Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Princess Progress!

All right! Nothing makes me blog like having a project. When I have a project on my mind, I kind of can't think about anything else. So when I'm at work I spend a lot of time doing research and looking at tutorials on Pinterest to make sure I really know what I'm doing. But there comes a point at which I've seen all the tutorials, I have a good solid plan, I'm just stuck at the stupid office and can't work on it right now. And that's when I blog. Because I still can't think about anything else, but this is literally all I can do about it.


I have accomplished some things. First of all, while out shopping looking for a cheap ring for my costume, I stumbled across sheets of stick on rhinestones that were on clearance at a nearby craft store. Now, I knew from other tutorials and screenshots that Peach's crown actually had some extra little sparkles and decoration, but I wasn't going to worry about it until I saw those. So I bought them and bedazzled the hell out of my crown.

I kind of love it. And if you manage to get a good enough look at Peach's crown you will notice that the gems are places to match more or less where they're supposed to be.  I also added some sparkle to my brooch, because why the hell not?

Now, I was supposed to be shopping for my ring at this point. I tried about six different stores, Goodwill, Walmart, Claire's, two different craft stores and a Halloween store, all with nothing. Nothing even close. I needed a fairly large, round bluish green stone on a gold ring, big enough to fit on the middle finger of my left hand while I'm wearing gloves. I was about to give up and go home when I remembered that right near me was a store called Charming Charlie's, which sells almost nothing but accessories. Jewelry, scarves, bags, hats, all that stuff. And the style there tended towards the trendy, and statement rings are definitely trendy. So I went there. I spent probably a solid 45 minutes digging through a dozen different baskets of rings scattered throughout the store, but I finally tracked something down. It was just a plain, large pearl ring, white, but set in gold, and I figured I could paint it. It was even on sale, so it only cost me $4. I don't have a before picture, but here it is after I painted it, using the same paints I did on the earrings:

Turns out my middle finger with gloves on is about a size 8. Well, it's actually a little tighter than I'd like with gloves, but it still fits and doesn't feel like it's gonna get stuck or anything. It does the job beautifully. Man, I didn't think finding such a simple ring would be so difficult.

After that, it was time to stop procrastinating with accessories, I really needed to start on the actual sewing. The first thing I needed to do was make piping for the seams. I'd never done that before, but I understood the basic idea and figured I was experienced enough with sewing that I could handle it. I had some of that craft cording left over from my Jessica Albert whip project, or I could use the paracord I bought intending to use for corset lacing, but ended up not liking. I thought I could even take a shortcut and use some satin ribbon for the fabric strips instead of spending all that time cutting out my own strips. I mean, Walmart even sold a ribbon that was the same shade of pink as my fabric! It was gonna be so easy. 

Anyone who's ever made their own piping or knows anything about sewing is now shaking their heads and face palming at my foolishness.

This is what happened:

Wrinkles and ripples and puckers, oh my!

God, it was so ugly. Covered in bumps and wrinkles, and of course it puckered like mad when I tried to curve or bend it. You know, like it would need to do in order to go through the curved seams of a bodice. All of this was made worse by the braided texture of the craft cording that showed plainly through the thinness of the ribbon. I got about 6-8 inches in before I realized this was never going to work.  So I bit the bullet, looked up a tutorial to make sure I knew what I was doing, and made real piping, out of strips of fabric, cut on the bias. (That means diagonally on the fabric, if you're not familiar with sewing terms. This allows the fabric to stretch and bend and move without puckering.) I also decided to use the paracord instead of craft cord because it has a smooth surface.  The end result of that was this:

Look at those smooth, beautiful curves. No matter how I flexed or moved it it stayed smooth and pretty. Once I'd seen this I was so glad I did it properly, it's so gorgeous. I needed to make it in the dark pink and white as well, so I got that done. The tutorial I used even told me how to make one continuous strip of fabric out of a not very big square, so it didn't take very much fabric. I did fudge a little because the white piping was only going to be in straight lines, so I didn't do bias strips for that, I just did a straight strip of fabric off the edge. For reference, here's a picture of all my piping so you you can see the difference:

See how stiff and straight the white is? And if you bend it it ripples and puckers in a very unpleasant way. But since I only needed it to be straight across the white sections, that was fine. It didn't need to bend, and it looked just fine when straight.

After that, I eventually managed to work myself up to cutting out the bodice pieces. I was really nervous about this part because I was working from a self made duct tape pattern. There is a constant fear of running out of fabric looming over my head, so the thought of messing something up and wasting fabric is really terrible. But I got it cut out. And it seemed okay. I started by doing the ruching on the front side pieces. That was a pain in the ass, let me tell you what. I spent forever fighting and arranging those gathers. It's something that really has to be dealt with on a case by case basis, so I really can't explain it better than that. Make the gathers, arrange them until they look nice. Then stitch them down to the foundation piece.

There's extra fabric off the edge because I thought I would need more to make space for my bust, but turns out I didn't, so I just stitched the gathers down where they laid naturally, and trimmed the extra fabric off.

