Sometimes, You Fail

cutting out the lining

I’ve had Butterick 5951 in my “Ooo! I want this!” pattern pile for a little while now. Last weekend, I finally pulled it out of the envelope, pulled some fabric out of my stash, and got to work. I cut the bodice of View A and the skirt of View C and have been sewing on it over the past couple of days – a little bit here, a little bit there. Usually, I want to get through a project SO FAST! because I’m anxious to try it on and see how it fits. While I admit I still wanted to know how this pattern would look, I really wanted to take my time, enjoying the process, spending a little more time getting to know my sewing machine, etc.

I love a clean finish to the lining

I was also really enjoying little things like delicately slip-stitching the lining along the zipper tape, and fixing a slight mistake that occurred while I was cutting out the pieces. Sometimes, it’s nice to take your time and not hurriedly rush through a project, with a deadline hanging over your head.

When I cut out the front bodice pieces, I realized that the fabric was uneven along the bottom side, which meant one side of the bodice needed a little patch.

Last night, I wrapped up all the finishing except the final hem. I went to my room to slip it on and check the fit…

…and I hated it.

It was just wrong, wrong, wrong. The wrong style, the wrong fabric…everything was just wrong.

the patched bodice corner, from the wrong side.

And, while there are often things you can do to tweak a pattern and make it work, I honestly don’t think I could tweak the whole thing enough to make me happy with it. It’s just not-right-for-me overall.

Which is frustrating, when I’ve spent so much time on it, and was excited to see how it turned out. But that’s, unfortunately, part and parcel of any great sewing adventure. Sometimes, you fail. Sometimes, you do everything right and it still doesn’t work. Even after 20+ years of sewing, it still happens to me. And probably on a more regular basis than I would like.

Not to worry, though. I plan to take the pieces back apart and use the different components in other projects. The skirt gives me the most material to work with, and I already have an idea about how I’m going to use it.

[I should note…the lining for this dress was already salvaged from a different failed pattern experiment. Sometimes, you fail repeatedly.]

Dragon*Con 2010 Con Report #5 – Monday

And here we are, at long last, at the final con report for Dragon*Con 2010. Honestly, at this point my main goal was just to finish this up before the new year hit. I think I would’ve cried if I were still writing these in January. I’ve wanted to write about all sorts of other stuff before now, but felt like I owed it to everyone to finish the task I set out for myself first. Once this is over, though…there’s all kinds of other fun stuffs on the horizon!

So, let’s get this over with, shall we?


By this point in our excursion to Dragon*Con, the three of us were pretty tuckered out. If you’re wondering why, just go back and peruse a bit of the reports for the previous days. We had been running and running and doing a little bit of sitting, and then ran around some more.

Monday, therefore, was going to be a bit more low-key. There weren’t a whole lot of panels going on, most of the amazing, gasp-inducing costumes would’ve been packed up already, and the normally crowded halls and open spaces of the three four host hotels would be almost abandoned.

I do wish more people dressed in costume on the last day of the con. Granted, it’s basically a half-day and most people are barely holding onto consciousness at that point, but part of me kind of feels like saying “You’ve committed whole-heartedly thus far…why not go out with a bang?” For that reason – well, and also because Maggie and I jump at ANY opportunity to wear our costumes about in public – the three of us had picked out costumes for the final day of Dragon*Con.

Maggie trotted her Gabriel costume out again. I do believe it’s got the distinction of being the first costume she made entirely on her own. I’m always impressed by the chaps. She didn’t have a pattern. She just made it up on the spot, using a bit of spare fabric she had sitting around. If I remember correctly (which, at this point, is highly unlikely) she barely had enough.

I had managed to complete my much-desired Popple costume in time for Dragon*Con. I’d actually had the idea to make one at last year’s convention, and it took a full year of fussing about with fabric to finally pull the thing together. It went through a number of changes, and I’m still not 100% happy with the whole look. I think I’m going to scrap what I’ve got and start afresh later, but that’s not what this post is about. Suffice it to say, I had a Popple costume for Monday’s Dragon*Con.

