Tuesday, February 14, 2012


My friend's three-year-old daughter loves Disney films, so I made her a Cinderella dress for her birthday.  Because three-year-olds grow so quickly, I designed the dress to grow with her.  This is the second dress-up dress I've made to grow, and I hope that the moms find it works out.

I used McCall's 5494.  I made the dress in a size 5 so that it would be much larger than needed.

I could not find material that contrasted the way that I liked (actually, I did, but it was a half yard short) so I had to go with dark blue.  I actually like it better, because it's still Cinderella-y without being too obvious.  I wasn't planning on adding a zipper, so I sewed the bodice together at the top and both sides.  The sleeves on Cinderella's dress aren't quite puffy sleeves, so to create the rounded effect of her sleeves, I stitched the sleeves in on themselves, attaching them to the seam.

I then created the skirt, which was a breeze, even though it's very heavily gathered.  I made a nice white lining as well and sewed them to the bodice.  I kept the skirt the full length, serged the bottoms of both the lining and the dress, and then sewed both to the lower seam of the waist.  I stitched the lining in first (so that the right side stayed out) and then kind of enveloped the lining with the dress to create a kind of ballooning effect.

This is the bottom of the dress stitched to the lower seam of the bodice.

The little side thingies - what the heck are they called; I keep wanting to call them papillions - were a PAIN IN THE NECK.  I made them four times, I believe.  The pattern is ridiculous.  You make a little half circle, gather the straight edge of it, and then sew that to the skirt.  The notches didn't match up, and I almost broke a needle trying to get through all those layers of gathering.  So, I gave up and made my own.  I made half circles that were 1" longer than the measurement of half the skirt.  I made four of those and sewed them together.  I then turned them right-side out and then flipped them upside down so that the straight edge touched the seam where the bodice meets the skirt, and sewed them to the bodice.  I then flipped them back right side.

I think they look terrible, but after having made four attempts, I was done.  (If it was for anything other than a dress-up dress, I obviously would have ripped AGAIN and started over.)  The problem was that I didn't keep in mind that when flipping them back over, the "right sides" wouldn't meet in the middle anymore.  And the lower seam where the two pieces are sewn together shows too much, I think.  So, if you're ever going to make these dumb things, modify the modification that I did.  Oh well - it's always a learning experience, isn't it?

After the dress was complete, I stitched several pieces of Velcro to the back of the dress.  The soft side goes on the part that overlaps, while the hooks go on the part that lays directly against the back.  I do this so that the dress can be altered.  Yes, it's not gorgeous, but again, this is a dress-up dress.  The stitches are wide and long - if she wears the dress when she gets older, her mom can simply rip out the farthest hooked piece of Velcro.  The same goes for the length - the wide stitches can easily be ripped out to let the dress hang down all the way, or it can be hemmed to an appropriate length.

Here is the finished dress, front and back - the right side of it isn't really that long, I just straightened that side too much while leaving the other side ballooned.  Also, it looks so terrible with the flash.  I swear, I take the WORST photos of my costumes.  I'm almost embarrassed to show these photos, as it makes it look like an 8th grade home ec kid made this dress.  Something else to work on ...

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Eowyn's Blue Robe

During the Christmas season, my favorite thing to do is to curl up in a chair in front of the tree with Tamora Pierce's Circle of Magic quartet, a blanket, a glass of sparkling grape juice (okay, who am I kidding - I call it "kids' wine"), a hunk of cheese (I highly recommend "Ewephoria" from Whole Foods) and a Hawaiian bread roll.

My husband and I have a New Year's Eve tradition of watching The Lord of the Rings Extended Editions back-to-back-to-back (yes, twelve hours straight of LOTR).  Therefore, after Christmas, my nightly reading ritual moves upstairs into a little nook in the loft above our bedroom, and I substitute tea or hot chocolate for the kids' wine, cut out the snack, and replace Tamora Pierce with Lord of the Rings.  When I have clothes on the line, I feel like I'm completely closed into a perfect little hiding place, and I just get lost in Middle Earth every night for the remainder of winter.

