Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Regina's White Dress - Part 2

(Have you read Part 1 yet?)

Above - the covered buttons and loops to secure the sleeves. After creating them I found a picture that revealed the buttons on the show's costume to be some kind of rhinestone, but given that the chiffon I used was so delicate, I figured these covered buttons would work better. I put a drop of glue on each base for extra security.

Here you can see the two pieces of the sleeve, with the lower part already fitted, and the upper part ready to be gathered.

I cut the loops to the correct size and pinned them in place between the two layers of chiffon.

I then added a stabilizing length of bias tape to hold the buttons straight and keep the sleeve from bunching up.

Sleeves, finished with buttons and loops.

Getting the V on the neck with the false modesty panel was probably the trickiest part of the gown. I machine sewed the back and sides of the neckline, but secured the chiffon in place with hand stitches once I'd turned it right side out to ensure that everything lay flat. I also sewed in the sleeves at this point.

I played around with different ideas for the hem. I didn't want to do a doubled over hem, as that would get bulky and I was worried about it being too short in front. So I decided to go with a hem tape, which I secured using hand stitches, making it entirely invisible from the outside.

After attaching the bodice to the waist with the bead trim in between, I sewed in an invisible zipper.

Believe it or not, this was the first invisible zipper I have ever inserted. Well, not this exact one - but this project. I had to take the first one out because it was too short. Anyhow, I'd gotten an invisible zipper foot as a Christmas present from my awesome grandparents and was able to finally properly insert an invisible zipper. Turns out it is WAY easier than inserting a regular zipper!

Now for those with sharp eyes... yes, as far as I can tell the beading I was able to procure is the same they used on the show. You can purchase it here.

Looking for a custom commissioned costume of your own? Check out my commission info here.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Regina's White Dress - Part 1

The moment I first saw this gown, I fell in love with it, and desperately hoped someone would commission me to recreate it for them. Sure enough, I immediately got an order from a client I'd already been in communication with for another costume. She loved it just as much as I did, and was excited to get her very own replica.

Finding a floral weave to resemble the one used on the show was difficult - my assistant and I scoured the fabric warehouse, and then hemmed and hawed about whether this one was too yellow. I didn't think it was, as the OUAT scene had been heavily color corrected and this was likely what the original fabric actually was. My client approved, thankfully!

I purchased three yards, which was just enough for the pattern I drafted. If I were going to make a version for a taller client, I'd need more.

Side view of the sewn pattern pieces. Here you can see the slight train I incorporated, as a likely element of the unseen hem in the show.

Close, but not the smooth, snug fit the costume required. So I did some pinning, tucking and adjusting and...

Getting much closer! Here the bodice is finished and I'm working on the skirt.

I pinned down the front panels to get more of the fitted, straight look we were going for.

I then based the tucks in place with a dark colored thread, utilizing a loose slipstitch. I then sewed down the seam on the machine and removed the basting threads.

Read Part 2 for the rest of the story... sleeves, hems, and a very special bead trim...

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Inbox Flood!

I am working my way through an every increasing flood of messages in my inbox. Don't worry, I'm here, I'm reading them, I'm just having a hard time keeping up with replies - and those who have already commissioned a piece in progress have reply priority. Thank you all for your interest - and your patience!

(I cannot positively guarantee anything until June 1st 2013 at this point in time.)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Floral Sundress - Part 2

Stop! Have you read Part 1?

One fun detail I enjoyed adding to this dress was the gathers at the shoulders and the contrast bands.

The gathers were sewn on the machine, but the contrast bands were applied by hand.

Remember those buttonhole loops from Part 1? Here I insert them. I doubled each loop in half, and marked where they needed to line up on the fabric, then pinned then between the dress and facing and sewed straight down.

Voila! Once the loops were sewn, I could then mark and stitch in the buttons.

I did not continue the buttons down the skirt, but rather inserted a short zipper.

All that remained was to sew on the sash and...

One awesome, perfectly fitted sunddress!

I spent less than $10 on all of the materials for the dress, however it should be noted that I spent at least three full days working on it.

Many thanks to my beautiful sister for modeling her gift for the blog!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Floral Sundress - Part 1

Last autumn I was shopping a sale at JoAnn's and came across some gorgeous cotton prints on clearance. I picked one out for my sister, and then drew several designs for her to choose from.

This is the design she picked. I was a little surprised that she wanted the bow, but she utterly insisted on keeping it.

The only major change we made was choosing a rust-colored fabric for the contrast instead of brown. Above you can see the pieces cut out, based on the same pattern I used to make her black bodice earlier in the year.