And then there was Heather.

In the months leading up to Dragon*Con, Heather had been brainstorming a bunch of different costume ideas. I was impressed with the ones she decided to go with. Not only were they pretty easy to pull together, they were all going to be easily identifiable by fellow con-goers and would be comfortable to wear for an entire day. Her final costume idea, however, was my absolute favorite.

It was, quite honestly, one of the most brilliant and original ideas I’ve heard someone come up with.

Ladies and gentlemen, on the final day of Dragon*Con 2010, my sister chose to go as Wilson.

The Volleyball.

From “Cast Away.”

Yes, that movie with Tom Hanks stuck on an island.

Yes. She went as the volleyball.

I want you to sit there and imagine, for a moment, how someone might approach that sort of costume. Would she build a giant contraption that would sit around her, and paint it to look like a volleyball? Would she wear a shirt with Wilson’s “face” printed on it?

Now that you’ve thought about the possible approaches to said costume, I’ll show you what she went with.

Love it, love it, LOVE IT!

Originally, her plan was to carry around a bunch of the items Chuck Nolan has with him on the island – an ice skate, the pocket watch, maybe some loops of video tape. In the end, we were only able to get the FedEx box. We all felt it was imperative that Heather have it, just to make it more obvious what/who she was supposed to be.

Maggie had painted the wing insignia on the box before we had left Northern Virginia. We were worried about the paint flaking off, and I suggest covering it with clear packing tape. I figured it would blend in, since it was a package. The box made the trip to Atlanta nicely, stowed in our makeshift overhead compartment in the Green Man, along with Kowl’s ears, Ripley’s gun and Gabriel’s wings. When we piled out of the car on Monday morning, we went ahead and popped the box open into it’s “ready to be mailed” shape.

Heather’s costume was a nice little group project on Monday morning. Heather handled the clothing part and Maggie did the hair while I got my stuff together. Then, we switched and I did Heather’s makeup. I think we did pretty well, considering I was going off a tiny little picture of Wilson that Maggie had pulled up on her phone.

Obviously, we had gotten a few weird looks when we left the hotel that morning. That was to be expected. Not as many as we got when we disembarked at Dragon*Con. While Maggie went off to pay for the parking, I unloaded my Popple costume and got dressed for the day. Once again, I found myself standing in the warm Atlanta weather dressed in what basically amounts to footie pajamas.

Oh…at this point I’d like to take the time out to say “Thank goodness for crocs.” Now, I’m not the sort of person who bought into the whole Croc phenomenon when it first took hold. I didn’t run out and buy a pair and wear them to work, school, the doctor’s office, etc. I’m quite happy with my tennis shoes, quite honestly. However, I have since come to the conclusion that Crocs (and similar, non-brand-name versions) can be counted amongst a costumer’s convenient supplies. I built my Kowl feet around a pair of Croc-like shoes this year. I had used a similar pair of shoes for the basis of my Po feet a few years ago (I had to be creative when making giant panda feet). I knew I was going to need to wear footie covers over whatever pair of shoes I was going to wear while in my Popple costume, but I didn’t want to have to worry about laces and pulling the covers on and off the shoes. I wanted something cheap to slip inside the Popple foot covers, that I could then slip onto my own feet. Crocs were the answer.

The Popple costume wasn’t actually completely finished. Orginally, I’d wanted to make a little nose-and-fuzzy-cheek addition that would cover part of my face. I decided to put it on hold for this year, and focus on finishing the myriad of other small tasks on my list leading up to the con.

I still needed a weird nose, though. My human nose just wouldn’t work for the Popple. So I brought along my little foam clown nose. (Just to clarify…when I clown, I don’t actually wear a clown nose. I paint my red nose on)

Between the red clown nose, the multi-colored tail dangling from my butt and the feathery mop of “hair” on my head, I made quite a sight walking into the Marriot that morning. Though, to be fair, I’m not entirely sure whether people were staring at me or my sister. Regardless, we walked through Atlanta’s streets and entered the Marriot in search of that day’s breakfast.

