Jessica - South Carolina, USA
This was my first costume, and I learned a lot about sewing (I come from a family who the last person to pick up thread was my great grandmother (no kidding) and with this costume I learned how to sew, draft, embroider, and the behavior of different kinds of fabric (along with the fact that this is addicting).
I started researching this costume in August 2004, and if it weren’t for everyone's help at the message board I'd still be ogling at this costume and not wearing it. I found as many pictures as I could and started looking for a pattern for the tunic, I found simplicity 5589 ( I didn't really want darts and I didn't really know how to draft so I put it in a pile for a rainy day, and I found simplicity 0507.
I did a few mock ups of this and of course it was baggy, nothing a secession with pins and scissors wouldn't help, (and that was my first lesson in drafting, I don't recommend doing it that way but hey it worked for me! ) so I cut it down to size, then I started on the yolk and the collar, I measured where I wanted the yolk to start and end and compared how it looked in the pics, and drew out a pattern on paper. Easy enough. Then I cut the muslin and pined it on, horror of horrors! I didn't think about how it would fit over my bust, so, the yolk was pinned cut repined and re-cut till it worked and looked nice.
I used the pattern for the mandarin collar from the package and it was not too large, so that got cut down to size, now all I had to do was the sleeves, I used the sleeve caps from the pattern I based the tunic on, (those too were now too large but I liked the way the sleeves looked, with a bit folded under so I left it and belled them out toward the end. voila! I had a full muslin that looked nice! (w/o the emb I didn't think to do a mock up of that yet but I had an idea)
I popped over to denverfabrics.com and found the prefect dupioni! (the original fabric that Nigla used) and it was on sale too! (how lucky could you get? little did I know my luck would change) so I bought the last of the peach/white cross-dye. I got 6 yrds. when I got it in the mail, it was too stiff for my liking so I hand washed it in cold water with woolite, and lo and behold some of the dye was coming out and it was raveling like there was no tomorrow! so I dried it on the table with a fan blowing on it and bought pinking shears. (the best thing ever if you use dupion!). When it was dry I cut out the pieces with the pinking shears, (and I forgot to check the grain till after I cut all the pieces out. lucky for me you don't notice the diagonal grain line because of the yolk and the tunic looks just fine! so I sewed it all together by hand
Now came the challenge of the emb designs, I looked at the templates on ACS and printed them, I matched them up with the movie and made them as big as I needed them to be and used a dark graphite pencil and colored them in.
Then I started hand embroidering, I was at a speed o 1"=1 hr not so hot, so I decided to start on the drape, again lots of pictures, and back to Denver fabrics after I made a mock up based on simplicity 5329 (thanks to lots of help from Judy. thanks again Judy!) and wouldn't you know they were out of silk velvet in the charcoal color and I wasn't about to dye anything so I looked at the stretch velvet.
(The colored in these pics are off, the colors are almost the same as the actual costume, I've never seen it so I'm referring to the movie and costume stills. )
Anyway, I made the "sleeves" two caplets, (round I did 19" across) b/c I see the seem in one of my pictures of the drape so that’s how I did them and attached the capelets in the back and collar.
So after I did that I sewed it all together and rolled the hem and scalloped the capelets, (I was too lazy to line anything so this is all not lined) so I made the stencils myself for the "etching" (b/c this is stretch velvet I can't etch so I used fabric paint) I don't have a good pic of the patter/stencil so you're just going to have to look at the capelet pics. so then I could label the drape as finished!
So I went to the embroidering. Big pain. I used silver thread and I used over 500 yrds of it! and I got from my 1" per hr to 5-7" per hour! The tunic was done!
Now all I had to do was the sash and belt. The sash was easy so all I did was find the fabric on ebay a seller called Oregonsilver and got the dark silver color, whacked it to be about 4 yrds long and 6" wide and then it was done! (yes I'm lazy and now I had to get this done in two days! I didn't hem it yet). I figured out how to tie it and then that was as I said , done. moving on to the belt, I cut the fabric to be 3" wide and 4-5" shorter then my waist measurement, sewed it together with some heavy stiff fabric in-between and sewed some silver rick rack to it to be the ties and trim. Then braided about 3" down and all the rest is loose, there are three ties on each side all varying lengths at the end but they hang down about 4" shorter then the sash.
I had loads of fun working on this and all together I used 600+ yrds of thread and 300+ hours working on this. but it's so worth it. if if I had to do this again, I think I would have lined the tunic though the threads are a tad itchy. and I would get a sewing machine before I did it, and by the way, the whole tunic is French seamed.
This page was last updated 11/21/09