When last we spoke I had assembled the main bulk of the bodice. It still needed a collar, and Peach's is a standing scalloped collar. I figured I'd just sew two strips of fabric together in scallops, turn it right side out, iron flat and sew it on. And then since the scallops are trimmed in white, I'd probably have to hand sew some ribbon on or something. Easy peasy.
Hah. When has that ever worked out the way I wanted it to?
So, first, I took my strips of interfacing lined fabric and divided them into evenly distributed scallops. I didn't do any math, I just folded each section in half and half again until the size was roughly what I was going for, and sketched out the scallops.
See? Makes sense. I then slowly and carefully stitched around those curved lines, trimmed the excess fabric, and then turned it right side out. And after much shifting and pulling and adjusting, this is what I got.
Oh god. It's so bad. Just so, so bad.They're uneven and lumpy, and just... just bad. I hate it so much. So I figured my scallops weren't super even and maybe too small, so I'd try with bigger, more careful scallops. I went back to the Ursa Minor Sewing youtube channel and rewatched her video where she did the collar, and it looked like she was doing what I tried to do, but with scallops that were 1.5 inches across. It just so happened that I had an easy way to measure that.
This little thing just holds all my snaps and hook and eye things, and skirt hooks, and just happens to be exactly 1.5" across. So I traced that to make my scallops.
Same process, stitch around the scallops, then flip it inside out. This time, it looked like this:
I swear to god, this one's actually worse. I know I could have pushed and smoothed the curves better, but the fabric still pulled and puckered in between each scallop and nothing I did made it lay flat. I don't understand how Samantha with Ursa Minor Sewing got hers to look so nice when mine were just a continual nightmare. I really needed to succeed the third time, I might have had more of the dark pink fabric, but that doesn't mean I could keep throwing it away on redoing the collar. This time, I just decided to sew it together right side out, and just use the ribbon that I was going to trim it in to hide the stitches. I used the same container to trace my scallops, stitched and cut them out. After a few minutes of trying to line up the narrow white ribbon I had, I realized that was never going to work. The ribbon simply wouldn't curve neatly like that. So I decided to attempt to satin stitch around the tops of the curves. that went about as well as someone with my embroidery skills could expect. (Read: badly.)
It's not as terrible as the previous versions, but I also knew that wasn't going to work. At this point, I had a fuck everything tantrum, I ran to the craft store and I bought white puffy paint. I laid that fucker out and carefully outlined each scallop in puffy paint, making sure to cover all the stitching. I was even able to cover the satin stitching I had done. And wouldn't you know it, the result was flawless.
Loooooook at how smooth and pretty and neat it looks! It's so damn perfect that I was pissed at myself for not just doing this to begin with. And those neat lines are damn impressive with how naturally shaky my hands are. I was so happy. I let it dry and sewed it to the bodice and everything was good.
It's so lovely!
So, next was the dark pink hip poofs. I don't know what to call them, I had thought they were panniers but I'm not certain that's right, so whatever. Hip poofs. Basically, those were made by cutting out one big circle and dividing it in half.
I also cut circles of the crinoline netting. I hemmed the straight edge, and then gathered the curved edge and sewed that to the bodice. Doing it that way causes the fabric to kind of scoop and poof outward a bit. However I ended up removing the crinoline netting, I didn't realize they could be too poofy, but they definitely were. There wasn't any drama over these poofs though, they went together pretty smoothly, although sewing them to the bodice was a bit of a challenge, there was a lot of fabric going on.
Here it is on the dressform, starting to look like a real thing. Although it really didn't fit on the dressform well since that dressform is me 40 pounds ago, and this dress is designed to fit me now while wearing a corset. But it held it up well enough at least.
At this point it was time to do the skirt. I had intended to make the overskirt a circle skirt that I just cut the front away from, but I realized that was gonna be too big. I wanted it to lay smooth with all the gold designs, and a circle skirt would be too full to do that, my hoop skirt wasn't big enough to spread that out. So instead, I faked a skirt pattern. I started by cutting large triangles out of this extra white fabric I had and sewed them together to make a rough skirt for the dress form that would fit over the hoop skirt.
I'd been unable to really measure how big around my skirt needed to be until this point, it was impossible to just measure the hoop skirt. This helped immensely. Next, I used my tape measure to measure from the waist and down and around the back to get an idea where I wanted the overskirt to lay. I used a sharpie to draw these lines on the white skirt, and then used that to cut out a rough mockup of the overskirt out of some different extra fabric.
