some self-cover buttons to attach the swags. I bought a Prym tool to do them properly and I thought it might be a waste of money but it makes a huge difference - when I compare them to the buttons I covered for my Kaylee jacket last year they are so much neater and it was so quick and easy!
I'm not 100% happy with the fit of the bodice, but I don't think I have time to alter it. Hopefully once I add the shoulders/sleeves/straps/trim I'm hoping it will hide a multitude of sins! As well as that, there's a section of binding that's come away and I need to redo. I need to think about how I'm attaching that bit - or at least keeping it from sagging around my arms. I'm thinking elastic will be needed.
Still, I feel like I'm nearly there!
12th June 2015: Getting there I've bound my bodice, except for some easing round the bottom of the zip, and tacking down the top binding to the inside layer. It looks better than I expected it to! Once that's done I need to look at the chiffon sleeves (Is sleeves the right word?) and how to shape and attach them.
The basic skirt is sewn up. I need to take a look at my gathering tape and decide the order of gathering seams, inserting zip and pockets, hemming and adding the waistband. I think it goes in pretty much that order, but maybe I want to add the pockets and zip before gathering rather than after. I can't see how that would work, though. Maybe I'm overthinking it.
7th June 2015: Skirt! I have eight skirt panels! I spend far longer than I ought to have drafting them than they maybe warranted and I discovered I was maybe slightly less accurate when I cut my fabric than I could have been but I'm happy overall. There's not a lot of fabric left over for covering buttons and making pockets, so I think the pockets will have to be made of a different fabric, but that's ok; they should be invisible.
Spent a bit of time playing with the bodice binding, too. I think it will work nicely.
29th May 2015: Hair tutorial Here is a link to the tutorial I found for Belle hair. Mostly so I can find it again!
29th May 2015: Starting the skirt I cut the skirt panels last night. The fabric was only 104cm wide, which I'm slightly miffed by as it was sold as 112cm. It might be shrinkage from washing it, but it seems like a lot. It maybe doesn't sound like much but it's an extra 4cm on each of the 8 panels, so 32cm altogether which I think might be the difference between in draping nicely vs being quite tight across the bottom hoop of my crinoline. I'm going to go ahead and make the skirt up anyway as I can't really afford more fabric just now. I'll just have to cross my fingers it works!
12th May 2015: Epiphany I had an epiphany, of a sort, this morning as I was struggling to get my bodice to stop creasing and rolling and bloody well look nice. The two layer thing doesn't work unless both layers are pretty hefty. What I want to do instead is baste each piece together and treat the whole thing as one layer. It makes the inside a bit more messy but a bit of Fray-check will keep it from getting too bad, and the whole think will be much smoother.
It was a bit daunting to rip it all apart, but actually, an hour and a half later I'm nearly back where I started. I've got another hour before work and I think I can get right back there - except perhaps for attaching the zip.
In hindsight, it's a bit obvious and I'm annoyed I didn't think of it from the start. But you live and learn. And now it looks better so I'm going to focus on being pleased.
22nd April 2015: Bodice I've been putting off working on this for a while. The bodice is in two layers, one of yellow-gold taffeta and one of white coutil. The coutil layer was also my mockup so I had to rip it apart and resew it. I did that today and pinned the layers together. Just need to sew top and bottom - so I need to decide how long to make it - probably aiming for just below natural waist with a point at the front. Then for the top, one or two panels of the lining are a bit short - do I compensate or just do the thing and patch it after? Not big decisions but decisions nonetheless. I've got a well matched separating zip for the side seam to finish it off. It sounds so simple when I write it down!
15th March 2015: Gathers Have I mentioned yet how much I hate making gathers? I hate it. Either I do it by hand, and get it very uneven, or I do it by machine and end up breaking the threads and getting nowhere. Often I think I've got it pretty even but then as I'm sewing it down I realise that I've failed.
This costume has a lot of gathers - the pantaloons are gathered at the waist and the trim is gathered at the leg. Each tier of the petticoat is gathered and then each panel of the skirt will be gathered down the side, too. I deliberately made box pleats in the waist of the petticoat because I'm so bloody sick of gathers. Today I was trying to sort out attaching the two layers of the petticoat to the top tier. I'm doing it with machine basting but the thread kept breaking. Bleh. I need to decide if I'm going to gather the bottom lace, too. Right now I'm thinking probably not!
My ruffled petticoat is going to look great but it's going to be a bit heavy. My plan is to stabilise the top with some grosgrain ribbon before I sew it to the bottom layer of the petticoat. That way I'll have a bit more control over the length (I hope). That's the plan anyway.
For the skirt itself, I've bought a product from Vena Cava Design - Clover Fuse 'n' Gather which you iron on, pull tight and then sew in place. I don't know if it's actually going to be any better or worse than machine basting, but I'm hoping so!
10th March 2015: Sometimes I'm such a girl... The ruffley fabric for my petticoat is here! The original company I bought it from didn't have enough in stock to replace my "missing" order, so it worked out fine that I'd already bought more from ebay. It's lightweight and flouncy and awesome. How much of a girl am I? I didn't buy enough for a whole petticoat, just the bottom part of one and I'm kind of regretting it, especially since it was only £2.50 per metre. I think I can stretch it out to at least 3/4 of the skirt, though, since it isn't napped - the frills seem just as happy either way up.
I want more to make a whole maxi skirt. They have it in purple. Yes, I'm a big girl.