For once, the line at Starbucks wasn’t ridiculously long. We quickly made it up to the counter, where a young man was taking the orders of the people in line. When I got up to the register, I encountered one of the major drawbacks of my popple costume…I have an opposable thumb, but no fingers. Let me tell you, folks, it’s damn hard trying to fumble your money out of your wallet when you have mitten hands. I ended up having to ask Maggie to help.

The woman who rang me up took one look at me and broke into a huge grin. She asked if I would mind stopping for a picture. I told her I was fine and waited while she pulled her camera out of her apron. I’m pretty sure she had prepared for her shift that day, knowing full well that she was going to see people in weird costumes at her register.

By the way, she had no idea whatsoever what I was. She just thought my costume was cute.

Drinks and pastries in hand – or, in my case, paw – Heather, Maggie and I

Even obscure toys from your childhood have to eat.

 confiscated one of the small tables set near the railing, over-looking the lower level. I had to take my nose off to eat, but did my best to keep my paws on and crumb-free. At one point, a man with a GIANT camera wandered over to us and asked Heather if he could take a picture of her. She said of course. We asked if he knew what she was. He said “No,” at first, but then took a closer look at her face and what she was carrying, and realized she was Wilson. I think he might’ve taken a picture of me, too, and of course didn’t know what I was, but I’m not 100% sure. Parts of Monday are hazy.

After breakfast, the three of us headed to our first panel of the day, “Disasters in Costuming.” The description in our pocket program guide was as follows:

Mistakes they never saw coming: guests and audience alike talk about stuff that had hilariously disastrous results. Don’t try this stuff at home.

How could you read a description like that and NOT want to go to that panel? By this point in time, Maggie and I have had our own share of disasters in costuming. There was the time she got stuck inside her PPP Ron head because her hair got caught in her fan. There was the time Maggie’s homemade stilt feet for her Pan costume broke while she was walking around in the dark, next to the firepit! (Don’t worry, she didn’t catch fire) There was the time she wound up with bright blue hands while painting Heather’s Orko gloves.

Wait a minute…I’m starting to notice a trend here. Maggie’s had the more notable costuming “incidents.” I’ve had some, too, but I guess they’re not as memorable. Or maybe I’m just not remembering them at the moment.

At any rate, we were both interested in going to the panel and learning from the mistakes of the experts. Heather wasn’t originally going to accompany us, but she ended up following along. I want to take a moment now to tell you that, immediately following the panel, she said “That was great! I’m glad I came.” See, Heather? We pick interesting panels.

Anyhoo…the three of us walked into the room and paused slightly. Normally, the doors of the rooms for panels let you in to the back of the room. Chairs are normally arranged facing away from the main doors, with the table that the panel members sit at being furthest from the entrance. This way, if you’re a little late for a panel, you won’t be as disruptive.

This was not the case with this particular panel. The door opened into the front of the room, so the three of us had to walk in and pass rows of people already in their chairs and waiting for the discussion to begin. Of course, this meant that people got a nice, long look at my costume. As I walked down the aisle towards some free seats in the back, a gentleman sitting at about the halfway point of the room leaned forward and asked “Are you a Popple?”

I grinned, said “I am, indeed, sir,” and gave him a high-five for knowing what

Petting my tail

 I was.

“Can I get a picture of you, please? My wife’s a big Popple fan. She’s going to be kicking herself that she missed you.”

I stopped mid-aisle and posed for his camera, and noticed a few more people stepping forward to take pictures. Apparently, once someone pointed it out, other people could recognize what I was. It helped, I’m sure, that most of the crowd assembled in the room was my age or a little older, so they knew what a Popple was in the first place.

There was one young woman, in particular, who was excited to see my costume. She asked “Do you have a pouch?” I responded by turning around and showing her, and then proceeded (with Maggie’s assistance) to unzip the sides and bring what I could of the pouch around to the front. It doesn’t really work the way I want it to, and that’s one of the things I want to change for the Popple 2.0 costume.