The detail I've been most excited about are the tiny, covered buttons on the back. I covered them with the contrast fabric, so that they match perfectly. Here you can see them on a close-up of the floral print.

The tricky part was making the button casings, which had to be sewn, trimmed, and turned inside out with the loop hook (visible in the second from the top tube). More on loop construction in part two.

After sewing the bodice, I did a second fitting and adjusted the seams at the top edges. It's not a luxury I get with a lot of my projects, as I have to work with a dress form and measurements - I can't do fine-tuning. So it's fun and satisfying to be able to do it with my sister.

I chose not to line the inside, as that works better for sundresses, and put the serger to good use. It was necessary to add facing to the top and back edges, and cut and hand stitch notches so that it could follow the curves properly.

Then the sash! Step one was fairly simple - just cutting matching pieces with diagonal edges and sewing them right sides together.

Step two involved inserting the gathers, which you can see here.

Ready to see the dress come together? Continue to Part 2!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Tale of the Serger Repair Mission

Two weeks ago my serger broke (long story in and of itself), and so I had to do my first solo machine repair mission. The last time I had a broken machine was almost a decade ago, before I could drive and my mother took care of that kind of stuff.

First off, I of course took the machine to JoAnn's which is where I originally bought it. The lady at the Viking/Husquevarna station was very helpful, but to my dismay she told me the baseline price would be $99.99, plus any parts repair. I gritted my teeth. I needed my serger for work... I would have to do whatever it took to get it repaired.

Well, we'd gotten the ticket filled out with my info when the sales lady decided to call the repair guy and... I'm not sure, get an estimate on how long it would take? Turns out it's a good thing she did, because their repairman no longer works on Singers, having a full quota of Viking and Husquevarnas.

That was a low point. However the lady directed me to another repair shop that did all machines, and later that week I drove over (half hour drive) to get it looked at. That was rather nerve wracking as well, as the guy looked over my machine, had a worried look on his face, and asked me to leave the manual, which apparently they never do but my machine is... unique.

"Yikes!" I thought. What if they can't fix it?

I tried not to worry and focus on sewing the pieces I could do with my regular machine. The one upside was the lower price quote I'd gotten at the second place... $50-$70 unless something was really wrong. So that was reassuring as I spent the next ten days serger-less.

Finally yesterday we got word that it was complete, and I was able to drive over and get it. The guy said my machine was in great condition, and the problem had been with the looper timing which they were able to fix - and they charged me $59.99 which was definitely a better price than I had been hoping for at that point.

I still had to spend 16 days without a serger, which is NOT a good situation when you sew for a living, but I made it work.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A Seamstress's Bargains - #2

Part of being a thrifty seamstress is thinking far out. Buying materials for projects in installments instead of all at once can enable you to use more coupons and save quite a bit of money. With this in mind, today's advice is how to get the most savings out of shopping at your local sewing supply stores, specifically JoAnn Fabrics, as I used to work at our local store and have shopped there religiously for over a decade, which means I've had a lot of time to learn some really important basic tips and tricks.

Sign up for the mailing list at any and ALL craft stores in your area.
Often they will honor each other's coupons, although beware, you can't use Michael's coupons to buy fabric at JoAnn's, as Michael's does not sell fabric and JoAnn's will only let you use a competitor's coupon towards a comparable item. You can also set up your account to send your coupons to your e-mail or even your phone. Finally, if you didn't print/aren't on the list, more coupons are getting put directly on the website.

Don't assume that clearance fabric will be less than other options. Several fabrics will always be on sale (30%-60% off!) and can often be better savings. The only time when clearance is absolutely positively the best bargain you are going to get, is when the clearance items are reduce a further 50% off of the usual 50% clearance savings, for a total of 75% off the normal price. I never ever pass by the clearance when on the super sale without at least browsing.

Remnants are often the best deals on smaller amounts of fabric. They are always 50% off the current floor price - which means if that fabric is currently marked down 40%, you're going to get 50% off that already-marked down price. Furthermore, during big sales, Remnant markdowns may switch from 50% off to 75% off... at a time when many of the fabrics are already under some kind of markdown. You'll almost certainly never find a better deal than this.

Be aware of what you can and cannot use your coupons for. JoAnn's policies have changed over the years. Nowadays you cannot use coupons towards fabric on clearance. You also can't use them towards already discounted fabric. It used to be that if fabric was 30% off, you could use a coupon to cancel the original 30% off, and apply the coupon's 50% off instead. This is no longer valid (and is probably why some items, such as magazines, are perpetually 10% off, so that they can never be further discounted - However, if you have a total purchase coupon (usually 20-35% off), that will apply towards these items. ). So if you want to get a good deal on some fabric that is marked 30% off, wait a week until that discount ends and use your 50% off instead.

