Jul 20, 2015

The Making of the Jellyfish {AKA The Graduation Dress} | Part 1 The Skirt

This is my first post since graduating on the Saturday! YAY! I've made a couple of posts about inspiration for my graduation dress, which is inspired mostly by romantic tutu's from the ballet. I did a lot of research before starting this dress and then I learned even more when I actually made it.

The finished dress

I have given this dress the nickname "The Jellyfish" because while I was working on the skirt I noticed that it resembled the movements of a jellyfish when fluffing it up and down. And now that's just what I call it.

This post is going to be about making the skirt. The skirt includes 10 yards of tulle and approximately 2 yards of 58" satin, and a whole lotta patience. I ended up having to make the skirt 3 times because it was made of tulle which meant I didn't do a mock up to work out the bugs. But you'll learn all about that if you keep reading.


This first part is the first time I made the skirt. I started out with making the basque, which is a piece of fabric that the tulle gets sewn onto and sits on the lower waist/hips. I made the first basque out of a pink broadcloth, which was my first mistake. I thought that the tulle would blend the color/fabric difference between the bask and the satin of the lining skirt. But I was wrong. 

My basque is basically drafted the same way you would draft a 3/4 circle skirt. I didn't really know what other shape to use and it ended up working just fine. When the bask was cut I folded the edges over about 1/4 of an inch and hand sewed it down. After that I measured and traced out my rows where I would stitch the tulle, which were 1/2" apart.

The next thing I did was cut out my tulle. I purchased 10 yards of 58" wide tulle. Each layer of the skirt was made from 2 panels 2 yards by approx 29" wide. I learned from the last time I used tulle in the petticoat for my Rose Tyler dress and avoided the sewing machine as much as possible.

After I had my pannels cut I stitched them together with my sewing machine, creating basically a 4 yard skirt that I gathered by hand.

I stitched all of the panels together, creating the layers at once so I could just gather, stitch to the basque, and repeat.

After I hand sewed about 4 layers on (which took I don't remember how many hours) I started to realize the skirt was poofing out too much at the hips. Personally I like this shape, it actually resembles the shape of my favorite version of the Star Princess dress from Phantom, but it's not the look I was going for.

I did some research and learned that tulle on romantic tutu's are usually sewn 1" apart where I had been sewing them at 1/2" apart. So I took out 2 rows of tulle, had to gather it again, and then stitched it on at 1" apart.

This gave me the silhouette I wanted and I kept going, moving onto the skirt lining next.

For my skirt lining I did a full circle skirt. I drafted the pattern to fit the measurement of the bottom of the basque instead of my waist. To draft the skirt I use this tutorial HERE, which I've used before and I love it!

After the skirt was cut out I zig zagged the edges to keep it from fraying and then I stay stitched the waistline. For those of you who don't know, stay stitching is just basting around curved edges. It helps keep the fabric from stretching out of shape.

I added a lapped zipper to the skirt in the back. This was my first time doing one of these zippers and it turned out pretty good. Not the cleanest, but it all got covered in tulle anyways.

At this point I pinned the skirt lining onto the basque and I realized that the difference in types of fabric and the color difference was going to be obvious, so I made a new basque out of the same satin and, which also meant I would be restitching the tulle on again.

I made the basque the same way as the first, but this time I zig-zagged the edges

Next I stitched the hooks and eyes on.

You'll notice that the hooks and eyes are alternating. I decided to do this after my first basque because they would come undone easily and this is a technique that's been used since theses little guys were invented.

After that I sewed the lining to the basque. For this basque I decided it would be easiest to sew the tulle on after I attached the lining. Which was the best decision I made.

After the lining was attached I started sewing tulle... again.

I decided against going ahead and making out the lines on the basque and free handed it. I didn't want to have to deal with washing the marker out under 5 layers of tulle. Overall I think I did pretty good at keeping it even, and you definitely can't see any of the imperfections when I'm wearing the dress.

 This is the skirt with 4 layers of tulle and the mock up for the bodice. I ended up adding the 5th layer  while I was working on the bodice.

So there you have it! The skirt took approximately 12 hours, give or take a bit because I kept forgetting to time myself. I went through the entire BBC North & South mini series, at least 1 Star Wars movie, and a few episode of When Calls the Heart while working on this skirt.

