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 Zéphyr 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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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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Zéphyr Skater Dress

As much as I love the Lady Skater pattern, I’m finding myself preferring princess seams on bodices so the Zéphyr 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!

A Witchy Knit Dress

Last autumn, I completely fell in love with a dress I saw online, but I didn’t feel like I could justify spending ~$75 on it when I didn’t really need a new long-sleeved black dress. Fast-forward several months and Fabric Mart was having a sale on some delicious viscose/lycra ponte. I snapped up a few yards (for far less than $75) and when it arrived I realized it would be perfect for re-creating that dress I’d fallen in love with!

I started with McCall’s M7349 and made these modifications:

  • Increased the flare of the skirt from the waist (generally necessary for me with this pattern anyway).
  • Drafted asymmetric bell sleeves.
  • Replaced the neckband with a short funnel neck. (I didn’t actually have to change the neckline at all–it’s very high on me–but instead of using the neckband pattern piece I cut a rectangle about 3 1/2 inches wide x the length of the neckline, joined it into a circle, folded it in half, and sewed it onto the neck with a 1/4-inch seam allowance.)
  • Added in-seam pockets.

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(I still haven’t found a good place to take photos in the apartment. This is the least-cluttered spot, but it sure is ugly!)

Bloodsplatter Dress

As soon as I saw the announcement for the Laneway Dress, I knew: At last, here is the perfect excuse to buy that bloodsplatter fabric I’ve been dying to get!

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The black fabric is a cozy cotton flannel, and the skirt is underlined in a delightful red antistatic lining to keep it from sticking to tights.

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I did my usual grading to a larger size for the hips, but otherwise didn’t make any changes to the pattern! The open darts in front are nice and low (usually I have to lower the bustline) and the waist is high, which I prefer. I could’ve cinched it a bit tighter in the side seams, but right now it’s really comfy without looking oversized.

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(Yes, I already owned these tights. Obviously I had to pose in them.)

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Generally I prefer a fuller skirt, so if I make this again I might substitute a circle skirt. But I really like the fit overall, the nice V in the center back neckline, and of course…

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the pockets!!

I think this would be an easy pattern to dress up for cocktails or the office, or dress down for a casual sundress. Or, uh, just to finally have an excuse to use some novelty print…. 😉

Now I still have 3/4 of a yard of this bloodsplatter fabric–what should I do with it?

Blue Floral Summer Frock

Another summer party dress! This one is made from stretch poplin, which gave me the courage to finally make a tight-fitting bodice in a woven fabric. The bodice is McCall’s 6989, which I modified by making the front a V-neck (which included adding a center front seam) and leaving off the sleeves.

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The dress is unlined and the neckline and armscyes are finished with bias binding.

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The skirt is a full circle skirt with, of course, pockets.

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I kind of wish I’d piped the bodice princess seams and waist to make it more obvious that I was in no way attempting to pattern-match there, ha. And that I’d lowered the neckline a bit. Next time. Looking forward to dancing in this at an event in early September!

Lace Dance Dress

I finished this dress months ago and have worn it to two events now, so I think I should just accept that I’m not going to get any better photos. I do think it looks much better in person–but of course the only time I remembered to get photos was when I was already sweaty and shiny in the middle of a ball. Oh well!

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This is another McCall’s 7160, View C. This time it’s in a lovely wine-colored rayon jersey (that seems to no longer be in stock) with a black lace overlay (the sleeves left unlined). If I’d bothered to get swatches first, I might’ve gone with a brighter color to contrast better with the black lace. But, again, oh well! The belt is just a length of wide satin ribbon held in place by a couple of thread belt loops. Of course, it has pockets.IMG_7235

 

Anyway, it looks kind of limp and unexciting in these photos, but that circle skirt swings nicely when dancing. (Someone was taking a video of at least one dance this evening and I keep hoping it gets posted somewhere, but nothing has materialized yet.) Plus, I can scrunch it up in my suitcase for easy transportation to dance events–no need for a garment bag.