Take advantage of sales. Don't buy on impulse unless you have to. When items are marked down - stock up. Especially things like thread or the notions wall. Sometimes they are discounted as much as 50% off, which is a real savings and beats out what you can get anywhere else.

Don't buy full-priced patterns unless you have to - but do buy from JoAnn's as opposed to an online source! I've yet to find an online source that consistently sells any of the popular patterns for less than JoAnn's everyday 40% off price once you count shipping into total. However I try to keep my pattern buying for their $.99 pattern sales. I usually buy a ton during the sales in a variety of styles and sizes so that when I do need a pattern, I will already have something fairly close to use.

You can return fabric you buy at the store, as long as it's unwashed and uncut. Many customers wait in line to make a return, only to be told that they have to first take it back to the cutting counter to be remeasured, so save yourself the time of waiting in line at the check-out/returns twice, and go straight back to the cutting counter!

Don't order anything color specific on JoAnns.com. As much as I love the company, their color accuracy between the website and real life is the poorest I've seen - and it is difficult, expensive and sometimes impossible to make returns on online orders. Also, you can't combine multiple coupons, so you either get the free shipping or the 50% off - not both. If the store doesn't have enough of the color you want, they'll call and special order it for you, or do their best to track down another store that has it in stock - and you'll be able to see it before you pay for it.

Use your coupons. If you've got a store that is on your weekly errand rounds, then you can make smaller purchases and use more coupons. Don't have something specific you need? Maybe this is the week to get ten yards of muslin or batting or black silk and use your 50% off on it. You'll have a good stock for future projects, and you'll have gotten a great deal on it.

I've found that by following these guidelines, I can get equally good or better prices at JoAnn's than most other venues (unless I'm looking for something special like silk or velvet or boning). It takes a little extra work, but in this economy it's worth it, right?

Friday, January 11, 2013

Steampunk Superheros

I love superhero costume redesign. That's why Project Rooftop is on my blogroll on this site, and why I will not hesitate to reblog an awesome costume on Tumblr if it's reasonable modest.

As some of you know, one of my favorite Marvel superheros is Lorna Dane/Polaris, mistress of magnetism, member of X-Men and X-Factor, daughter of Magneto, sometime girlfriend of Alex Summers/Havok and Bobby Drake/Iceman, sister to Wanda and Pietro Maximoff (Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver of the Avengers)... and all around pretty cool chick. Plus she has green hair.

Anyhow, I'm cosplaying her at C2E2 and probably Convergence this year, and I've been playing around with various design ideas. Although the following design will probably have to wait another year to debut, I'm pretty psyched about it...

Lorna Dane/Polaris Steampunk by ~Elenatintil on deviantART

In fact, I had so much fun designing Lorna's steampunk attire, that I decided to do a take on her sister Wanda as well:

Wanda Maximoff Steampunk by ~Elenatintil on deviantART

I've also got my friend Shannon (Remember her Rabbit cosplay?) considering doing a Steampunk Magneto. We'll see if anything comes of it, but I would love to get the whole Lensherr/Maximoff/Dane clan together in Steampunk attire at some point.

Wanda and Lorna belong to Marvel, designs are mine (ask before using). 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

A Snapshot of Tudor Fashion

Remember a few months ago when I gave my friend Vicki some advice on Elizabethan clothing? Well, I've been reading some Tudor England novels lately, and it got me thinking about 16th century English fashion again. I decided to create a sort of info graphic, to give newcomers to the era a rough idea of the style progression for women. 

Anne Boleyn - 1530
Here Anne represents the best of what we know as the "Tudor Dress." Low, square neckline, with sleeves just reaching the tips of the shoulders, furs trimming the oversleeve, and split skirt. Hoopskirts had just arrived in England at the turn of the century, imported by Spanish princess Catherine of Aragon under the name "farthingale." Styles didn't change much in England over the first quarter of the century, but one difference that Anne herself made popular was the trend of wearing the French Hood (seen here) as opposed to the heavy, 'house shaped' English Gable.

Young Elizabeth Tudor - 1550
Twenty years later, England is solidly and austerely Protestant. Although the basic cut of the gowns remains the same, necklines were filled with modest linen collars, and sleeves began to narrow. Fabrics were also darker, less ostentatious and "worldly." This was a trend that Elizabeth continued after her sister Mary I ascended and returned brighter, heavily embellished fashions to vogue, in order to set herself apart from the new, Catholic court.