The panel started soon after we took our seats, and proved to be one of my favorite panels, ever. There were tips, tricks, and “PLEASE make sure you aren’t this stupid” stories galore. As the program guide promised, the panel members weren’t the only ones providing anecdotes and advise. I absolutely love hearing fellow costumers talk about their work – about what worked and what didn’t.

Heather separated from us for a while after that. She went to the final Ghost Hunters panel of the weekend and headed over to meet Amy and Steve at the Walk of Fame afterwards. She was positively giddy with excitement when she met back up with us later.

“I got to shake Steve’s hand!” she grinned. Apparently, the joy at meeting the Ghost Hunters drove her original question from her head and she had to quickly substitute another…which she couldn’t even remember when I asked her. She did remember, however, that Steve couldn’t look her in the face when he met her. He kept looking away, trying not to laugh at the fact that she looked like Wilson the volleyball.

The other major thing we did on Monday was attend “Dragon*Con’s Got Talent,” the convention’s brand-new talent competition.

I am at odds about what to think about “Dragon*Con’s Got Talent.” I think, in some ways, the judges were a bit mean. There was one judge, in particular, who should probably thank his lucky stars that he wasn’t set on fire by the audience for banging the trash can lid gong in the middle of a pretty good act. He was just a pompous act, and I honestly have no idea what qualified him to be a judge of talent, other than the fact that he said he would do it. The other two judges were much more pleasant and fair about their dealings with the people who had entered the contest.

Now, as with any kind of talent competition, there were some entrants who were, shall we say, less than blessed as far as their so-called talents went. Some folks sang who really shouldn’t have sung. Some folks came out and tried comedy and found that the phrase “Comedy is hard” is entirely too true. There were some folks who just plain confused me.

Nestled in amongst some of the atrocious crap acts were some absolute gems. There was the guy who came out and performed a classical guitar piece, and nearly brought the audience to tears. There was the guy (the final performer) who sang “Anthem,” from the musical Chess. His voice gave me goosebumps – and he played along with the emcee’s goofy antics in the middle of her performance. And there was the young woman who came out in a full Diva Plava LaGuna costume and sang “Il dolce suono,” the operatic half of the Diva’s song from the movie. Technically, the song is from Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor. When asked why she didn’t sing the second part, she quipped “Because you guys gave me a time limit.”

I’ve actually got video from my phone of the woman’s performance, but it didn’t transfer over when I got the new phone, so I need to find another way to post it for you all to listen to. In the meantime, here’s the song from the movie (full song, but with weird arrangement of clips).

She ended up winning the grand prize, by the way. She was well-deserving of the win, too. Everytime I think of Monday I just remember Maggie leaning over to me and excitedly whispering “I think someone’s going to sing the Diva’s song from Fifth Element. I just saw someone in a lot of blue.”

The inside of "The Eggbeater Hotel," as Maggie & I call it.As we left the talent competition, we decided to call it a day, grab some snacks and drinks from the Marriot’s convenience store and start heading home to good ol’ Northern Virginia. A quick trip to the bathroom was also in order.

Of course, when you’re wearing giant blue footie pajamas with a weighted tail that could possibly get caught in a toilet, and the zipper of your costume is behind a giant patch of fleece that is held up by velcro that sticks to your fuzzy Popple paws, a “quick trip to the bathroom” doesn’t really exist. While Maggie waited for me, about four different people came up to her just to say she looked awesome. One of those four people was a really shy, geeky guy who shuffled up, said “You look gorgeous,” and shuffled off again. I think that’s my favorite moment from Monday, and I wasn’t even there for it.

On our way out, we passed a table for one of the musical acts that had performed at Dragon*Con. One of the women stopped Maggie and asked if she could have her husband take a bunch of detail photos of her costume. She told us that she has been wanting to make a Gabriel costume for the longest time, but that she hasn’t been able to find any good shots of it on the internet. Maggie’d had the very same problem herself, back when she was making the costume, and she readily agreed to pose for some shots and give the woman some tips.

