Upcycling an evening dress into an Edwardian ball gown.

Knowing that I sew, more than a few people have given me bags of old dresses and clothes for me to rip apart and reuse the material. I love it, you never know what sort of fabric you might score, it’s like Christmas! However, I’m getting a huge pile of dresses in my closet all of which are intended for ‘cutting up one day’. The truth is my pile is getting a little out of hand!

Anyway, one of the dresses I had back there was my size, in colors I like, so I tried it on for kicks. Urgh. It has an empire waist which personally I think is the most hideous fashion ever. Sorry, not sorry. It also had thin little spaghetti straps. Not really a flattering look for me as I have broad shoulders and strong arms. 

 But then, wait! The general shape and cut was right, it just needed a little work and tada! Edwardian ball gown!

Usually, I hate wearing something I haven’t made completely. It’s not that I’m snobby (well, that much) but when you sew, everyone expects that everything you wear comes from your own hand, and I hate disappointing them by saying that ‘I didn’t actually make this’. Also, why wear something someone else made when usually I have so many ideas to make my own?

But is it always practical? A frugal budget can leave little room to afford yards and yards of new fabric every time you need a new gown. No shame there, that’s just being responsible. Also, I’ve wanted an Edwardian gown for some time now… but when I’m I ever going to get a good chance to wear one? Unless I throw my own party, none.  So why not upcycle an old dress into a new one?

Or, in this case, a new dress into an old one!

 

The dress before alteration. The under skirt is a very pale, creamy gold.

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Adding sleeves, just pinned down here. Sorry about the wrinkles, the chiffon scrap have been bundled in a bag for a month or two.

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The sleeves drape down the back, making the very distinct v-shaped back that you saw at this time.

 

…And a sash. The sash is cream colored, I tried a black and gold sash but the gold on it was too gold an clashed with the skirt. I think the cream gives it a very authentic look!

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Then I added some applique at the bottom of the cream/gold skirt. Normally ball gowns were heavily beaded but my patience doesn’t run towards beading for hours on end, so the appliques are sequined designs cut out of a remnant and sewn on. Good enough for me.

 

And done!

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Yeah, still a mass of wrinkles!

In barely an hour, I added a complete, new historical dress to my wardrobe, how fantastic is that??

Historical accuracy: Well, the general shape is good, we won’t discuss the fabric, or zipper placement.

Cost: Dress -free, Sash-free, Chiffon for sleeves- 2 small folded squares from a MASSIVE length of chiffon I bought cheap earlier this year. Let’s say $1?  Other expenses sequined applique cut from remnant fabric from Joann’s, two black glass beads for the points of the sleeves. Both remnant fabric and beads were bought for other projects a while ago and I used barely any, so yes, I bought them, but it hardly counts. Let’s say $2?

Still need: Full length black gloves. Pick up from a Halloween store next month. I really need a period corset, the Edwardian shape is very distinctive. However, since I really have no place to wear this, the time and money it would take to make a proper Edwardian corset really isn’t practical, or high on my list of things to do. Eventually!

 

I have a lot more dresses, so consider this the first in my Upcycling series. This was definitely the easiest one, the rest should be a bit more tricky!

Querying Again!

Hello! It’s been forever and a day since I last posted! I’ve been so busy the last few months, I’ve vended at several more shows, I’ve taken up a new hobby (wood burning), I’ve taught at several dance camps, and, most importantly, I’ve finished my current manuscript!

That’s right people, I am once more facing the daunting task of querying agents.

Basically, my book has been completely rewritten. But the biggest change I made was to cut it in half. At its initial completion it weighed in at 117K words. Now, I don’t think that’s huge, I prefer to read big books, but we all know how it goes. As an unpublished writer, I knew I had to knock that word count down. By the time I was querying the first time around the word count was hovering a little over 105K words. ‘Too long’ No takers. (for which I am actually glad, my book was so much less than it could have been)

I took a big step back and thought about this for a long time. What was really frustrating me was that there was so much more I wanted to add, which was going to send my word count soaring!

CHOP

Cut that sucker in half and went to town rewriting. Best. Decision. Ever.

Moral here? Don’t be afraid to make the big changes to your book. My word count is now 93K which fits perfectly in the suggested word counts for YA High Fantasy.

Anyway, it’s currently being read by my mom in an attempt to get useful feedback before I thrust it under the critiquing eye of an agent. I’m not going to look at it, I’m not even going to think about it, for at least a week. Then I’ll take the feedback and reread through the entire thing one more time.

And then I query.

Now, I can’t wait to share some pictures of the shows I’ve worked at and of the stuff I’ve been making, but quite frankly, I’ve been editing for a month straight, I can’t stare at a computer screen any more! I’m going to go read, work on some art, maybe do a stretching session, anything but stare at the computer. And tomorrow I’ll be back, promise!

Some of my Favorite Resources For Medieval/Fantasy Writers

Since I’m currently reworking my main manuscript I’ve been critiquing every aspect of the world I’ve created, trying to give it the edge of accuracy. Much of my world is (like the majority of fantasy) based on Medieval Europe precepts (but, you know, with Demons… =D ) Obviously I have worked hard to make this a unique land with its own cultures and customs but the historical accuracy nerd inside me won’t be content until I make some of this worlds’ aspects line up with their real world counterparts.

