Sunday, September 25, 2011

Halloween 2011: Snow White, Twice.

I've had an exhausting and stressful week.  I turned to Diet Pepsi and my sewing machine for solace.  Okay, and ice cream too.  Shut-up.

Thursday night I finally attached the Snow White skirt to the bodice I finished weeks agoIt did not turn out well.

This is the only picture I took of Snow White v.1 for obvious reasons.  Scroll down to preview v.2 if this horrifies your sewing sensabilites. 

Clearly, this is hilarious and in no way is it wearable.  I'm going to be so sad when Abby gets old enough to have taste:  she loved this rendition and kept telling me how beautiful it turned out.  I had to bribe her out of it!  Her love for it was too sweet for words and made me happy to have a daughter.  I tried hard to not giggle as she twirled around blissfully in this awful, ill-conceived costume.  My husband did not even try.  He just laughed, loudly.

So what went wrong?  Many, many things.

- the bodice is way too wide.  While it fits well through the chest her shoulders aren't even close. This was the only part of the dress that I used the pattern for so I'm not sure why it turned out so huge.  The sleeves are half way down her arms!

- around the waist it looks like she's used the dress to shoplift 10 bags of marshmallows.  I did the gathering on the skirt with a cording technique instead of gathering stitches which turned out not to be that much easier and it just added bulk.  Sewing it to the bodice evenly proved impossible, hence the weird pleat on one side and the total lack of a subtle v-front.  It seems to be oddly twisted too.  WTF?  Terrible. 

- you can't tell by looking at it but despite the wide top it was super difficult for her to get in and out of it.  There were some contorted moves with her arms that had to go on, only to look like it was falling off of her when she was wearing it.

I waited for Abby to go to bed and then took the whole thing apart, stitch by stitch.  That took an hour.

And then I stared at the pieces.  And stared at them some more.  Then looked up Snow White dresses on Etsy to make sure I could order a decent homemade one from someone.  There were lots of pretty ones, (I especially loved this country-inspired cotton one, though Abby would be disappointed).  That said, I only found two with a velvet bodice and proper sleeves.  This one is $500 but is really nice.  Still, $500 for a child's costume and the skirt portion was cotton, not satin.  This second one is $329.99 and is stunning but I don't like the sequined ric-rac and the sleeves aren't inset, but red with blue ribbon strips tacked over, plus I intend to make the cape out of red velvet not satin.

I then went to the fabric store and re-purchased all the fabric in case I had to start from scratch. I didn't and now I have an extra 2 yards each of navy stretch velvet and shiny gold satin.  Can you return fabric?

Snow White, v.2 is much improved, though not perfect.

This dress cannot attend your party as it has a prior engagement with my ironing board.  Regrets.

-I cut the cord entirely from the skirt, separating the lining and tulle as well.  It was therapeutic in a way.  Luckily, I'd hemmed it a little long anyway so losing those inches was not a problem.

-Then I took a deep breath and my shears and sliced up the back seam on the bodice.  Scary!  I cut about a quarter inch out of center (lining included) and then folded in about a quarter inch on either side and hemmed the raw edges.  I then stitched a strip of black Velcro into it.  This not only made the bodice fit better it also made getting in and out of it about a million times easier.  It could still be a little tighter and if I'd re-cut the bodice I would have raised the neckline an inch.  It is a touch low for a 4 year old. The Velcro closure is a little bulky, but it will be covered by her cape eventually anyway.

Velcro to the rescue! 
-I ditched the lining and the tulle on the skirt portion.  Instead of doing a gathering stitch I decided to just pin pleats into the skirt portion.  It was a lot easier to control and keep even all the way around and I didn't have to worry about breaking a thread. The v-front could be more pronounced, but I'm okay with how it is now. 

-Now that the sleeves aren't at her elbows you can see how puffy and pretty they turned out. 

I also cut her hair this weekend.  My scissor skillz are immense!  Needless to say she loves it.  I may or may not try a crinoline under it.  We'll see.

Up next is Snow White's cape and the stand-up white collar.  Hopefully, that will go a lot smoother!  Couldn't possibly go worse.


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Halloween 2011: Homemade Snow White costume, in progress!