While Heather and I waited for Maggie, another young woman came up to me and asked “Are you a Popple?” She took some pictures of me, as well, and I left the convention feeling as though I’d accomplished something. People actually knew what I was! That doesn’t always happen when I’m in costume at a con.

As I’ve mentioned, there weren’t a whole lot of costumes being worn about the halls on Monday. For that reason, I don’t really have many NGB costume winners today.

Best: Diva Plava LaGuna

Most Dedicated: Stormtrooper – In case you’re wondering, it’s because it takes some manuevering to get into these costumes, and I’m impressed someone had the dedication to go to that trouble for a half-day at an almost empty convention.

Most In Character: Some sort of demon-thingy that snorted at Maggie when she walked past it.

Most Random: Golden Batman

In the aftermath of this year’s Dragon*Con, I’ve realized a number of things:

  1. There’s nothing that makes me squeal louder and revert back to being a child faster than a remote-control robot.
  2. I need to assign people in my group as “official note-taker” on days when I’m wearing a costume with mitten paws or gloves with only three fingers.
  3. I am entirely too easily amused by Star Wars-influenced pick-up lines.
  4. I need a smaller digital camera, capable of taking both still photos and video.
  5. I need to add pockets to the inside of the damn Popple belly patch.
  6. Velcro and fleece/terry cloth make life entirely too challenging.

Oh, what a…lovely…dress.

As I’ve mentioned recently the majority of projects on my current to-do list are dresses. Again, not something I usually have much call to wear but an item of clothing I like to make none-the-less. I’ve already shown you a picture of the cherry blossom dress. I’ve also recently completed (except for the hem, which I’ll need the assistance of a full-length mirror for) another dress that is pretty much the same as the cherry blossom dress, with a few very slight alterations. That one was made out of black cotton with a lovely cherry print on it. I’ve been meaning to make a cute cherry print dress for a while — ever since I came across this one online. I love a lot of the dresses on the website and would wear a great many of them (yes, I would probably wind up wearing dresses a lot more than I do if I actually had some that looked like this). The big problem with a lot of the clothes I find online is that they simply won’t fit me. They’re either not in my size or the style won’t work with my body type. It happens. Moving on.

One of the ways around this is to work on creating your own wardrobe, one piece at a time. Presumably, you know the quirks of your body better than any maker of ready-to-wear clothing does, so you can adjust for “problem areas” as you go. Short torso? Fixable. Don’t like your upper arms? Just slap some sleeves on that cute sleeveless dress/top. One shoulder sits higher than the other? It’ll take some work but there’s a solution for that, too. And before you ask, yes, that’s actually sometimes a concern for some people. The lady who runs a site about historic costuming that I visit has that problem, in addition to a touch of scoliosis. All these things can be addressed during fittings and the drafting of patterns, so as to make your problem areas disappear – or, at the very least, stand out less.

Now, one of the things I usually have problems with when using commercial patterns is the length and proportion of different elements. Although I’ve got a shorter torso than I’d like it seems to me that the torso part of the patterns I buy are always much too short for me. They tend to hit above my navel. I’ve taken to extending the length of some of the patterns I work with while cutting out the fabric. Sometimes this works better than others. In many ways, I’m still learning about the whole process of getting a perfect fit.

I started work on a cute little dress the other day. I was using some green stripey fabric with a Hawaiian inspired print that I had picked up a year ago. Maggie spotted the pattern on the futon in my sewing corner the other day and proclaimed it cute. I agree, naturally. That’s why I picked it up. It’s got a lot of gathering at the waistline, however, which made me pause a little. My hips are one of the things that I’m not all that keen on – when the time comes I don’t think I’ll have any problem giving birth – and it’s rather easy to draw attention to that area. I figured I’d give the dress the old college try, as they say, and went ahead with the construction.

