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All Four Costumes, Completed!

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The costumes got done! Aren’t hard deadlines great?

I’m so glad to have been able to make all these costumes… the process was fun, challenging, a little annoying, and very educational. And confidence building! I have never sewn 4 outfits in a month, let alone 4 with capes! Sadly none of these frocks are part of my forever wardrobe, but I feel very strongly that this was a big win for everyone involved. And I’m so glad to be done!

The Two Snow Whites

The kids performed the play this past weekend, and I’m so proud of all of them. I think that voluntarily putting yourself out there and working in a team takes some real guts, and they deserve big credit for being energetically involved. The entire 7th and 8th grade classes signed up for drama, and everyone had a job either on stage or off or both… just knowing how inclusive and supportive the school is makes this sappy mama almost tear up. My quirkily awesome kid had a ball as a first time actress and I’m just so grateful and happy. Knowing that my sewing skills added to their enjoyment and confidence makes me feel successful too. Yay!

The Evil Queen

The Shakespearean Dwarf

Project Notes

Patterns: Snow White dresses and a modified bodice for the Shakespearean Dwarf were modified from Simplicity 2813. The Evil Queen was based on Simplicity 1045 with heavy modifications. The Evil Queen cape was my own hacked project.

Simplicity 2813

Materials:

  • Snow White A costume – bodice and bodice lining of cotton duck (stash), front detail of yellow cording (thrift store), sleeves of polyester taffeta (stash) with plastic velvet appliques (stash), collar of foam sandwiched between layers of blackout lining (stash), skirt of yellow polyester tablecloth, cape of plastic velvet (stash)
  • Snow White B costume – bodice of rayon velvet (stash), front detail of yellow cording (thrift store), bodice lining of cotton duck (stash), sleeves of polyester taffeta with rayon velvet insets (stash), collar of foam sandwiched between layers of blackout lining (stash), skirt of yellow polyester tablecloth, cape of plastic velvet (stash) lined with red satin tablecloth, deconstructed costume jewelry detail on front of cape (estate sale)
  • Evil Queen costume – dress of purple polyester tablecloth, black silk turtleneck (thrift store) with modified sleeves, cape of rayon velvet (charity store) with red satin tablecloth lining, collar (not seen since it was flipped down) of foam sandwiched between layers of blackout lining with a wire support (stash), old shoe clip used for cape clasp (estate sale), belt of drapery cord (Joann’s), crown of glitter vinyl over craft foam (not shown; Joann’s)
  • Shakespearean Dwarf costume – red polyester panne velvet hat (found at thrift store), doublet and cape of burgundy polyester panne velvet (old curtain from dear friend’s stash) with front detail of woven ribbon (stash), short pants modified from 1X poly/cotton velour track pants (thrift store), red cotton undershirt with lace cuffs (thrift store and stash), neck ruff of curtain blackout interlining (not shown; stash)

Cost: Between the tablecloths from Amazon, thread, zippers and hooks from Joann’s, and all the miscellaneous bits and pieces purchased via resale, the cost came to just over $110 for all 4 costumes. This didn’t include all the stash fabric and trim used or any labor. Sewing isn’t cheap!

Phew! Now on to some tidying up in my sewing room and some selfish sewing projects for ME!

Costume Update… 2 down, 1 (maybe 2) to go!

This week has been rough. Someone I love dearly is dying too soon… choosing happiness despite the circumstances is a real challenge. But I’m still trying. I’m using some of the mental tools I learned here, and they seem to be helping to corral the sadness back into its place. There are times and places for grief… and some corners of our hearts that will always be grieving… but grieving doesn’t mean being wholly without joy. Grief and happiness can coexist even if it seems improbable… giving yourself permission is all that is required.

One thing bringing me happiness in this tricky time is that I HAVE to finish these costumes, which means that, no matter how crazy life is, I simply have to carve out time to sew. And I love sewing. So this is a forced (self-enforced, really) stress relief activity and I am grateful for that! And it’s been scientifically proven that both gratitude and altruistic service enhances happiness too, so this project really is a triple win.