**update to this costume here**

Abby wants to be Snow White for Halloween this year.  In the past she's been a Sweet Pea, a Bee and last year she was Little Red Riding Hood.  She's 4, it's not a long list. 

This is a much bigger project then I anticipated.  I'm using pattern Simplicity 2817, purchased for a whole $1 during Joann's pattern sale last month.  The idea of paying $18 for a pattern now seems ridiculous. It was one of many I bought that day.  I was very pleased with myself.

Both these dresses are pictured with full crinolines which are not mentioned once in the directions or pattern.

I looked through the reviews on and was convinced that I could complete this costume on my own.  Of course, I've already made a ton of changes so I'm not sure why I bothered looking it up.  Even without my changes, I'm getting the feeling I was wrong in my assessment that this would be easy for the following reasons:

1)  I've never used a commercial pattern before.  All the patterns I've used to date have been from books or the Internet or I've made them myself.  A commercial tissue pattern is a WHOLE other beast.  It's unwieldy and fragile, it has complicated encoded directions, I have to use transfer paper and a pattern wheel.  You have to line up notches and dots... dots I forgot to transfer. There are no step by step pictures, just confusing line drawings.  It's kind of a nightmare.

There are TWO of these evil things and two pages of double sided directions.
 2)  I've never made sleeves before.  You'll note in all my previous clothing projects I've managed to avoid sleeves.  Snow White, however, is not Snow White without her trademark (ridiculously complicated) puff sleeves.  The sleeves I decided to make using the directions from Craftiness is Not Optional instead of the applique directions in the pattern.  I'm not sure if this has made things easier or harder for me since I've never done applique work either, but I like the look of the insets so much better then teardrop shapes being sewn on top. That just seems... lame. The insets are far more "authentic" if such a thing can be said about an animated princess.  I also made the sleeves with the navy velvet instead of the standard light blue satin because I've always thought that was just weird looking.  Sorry, Disney.  Mine are especially puffy per Abby's request.

If you are making this yourself you'll want to make the arm bands longer then the pattern piece actually is, especially if you are doing insets instead of the applique, also I'd make the band a bit wider so that you can hem it.  Since the pattern doesn't call for you to finish the edge at all (!?!#!) I sewed on the cording rather then re-cut, re-fuse and re-sew.  I just skipped the elastic entirely.  On the bodice instead of inserting piping into the front seam I sewed the pretty cording down the front.  Just gives it a bit more detail.  Remember to apply it before you sew the lining to the velvet entirely.
3)  I'm not using cotton, but velvet and satin. And tulle. And cording.  All of which I've never used before.  The costume satin is awful quality too.  Fraying all over the place!  I feel like I have to self seam it before using it.   Plus, it and the velvet are both slippery for lack of a better word and don't stay pinned like I need.  I've had to pull out at least four seams and I'm not even half done with the costume!  The cording has begun fraying too and I have no idea how to fix that. 

The inside is Fray City.  I lined the bodice with bleached muslin that I added interfacing to for structure, but if I were to do it again I'd probably use a navy cotton or face the inside with velvet (assuming I could teach myself that technique).
 I'm not giving up yet, but I'm far from satisfied.  The bodice seems to be a little large even with the darts (another first), but I keep thinking she'll need to wear a turtleneck if it is too cold so I don't want to make it any smaller.  I'll be lining the skirt which it is not called for and putting gold colored tulle between the lining and the skirt (which is more a gold satin then a primary yellow) to give it fullness, otherwise it will just lie flat which is not what Abby will want, but I'm not sure how that will effect the gathering or how it will fit on to the bodice.  Guess we'll find out.

I have a lot more work to do to finish this. Not looking forward to the cape.  See!  This is why I start so early!

Upcoming Projects: Not Yet Blogged

a rundown of what I've been up to: DIY wedding dress, "Back to School Night" decor, Flower Arranging for the Incomptent, more jam labels, a dog bed solution, paper embroidery, flying pig needlework, attempting to scrapbook, make your own board game kit, Link from Zelda costume, organinzing for homework, and how to build an afterschooling program!

how to declutter after a death... and how not to do it

what do you do with all your fat clothes? Make doll clothes!