From here I was able to use the mockup to cut the pieces out of my actual pink fabric. I ended up having to recut them, because they were just a little small. I wasn't happy about that wasted fabric, but it worked out alright in the end. And I'm pretty sure I can use those rejected pieces to cut out pieces for Peach's parasol that I'm still gonna make. And so we got here:
I ended up having to actually make a small white piece to go in the gap between the two hip poofs in the front because the fabric I had left hanging down the front of the bodice wasn't wide enough. But that was easy, it was just a rectangle with some quick gathers and binding on the bottom stitched in.
It was really starting to look like a dress at this point, so I was starting to get excited. I even realized that I was going to have enough fabric to do the underskirt legitimately rather than having to cheat. I was planning on cutting a few short panels and gathering them and sewing them to the white skirt in front to give the illusion of the tiered underskirt, with the rest disguised by the overskirt, but I definitely had enough light pink to just make a proper tiered underskirt instead, that made me happy.
The next step was sewing the lace trim to the edge of the overskirt. I had found a lace trim in my mom's stash that was actually pretty close to the way Peach's lace looks, which was awesome, because it didn't cost me a penny. I had just slightly more of it than I needed, so it was perfect. I sewed it on, and immediately there was a problem. You know how on a jogging track, the inner track is a little shorter than the outer track because it goes around in a circle? Well sewing flat lace on a curved line demonstrated this issue, in that the outer edge of the lace was pulled inwards by the fact that it needed to be a little longer than the inner edge, and it wasn't. So then I had to remove the lace. I wasn't able to just unpick the seams either, it just ripped up the lace, so I had to actually cut it off. I cut it as close and tiny as I could to avoid losing too much width. I thought I might have to use a different lace, but in the end it was still useable. I ended up having to gather the inner edge around the curve ever so slightly to ease it around without it being gathered and ruffle-y. I wanted it to lay flat, so the gathers were very tiny and very carefully placed. It took some time, but it worked. I only have pictures of the lace on the finished dress, so you'll have to wait for that to see it.
So next was the tiered underskirt. I just looked up a basic tiered skirt tutorial on Pinterest and followed that and everything seemed to be going well, until I realized the tutorial is intended for a skirt that would be worn on it's own, not over a hoop skirt, and as such, the skirt was not big enough around to accommodate my hoop skirt. Which meant that even though I wanted to make the skirt legit, I ended up having to add a flat triangular panel in the back to make it reach around. But like my original cheat plan, the overskirt hides it completely, and I only needed it for the top three tiers, the bottom two I had measured against my mock up skirt so that I knew for sure they would be big enough around. So basically I sewed the triangle panel to the back to the top three tiers, and then sewed the bottom two tiers on all the way around like normal. After I'd painted the bottom band, of course. But we haven't addressed the painting yet. Ohhhhhh man.
So. I did not attach the bottom bands to the underskirt immediately because I knew I wanted to paint the gold filigree designs on before sewing it. It was the bottom two bands rather than just the bottom one because I knew the fourth light pink tier needed to be the same size as the bottom dark pink one because there were no gathers between the two, that's where the wide white lace band goes. So I just got putting those two bands together out of the way first.
Now, my plan for painting was to mix textile medium with one of the gold acrylic paints I already owned to make my own fabric paint to save money. I had found a person online who had drawn out all the gold designs on Peach's dress and uploaded them to deviantart in a huge file that could be printed off, which saved me a ton of effort in figuring out exactly what those look like. I've been terrified of the gold designs since I started this project, I knew this is where it could all go wrong. They're such an elaborate, fancy part, I just knew I was gonna fuck it up.
If you're interested, here is the image I used for the designs:
They're exactly what I needed to feel like this was possible. And up until I saw this image, I didn't even know there were designs on the back of the bodice. Upon further research, there are indeed those two gold swoopy swirls on her back, they go across her shoulders, and they're almost always covered by her hair, so how was I supposed to know they were there?
The only problem here, was this didn't include the gold designs on the bottom dark pink band of her skirt. So using the Peach amiibo I borrowed from my cousin, I just sort of free hand sketched the designs onto a piece of paper, and then scanned them and printed them up large enough to go around the bottom band. Here's what I came up with:
So I wanted to use all these as stencils basically. I had read about cutting designs out in freezer paper, ironing that onto your fabric, and painting over it, so I wanted to do that. So I figured out how to print off these designs in the actual size I wanted, (turns out it was as easy as changing the print settings in MS Paint) and with some blind guessing figured out that printing them off at 4 pages by 4 pages got me to almost exactly the right size. When laying them out I had to spread out the sections a little to fit perfectly, but not too badly. It worked out pretty well.
