My friend, Melissa, wanted a Renaissance fest costume. I wanted to get experience sewing for other people, so I offered to make her a costume for just the cost of materials. I don't think I got a whole lot of experience in sewing for other people since she fits into my other corsets perfectly, but hey! I was sewing for someone else, which involves dealing with a different kind of pressure & performance anxiety, and I was able to follow through on the project without feeling like I had a burden on my shoulders. That's something that I've always worried about--how I would deal with the responsibility of sewing for others.
On to the fun costume stuff! Melissa's favorite colors are pink and green. I happened to have that pink and green fabric remnant I'd originally bought for the Titanic corset (a project that I still haven't attempted to pick back up). I decided to use that for her corset, since I already had the binding and ribbon for lacing to go with it.
I used heavy duty nylon duct ties for it, and I don't know if I was just really inconsistent in sewing my boning channels or if the ties were slightly wider than the cable ties I normally use, but many of them were a very tight fit. I had to be creative and stuff some of the channels with the weed whacker cable I bought earlier this year as experimental boning material that just didn't work out. I'm glad that wasn't a complete waste of money! Also used four hacksaw blades wrapped in duct tape for the front of the corset where a wooden busk would normally be, for extra-strong tummy-sucking in ability.
I made the skirt out of 4 yds of green linen-rayon blend fabric I bought at Joanne's. I had a 50% off coupon, so it was very reasonably priced. This is the first time I've bought fabric by the yard for a project, and it felt very decadent! Normally I use thrift-store linens (and love them).
I made the chemise out of that sheer poly-cotton curtain panel I bought at Goodwill about a month ago using this tutorial, which is the best thing ever.
The petticoat is made out of a cotton-something synthetic blend curtain also from Goodwill. I detailed the petticoat in a previous post. I ended up loving that petticoat so much. I saw a few other identical curtains at another Goodwill, but can't remember which one, and wish I had gotten them now, but at the time I still hadn't finished that petticoat so I didn't realize how much I would end up loving them.
LOOK WHAT I MADE!!
The Challenge: Make my friend a Ren fest costume
Fabric: Chemise: A cotton-poly blend curtain from Goodwill; Corset: fabric remnant of unknown fabric content (probably rayon or cotton-rayon) from Joanne's; Skirt: linen-rayon blend from Joanne's; Petticoat: cotton-something synthetic blend curtain from Goodwill; cotton double-fold bias tape and quilt binding for petticoat waistband & hem, corset binding, and waistband for skirt
Pattern: 18th-century style petticoat for petticoat and skirt; Elizabethan corset pattern generator for corset; thingsofcloth peasant blouse tutorial for chemise
Notions: Gutermann brand white thread for petticoat & green thread for corset boning channels and skirt; heavy-duty nylon duct ties & heavy-duty weed whacker cable for corset boning; size 0 grommets for corset lacing; double-fold bias tape & quilt binding for petticoat waistband and hem, skirt waistband, and corset binding; cotton twill tape for waist ties on petticoat and skirt; satin ribbon for corset lacing and shoulder straps; four 32 TPI 12" hacksaw blades for front of corset/busk
How historically accurate is it? Petticoat and skirt: the pattern for the petticoat and skirt is very historically accurate, but the fabric is not. I think the hem depth is accurate (I can't remember where I read hems of 18th century skirts were rarely more than 1-inch deep). I think using bias tape to enclose the raw edge of the hem might have been done sometimes, but I don't know. I think the waistband finishing isn't very accurate, but the waist ties are. Corset: the pattern is historical-ish, the boning pattern is probably just fine historically because from what I've read, there were no hard and fast rules for corset boning patterns in 18th-century and earlier corsets. The boning materials are not accurate. I don't think the grommets are historically accurate either, but I can't remember when corsets started to use grommets instead of hand-bound eyelets. Anyway, the grommets should be size 00 but all I could find when I first started sewing was a size 0 grommet punching kit. Chemise: not historically accurate--I don't think historical chemises had drawstring necklines, and I think sleeves were set differently (like with underarm gussets).
Hours to complete: I really need to start keeping track of time spent on my projects, but having to check the clock every time I take a break is annoying. So the project took about 2 weeks to complete from start to finish. It took several days to finally figure out how to make the chemise due to making mockups of other patterns that didn't work out. When I finally found the thingsofcloth tutorial, it took about four hours to make the chemise because I had to finish the seams with a zigzag stitch to keep them from unraveling. That sheer poly-cotton fabric was awful to work with. The corset took about 10 days. The skirt took a few days of working on it after I got home from work.
First worn: We're going to the Sherwood Forest Festival together on March 31!
Total cost: Petticoat: $4.99 for the fabric, $1.50 for 1st package of quilt binding, $1.79 for 2nd package of quilt binding, I already had the thread and the cotton twill tape. So $8.96 total (including tax). Skirt: about $20 for the fabric, $1.79 for the quilt binding for the waistband, and I already had the twill tape for waist ties. So about $21.79 total. Chemise: $2.99 plus tax for the fabric. $0.99 for the ribbon for drawstring. Corset: about $3.50 for the fabric remnant, $8 for the satin ribbon, $3.29 for binding, about $7 for boning, and I already had the grommets. So approx. $21.79. Hmm... I'm forgetting something. I added up my receipts and it came to about $68 for the whole costume, which includes two shirts I purchased for Melissa's sons from Salvation Army for about $7 total. Oh well.