Except for pressing/steaming and adding some important hooks to hold the cape in place, both Snow White dresses are done (phew!). One of the dresses had to be more authentically royal, where the other is supposed to be a costume-y costume (an actress playing Snow White vs the Real Snow White). So I made the royal costume with inset velvet sleeve details (rather than basic appliques on the actress costume), nicer velvet for the sleeves, and a velvet bodice vs a utility sort of cotton duck (from my stash) for the actress dress. The actress costume dress got a shorter, unlined cape as well, whereas the royal costume had a longer, satin lined cape. The dress below is the royal costume dress. It was not possible to hang the dress on a hanger and have the collar stand up properly, but I hope in reality the kids will remember to flip it up for the play since it will actually stand on its own in the style of Disney (thank you, interlining foam). The skirt and satin lining are both fabric from tablecloths, the collar is leftover curtain lining, and the cape velvet was from that roll that we found in the garage when we moved into the house. So I am sticking well to the budget of “do it as cheap as possible”. But I don’t think it looks as cheap as it is 😉

Snow White costume

I have not worked a lot with velvet, and this synthetic/rayon non-stretch velvet had a gorgeous nap which was a bit of a bugger to sew. But it ultimately complied with my will after I read a few instructive articles about sewing velvet:

The Evil Queen costume, currently in the works, and the (hopeful) doublet costume will both involve various velvets, so I really needed to learn how to cope with its quirks. I am feeling much more confident now, and even inspired to maybe possibly consider incorporating some velvet into a selfish sewing project if I am not completely sick of sewing by the time I finish the next two costumes (goal is to finish Evil Queen by tonight, and the doublet ASAP next week). Time will tell…

sewing room tea

I Heart Craftsy

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and decide to make a purchase, I may be monetarily compensated without any additional cost to you. All monies received via affiliate links will be spent on either fabric or tea, both of which fuel my blogging  

As I was prepping the costume muslins the other day, I realized how grateful I was to have taken a couple particular Craftsy classes over the past few years.

Dressmaking

One class that really helped me learn how to achieve great bodice fit was Sew Retro Perfect Bombshell Dress with Gretchen Hirsch. Unfortunately, it looks like this particular class is no longer available for new sign ups, although I am still able to access it in my course library since classes never expire once you are enrolled. Another class that teaches great fit is The Couture Dress with Susan Khalje. I have learned so much watching the lessons in these classes, even though the styles of dresses they use to demonstrate the skills are not my particular cup of tea. Learning about best practices, making muslins, testing fit, making changes and transferring them to the paper pattern… all before you even cut into your expensive fabric… has been worth every single penny of a full priced class (though there are often sales where most classes are $20 or less… I’ll try to clue you in when great sales come up!). I have been a happy paying customer since they started up, and the knowledge that I have gained through classes on Craftsy has really improved the quality of my sewing techniques and given me confidence. And it’s made my life better not just in sewing, but many other areas of interest as well… cooking, photography, gardening, and more.

Fun fact: Before Susan Khalje became synonymous with expert sewing and couture fashion, she was a classical pianist living in London. Listen to her ThreadCult interview here.

Bra-Making

I recently purchased a few bra-making classes by Beverly Johnson (during a great sale, of course), but I haven’t had time to watch them all or try out the new skills quite yet. I watched a few episodes while being miserably sick in bed late this winter, and had no energy to actually sew, though I hope to finish up watching them this summer at the latest. I have some bra-making supplies already from making swimwear, and I’m really excited to try bras. The instructor has a great presence and she is really confidence boosting… they call her the Fairy BraMother for good reason 😉

Sewing Bras: Construction & Fit
Sewing Bras: Designer Techniques
Sewing Bras: Foam, Lace and Beyond

Have you tried Craftsy? They offer free mini classes on many subjects to give you an idea of what the paid courses offer. It’s definitely worth a browse since they have creative topics to interest just about anyone! I find it really helpful to read each class’s reviews on the site to get a sense of where the instructors focus, or which class to choose when deciding between to equally appealing picks.