Queen Elizabeth I - 1565
From here until the end of the century we move into what is traditionally known as "Elizabethan" fashion - what you will see in a historically accurate Shakespearean production. The narrow sleeves, the big ruffs, puffed sleeve caps, and plenthora of jewels. As "The Virgin Queen" Elizabeth could wear her famous red hair down around her shoulders, a privilege not granted to married women.

Obviously this is a very rudimentary guide, and different leading women chose different styles to express themselves, but I felt these three 'snapshots' would be a good introduction to the fashions of Tudor England. Some small details are off, as Doll Divine is limited by the presets, but overall I think it's fairly accurate. For a more detailed, in-depth look at the progression of English fashion, I highly recommend "Costume" by John Peacock. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Costumes of OUAT - Season 2, Part 1

I had so much fun blogging about the season one costumes, that of course I had to do another post this time around! But I couldn't wait for spring, and I'm sure you can't either, so I'm debuting my analysis of the first half of season two now!

(All pictures are screen captures from Home of the Nutty. I cropped and color corrected them to best display costume details.) 

While other debut costumes on the show carry traditional and/or Disney design motifs usually associated with the character, Aurora's costume is markedly different from what we are used to seeing on her. Neither her hair nor her dress evoke the Disney incarnation, which I thought was an interesting move on the costumers part - although the color purple is the happy medium between the debated blue/pink of the Flora/Merriweather battle. Her underdress is a careful mesh of light chiffon or cotton that flows gracefully over her body. The corset is very structured, with beautiful narrow binding.

Here you can better see the skirt, which includes strips of the same fabric used to cover the corset.

Mulan's armor is perhaps one of the most intricate pieces of the season thus far, and I do not envy the costumer who endeavors to replicate it! (This is one piece I cannot reproduce, btw).

Here we see some of the gorgeous detail of Aurora's circlet, and also the narrow rhinestone strap of her left shoulder, which is usually covered by her cloak.

While we certainly hope we'll see more of Phillip in the second half of season 2, the first episode remains our only glimpse of him so far. Which is a pity because his clothing is magnificent. I love the layers in the sleeves, and the sun emblem on his breastplate.

While Belle only gets one brief fairy tale dress in the first half, she nonetheless gets some droolworthy pieces in Storybrooke. This cute, modest gown is utterly gorgeous, with a simple neckline and three rows of feminine ruffles.

Here is Hook's original black ensemble, with good detail on the clasps holding his undershirt closed... or not so closed. Silver buttons and loops make this a high quality garment, and when coupled with the elaborate vest we can assume that Hook's pirating career has been... lucrative.

Tied with Belle for "Most fashionable Storybrooke resident" is Ruby, who here wears her traditional flare of red with an awesome necklace, snazzy leather jacket, and statement hat.

Perhaps the most popular of Belle's dresses, here we get a modern twist on her iconic 'blue' with the short hemline that suits her so well.

A better look at the neckline and dotted lace overlay.

Perhaps one of the most fabulous costumes of the season thus far is Mila's elaborate pirate wear. A richly studded leather corset holds her embroidered vest in place over a silver spangled chiffon blouse. And let's not forget the ever popular leather pants...

Also in the background we get a good look at Hook's long coat and a peek at his red vest (which is perhaps rather more plausible for this incarnation of the character than a full scarlet coat).

This may be one of my favorite Snow costumes thus far. Feminine, yet practical, brocade with bead dots, cream pipping, and lacing at the armholes and elbows, it is far more complex than appears at first glance. The silver belt gives it a regal air, although it shortens a torso that would probably look more flattering elongated.

A full length look at the costume, with a good view of the peplum, split skirt and leather pants.

Rear view of Snow's dress, and Lance's (mock velvet?) cape.

Another look at Charming's costume because, let's face it, it rocks.

Lancelot du Luc, with... a griffon emblazoned on his breastplate?

Our four kickass gals, featuring their iconic costumes. All of them look smashing, although I'm not so keen about Snow's costume design, as it doesn't really flatter her.

Another favorite piece. Regina has her favorite puffled sleeves under a rich, fitted leather jerkin, held in place by a detailed leather corset.

We don't get a good look at this costume, but I adore the detail on the collared cloak.

Speaking of collars! Let's drool over Rumple's stiff high version here, which is utterly dashing...

... as is the Mad Hatter's coat collar.

We get quite a different look with Dr. Frankenstein here, however, in a look reminescent of his story's eastern European origins, with the side buttoning also calling to mind certain types of lab coats (think Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog).

And here's a man lacking a collar... seriously, Daniel, the scarf is pretty but it's going to make us second guessing somethings...

Regina's very first black leather ensemble, which she dons after her attempts to ressurect Daniel fail. It sends a strong visual message - no longer the innocent girl in love, this is a queen on a mission for revenge, and she'll stop at nothing to get it.

