Saturday, January 26, 2019

My Wedding Dress

We're starting today's post with Sara's Words of Wisdom: You never know where your life is going to lead you, but it will be a place both wonderful and strange. I learned that from Twin Peaks.

But really, five years ago, I was a teacher, I was married to my college sweetheart, I was living in a tiny townhouse, and I thought my life would always be the same. Now, none of those things are true! Luckily, my first marriage ended amicably and I learned so many things in the process of going to grad school, moving to a bigger house, and going through a divorce. The biggest lesson to learn was that I deserved a significant other who was present, supportive, and incredibly hot. I found one!

And Reader, I married him.


When I got married the first time, I'd only been sewing for a couple of months so I didn't even think about, let alone attempt, making my own dress. This time around, I've been sewing for well over 16 years and I have a reputation to maintain! So I sewed my own wedding dress.

Spoiler Alert: I do not recommend it.

Well, okay that's a lie. I thoroughly enjoyed designing and making my wedding dress, but doing so on top of making my daughter's dress and DIYing the vast majority of my wedding? 0/10 Would Not Do Again. That being said, this dress is my magnum opus and I am already planning how to wear it to costuming events in the future. It's gorgeous and exactly what I wanted so in the end, the pain was worth it.

Let's talk about my process!

As usual, I started with a ton of Pinteresting. I waffled around a lot during this stage - did I want tulle? Did I want lace? Which silhouette would be flattering but not too youthful? Ultimately, I decided on two things: it had to have stars and it had to be a-line. This was my initial inspiration:

Wedding Dress Prep

My whole wedding was space themed - the colors were red, yellow, and blue for the three Star Fleet divisions - but I didn't want my dress to be too cosplay-esque. I settled on subtle touches like star appliqués and an asymmetrical neckline reminiscent of a Star Trek: The Original Series skant. I also wanted seaming that mimicked the spiral seaming of the later season skants. This vintage pattern from the 70s was a lucky find at Costume College 2018:

Wedding Dress Prep

My first mock up looked amazing and even in muslin, I felt like a princess when I put it on.

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I bought a fused silk satin from Mood Fabrics (aka the most expensive fabric I've ever purchased). white cotton sateen to line it, and star lace fabric for the embellishments from Etsy. I also decided that I needed a chiffon petticoat to fill out the skirt and give it a bit more umph. I bought nylon chiffon in several shades of blue and went to work. Thank heavens for my gathering sewing machine foot!

Wedding Dress Prep

Everything was going swimmingly until the first try on of the actual dress. It showed every little lump from my underwear and the gathered waist of the petticoat looked awful.

Wedding Dress Prep

I sought the advice of my costuming friends, then ripped the waistband off the petticoat and made it into a full slip. It made a HUGE difference.

Once that crisis was averted, I started messing around with placement for the star lace. This part was really fun, but I spent way too much futzing. I only managed to get about half the appliqués done so I might go back and add the rest for a costume event wearing sometime.

Wedding Dress Prep Wedding Dress Prep

The dress closes with a zipper and a row of vintage Czech glass buttons. The buttons were dead stock and I almost hated to take them off the card! They're shaped like little hexagons, which is my husband's favorite shape (yes, he has a favorite shape) and I just love how they look.


Towards the end of my mad sewing rush, I took the dress to work so I could finish the appliqués and managed to snap my needle in half. I took it as a sign that I didn't need to keep appliquéing ;)

Wedding Dress Prep

The dress came together beautifully! It's accessorized with the Amelie pumps from American Duchess and gorgeous jewelry from Dames a la Mode. It was so comfortable to wear and Jenny-Rose's arrangement of my hair was actual perfection. It was worth every bit of stress and pain.

My formal bridal pictures! I made my dress and put together the flowers myself. My formal bridal pictures! I made my dress and put together the flowers myself. My formal bridal pictures! I made my dress and put together the flowers myself. My formal bridal pictures! I made my dress and put together the flowers myself. My formal bridal pictures! I made my dress and put together the flowers myself. My formal bridal pictures! I made my dress and put together the flowers myself.

Bonus: my daughter's dress is made from the same yellow silk I used for my Belle ballgown. She picked this pattern:


I added sleeves and made her a cute little chiffon petticoat as well. She's the sun to my stars!

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We both had the perfect dresses for a perfect night.


Saturday, January 19, 2019

My Dream Belle Ballgown

Back at Costume College 2017, I bought a length of yellow silk from a friend of mine with the intention of making a historical Belle gown to wear to the Gala at Costume College 2018. I even posted about it. Well folks, I'm here to tell you that...