As I normally do, I extended the bodice of the dress so it would hit much closer to my natural waist than it was originally going to. I hand-sewed the stitches needed to gather the skirt, rather than use the longest setting on the machine. I’ve found that hand-sewn gathering stitches work much better than machine ones when it comes to gathering large amounts of fabric. I’m sure I could make it easier with the machine stitches just by changing the tension on the thread, but…I still prefer the hand-sewn gathers.

The pattern went together rather easily. There aren’t all that many pieces and I didn’t really have to look at the instructions. I’m actually rather happy with the way the whole thing turned out, aside from one little thing…

The darn dress looks horrible on me.

It’s okay, really. I’m not all that upset by it. These things happen. If you make your own clothes, you’re occasionally going to make something for yourself that never actually shows up in your wardrobe. By now I’ve had a number of mishaps. Most of them wind up being taken apart, with the fabric reused for other items. Some items are simply passed along to other people. A coat I made in an attempt at making a Green Rider costume wound up going to my sister. The black corduroy coat I originally made for my steampunk character, Tesla, wound up working better with Maggie’s costume, so I just gave it to her.

Actually, Maggie seems to be the beneficiary of most of my recent mishaps in sewing. In addition to the steampunk coat, she received the first version of the cherry print dress that I made. It needs to be altered a little bit but it’s much more likely to work with her than on me. She will also most likely be the person to wind up wearing the new dress I was working on. I’ve left off putting in the zipper for now, to make altering the fit for her a little easier. We’ll see whether the style works better for her than it did for me. I have a feeling it will…it’s similar to a dress she recently bought.

The lesson we can learn from this, folks? Well, first off, know your body type. 🙂 I knew, going in, that the gathering at the waist probably wouldn’t go well. If I had listened to my instincts (and remembered previous “mishaps”) I would have avoided making something I couldn’t wear. Just because something looks good on the model on the front of the envelope, it doesn’t follow that it’ll necessarily look good on you. Sorry, but them’s the breaks. Ideally, our clothing should reflect our personalities and make us feel confident. In order to do this, it has to fit

Second, it’s a good idea to make a “draft” copy of a new pattern out of a cheaper fabric – like muslin or broadcloth – before you use the fabric you intend to use for the real piece. Yes, the construction will take twice as long (you’ll be making two versions of the piece instead of one, after all) but you’ll save yourself some frustration – not to mention money – if you realize that the pattern just won’t work after making a cheap-y first draft, rather than finding out after you’ve used the good stuff you’d been saving.

Third, when you do happen to make something that doesn’t fit in the way you thought it would or wanted it to don’t get upset and don’t just pitch it in the trash. Go ahead and finish it the best you can and see if someone else you know can use it. Even if it doesn’t work for you, that doesn’t mean it won’t look good on a friend of yours. If there’s no one in your circle who can use it, try taking it down the street to the thrift store or donate it to a local charity. I guarantee that there will be someone, somewhere, who would love to add your creation to their wardrobe. You’ll be sharing your creativity and doing something good for the environment. Think of it as recycling!


While looking over a couple of the older posts I realized that I had made a promise and didn’t follow through on it. At the end of the first Costume Con post I promised to write about the Simplicity Single Pattern Contest. Then I didn’t. Sorry about that. I suppose I just got carried away.

Although it’s been over for a while, I figured I should probably go ahead and at least post something about the contest.

So, here goes.

One of the many contests held over the course of the Costume Con weekend was the Simplicity Single Pattern Contest.

Basically, two patterns are chosen: One men’s and one women’s. Attendees of Costume Con are challenged to use these patterns as starting points for their own creations. They are encouraged to make the design their own – both with color and fabric choice, in creating a persona to go along with the pattern…even going so far as to encourage people to redraft pieces of the patterns.

There weren’t a whole lot of people who redrafted the patterns, instead of just altering the look with fabric or presentation, but there were a few. Believe it or not, this dress is actually made from the same pattern that everyone else was modeling. It was just drastically redrafted.