5th March 2015: Perfectionism in petticoats Sometimes I annoy myself with my perfectionist streak. I've spent a good few hours getting the box pleats at the waistband of the petticoat perfect; measuring and pressing and basting and sewing. I'm currently putting in the waistband. I started with the pattern on the Truly Victorian webpage but I decided to pleat it rather than gather it to try to make it less bulky at the waist. I've done the top half, and I'm still waiting for some ruffley fabric for the bottom half. I found some more on ebay and ordered it, so there's a chance I'll end up with twice as much fabric as I need. But I'll either sell on the extra or keep it for another day.
Once I have the top of the petticoat complete I can do a final fitting for the bodice and get started on the final piece, and then I'm keeping the skirt until last. The plan is not to use a pattern just cut up the fabric into eight equal pieces and drape it until it looks the way I want. I'm a bit scared of cutting without a pattern, though. I'm definitely a use-a-pattern-for-everything kind of girl.
27th February 2015: Crinoline! The crinoline and pantaloons are complete!
No word on petticoat fabric - if I haven't heard back by Monday I'll be opening a dispute with Paypal and looking at alternative fabrics on ebay. There are none that are quite so perfect in terms of cost and look but a couple that are similar enough to work.
23rd February 2015: Progressing I put together the crinoline at the weekend, but ran out of hoopsteel. I was hoping I could get away with less but alas, no. It's huge, I can't really wear it in my house. Hopefully the extra steel I ordered will arrive in the next day or two and I can get it fully completed.
I'm happy with the bodice pattern and have made a second mockup in coutil which will be the lining for the finished piece once I'm fully happy with it. I'm just waiting until I finish the crinoline to check how it will fit over the skirt.
Today I sewed together the pantaloons. I'm not 100% sure I'll wear them with the costume in the end but they do look cute. Just need to add the trim and ribbons and they'll be done.
The fabric for the petticoat never arrived; it's now a fortnight since I ordered it. I didn't get a reply from the company when I messaged them last week but I'll need to wait a few more days to complain again. I wanted to wait until I'd done the crinoline and petticoat before I start the skirt to make sure it all fits.
10th February 2015: Pattern making Today I made up a pattern for the bodice of Belle's dress. I'm starting from a custom corset pattern I commissioned several years ago. It's probably somewhat small, given that I've put on a little weight since then, and I don't want it to tightlace, so I've added some room to it. I'm going to make a mock up and see how it goes from there.
I planned to do the same for the skirt panels today, but ran out of greaseproof paper! I might wait until the crinoline pattern arrives (I bought the Truly Victorian one) and go from there. I think I can pretty much draft the skirt myself - it will be eight panels, each a metre and a half (or less) long and less than half my fabric width wide at the lowest edge (about 50cm, I think, but it might need taking in) to give plenty of room for the gathers to form.
6th February 2015: Frilling awesome! Found some jersey frill/rara fabric on sale. It will be perfect for a petticoat, simulating all those layers of flounces on Belle's.
6th February 2015: The plan is coming together I found the bodice fabric! It's a polyester taffeta that feels horrible but looks just right. I'm leaning towards cotton sateen instead of poly satin for the skirt, although it is more expensive, but I think it will really pay off in making the costume look better.
Bodice will be backed with some cotton coutil or canvas from my fabric stash, I think. I'm currently thinking no to a corset, but the idea of a simple, single layer underbust for a bit of extra shape is still an option, especially since it's a strapless bra or nothing! I'm planning to use a corset pattern from my collection for the basis of the bodice, but let it out a bit at the waist.
I can't decide about the McCalls hoopskirt, and whether I might be better getting the Truly Victorian crinoline pattern. Or just winging it. Winging it seems doable but I'm a bit unsure.
I'm also on the search for some cheap scalloped trim, since I need quite a bit. I want a petticoat that has layers of scallops to look like Belle's when she lifts up her skirt. But it's quite pricey by the metre. I need to find it by the roll.
15th January 2015: Planning I'm planning this to be a truly epic costume: crinoline, pantaloons and all.
I have purchased patterns as starting off points, but I suspect I'm going to have to alter quite a bit. The McCalls hoopskirt pattern is, by the sound of things, much bigger than I was planning, so I'll need to slim it down a bit to fit under my skirt pattern. Alternatively, I could make the skirt bigger. The Truly Victorian pattern looks like a great starting point for the swagged ballgown skirt but it's a double layer with a plainer skirt underneath.
I'm researching fabric at the moment. I've got a ton of plain cotton sheeting fabric for the underclothes. At some point I need to decide: to corset or not to corset (I'm leaning towards corset because if you're going all out, go all out. But do I make a new one or wear one of my existing ones?
In terms of the dress fabrics, I've run into an issue I wasn't expecting. I found the Perfect (yes, capital P) yellow satin opera-length gloves in the Black Friday sales, so yay, first real item but I'm really struggling to find matching fabric for the dress bodice and swags. I'm currently plumbing the depths of ebay so hopefully progress on that soon.
moomintroll - 3rd March 2015
Would love to see the hoop skirt progress - you know me, I love big skirts and dresses, and I'm fascinated with crinoline!
kangaruth - 4th March 2015
The hoop skirt is done! I'm going to try to get some photos tomorrow. I can't see me bringing this costume up to Glasgow, though; it's huge and quite heavy!
littleshoni - 19th March 2015
The undergarments are wonderful! I always love it when a cosplayer goes for authenticity. Can't wait to see the dress take form :-)
moomintroll - 1st May 2015
Holy crap, you've been busy! And it's looking incredible already and that's not even the actual dress! :D
Leonie Heartilly - 10th September 2016
Some lovely work here! And I love that you've thought about the undergarments as well
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