Monday, March 31, 2014

Simplicity 3809: All dressed up and no where to go

Well, I almost finished my new pirate costume in time for the last weekend of Sherwood Forest--which was this weekend. Pretty good considering I started it on a Saturday and took a day off of work to try and finish it. Instead, I wore my trusty red and brown outfit that I've worn to the last three Renaissance festivals including the one this past weekend.
Melissa is so gorgeous! Why can't I be gorgeous too!

I do think my back view is rather nice though. :-)

Back to the new pirate costume: I pushed myself too hard. I know better than to do that, but I did it anyway. I had a complete meltdown on Friday night after it took me a stupid hour and a half to put the trim on the chemise sleeves, and then had to take my dog out again, and then came back at 8:45 and the thought of installing the grommets on the bodice was too much, because I can't pound grommets at my apartment since I live on the third floor, so I would have had to pack everything up including Lulu and schlep it over to Kenneth's first-floor apartment to deal with the grommets with Lulu horsing around and me in a terrible mood.

I used a burgundy poly-silk blend duvet that I'd bought a couple of years ago for my stash. It took me all day to cut the pieces of the bodice out on Saturday. There are four pieces for each side of the bodice, and you have to cut interlining and lining for each one, so it was a marathon of pinning pattern pieces to fabric, cutting fabric out, unpinning pattern pieces from fabric and pinning them to different fabric, rinse, and repeat. It was so tedious.

The silk is a changeable silk, which is burgundy but shines black in certain lights. I cried a bucket of tears Saturday night when I got ready to start sewing the pieces together, because one of them shined burgundy and the other shined blackish-burgundy in my crappy light, and I thought somehow I'd folded the fabric wrong and cut two clones of each pattern piece rather than mirror images. Does that make sense?

The duvet...

See how the piece on the left is a different shade than the piece on the right? I thought I'd totally screwed up.

In the morning I realized it was all okay, that you can't fold fabric wrong in such a way that one piece will be right side up and the other will be wrong side up. But my meltdown did result in a fun conversation with my downstairs neighbor, who was sitting on the steps outside while her dog pooped. She is a creative person too and we had a lot of fun talking about project fails and trials and tribulations and the whole creative process, and in the end we were both laughing.

Well, here are some pics of milady wearing the almost finished outfit (sans grommets in the bodice).

Look at how well I matched the seamlines of the front and back pieces!

It turned out nicely, despite my meltdown. I am really proud of my craftsmanship on this outfit, except for the chemise for reasons which will be obvious when you see the picture. I'm not sure I ever want to work with sheer handkerchief weight linen again. It was a nightmare--it stretched out way too easily even on the grain, kept snagging in my scissors and I even bought new scissors to cut it. Snagged in the machine, though I changed my needle to an extra fine needle. My friend Kristine kindly gathered the bodice to the yoke for me after I tried twice and the thread broke on me or came loose both times. I've never had that happen before, even when gathering lots of yardage of heavier weight fabric.

So Kristine gathered the chemise to the yoke, and then I attached the facing to the yoke and cut the slit in the front and... I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.

The edges of the split yoke got stretched as I was stitching them...

...and in a spectacularly glaring fail, the points of the split and the yoke don't match up.

But in the end, I just didn't like it. I'm glad I didn't buy fabric for it. I decided I'd go for more of a musketeer look, but now that I've (almost) finished it, I think the bodice is wrong for musketeer.

I'm glad I decided not to trim the skirt. I still plan to use it in a musketeer costume. I just have to find a good pattern for the bodice or jacket that I will pair with it. It's not a total loss. It's just the bodice I ended up not liking. 

In conclusion:

The Challenge: Make a new pirate/musketeer costume

Fabric: Chemise - handkerchief-weight linen swag from Goodwill Outlet; bodice and skirt - poly-silk blend duvet from Goodwill

Pattern: Simplicity 3809 for bodice and skirt, vintage McCall's 6359 for chemise.

Notions: Gutermann thread, cable ties for boning, zipper, lace trim for bodice and chemise.

Hours to complete: Three full days and four evenings after work before meltdown stopped project on the brink of completion.

Total cost: Duvet: $7.99; Trim: 10 yds gold Venice lace, $27.00, lace trim for chemise, $13.00. Notions: gold thread, burgundy thread, and zipper, $9.00, cable ties for bodice boning, $2.75. Pattern: $1.00. Total cost was around $60.00. It's amazing how much more expensive it is when you add trim.

Fits of rage: At least one per day of work on this project. However, I just swore and cursed up a storm to get myself through them, rather than throwing the project into a crumpled heap in the corner. Two complete meltdowns complete with ugly sobbing and dog licking tears away from face.

Was it worth it: Yes, because it takes a long time to get good at sewing and everything I make is a chance to improve my craftsmanship and a step towards getting better. Not crazy about the money I had to spend on trim and notions, but that's part of it. Sometimes things work, sometimes they don't. I'm extra glad that I didn't buy fabric for this project. The project is still salvageable because I really like the skirt. I don't know what I'm going to do with all that leftover Venice lace trim though!

I might make a skirt to go with the bodice, and finish the bodice up, and try to sell it in my etsy store to help recoup the costs of this project. 


  1. I love the whole ensemble here, but I know exactly what you mean abut pushing too hard. But hey, now you have a mostly finished project ready to go!