the new big costuming project

February 22, 2013

This week, I started cutting fabric on what’s going to be my big costuming project for this year.  It’s great, because once I start cutting fabric, I’m committed, momentum sets in, and I’ll usually work at it consistently until it’s done.  So yeah — committed now!  Which is good, because I’ve set myself a deadline:  Costume Con 31, which is in Denver this year.  I’ve never been to a Costume Con, but having it be local seems like too good of an opportunity to pass up.  And it seems like a good place to show off the results of what’s probably going to be a lot of work.

This is the gown I’m making:


Patricia McKillip has been one of my favorite authors for awhile (Ombria in Shadow is very, very good, lots of magic and political intrigue).  And I’ve tremendously admired Kinuko Craft’s illustrations for her last dozen or so books.  They’re perfect for McKillip’s writing, so magical and lush and luminous.  Most of these books feature a woman in a beautiful gown, and I’ve been thinking for a long time:  a want to make one of those gowns.  This is the one I’ve picked.

I’ve also wanted to make a replica costume for awhile — a costume that actually reproduces another artist’s work, rather than just being something I throw together because I think it looks good.  So, those are my two goals with this one.  I’m daunted.  The more I look at the picture the more individual elements I see that I’m going to have to work in — four different fabrics on the sleeve alone, beading on the sleeve cuffs, all the trim on the bodice, etc.  It would be really easy to decide I couldn’t handle it.  But last summer when I was in L.A. I went shopping in the fashion district with friends, and I vowed:  If we could find the fabric to match the gown, I’d commit to making it.  Well, we found this:


So yeah.  Kind of had to do it.

And here we are.  I’ve pieced together a pattern from a couple of different dress patterns:  an early Tudor pattern for the bodice and bell sleeves, a Regency/empire pattern for the cap sleeves.  I have a big cartridge pleated skirt I acquired at an SCA giveaway years ago that I’ll be using as a model to make the skirt for this.  Another great thing about the SCA:  I know a metal worker/jeweler who is going to help me with the brooches.

I’m excited, because I feel like I’m far enough along in my sewing/costuming that I actually even know where to start with something like this — picking and choosing pattern pieces, cobbling them together, etc.  And then the deadline of the convention.  It’s like I keep saying — deadlines are great, especially the ones I set for myself, because it means I actually get things done.

I’ll report back when I’ve made more progress.


4 Responses to “the new big costuming project”

  1. Jazzlet Says:

    Wow, that is going to be fantastic.

  2. musicalmom Says:

    I can’t wait to see the finished product! That fabric looks absolutely scrumptious. I admire your guts in taking on something like this. I consider myself a more than adequate sewer, but when my daughter needed a gown for Madrigals I wimped out a got her a costume on-line. Best of luck!

  3. Claire Says:

    Actually I think the neckline migth be more of a challenge than the sleeves, unless you have a dressmakers dummy. But then I have had to do something similar ot those sleeves once so perhaps my viewpoint is skewed?

  4. carriev Says:

    I have a Tudor pattern with a neckline quite close to that. I think if I sew the trim on by hand, it will be more forgiving than it looks.

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