All posts for the month October, 2015

When Simplicity Isn’t So Simple

Published October 28, 2015 by mindfulofchatter

It’s been awhile, hasn’t it? I have not been here because I have been wrestling with my Halloween costume pattern. I decided to use the Simplicity 4092 pattern for to make my 18th century dress.


Now I have made Victorian dresses in the past, so I didn’t think would be overly difficult. However, I forgot I was dealing with people making a pattern, and those same pattern people may not speak English as their first language, or make assumptions that the sewer already knows certain things.

This pattern is a mess. Or at least the one I have is. The directions tell me to match up tabs. Great – when both pattern pieces actually have the tabs. I found several pattern pieces have tabs on one piece, but not the other. I even unfolded the pieces to check that was their error and not mine. The same with the dots. Match the dots it says. Okay, but I have dots on one side but not on the other. Needless to say this is making it more difficult to put together.

And there are unexplained directions as well. It calls for the top of the skirt seams to be open. The same opening was to be put on the underskirt and the pannier. WTH? Not explanation as to why, just do it. A little research and a conversation with my ever-so-smart sister revealed this was done to access pockets worn under the skirts, around the waist. I think it also helps the dress fall properly over the panniers, but I’m not sure. There is enough fabric to do that with out the openings, and opening are sewn ‘closed’ at the tops on the waistband. This is a costume, not a historically correct dress, so why are we suddenly doing historical things to it? Plus, there is no under pocket with this pattern.

The pattern also fails to mention you only need to make the underskirt front pretty. The rest doesn’t show. While the yardage table tells you underskirt back and side yardage and separate yardage for the front, it doesn’t explain why they are separate. It also states a 54″ width which is not needed. I knew about the underskirts from researching extant dresses, so mine has muslin for the back and a pretty front piece. But the average sewer would not know this. A lot of money could be wasted on pretty fabric that no would ever see.

The pannier part was also poorly written. The same issues came up – tabs on one side, not on the other. Pleating a round top piece to a square corner back piece with no explanation as to how it supposed to fit made it even more interesting. Oh, and one piece of rigilene will not hold those skirts up. It needs to be doubled. Not that the pattern mentions that bit.

This pattern is a huge fan of gross grain ribbon. The underskirt waist band is supposed to be gros grain, the pannier ties are supposed be gros grain. Stop with the gros grain already! Since this pattern call for one to wear modern unders with it, I can only imagine how much the tiny, thin gros grain ribbon waist band would cut and chafe. Ouch! Lucky for me I am wearing a corset under it (I don’t have the proper stays, so my corset will be making the smooth lines for me) and the ribbon won’t touch my skin. I put the underskirt on a muslin waist band – a nice wide one. It sits flat and comfortable at my waist. I left the ribbon ties on the panniers wide rather than sewing them in half. They are easy to tie and stay tied.

Even with all the issues, I am winning the war. I put it on this afternoon and it fits (HUZZAH!). Now I am trimming it and working on the wee bits of this and that.

Next post will have a photo. Wish me continued luck!

The First and Second Hurdles

Published October 13, 2015 by mindfulofchatter

I am already having ‘issues’ with my choice of Halloween costume. I ordered a wig from Amazon. It is a cheap costume wig, nothing fantastic. But the wrinkle came when the tracking number showed it as delivered and I had no wig. Not even an opened box on the porch to show it had been there at one time. The porch and surrounding area were searched in vain.

I have had issues with the post office in the past. This is the third package that has gone missing. The others were eventually found or delivered later. I have rang the postmaster several times and gotten a long list of excuses as to why my mail is not delivered, the box is left hanging open and things the should have been delivered to house shoved into the box instead. The situation with the carriers and the postmaster here is deplorable. And now I have yet another problem with both.

I dutifully filled out the online complaint form including the tracking number, and waited for a response. In the meantime, the package made itself known. It had been delivered to the storage cabin at the front of the property. The RV tenant kindly brought it to the house. Once again the postal carrier isn’t doing their job properly. The postmaster and I will have yet another conversation. That is if he answers his phone.

Wig was a little squished from the factory. They make them and shove them into flat, square packages that are not curl friendly. A little online research told me how to fix the wig. After a couple false starts, I got it looking nice.

Marie Wig

I am very happy with the outcome. Believe it or not, this wig is light and easy to wear. That tall top is hollow and breaths. I won’t roast while wearing it. This is a very good thing.

The next little issue was the fabric. Because it is a one way pattern, and the skirts are very full, I did not have enough fabric. While this is sad news, it also means that original, busy, wavy striped fabric will became a bustle gown at some point. Good for the bustle gown, bad for the 18th century gown.

After spending my entire morning driving to all the local fabric stores, I settled on this damask print:

Damask Fabric

The background is actually white shot with silver gray and the print is a brilliant royal blue. It is cotton and not silk, but this is a costume for Halloween and I do not have a silk budget.  The photo looks a bit yellow from the lighting. I’ll try to get a better shot next time.

I found this at my local Wal Mart. Not only is it eye catching and bold, but it was very inexpensive. The 100% cotton fabric was $3.97 a yard. Just about right for a Halloween costume. I am going for a historic-ish look, not fully historically correct. The zip in the back tells that tale all on its own.

As I laid out the pattern pieces, I remembered that I needed to ‘match’ the pattern side to side. thankfully I remembered this before cutting anything out. The pattern and fabric make it easy to do that. When I am finished, everything ought to line up.

Let’s cross our fingers.

All Hallows Eve Approaches

Published October 5, 2015 by mindfulofchatter

pannier dress


Now that I have my Bonnet completed, I can turn my mind to a new project. Halloween is coming up and I am encouraged to dress up for work, because I work the weekends on will be there on Halloween – yay me.

I work at a retirement community, so there are guidelines for costumes. No masks, no heavy make-up, nothing too scary, and I must be able to perform my job duties. Let’s go ahead and just suck the fun out of Halloween, shall we? But I understand the whys, so while I cannot do what I may want to do, at least I can still dress up and have a bit of fun.

My lovely sister, of Threading Through Time fame (no really, if you sew, go read her blog), gave me a pile of fabric she did not want. She thought the colours were no-so-1970’s, as she put it, and was disappointed when the fabric arrived. It is a busy print in wavy lines with flowers in dusty blues and pinks. I immediately saw a bustle dress. All that busy, wavy print would look fabulous morphed into a bustle gown.

Then came October and the encouragement from my workplace to dress up. Hmmmm…

After some consideration, and more stupid ideas on my part, I settled on Marie Antoinette. That busy fabric will look nice with the panniers and a fancy-ish under skirt.

I have not made an 18th century dress before. Thankfully, this is not meant to be period correct. I choose the Simplicity costume pattern that even comes with the pattern for the panniers. It has a zipper (cringe), but I can hide the zipper if I need to.

I have ordered a wig and plan to find some close-enough-for-a-costume pumps to remake into 18th century looking shoes (thank you Mod Podge). And no, it is not going look like the photo. That is a real 18th century gown. I’m not ready for that quite yet.

Stay tuned for the agony.