It comes around every year, and every year I somehow manage to wait until the very last minute to do things. This year, “things” are a hat, dress, and assorted accessories for a 1940’s-style take on a
superhero supervillain costume. In this case, Loki as seen by a dress designer in 1947.
What makes this dress particularly challenging is that I didn’t start with a pattern. Nope, I started with a photo of a dress from a vintage site, and a lot of ambition (which can get you pretty far, as I’ve come to learn).
First, you go to Goodwill and buy the cheapest set of horrid cotton sheets you can find. This way you do not care if you cut them up and waste fabric as you drape.
Next, you take your trusty dressform, which is not actually people sized since it’s a shop window form and not a dressmaker’s dummy, and stick foam to it with pins and masking tape until you get something roughly your shape and size. I say “roughly” because I discovered after I’d patterned and cut everything that Bessie (Dressie) is not actually my size. She is still more petite than I. She gets a cow name so that I don’t feel like one in comparison.
Then you drape, drape, drape. I ended up with something that looks like this:
This looks exactly right! Only in horrible floral cotton sheet fabric.
So then I went to the store, and bought twice as much taffeta as I needed, since I knew that I would actually need that much in the end. I brought the whole shebang, Bessie and all, over to Otterling’s house and spend most of an afternoon and evening making pattern pieces.
And then I took it all home and sewed the real fabric together and discovered that the outfit was approximately an inch too small in all dimensions. Also that I had cut the armscye into the wrong shape. Hooray.
BUT NEVER FEAR. Your intrepid seamstress is resourceful and determined. I drafted new pattern pieces, cut them out, and then sewed a new bodice, which fits nicely. Here it is on Bessie before recutting:
And a closeup of the drape:
The drape is the only part of the top half that I was able to salvage. And I’m not sure it’s salvageable yet. We’ll do some sewing later and see.
I also did some crazy applique on the sleeves that you can’t see, but trust me, it’s awesome.
So I cut new sleeves, did some applique (a lot, actually) and re-pleated the skirt front. It’s all coming together rather nicely.
In process, with the borrowed fox stole and my own shiny necklace:
And that hat? Well, my lovely friend Tori came over on Saturday and shared all her amazing millinery knowledge (and some sewing skill) with me, and we came up with this:
It is the fanciest hat I own.
Although much of the project was frustrating, I feel very accomplished now, because I not only draped my own pattern and made it into a workable garment (thanks in part to fittings from Blogless Lea), but I did many things that I didn’t think I’d be able to do. It seems as though my hours of practice draping saris paid off in an unexpected way with this project, but I’ve also learned many things about patterning and sewing over the years, and hadn’t realized it. That is cool.
I’ve still got the Cigarette Holder of Power left, and a papier-mache log to paint, but have made a significant amount of progress so far. Hooray for that.