For the most part, people tended to leave the basic bones of the costumes much as they originally were. Most of the big decisions were made in fabric choice. Some folks used special techniques in their costumes (there were at least two who had hand-painted aspects to their costumes). Some used silks and some used the cheapest fabrics they could find. One person even made an entire outfit out of remnants from their fabric stash. I think I would have been more impressed with that one if it hadn’t looked like it was taped and stapled together by a three year old, and if she had given more thought to how the different colors and fabrics could be utilized in creative ways.

Most of the women went ahead and made the women’s pattern for themselves but there were a few who opted to do pieces based on the men’s design. One of the best was a coat that had an airbrushed pattern of skulls on the mantle and around the bottom of the coat. The woman wore a skeleton mask and a drover’s hat and added little touches to the character with the other pieces she wore underneath.

One entry consisted of a group of three people. They had also made the coats, this time in denim and sturdy canvas, and had added all sorts of cat toy accessories – as well as a number of stuffed cats. The name of their entry was “Cat Herders.” They interacted with the audience the best of any of the entrants, I think. In fact, one of them spotted me while they walked off the little raised platform in the front, took out one of their cat toys, and dangled it in front of me (I was Po that night).

There were a number of pieces I was kind of “eh” about, but there were also a couple that re stood out from the rest. One such piece was titled “Resistance is Feudal.” The concept for the costume was that a Borg had come to Earth during the Medieval period. The woman used the dress pattern, but the materials, the makeup and the additions to the costume all helped toally make it stand out from the rest.

Another piece that I loved was based on the women’s pattern but was modeled by a man. It was an absolutely gorgeous piece made using kimono fabric. The two of them walked in as a couple, and the whole crowd watching erupted in oohs and aahs. Another woman took the pattern and put a slightly Nordic spin on it. I think the color looked fantastic on her, and it was nice to see a slightly different interpretation on it. The original dress itself is not a pattern that can be directly linked to a specific style or period in history – it’s more of a vaguely historic pattern. The adaptation here, however, seemed more based in a culture.
There were a couple of folks who came out with pieces showing how you can update a Renaissance/Medieval pattern into a more contemporary look. One would fall into the Goth Lolita style and the other one…well, I’m not exactly sure which category it would necessarily go into, but it was probably my favorite of the evening. It was constructed as two entirely separate dresses and then layered, one on top of the other. I never would have thought to to either of these!

The biggest laugh of the night came from an entry that the emcee mispronounced as “No Alliteration Whatsoever.” We were all confused until the title was corrected (“No Alteration Whatsoever”) and the woman modeling the dress went to stand on the raised platform. Two long banners depicting the patterns that had been chosen for the Simplicity Single Pattern contest were displayed, flanking the stage, and the woman stood in front and to the side of the one of the Medieval pattern. When she posed, we saw why she had titled her entry the way she had…it was quite literal. She had made the dress, done her makeup and styled her hair to look exactly like the mannequin that was modeling the dress on the banner.
Kudos for, er, creativity?


So, work on the pants came to an untimely halt the other night. I needed to take them in quite a bit. The top of the pattern ended up coming out nice in the initial construction, but the legs were far too big for my frame. I took the pants over to the church the other day, planning to lay them down on one of the long tables in the fellowship hall. I frequently go over to the church to do my fabric cutting, as it’s really the only place big enough for me to do most of it. Here at the house I have only a small square table.

I neglected to bring along my measure tape and decided to use a pre-existing pair of pants in order to figure out the fit for my steampunk pants. I also decided not to try them on again to check the fit of the hips and waist (which, for the most part, were okay). I just got right to chalking what I thought I needed to take off.

Long story short, it was a bad idea. I failed to do a lot of things I usually do when fitting my pants and it definitely came back to bite me on the ass. Or the hips, I should say, as that’s the part of the pants that essentially ended up missing when I resewed the pants last night. I went to try them on and — pfhhhht….there, went all my hopes for a single pair of mistake-less pants.

