Late Victorian Poison Corset (+ Peasant Dress)

I finished this new corset back in October and happily wore it to the Texas Ren Fair and for Halloween. It’s Laughing Moon’s Dore straight seam corset from #100 Ladies Victorian Underwear. I just made adjustments for fitting and I’m so happy with how it turned out! It looks good and is the most comfortable corset I’ve made yet. This may become my go-to Victorian corset pattern.

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Can we talk about this super fun fabric?? It’s a quilting cotton called Materialize by Tim Holtz Apothecary Multi (or something like that)–everything in the Materialize line is fantastic; Google it to find suppliers. (I got this piece on Etsy.) Anyway, it’s underlined with a plain cotton duck and the lining is leftover quilting cotton from a still-unfinished quilt project (I can’t remember what it’s called):

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Underneath the corset, I’m wearing a peasant dress made of cotton gauze. It started with McCall’s 5050, to which I added a two-layer half-circle skirt gathered at the waist and completed with hem ruffles. I planned to make it wearable as a standalone dress, but that didn’t pan out (no photos, haha). Still, it works as a base layer under a corset or wide belt.

Thank you to my sister, Heather, for the fantastic photos from the fair!

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Blue Velvet Cocktail Dress

I loved the stretch velvet I used in my last ball gown so much that I went back to Spandex House and bought more in another color (maybe this one? A nice, deep blue). This time, I knew in advance that I had to do something with interesting drape at the neckline to take advantage of the velvet, so I grabbed Kwik Sew K4026 and just made View A!

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(There are no stripes in the skirt; I’m not sure why the lighting is making it look like there are!)

The only change I made was to flare the skirt a bit more, though I should’ve redrafted the skirt entirely. By just increasing the flare without redrafting the waist curve, I ended up with the fullness concentrated on the sides. Oh, well–at least I learned something! (I also learned that I should always, always listen to my instincts and add pockets; I was lazy and didn’t do it, and now I regret it.)

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Anyway, just a note about sizing: According to the size chart, I should’ve made a size M graded to an L at the waist and hip. But, as anyone knows who’s ever sewn a Big Four pattern knows, that would’ve meant like 3 inches of POSITIVE ease. In a fitted knit dress!! I just made up the straight size S (plus my wacky flare) and it fits perfectly.

The only other thing I’m not 100% happy with is how bulky the facing is at the shoulders. Surely there must be a way to do an all-in-one facing? Or just line the bodice? Something to try next time.

Semi-Homemade Ball Gown

This project started out with an off-the-rack black dress that a friend was getting rid of. The dress was a little small for me, but it had a huge, floofy tulle skirt that was gathered at the waist, so of course I took it! I removed the bodice, closed up the zipper opening, and attached a wide elastic band for a waistband.

Unfortunately, then I discovered that the skirt was so heavy that any amount of bouncing (something that is a regular part of Scottish country dancing!) would cause it to…slide down. Like…to the floor. Oops! But I was committed to keeping the elastic waistband for comfort, so I solved this problem by attaching straps made of twill tape. Good enough!

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Then on to the bodice/overskirt, which was entirely made from scratch. This is a lush, gorgeous poly/spandex stretch velvet from Spandex House (a fabric I loved so much I bought it again in another color for another dress!). I bought it in person, so I’m not totally sure which color it is (Garment District stores don’t believe in labeling their fabrics), but maybe this one?

I started with the bodice pattern for the Deer&Doe ZĂ©phyr dress (I needed a well-fitting bodice for a knit with princess seams in the front and back). I lowered the neckline, turned the back neckline into a vee, and extended the lower edges into a flared skirt that was shorter in front than in back. While sewing it up, I added elastic bridal button loops (I don’t know what it’s called exactly–an elastic strip with elastic loops every inch? I found it at Pacific Trimming) in the back princess seams to run some decorative gold ribbon lacing through.

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It’s hard to see in these photos, but the front of the overskirt is ruched on both princess seams. I did this by running embroidery floss up through the channel made by the surging in those seams from the hem to just below the waist, then rucked it up and just tied off the floss.

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After I’d finished the neckline and armscyes with facings, I thought it just looked too plain. So I added a collar. Done! And I can reuse the separate pieces with other garments if I want (let’s be real–I’m just going to make new tops to wear over this giant skirt).

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Undercorset Belt

A new accessory for the Ren Fair! I found this pattern for an “undercorset belt”* from Steamtorium and had to give it a try. I ended up making the included pouch and fan pocket, but replaced the skirt lifters with a second, zipper pouch for cash and cards/ID. (I prefer to keep my cash and cards in a separate pouch from my phone so I don’t accidentally spill out all my valuables when I’m frequently hauling out my phone to take photos.)

For the outer fabric, I used a plain black canvas. The lining is some of my large stash of leftover quilting cotton from my Halloween quilt (which just needs to be quilted!). And, yes, that is a Supernatural pin. 😀

I took these photos without a corset so you can see the full garment, but this is an “undercorset belt”–how does it look under a corset? Well, here’s a sneak peek of my new poison-label corset (actually finished first, but not yet photographed, haha):

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*Obviously, I also picked up the pattern for the teacup holster, but I don’t actually have an excuse to make it yet! I’m not really inclined to try to pack a delicate teacup and saucer for plane travel.

A Tale of Two Coverups

Last year I learned that there is such a thing as UPF fabric (like SPF, but for fabric–it’s treated to protect against ultraviolet radiation from the sun). Since then, I’ve been pondering lightweight coverups to throw on when I’m going to be outside for extended periods of time (rather than having to slather on sunscreen constantly).