Now that I had my outlines, next came hours and hours of brutal hand torture as I painstakingly cut out each scrolly swoopy little design with an xacto knife on the freezer paper. I just taped the printed outlines to the freezer paper and went for it. Of course it didn't occur to me until I had already finished cutting out the overskirt designs that I was going to need a mirror image of the stencil for the other side, I couldn't just flip the stencil because freezer paper will only stick to fabric on one side. This meant that I had to cut out the overskirt pattern twice. So that was super neat. At least I learned my lesson for the bottom band designs and folded the freezer paper in half to get two copies of the stencil that were mirror images. But by this time I already had a permanent ache in my fingers and my wrist from all the cutting I'd already done. God, that part was a nightmare. My hand still hurts today, although that's because I wasn't done torturing it at this point. But we'll get to that.
So next came ironing the stencils on and painting. Ironing on the stencils was actually pretty annoying, they don't stick well and peel off at the slightest provocation, so it was very difficult to do such a large area when moving the fabric made the stencils come off. But with enough careful maneuvering I managed. I mixed two parts textile medium to one part gold acrylic paint, and laid everything out on the floor and painted it. I'd already made a mistake at this point, and if you've ever used textile medium you may have spotted it.
Why yes, my workspace is just the entryway of my house. There really wasn't anywhere else I could do it. As you can see, I did have to cut individual segments apart and spread them about a bit to get them to fit, but not too dramatically. I used a sponge to dab the paint on carefully. As I went I noticed it didn't cover the fabric well, it wasn't very opaque. And in places where I'd put the paint, it got dark around the edges like it was wet. I didn't stress, I figured it would dry as the paint did. After the paint had set for like an hour or so, I did a second coat and that made a much more opaque gold color. I left it sitting overnight, and the next day, I pulled the stencils off.
Oh my god. Not only had the dark stains not dried but rather set into the fabric, but the gold paint had bled like crazy under the edges of the stencils. It was a disaster, and I was so sick about it I almost cried while I was pulling off the stencils. What I didn't realize yet was that I was supposed to only mix one part textile medium to two parts acrylic paint. I don't know how much of a difference that would have made, but what I did know was that there was no way in hell I was using that paint for the other gold designs. Luckily, this was on the bottom border that gets partially covered by the lace band, so the world probably wasn't going to end. I almost immediately went to the craft store and bought some proper gold fabric paint. I also bought some gold puffy paint with the theory that I could outline those gold designs in the puffy paint thereby disguising a large number of the flaws in the paint edges, and at least partially hiding the dark stains. It actually worked pretty well, here's what that exact same segment looked like after being outlined:
See? Significantly better. And when the puffy paint dried it darkened and actually matched the other gold paint almost exactly, so it looked even nicer than this in the end. On the whole it wasn't actually a complete disaster. But damn did it freak me out. It all just about ended right there. And my poor hand wasn't happy about it anyways, drawing in all those gold lines so slowly and carefully was not fun on my hand that was already sore from the stencil cutting.
The gold designs on the back shoulders are pretty messy too, not only was I still using the crappy paint at the time, but the seams of the sleeves and everything made getting in there very difficult. But it turned out well enough that I can live with it.
The overskirt was where I was super nervous, because it would be the most visible. And it was a huge section, so there wasn't going to be an easy way to lay it out. I ended up having to put it smack dab in the middle of my living room, which was terrifying while the paint was wet.
As you can see, I had to spread out the different sections of this design as well to get it to fit. It also didn't quite match the curve of my skirt so I had to angle some of the pieces a bit, but that wasn't a big deal. To iron the pieces down I ended up actually just bringing my iron and my cutting mat into the living room and then sliding the mat under each section and ironing them exactly where they laid. I knew there would be no moving this piece.
Also, please note how nice and flat that lace is lying. :D
Here it is all painted. I originally started trying to use a sponge to dab it on like I did the other, but this real fabric paint was significantly thicker than the other, and the stickiness of it actually was causing the stencil to separate from the fabric. Not good. So I switched to a regular paint brush and just brushed it on. This allowed me to be much more careful around corners and points, and any place where the stencil wasn't really firmly attached. This paint was more opaque than the other, but I did still feel that it needed a second coat to be really solid, so I did that.
Later when I pulled off the stencils, this is what we got:
It's actually super hard to capture in pictures, but those are some pretty damn neat clean designs. However, they weren't quite perfect. There were places where the paint snuck under the stencils and made some weirdness. I really desperately didn't want to have to outline all of this in puffy paint, so I tried taking a small paint brush and the extra fabric paint and just touching up some spots, but in the end it wasn't good enough. The puffy paint was necessary to make it look good.
It just cleans up the edges so much and makes everything look so neat and professional. So I did it. It took TWO. GODDAMN. HOURS. Two hours of just kneeling there crouched over the fabric, squeezing this paint bottle consistently and carefully as I drew each curvy little line. I've never felt such pain in my hands. And my back and my hips were piiiiiiiiiiissed. It was so bad. I was so sore when I was done. I just kind of collapsed on the couch afterward and just felt the pain pulsing in my hand. And since that day any time I push a button with my index finger or try to spray down my yoga mat after working out, I can feel it there in my hand, the leftover aches. It's pretty sad actually. But the important thing is that the paint looked fantastic when I was done.