I tried a couple of things to fix them, but none of them were working. At one point I just sat there, staring at the pants and thinking “well, that was a waste of fabric!” I actually threw them on the couch and walked away from them.

A couple minutes later, after I had calmed down, I decided to take another look. I had enough fabric to add in some patch-like sections. I drafted little inserts that incorporated the curve that I had somehow taken out of the hips of the jeans and started sewing them on. I got one side finished last night. The other side should be done tonight or early tomorrow morning. I’m cautiously optimistic that this will solve most of the problem. It may even wind up being an interesting addition (alteration) to the original pattern. We shall see.

The point of this entry is mainly to state the obvious: mistakes are going to be made in the course of costuming. I’ve been sewing shirts with sleeves for a number of years, yet I frequently sew them on the wrong way (with the raw edges of the seam on the outside, rather than the inside). In fact, I recently sewed the cuff of the sleeve for my steampunk shirt on the wrong way around – I swear, this costume has given me more problems than any other. As I mentioned in an earlier post, my first (oh, let’s say 50) zippers were horribly crooked. However, I would argue that some of the best touches to many of my costumes have come out of the mistakes I have made during construction.

I think one of the most important things to remember when something like this happens is that, honestly, most things can be fixed to a certain point. They will never be completely the same, of course, but most people, looking at pieces that you have put together, will have no idea that the finished product is not what you were originally planning to do. And, since most things can be adapted and “fixed” there is very little point in getting upset. Honestly, I’m a little surprised at myself for yelling at the pants (and yelling at myself for good measure — or bad measure, if you like). I mean, I once had a sewing machine needle break and fly off to lodge itself in my lower lip. All I did in that situation was say “Ow” quietly and head off to excavate the broken needle from my mouth. The pants really shouldn’t have annoyed me as much as they did.

So who knows. Perhaps these pants will end up being the most awesome thing I have ever managed to make. Or maybe it’ll just be an object lesson in remembering to measure twice, cut once.

Either way, I will try to come to terms with my massive mistake.

As my aunt once told me “Only the Creator makes perfect things.”

Change in plans

After writing the last post, I went downstairs to take stock of the fabric I had and what the patterns required. My heart sank when I realized that I didn’t have enough of the black and white plaid to make the Butterick pattern.

Not to fear. I had a simple black cotton with tiny pin-prick polka dots — just barely enough to cut out the pattern, but it is now cut out. I’ve also cut out the pattern for my steampunk pants, and for the pink poodle skirt for my Rose costume.

Looking at the piles of patterns in my current “to be sewn” line-up, I’m struck with the realization that – for the moment at least – my projects are very retro. With the Butterick dress and the costume from Doctor Who, I’m delving into fashion from the 50s. The pants for Tesla are high-waisted and are reminiscient of Katherine Hepburn’s style around the 1940s.

Although the pants are being made out of a dark brown denim, there are aspects of the design that are definitely feminine. These are not simply guy’s pants, or even unisex pants. They are clearly intended for someone with hips. I still don’t know how the finished product will look, but I’m looking forward to trying them on.

The good thing about the three pieces I’m working on is that they are all pretty simple, straight-forward designs. The Butterick dress only has three pattern pieces. The Rose skirt is a circle skirt with an elastic waistband.

After the little black and white dress I finished recently (I haven’t photographed it yet…it’s having serious static problems), a simple, easy-to-follow pattern is just what I need. The afore-mentioned dress looked like it would be easy. It was basically an a-line dress with an overlay on the bodice. The pattern even allowed for upper arm coverage without the stress of having to sew set-in sleeves! Always a plus. I put the zipper in it the other day and tried it on, and realized it actually needs a little more length at the bottom for me to feel comfortable. It’s also really clingy and I can’t tell if it’s actually the fit of the dress or just the massive amounts of static cling that is causing that. I tried to work on it a little more but I was getting frustrated, and I thought it best to set things aside and turn to something else for a little bit.