Monday, 31 October 2011

Halloween Costume making fun!

Well its that time of year again, the time when I take on more than I can chew in the way of ambitious costume making and then succeed by the skin of my teeth mainly through blind luck. Having said that, I was far more prepared this year and started well in advance, but it still took slightly longer than I anticipated! I am very pleased with the outcomes however, even though the finish is pretty sloppy all round (hey-they're only costumes right?).

So first off, the main event, Lindsey's Corpse Bride costume. Always a popular costume choice, it is made more tricky as you need a battered looking strapless wedding dress. Lindsey was toying with adapting something she already had but I thought it would a fun challenge (which it was) to try and make a strapless dress. Luckily, I already had the perfect pattern. Gertie, lovely talented seamstress and super blogger, has done a really detailed on line sewing master-class on a strapless 50s style dress for Craftsy, which I had already bought. It uses a lot of cool techniques and finishing that I have never tried, and I intend at some point to make one for myself. This seemed an excellent opportunity, both to make a kick-ass costume, but also to try out the pattern.

As it was only a costume, and Lindsey obviously wasn't going to be up for spending masses of money on special features like boning, a lot of the luxury finishing details were not going to be included, particularly as the Corpse Bride's dress is ragged and old, and therefore I didn't have to do any hemming (yay!). Rather than wasting fabric on a muslin, as I was using very cheap sheeting, I took the plunge and made most of the bodice straight off the pattern, (the class uses a modified Burdastyle pattern), extending it at the bottom by eye to make the bodice longer. I have to say I was very pleased with this as it came out absolutely perfect and fit Lindsey like a glove.

I then had to make the bra cups; as the pattern is drafted for a b cup, and Lindsey is far bustier, I had to redraft the pieces, luckily Gertie covers this very clearly in the class, so I had no problem, you just allow a massive seam allowance on the pieces and then shape the pieces on the body, and draw your pattern on drafting style. I then made up the proper cups and sewed them on (the only tip I would say at this point if you are adjusting for larger boobs is that while the bodice pieces fit perfectly, the under bust seam where the cups connect had to be altered). As an exciting new technique, I made inner bust cups out of thin cotton wadding - this is definitely one of those great techniques which is totally satisfying, you just cut out the same size pieces and sew them together along the seams with a zigzag and it all curves around and makes a cup automatically, -so easy!. As the sheeting was pretty see through, I underlined the cup pieces (and had the wadding) and made a lining for the rest using some scraps of thicker cotton sheeting. I confess I did not sew all this is properly, Gertie has a load of lovely hand stitching details for finishing the inside, but as this was a costume I sewed it in paper bag style along the top of the back, and then along the zip, and left the rest alone! I was going to finish the neckline properly, but as we were going to end up pinning it to here bra anyway for support, and she was concerned about getting blue body paint all over the bra, we decided to just fold the top seam over the bra and pin on the inside.

I made the skirt very simply, out of 2.5m of material, taking in big tucks at three points, the largest at the back, and then wrapping it over at the front and sewing the whole lot onto an elastic waistband.

Lindsey and I were very pleased with the dress, it came together really easily, especially for something with an FBA, and the final effect was really impressive. The dress was very flattering and Lindsey said it was really comfortable, particularly for a strapless dress. She was excited by having something fit her so perfectly! Gertie's video instructions were so useful, and I will definitely be trying this (with straps) for myself at some point. Lindsey made her headdress (which included handmaking flowers -beautiful!) and her makeup was awesome!

For a smaller effort on my part, for Charlie's Sookie costume I only had to make the apron/money belt, and it went together super easy. You cant really tell from the picture, which I photoshopped to make it more True Bloody, but its a standard sort of pocketed apron. I used a dark green twill and just folded a hemmed rectangle in half with pockets sewn to divide up the folded bit, and then made some straps. I did all the seams quite well and it looks quite professional and sturdy, should she ever need to do any waitressing it should hold up well! She looked very cute in her blonde wig!

For my costume, as Valeria from Carry On Screaming, I had to make a very fitted, vampy red gown. I chose a stretch velvet fabric, so that I could get the figure hugging curves more easily. As I didn't have a pattern even remotely suitable, and I would have had to alter anything extensively anyway, I decided to cut out the middle man and draft it myself on my dress form Agnetha. The skirt was pretty easy, I just cut out two pieces and sewed them together, leaving a slit at the front and sewing in a third triangular piece in the back for a flare and train.

For the bodice, I draped pieces of fabric over the form and just folded and cut it until it was the look I wanted. I sewed quickly along the seams with a contrasting thread and then took it off and sewed it up. As you may have gathered from my previous post, it then looked like a sack. My theory that I had done the shoulder seams wrong proved correct and once I had taken them up a bit and pulled the side seams, it fit very well. I has a slight hiccup with the sleeves, as I cut them off an existing top, but they turned out WAY to small so I had to do them agian, which were still absolutely skin tight, but wearable! I am ashamed to say that I did not attach them well, they turned out rather pleaty and poofed at the shoulders, which as this dress is practically off the shoulder wasn't ideal, but by that point I didn't really care so they stayed! I also didbnt bother hemming the neckline, as it might have been a bit low otherwise, and I wasn't sure that without proper facings it would look any better.

The dress proved somewhat difficult to get on, as it is extremely fitted, but it looked fabulous on and was really comfy and fun to wear! I put huge amounts of product in my hair (it may take a while to get it all out, it's still pretty sticky today!) and sprayed it black and wore an awful lot of make-up, it was really fun to be that vampy!


  1. Love that corpse bride outfit, it's awesome! Looks like you had a great halloween :o)

  2. Your dress is amazing. Looks great for your shape and the fabric and colour makes elegant.