Based on the struggles I had with the paint, I also knew I would never be able to get the stencil in for the gold designs on the front chest piece of the bodice, so I actually ended up using the stencil to roughly trace the design onto the piece with a fabric marker, and then I drew it in with just straight puffy paint. It worked beautifully.
I then needed to add the wide white lace band to the bottom of the skirt. I didn't have a single piece of lace that was wide enough to do what I wanted, but I did have something that looked close to it, it just needed to be wider. So I actually ended up stacking four layers of this lace together, sewing that to the skirt, adding a round of the same lace I used on the bodice around the top of it, and then a round of pink ribbon between the two.
I actually love how that came out, it's so fancy looking!
After that it was really only a matter of assembling the pieces and adding the zipper. The zipper was a bitch, because of the piping on the back I was not able to make the invisible zipper actually be invisible, I probably should have switched to a regular zipper but I was working with what I had. It is quite difficult to zip up when I'm wearing it, but it can be done.
So I sewed the bottom bands onto the underskirt, sewed the underskirt to the overskirt, and then sewed those to the bodice. It was all rough and very difficult, there was so much fabric everywhere, but I got it eventually. I hand sewed ribbon to the sleeves to make the bows that go over the darker pink slash in the sleeves, and those came out super cute.
Those were damn impossible to get a halfway decent picture of that wasn't just a pink satiny blob. This dress is actually obnoxiously difficult to photograph without making it look insane, haha.
And then it was done! It was so hard to actually call the dress done. I'd been working on it so long and there were so many details I never really thought I'd be able to call it finished. I kept feeling like there was something else I should do.
I fought with the wig a bit more, trying my best to style it and make it look good, but I never really got it somewhere where I was happy with it. I won't use that wig again. I fought it so much, but it never really became what I wanted it to be, so I'm done with it. It worked well enough when I assembled the whole costume, but I wasn't really happy with it. It really didn't do the dress justice.
And here's the whole thing all put together!!
I'm honestly thrilled with how the dress came out. And it was a hit at the party. I did actually take Toad with me and carry him around just cuz it was cute. I utterly failed at trying to color my eyebrows. I'd read all these tutorials about using glue sticks to cover it so you can basically paint concealer over top to draw in new eyebrows in whatever color, but it super didn't work for me. My eyebrows were just too powerful to be defeated that way. I think my glue sticks were just too crappy, I think new ones would have helped. I'll try again another time. I really should have done a wig and makeup test run before the party. Oh well. I still like the way it came out for the most part. The dress at least. I'll get a new wig and better eyebrow covering techniques and try again.
Throughout all of this I've left out the parts where I was working on the other costumes, so there was a lot of other things going on. I was so damn busy. But I got those done too!
Honestly, Shannon did a lot of the work for her costume. I mostly just supervised and helped her cut out the cardboard pieces. But I think her Stampy Longnose turned out pretty good. It's incredibly awkward for her to walk around in but she likes it. Rachel is dressed as a can can girl, I did manage to successfully draft and sew a corset for her. I'd never done one for someone with a larger bust like that so it was an adventure, but it came out great. The corset is underneath, I made the bodice as well to go overtop. And technically I did make the skirt, but you might recognise that as the one I made long long ago to go with all my steampunk stuff. That's the lacy bustle skirt I wore to Beerfest with Amanda, years and years ago. So, yeah I made it, but a long time ago. Anyways, the point is, Rachel looks fantastic.
The last thing that I did, because apparently I didn't have enough to do, is that I wanted to get a Mario hat for Stu. He doesn't like dressing up, so he didn't want to go full Mario, but he was willing to wear the hat at least. After all the sewing I'd done, I just wanted to go to the costume store and just buy a damn hat, but the one that we found looked like cheap garbage and cost $22. I couldn't bring myself to do it, not when I knew I could do better for much cheaper.
Oh, did I mention that this was on the night before the party? I mean, everything else was done at this point, but still.
We went to a nearby craft store and I bought half a yard of red cotton for like $4, and using a Pinterest tutorial I cut out the pieces that night and sewed them together in less than an hour the next morning. It was great, and super easy. And came out much better than that crappy costume one. Here's us ready for the party:
Aren't we cute?
So against all odds, I completed everything I set out to do this month. I have about a month's worth of housework to catch up on that got neglected, so that'll be fun, but I did it.
And now I think it's time for this record breaking blog post to come to an end. I'm tired of typing, I bet you're tired of reading.
Until my next project!