I'll be posting the 2nd part of making The Jellyfish soon and pictures from my graduation party as well.

Thanks for reading!

Jul 12, 2015

The Making of the Sunshine Blouse

For Aviation Day a few months ago I made a new blouse to go with my 1940's trousers. This post is about how I made the blouse, which I have lovingly named the Sunshine Blouse because it's made out a fabulous yellow cotton!

I had been looking around for a pattern for this style of bodice for a long time and finally found Sense and Sensibility Patterns' Swing Style Blouse pattern about a week before Aviation Day. Because I was short on time I decided to get the e-pattern, which worked out fine except for some reason I had some sizing issues that I think may have been due to that, but I'm not sure.

Here's my mock up cut down to the size I ended up doing against the pattern. For some reason it was really wide. It was an easy fix, but still.

My pattern pieces all cut out...

The next step was to cut out collar and front button lining part. Since this was on the pattern piece for the front piece of the blouse and I didn't want to cut it I marked it out by placing pins along the line and turning it over and marking where the pins were with my marker. After it was all marked I removed the pins then traced along the lines with my Dritz Styling Design Ruler, basically playing connect the dots.

Next I marked the front darts. Normally you would also sew these at the same time, but I waited until the bodice was sewn together to make sure I wouldn't need to make them a little bit bigger than the pattern called for.

At this point I also marked out the button holes and where the buttons would go.

I decided to serge (or actually zig-zag since I don't have a serger) all of the edges, which I'm really glad I did because this cotton ended up fraying pretty badly and it just makes the blouse feel much more professional and sturdy.

It went together easily, the most difficult part being the collar. But the nice part about this pattern is that the collar is built in, so it's all one piece!

This was my first attempt to sew the collar. Because of the awkward points it was difficult to stitch without catching the fabric. I ended up having to do it again but the second time turned out much nicer.

 There's still a little bit of a pucker here, but much better than the first attempt!

After I stitched the second piece to the collar and the button hole lining to the bodice I understitched it along the front. This technique was new to me at the time, but it's something I'm going to be doing a lot more often! It's basically stitching the seam allowance to the lining which gives it a straight edge.

Since the instructions to the pattern didn't show how to do this I had to look online, and I found a great tutorial HERE.

 This is what the inside looks like after it's been understitched...

And from the right side of the fabric...

 After that was done I folded the edge of the lining under twice before sewing down.

Back to the collar... The next step here is to roll the edge of the lining twice and stitch down on the inside. The instructions said to just top stitch this part because it won't be seen when the collar is folded outwards, but I decided to do a Stitch in the Ditch instead just as an extra measure.

Here's what it looked like from the inside...

And this is what it looks like on the outside. You can't even see the stitches! I'm really glad I did this instead because when I wore it the collar didn't quite cover it all the way.

 After that I pressed out the corners of the collar. I'm not sure why, but there was some extra pointy parts in the pattern which made the collar pretty difficult to sew. If I were to make this pattern again (and I probably will) I think I'm going to try cut it down to make it a little easier.

Next is the sleeves!

 The first step was to run a basting stick along the top between the marked lines.

After that I stitched it together at the seam before gathering it and sewing it to the bodice.

When the sleeves were sewn on I tried it on and went to work on the darts. The original size ended up being perfect!

 Then it was time for the button holes. I've had my sewing machine for somewhere around five years now and I just learned how to use the button hole setting on it! It made making these so quick and easy!

When the holes were done I stitched the buttons on.

All that was left at this point was to finish the sleeves. I wanted to do a rolled hem, but the instructions don't tell you how to do them even though they say you can do them. My only dilemma was that I wasn't sure how to stitch them.

In the end I just rolled it up about half an inch, ironed it, rolled it up another inch, and ironed it again without stitching anything. It seemed to stay just fine, although I was wearing my coat all day on Aviation Day.

These are the only photo's I have so far. It was too cold on Aviation Day for pictures without my sweater on so I didn't get any, but I did snap a few on my phone when we got home. I also wanted to show my hair, which I'm kind of proud of. :)

Since my hair is longer than most girls hair in the 1940's and it refuses to curl I have get creative. This ended up being a really easy do and it was nice to not worry about it getting messed up in the wind. I think I'll make a tutorial for it soon.