When The Return of the King extended edition was released and I saw the added scene with Eowyn in her blue robe, I practically drooled over that robe.  It just looked so warm and cozy, and I could just imagine how nice it would be to curl up in that during my wintry reading sessions.

So finally, I pulled it together.  This robe is never meant to leave the house, so I didn't worry too much about making it accurate.

I started out with Simplicity Pattern 5840, which I've used before for my Luthien robe.  I love it - it's very large, the sleeves are quite big, and when you wear it you just feel like you're completely enveloped in fabric.

The outer part of the robe is blue wool, and because I am highly allergic to wool, I used Cotton Poly Velour Baby Blue from fabric.com.  I even got it on sale during their 12 Days of Christmas sale.  I bought 8 yards because I wasn't sure how much I would need - because it's velvet, the nap has to go the correct way, and that means you always need more fabric than you would if you were able to lay the pattern down the way that it shows you in the diagram.  Plus, I wanted to make the sleeves much bigger than the sleeves in the pattern.

I used my trusty graph paper and extended the sleeves quite a bit - I just drew out diagonally from the shoulder in a straight line, and also made the sleeves a few inches longer.  This worked out great!

I had purchased just white fleece for the lining, but after cutting it all up, I decided I didn't like it after all.  It just felt cheap to me.  I have this gorgeous blanket that I got from Bed, Bath and Beyond last year.  I love the texture, it's double-sided, and I felt like it was the right color, so I headed over to Bed, Bath and Beyond to buy it.  But when I got there, I found I liked something else much better.

I could only fit two pattern pieces on each blanket, so I ended up buying three of them.  Luckily, I was able to use 20% coupons for each one, but it just goes to show you that I can never stick to any kind of budget when it comes to costumes.

I cut out the front, back, sleeves, and yoke, but not the hood.  Oh, and by the way, cutting that blanket was like murdering a stuffed animal.  By the time I was done, the entire living room, dining room, and sewing room were covered in a snowy layer of blanket fuzz.  We've barely had any snow this winter, and at the time, there was more "snow" inside the house than out!  I then sewed the entire robe together, the velvet material and the blanket lining, so I had two robes.  I then sewed the right sides together around the neck and down the front, then tucked the sleeves of the lining into the sleeves of the velvet.  I then turned the fabric down about 1/2" on the edges of the sleeves like a hem and then sewed the edges of the sleeves together like that.  Somehow, though, the material didn't match, and I had more velvet than blanket, so I kind of gathered the velvet before sewing it to the lining.  The same happened at the lower edge of the robe, so I just hemmed both the velvet and the lining and sewed them separately.

I had to use my 6'1" husband as a model when cutting the hem, because I totally did it the wrong way.  There was SO much material that I was having problems measuring the hem on my dressmaker's dummy, and it wasn't any easier on my husband because it just drapes in so many folds, so I just had him turn slowly while I eyeballed it and cut it freehand.  I was totally sweating bullets, but it turned out really well.  Even if it is uneven, you could never tell unless you looked REALLY hard.

I had some fur leftover from my Belle costume so I was going to put that on the collar, but because it's white, it just looked horrible next to the blanket.  I couldn't find any dappled or beige faux fur, so I just used scraps of the blanket and cut it out of that.  It didn't quite work out the way I would have liked, but this is just a robe for me, not a costume, so I decided I didn't care enough to try to remake it.  I sewed the right side to the lining so that it would turn out (I also tacked down the bottom edge to reinforce the turn).

So, here it is.  It's not totally accurate (the beige fabric is only on the edge of the sleeve, and I think the blue lining is textured), but honestly, I'm only wearing it while I read, and I wanted maximum comfort.  It's certainly not my best work, but I don't care - it's SO warm and cozy!!!  Also, I didn't make the accompanying dress - the one I'm wearing under the robe is my Aqua Georgette from Star Wars Episode II.

See, the collar isn't quite right.  It is even, though.  I don't know how I didn't catch that when I was photographing it.

You can see how long the sleeves are here.