I love how Hook tries to hide his pirate background by throwing a ragged doublet and scarf over his clothes. I also love that the doublet fabric looks like a curtain left over from the 80's.

How do giants manage their clothes? Do they have giant sheep they sheer? Giant silkworms? I know, it's fantasy... anyhow, I like what they did with this piece, particularly with the metal plates around his collar. They look kind of like shields to me...

No flashback clothes for Granny, but she gets a marvelously ruffled blouse and sweater in Storybrooke.

Ruby! Can I just have all of your clothes together? Here she wears a tunic that is evocative of the 70's in both print and style, a look which she can really pull off and still look contemporary!

Mirror image: Red in the Enchanted Forest. This episode gave us a good look at her cloak, and we were able to see that it is bordered in a red strip... but is it a border, or is it repairing a tear from an earlier episode? Anyone have any answers for that?

After seeing Ruby in pretty much one costume all of last season, it was funt o see her in another skirt and top ensemble. here you can get a decent look at the print on the skirt and the petticoat.

And here we can see the brocade laced top, with her gloves tucked into her belt.

Red's mother was an interesting design opportunity, and I think the team did a good job of imagining what the queen werewolf would wear. I love the use of fur... although there seem to be feathers as well, which I find funny because I just imagine a wolf getting caught raiding the chicken coup with feathers stuck all over it's fur...

Here we can see the peplum on Red's bodice, the looping up of her skirt, and a dark but better look at the layers draped over her mother's pants. (Seriously, this show has an insane love affair with leather pants.)

I included this one because it's a good look at Snow's sleeves. We dont' get to see her with long flowing sleeves very often.

Another Belle look! And it's back to her iconic gold, and the classy lace.

Cora really needs to learn moderation. Look at her intensely embellished bodice! And shawl! Which of course works perfectly for her character... just dripping "evil villainess"

I'll admit, although I love this costume, it seems very very 1930's to me, with little of a fantasy element about it. I'm not saying that it's wrong... it just seems a little out of character with the rest of Regina's clothing decisions.

Still, gotta love the velvet, the cut of the skirt, and the layers of silver and rhinestones.

Just look at that back!

Take a look at the detail of these costumes, which only appear in one or two shots. Layers, embellishment, buttons, contrasting fabrics, elaborate masks... it's a lot of work for minor characters, but it's the attention to detail that adds a whole new layer to the show.

I must say, I love what they did with the Queen of Hearts costume. I can't say it's a gown I'd want to wear, but it works perfectly for the character. Not just in color - it is styled appropriately Elizabethan.

Love the collar.

Here we get good, nearly full length looks at Cora and Hook, especially with Cora's richly trimmed cloak and Hook's finely crafted leather coat.

Regina really takes the cake with her unique headpieces, but this may be one of my favorites.

I love the layers going into the sleeves here, with feathers, and two layers that look like some kind of silk.

I like the effect of the gold on the purple here, especially with the layers involved in the sleeves.

I hope we get to see young Snow again this season! She's an adorable actress, plus it allows us to see OUAT take on youthful costuming, which so far they've excelled at. I love how this gown is basically a white version of the popular Disney gown.

This may very possible be my absolute favorite costume of the season. It is slim and flattering while still modest, making it a wonderful choice for the uncorrupted Regina. It also is a great blend of simplicity and rich details.

It is hard to find a good full-length look at this dress, but here we can see how the skirt behaves.

And a look at the back. (I am actually in the process of making this dress, so watch the blog for that costume diary!)

Regina, about to be married, wearing a crown and enough jewels to sink a ship.

I am intrigued by the blend of a Victorian neckline with the wide/narrow hoopskirt favored during the 1700's.

A closer look at the beading involved in Cora's dress.

I have mixed feelings about this dress. I love the brocade over dress - it's beautifully constructed, and the sleeves are so perfectly made. But...

The leather vest just strikes me as weird, and seems like it would chafe. Having no chemise/blouse visible under it is odd.

Finally, I'll leave you with another shot from the first episode, which shows Mulan before her identity was revealed... again, a masterpiece of a costume.

Are you as in love with these costumes as I am? Would you like to own a reproduction? Check out my costume commissions page to learn how! You can also browse through my Costume Diaries to see pictures of my previous OUAT costume work!

Want more "Once Upon a Time" costume goodness? Here are a few websites with some lovely pictures and ideas!

How to dress like Once Upon a Time
The Evil Queen's Costumes
Glamour's interview with OUAT Costumer
Once Upon a Time Wardrobe (Fan site)
Once Upon a Fashion