Costume College 2018


Anyone who knows me will recognize how big an accomplishment that is.

Now, in the original post, I mentioned that I intended to make a new cage crinoline. That didn't happen, but the corset made from a Redthreaded pattern did.

Belle Prep
It still doesn't have binding. Shhhh...

I started the gown on July 14, 2018 and I wore it to the Gala on July 28, 2018. And actually, I'm very proud of its construction. Let's dive in.

Belle Prep Belle Prep

I started by creating a Pinterest board for the project and then narrowing it down to these two fashion plates as my main inspiration.

Since I was still futzing around with a corset, I started with the skirt. It's three widths of yellow silk taffeta that I ended up cartridge pleating to the waistband. I originally planned to box pleat it and do the yellow taffeta swags, but I had a length of semi-sheer china silk that I really loved as an overlay. I ended up pleating the taffeta and china silk together.

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Oh, and quilter's tape is the actual best when it comes to cartridge pleating. Perfect spacing every time!

Belle Prep

The bodice came next and I used my trusty ballgown bodice pattern, last seen in the Huge Pink Ballgown. This made fitting super easy and I almost hated to cover it up.

Belle Prep

The sleeves are two layers: a yellow silk rectangle and a slightly larger china silk rectangle. Both are gathered to a band at the bottom, then gathered into the armscye. Easy, fast, and pretty!

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I dithered a lot with the bertha and finally decided on pleated yellow silk accented with flowers and ribbons. That was finished at Costume College so no in-progress pictures.

Belle Prep

The gown laces closed at the back and I crowd sourced the eyelets so they're my favorite part really. The bodice and the skirt are sewn together so there are no gaps and voila: The Belle Gown of my dreams! 10 year old me is crying with joy.

Costume College 2018 Costume College 2018

Oh, and last but not least, I wore the gown again for Salt Lake FanX (formerly Salt Lake Comic Con) this year and since the convention center is right next to a mall, I had to make a quick side trip.

Belle goes home

So there you have it. From non-existent to fabulous in two weeks!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

CoBloWriMo Day 13 - Pro Tip

Not sure you have the skills to be a cool kid in the costuming world? Worried that folks will judge you for not hand sewing your costumes? Ashamed of your safety pins and hot glue?

My pro tip for today: Don't worry about it!

Wear what makes you feel fabulous. This dress?


Thrown together in two days and held together with safety pins. I even totally used the wrong side of the fabric. But look how awesome I look!

This dress?


Made the night before Comic Con and one of the most popular things I've made for a con.

And this dress?


Sewn together in a car the day before I wore it.

So don't worry about it - no one sees the flaws or the shortcuts, and if they do, it's okay. You're fabulous anyway.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

CoBloWriMo Day 12 - Garment

My favorite garment to make has to be the round gown. Both of my last two finished dresses have been round gowns and I have plans for several more. The construction is fascinating and much easier than I expected when I was making my first one. All of these dresses have been based on round gown construction techniques:


There are a ton of blog posts floating around about how to construct a round gown, but my favorite has always been Katherine's since it was the one I found first. But if you're interested in what exactly a round gown is, I really like this gown and description from The Philadelphia Museum of Art:

This gown is a rare surviving example of the type worn by servants and the lower classes, or by middle class women for informal wear. The plain design and the use of cotton fabric are well suited to an informal dress, but also reflect the growing preference for simplicity during the 1770s and 1780s. At this time, dresses with closed skirts became popular; called "round gowns," they were put on over the head. The center front closure of the bodice was also newly fashionable; in this example, however, the triangular shape of a stomacher is maintained through unusual robings attached only at the shoulders. Both these and the fronts would have been pinned in place.

Essentially, a round gown is a dress that was made all in one, pulled over the head and then the join between skirt and bodice is concealed under a front fastening bodice. It's simple, flattering, and you see variations on the round gown all the way up through historical fashion. I plan to make many many more in the future.

Friday, August 11, 2017

CoBloWriMo Day 11 - Favorite Fabric

Warning: This post may cause extreme levels of fabric lust!










 I have always loved silk satin and desperately wanted enough to make a truly fabulous dress, but $30 a yard minimum has been a bit steep for my budget. But an incredible sale in the fabric district has changed all that and I am now the proud owner of 10 yards of gorgeous red/brown satin. I have no immediate plans for it, but I don't care. It's my favorite.