Then came my next lesson in the importance of bias. The white panel down the front of the dress is three separate pieces, gathered and then sewn together with piping. I originally cut them as one solid piece straight up and down on the fabric, and then cut them in segments when I realized I needed an actual seam there for the piping. So, I put in my gather stitches and started to gather the fabric in, and the damn things started to literally dissolve in my hands from fraying. It was awful. It actually frayed up past the gather stitches, causing those to just fall out. So I recut the pieces, this time diagonally on the bias, and adding a little to the seam allowance to make sure there was plenty of room to gather. I'm less worried about running out of white fabric, I have plenty of that. But since the new pieces were cut on the bias, they no longer frayed, allowing me to get everything gathered and sewn together. I did the same thing with the pieces for the white section on the back of the dress.

I'm very annoyed that I have to put a white panel on the back of the dress. I was going to just have the back lace up like a corset, because I couldn't find any good pictures of the back of Peach's dress. I found a series of youtube videos made by a girl who made this dress and very carefully documented everything, ( which was very helpful, but when I saw her put the white panel on the back, I thought she was just mimicking the front out of a lack of any better ideas, and I didn't really like it.  But then I found some other, better screenshots that did show the back, and I realized, no, that's just really what it looks like. Sigh. And I have to do it right, that's just how I am. I'd never be able to stand it if I went off book with that. Anyways.

I had a little debate with myself on the lace trim on the top of the white piece, as I had two different ones that would work:

Very slight differences, really, but after looking at some more reference pictures more closely, I went with the lace on the right, I thought it looked more accurate.  

With my bodice pieces ready to go, I was ready to sew them together.

There's an immediate problem here, that I simply didn't see at first. See the gap at the top between the dark pink piece and the ruched pieces? The way they angled away from each other meant that that spot was going to poof outward dramatically. Which might have been fine if that's where my bust was going to be, but that's more where my collarbone was going to be. Not good. There was also some bad shaping in the armpit when I sewed in the side pieces that aren't pictured here. Luckily I knew there would be some fit issues so I just basted everything together without the piping first just to get the fit. I trimmed down the curve at the top of the ruched pieces, and had to make a whole new dark pink piece that was a little wider at the top, and I took in the armpit seam. When I was sure it all fit right, I took it apart and resewed it with the piping in the seams.

Oh my god, I love piped seams. They're so neat and clean and professional looking. The piping just makes everything better. As you can see the white piece is too long, but it is supposed to show under the dark pink panniers at the hips of the dress, so that's intentional. I haven't put the zipper in yet, of course, but I did put it on and try to get some pictures:

I'm like, ridiculously happy with how that looks. It fits so nicely and lays very neatly. So much better than the mock up, right? It actually looks like what it's supposed to be. 

Yesterday, I did the sleeves. And I swear to god, the sleeves took just as long as the rest of the whole damn bodice. 

So, Peach's sleeves have a slash down the middle of the darker pink fabric, that's then tied together with bows. So basically I cut out the middle section of the sleeves and sewed in a chunk of dark pink fabric. I've seen this technique used in Pinterest tutorials from people making Snow White's costume, with the red stripes she has on her sleeves. It looks like this:

I pleated the light pink over the dark pink sections, and then gathered the rest. Each sleeve is lined with two layers of stiff crinoline netting that I had leftover from when I made my white petticoat, and as a result the damn things are so fluffy they can stand by themselves.

Of course, that netting is hella itchy and pokey. Around the cuff that is solved by the cuff itself, that covers that seam. The under arm seam I actually sewed satin ribbon over it to cover it. The armpit seam attaching the sleeves to the bodice so far has just been serged over like four times, which covers it pretty well, but it might still need a ribbon cover to prevent chafing and scratching. Doing all those gathers and getting them arranged and fitted to the bodice took forever, but I'm very happy with how they turned out. I still need to attach the bows, but I'll be doing that by hand. I wanted to get the sleeves in position and shaped correctly before I did that. I don't have a picture of me wearing it at this stage, but here is the bodice with the sleeves attached:

Told you, they stand by themselves. Those sleeves don't need any help. 

Side note, I also decided to try dyeing my wig. Every time I've put that thing on, I've honestly been kind of upset about how it looks, and I think part of it is that the color looks terrible with my skin. I know covering my eyebrows would help, but still. I bought some Rit Dyemore, meant for synthetic fibers, and I got a big pot from the thrift store. Basically just mixed the dye with water, heated it up on the stove and dunked my wig in. It's a much nicer yellow blonde now, although of course it needs to be restyled. I'll take pictures once that's done. 

So, next I do the bows, and the collar, and then probably the gold paint trim on the chest piece where the brooch goes, and then the panniers, and then it's on to the skirt!

And all this while I'm also making a corset for Rachel and a Stampy Minecraft costume for my kid. Whew.  It's okay though, I have my own little cheering section in my sewing room:

Aren't they cute? I borrowed the Peach amiibo from my cousin to use for reference, and that Toad, well, he has a different purpose. I'm actually going to cut open his head, remove the stuffing, line it with canvas, and turn him into a shoulder bag that I can carry while in costume to carry things like my phone and keys and lipstick or whatever without taking away from the look of my costume.  But that is way down on the list of things I need to get done.

So.... at least we're getting somewhere.

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