Ali Wilkinson

Filling in the Gap

Last time I spoke of my adventures in Sri Lanka and this time I will provide more stories of what I have been up to while AWOL from this blog.

Regular readers will know that the Golden Child is a budding thespian and that each year her school puts on a production of varying proportions. This year they did Alice in Wonderland and Golden Child had the part of the Queen of Hearts, and I was asked to make her costume.

I was given a bag of fabric – velvet, stretchy shimmery red stuff, black lace jacket to cut up, and a zipper. I was also given a dress to use as a sort of model, and (thank goodness for this bit) a ready made hoop skirt to use as a base. Oh, and Mandy (who is wardrobe mistress extraordinaire) provided me with a drawing of her concept. No pressure then!

So here’s my confession. I might have made clothing in the past but I have never used a pattern, I have never made things that existed anywhere other than my own mind (and therefore only I knew if it didn’t look like I set out to make it look), I have never used velvet or stretchy fabric before, I have never sewn sleeves (let alone inset sleeves), and I have never taken a pattern off another garment. Hmmm, I needed to learn. Fast!

I started with the overskirt in the stretchy fabric, which I attached to a firm cotton waistband to give some substance. Each and every pleat was carefully mapped out and planned, buttonholes were sewn and I was pretty pleased with my effort! I added brace suspenders to the hoop skirt to ensure it stayed on Golden Child’s waist.

I then procrastinated for a while taking a pattern off the “demonstrator dress” bodice and making that from velvet with a lining and zippered back. Here is my lesson learned and hot tip for this type of work – interfacing is your friend. Repeat that three times so it sticks in mind for future reference!

However, the biggest procrastination took place over the sleeves which I well and truly dreaded making. Lots of googling informed me of the basic shape, being a little like an elongated standard deviation diagram, and of the importance of easing the seams. I had been asked to make the sleeves from the stretchy fabric, coming to a point over the centre finger, with a puffy velvet striped “leg of mutton” top part at the shoulders. I am sure that my procrastination allowed my brain to work this all out while I was sleeping as when time was running out and the pressure was mounting I awoke one morning and knew exactly what I had to do to make it work!

Once again, interfacing was my friend, combined with cream ribbons to create the striping. I took the plunge, realised I had cut the stretchy sleeves in the wrong orientation (the stretch went shoulder to hand and not around the arm – duh!), recut the long sleeves, pinned lots and jumped right in.

Not too shabby, if I say so myself!

Next up was embellishing the bodice with a piece of an old 1990s lace evening jacket which I cut up, edged in ribbon to prevent fraying, and attached to the bodice. Lastly I attached the bodice to the skirt, hemmed the overskirt and made the heart chocker necklace from a felt Christmas decoration.

What do you think? Here’s the full effect. Her make up was amazing and a golden crown topped the outfit while bells on her shoes and a light up staff (made from an oversized Chuppa Chupps container!) finished it off. I just realised I don’t have a photo of the whole ensemble and I am pretty mad about that.

So that, my friends, is largely what I have been up to the past few months, as well as a trip to San Francisco for Dearest Husband’s 50th during which time this is the closest I got to the fabric mecca Britex:

I know! It was like placing a giant chocolate cake in front of someone on a diet! Ah well, next time….

So now I have 4 months of Long Time Gone BOMs stacked up to complete in both original and Liberty versions, and I have to get back on the horse and make the next ring of my medallion. I did have a wee sew at the weekend and made this cute Christmas themed sturdy fabric box using Lilyella’s pattern:

Fabric by Makower.

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