My first idea was to make a beachy coverup out of a white woven. The problem was that all the beachy coverups I was looking at for inspiration had short sleeves and/or left the chest exposed–two areas I definitely wanted to protect! So then I thought . . . maybe I could adapt a wrap dress pattern with long sleeves? This is what I ended up with:

The pattern is McCall’s M6959 and the fabric is SunScreen50 Lightweight Nylon Woven Wicking Fabric from Rockywoods. I adapted the pattern by raising the neckline a bit, lengthening the sleeves, and shortening the skirt (more in front than in back). I also added patch pockets.

Unfortunately, it’s just not that comfortable. It’s cute, but doesn’t really give that flowy, beachy vibe I was going for. The armscyes are also kind of tight, making it annoying to layer. And while Rockywoods claims this fabric has a “soft, cottony hand,” I would say that . . . it feels like nylon. It’s hot and stiff!

On to Plan B: a waterfall cardigan in a knit. I used the Harper Jacket from Style Arc pattern and this time I went for SunScreen50 Activewear poly/spandex in Carbon Grey. It’s still a bit warm (definitely more than a lightweight linen or a cotton lawn would be), but is so much more comfortable than the woven. The major down side of this fabric is that it smells a bit rubbery; hopefully after a few more washes that will go away.

Waterfall cardigans aren’t really my style, but this is definitely good for layering and covers up both the arms and chest without any modifications. In fact, I didn’t change anything from the straight pattern. (Though in retrospect I wish I’d added in-seam pockets.) I found the instructions a bit confusing at one point, though I’m pretty sure I worked it out and luckily knit is forgiving. Plus, there are only three pattern pieces so it still comes together very quickly–especially if you don’t hem anything.

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The winner has to be the waterfall cardigan–I actually wear it since it is pretty comfortable, even if I don’t love the look. (Nothing against the style; it’s just not really me!) Still pondering if there’s a better solution that I’ll really love, though . . .

Last-Minute Bra-Top Dress

Right before leaving for Pinewoods last month, I had a sudden burst of inspiration for how to use a random yard of knit fabric I picked up just because I liked the pattern (sadly, it doesn’t seem to be available any longer and I don’t know what it’s called or who manufactured it). First I madea bodice out of some solid black performance knit (double score–used up the last bit of that, too!) using the Brazi Bra & Dress pattern .

Then I added a skirt with a deep ruffle. I started off with the bra’s lower edge measurement, extended that down to my high waist, then flared out as much as possible given the width of the fabric (and the fact that the print is directional). The rest of the fabric was used for the ruffle. I really eked out every inch from this one yard! And by finishing the hem with a three-thread overlock, I kept it as long as possible. (Still a bit short for my personal taste, but wearable.)

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Ironing Board Cover

This project was a long time overdue. My old ironing board cover was stained and full of holes, plus the elastic was completely stretched out so that it wouldn’t stay in place. I don’t know why I took so long to get around to it, but it’s pretty simple!

I just traced around the board and added 3/4″ on all sides so that it would wrap around the top (a little more probably would’ve been even better, but this works). Then I bound the edges with bias tape and ran elastic through the channel that the bias tape formed.

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The cover is just a quilting cotton (Midnight Pastoral Toile in cream from Alexander Henry; same thing that I used for this clutch); padding is provided by some cotton batting (cut to the exact size of the ironing board top).

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At last, a nice-looking cover that stays in place!

ZĂ©phyr Skater Dress

As much as I love the Lady Skater pattern, I’m finding myself preferring princess seams on bodices so the ZĂ©phyr Dress from Deer&Doe was a good pattern to try out. The bodice does indeed fit nicely thanks to the four princess seams. I didn’t even need to shorten it! I followed the pattern exactly except to grade between sizes like I usually do, and I’m pretty happy with how it looks. But this also means no pockets. (What can I say? I was lazy the day I made it. . . .)
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I did have a couple of issues with the pattern. One is that the arm bands are really, really short (hence all the wrinkling around the armscyes–I had to stretch the bands a lot to get them on). I googled a bit to see if this was a problem other people had (maybe an error?) and the only mention I found was that one person said they seemed short but she drafts her own bands anyway. If I make this again without sleeves, I’ll definitely do the same.
Speaking of that . . . I don’t know why I thought I would be happy with a sleeveless dress. I guess I’m spoiled by all the patterns with various options, because it’s kind of disappointing to have no sleeve options at all (and no pockets–come on, guys!). The paper pattern and instructions are quite lovely, but if I make another one I’m definitely going to try to add sleeves. (Maybe redrafting the armscyes based on the Lady Skater pattern and using those sleeves might work?)
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The fabric is the other mystery fabric in that order I mentioned in my last post. I asked the retailer which one they thought it was, and they said this was probably the Soft Wicking Jersey. Remember, this is the one that’s a bit less smooth and had a rubbery smell (which has finally mostly faded after the third wash!). I definitely prefer the other fabric (Interloc Wicking), though both do dry quickly, are similar weights, and do not require hemming. Thanks for the help, The Rain Shed!

Activewear Skort

Hurray, finally I made something from an activewear pattern that I actually like! This is the Jalie 3670 Loulouxe Skort. I made the version with leg bands and two pockets (obviously!).

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I added about 3 inches to the skirt length (ha) and flared the front skirt panel a bit more, but otherwise followed the straight size for my hips. And it’s very comfortable!

I’m not sure exactly which fabric this is since I bought two cuts of black activewear knit in the same order and they weren’t labeled when they arrived. I wish I knew because I like this fabric a lot so far, but the other one still smells faintly of rubber, even after washing twice. (I used that one for a dress; will post about that soon.) Otherwise, they are a similar weight and conveniently don’t curl, so I didn’t have to hem either garment (hurray!). UPDATE: I contacted the retailer and they said they think this one is their Interloc Wicking item #4325. At that price, I’ll definitely try ordering again!

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