Monday, December 2, 2013

Clara Oswald Part 2: Skirt and Shawl

Clara's skirt was even more difficult than the bodice.  It consists of a ruffled skirt, apron, and bustle.

I used the Simplicity 1819 pattern for the skirt, apron, and bustle, but ended up modifying it quite a bit.  I was having a lot of issues figuring this all out, so I didn't take many photos.  I relied heavily on screen shots and publicity shots, and I found a fantastic resource over at  If you're planning on making a Clara Barmaid costume, I highly recommend you check out her walkthrough.

I started out with the skirt base, which is constructed from Bordeaux Wine broadcloth from JoAnn Fabrics.

I then cut out 8" ruffles out of the same fabric.  I finally broke down and purchased a cutting mat and rotary blade for this, and I was able to cut out the ruffles in about 15 minutes.  I cut them out in about 1-yard lengths, and ended up cutting out about 24 of them (sorry, I lost count!)  Check out the Lissie Rose website for a tutorial on how to do pleated ruffles.  I more or less followed the tutorial, but I had to gather the ruffles by hand, as I don't have a ruffler foot.

I started running a straight stitch about 2" from the bottom of each ruffle to prevent it from fraying up too high, but I didn't like how it looked.  I used fray check instead.  However, in the future, I wouldn't do either.  Clara's skirt is frayed quite badly, and while the fray check is effective, it did show up very dark after drying.  After it dried, I gathered the ruffles at the top and pulled them until they were about one foot long.

I then pinned the ruffles to the skirt and stitched them on.


The final step of the ruffled skirt was to add the decorative trim to the top ruffle.  I tried making it out of the broadcloth, but it just didn't look right.  I ended up using wired ribbon from JoAnn's (sorry, I can't find what it's called - just look for maroon that matches the Bordeaux Wine broadcloth).

I made the apron and bustle according to the pattern instructions, but I ended up leaving off the side cascade pieces.

Please note that for the apron, you will need to add another 8" or so.  I didn't realize until after I'd sewn it all together that it wasn't as long as Clara's, so I'll be going back and adding some.  Also, I did not pleat the apron according to the directions, because when I did, it didn't lay the same way that Clara's did.  Instead I eyeballed it on one side, measured each fold and mirrored it on the other side, then hand-stitched it to lay flat.

The bustle was a nightmare.  I worked on it for about four nights before I realized I had to simply cut out the entire bottom.  There is literally one second in the entire episode where you can see the bustle, and I can't even figure out what it's supposed to be.  It doesn't look like a normal bustle, that's for sure.  I bustled the darn thing up almost a dozen times before I decided there was just too much.  In the pattern, the bustle is comprised of four pieces.  It's those two bottom pieces that had to go.  I originally had the very bottom tied up, because that's how it looks in the photo, but I eventually decided to just let it hang loose.

Please note that the top of the bustle, where it attaches to the skirt, is heavily gathered.  It is very difficult to work with, so I used a TON of pins.

Also, I'm not describing how I bustled it, because it was nowhere near the right way of doing it.  If you want to know how to bustle, go find a YouTube tutorial!

The final thing to do was to add a waistband around the top of the skirt. I also put in four sets of hooks and eyes - two in the waistband, and two in the top of the bustle.

This photo doesn't do it justice ...

Clara's skirt is heavily distressed.  I mean, it is RIDICULOUSLY distressed.  I don't know what on earth that girl was doing that would make her ruffles so darned distressed.  To achieve the same look, I first pulled out all of the threads that had worked themselves loose just from handling the skirt.  I did this until the ruffles were quite frayed.  I should have done more in some areas, but it was about 1:00 in the morning the day before the con when I did it, so I had to settle.  I then took my tiny thread snippers and made small cuts along each ruffle, then tore the fabric.  The cuts and tears are varied for a more authentic feel.  I also took the snippers and stabbed them into the fabric in various places to make holes.  Some of them look like burns (I think I'll probably actually go back and burn it in a few places), as if she got too close to the fire, and some look more like she caught the ruffle on a nail or splinter.  It was probably just because it was in the wee hours of the morning, but I did give origin stories to many of the more unique tears and rips.

The final step to the distressing was to take a black stick of artist's charcoal and rub it all over the skirt.  I then took small sections of the fabric and rubbed it in my hands to make it look more worn.  I then gave it a quick spritz with hairspray.  NOTE: Do the hairspray thing before touching the fabric, or else you'll take most of the charcoal off.  (I will be redoing that, too.)  My only excuse is that by this time, it was 3am and I wasn't thinking very clearly ...

For Clara's shawl, I used a maroon Aspen Sweater knit, which I found in the Evanston location of Vogue Fabrics.  I made a pattern by laying out one of my own shawls.  After cutting the shawl out, I ran a straight stitch about 5/8" from the edge because I wanted a small amount of fraying, but not too much.  I then took maroon yarn (which isn't quite the same color), cut it into about 8" pieces, then pulled it through the shawl at regular intervals and tied it.  I then used a knitting needle to pull the individual strands apart.

Oh - I almost forgot!  I made a "petticoat" as well.  I just made a basic skirt (you can use the Simplicity 1819 pattern again if you want) out of Turkey Red broadcloth from JoAnn's.  I'm not pleased with it, so I'll be remaking it with one of their red linens, which I'd somehow missed the first time around. 

And here's the final product, taken at Chicago TARDIS, where Matt and I won Best in Show at the Masquerade!  Stay tuned for a Chicago TARDIS report, which I'll be publishing at some point this week.

No comments:

Post a Comment