My main concern is hierarchy, both in a court/castle setting and in the military. I’m still struggling with Medieval military rankings, from my reasearch it seems like one hot mess! Might be time to create my own army ranks and structure, after all, fantasy writer!

But for everything else I have come across these sites that offer a ton of fantastic information.

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This site offers a description of dozens of Medieval characters, raging from nobility, gentry peasants, clergy, etc. with an explanation of their place in things. Honestly wish I had found this one sooner!

Medieval People, Titles, Positions, Trades & Classes

http://www.lscacamp.org/Portals/0/Medieval%20People.pdf

Compiled by Tammie Pattie

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This one is great for understanding how titles work

A Quick And Dirty Guide To Feudal Nobility

http://dankoboldt.com/feudal-nobility-guide/

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Dictionary of Medieval Words

Tired of every medieval-based character carrying a boring old sword? Pick out one of the more interesting named weapons from this list of ‘Medieval Words’. It also includes the parts of a castle and of knights armor.

http://medieval.stormthecastle.com/medieval-words.htm

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Ye Olde Medieval English Terms

And to finish off, I’ve always loved old-fashioned slang (Though my favorite is Victorian!) So here is well put together list of Medieval slang, sure to bring color to any manuscript!

http://www.citrus.k12.fl.us/staffdev/Social%20Studies/PDF/Medieval%20English.pdf

 

Well, now that we have all this knowledge, what are you waiting for?

Hahaha!!!!:

 

St. Patrick’s Day Craziness

I probably should have guessed this would happen, St. Patrick’s Day preparation started and I completely abandoned my blog! In my defense-Damn was I busy!

Last year I made our school new performance skirts, well this year it was time to make the matching tops. You might recall that last year I made almost 30 skirts and completed two solo dresses-in two weeks. Crazy, right? I promised that there was no way that would happen again.

Image result for laughing animal meme 

Yeah yeah yeah…

With one thing and another it was suddenly the end of February and I had *Drum Roll* OVER FORTY PIECES TO SEW. And, just to be perverse, I once again had exactly two weeks to make them all. Well played universe. On top of the sewing, this year I was also in charge of making the matching headbands. Yes, thankfully headbands are a good deal easier… but I had around 20 to make.

 The new costume tops were to premier on March 11th, 8:00 Pm.

I finished sewing March 11th, 3:00 Pm.  A whole five hours to spare!

In the end I sewed 45 costume pieces (Tops, boys’ vests, and more of the skirts from last year) and made 20-25 headbands, I forget exactly. There were several days were a sewed for 15 hours…Whew!

The tops were a collaboration between myself and a local Irish Dance Solo Dress maker, LinDesigns of Florida. She did the embroidery and created the shirts. But enough talking, here are the pictures!

 

The front panels fresh from the embroiderer.

Embroidered with the Aranmore 'A'.

Embroidered with the Aranmore ‘A’.

The very first show to use the entire costume!

Boynton Blarney Bash, 2016

Boynton Blarney Bash, 2016

And from the parades!

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Photo credit to Melissa Price of Priceless Photography.

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My best friend and I ready to dance through the parade! Photo credit to Melissa Price of Priceless Photography.

 

In one weekend, my work danced in three parades and multiple festivals and then danced through St. patrick’s day. I know I like to complain about the work, but honestly, it’s worth every moment of it to see my hard work on stage and hear the dancers tell me how much they like it. I feel so lucky to be able to both dance and sew for my amazing school!

Hope everyone else had a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day season!

Astrid Photo Shoot

Since we were heading to the park for a small shoot (see last post) I figured it was the perfect time to finally properly document my Astrid costume. This was made two years ago for Halloween and was more a triumph of time than of skill. It also isn’t a 100% accurate reproduction, at the time I had a day to make it so had to make certain changes. However I’m still very pleased with this outfit and I’ve worn it several times now. I paired it with Molly’s Toothless costume for a fun shoot.

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Sadly, Molly’s costume blends in too much to really make it out. And she was far more interested in the squirrels that were taunting her off camera than in posing-hence leash!

 

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12654303_1113180442067889_7916766046843505363_n  We were having quite a cold snap for South Florida and the park was freezing! But since I was dressed as a fur-clad viking I feel this only enhanced the shoot.

It’s always fun to see people’s reaction when you and your friend are wandering around dressed as a viking and an evil queen. One guy came up to us and told us ‘we looked weird’. However, he was definitely smoking something out there in the woods, so he was hardly one to judge. Gotta love the locals.

Fort Pierce Pirate Fest next weekend!

Evil Queen Photo Shoot

A week or so ago, my friend stopped by with the Evil Queen Regina dress that I had made her for her birthday/Halloween. It’s first outing had been at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party which unfortunately rained us out pretty good so we never got great pictures.

We took advantage of a sudden cold spell to run to a nearby park and snapped some great pictures!

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 I’m still thrilled with how it came out, though I wish I had made it just a little longer. There was a reason for its length though, since this was debuted at Disney I didn’t want it to drag the ground or, worse, get caught in any rides!

Toothless Dog Costume (and pattern)

On Jan. 14th I was informed that it was national dress up your pet day. Well, there was a certain costume idea going through my head and Molly adores being dressed up so off we went!

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This was pretty much a one time wear costume. The material I used was some sort of plastic-y scale pattern with absolutely no strength or durability. It also ended up being shinier on camera than I had thought it would be.

 It took me about two hours to draw up the pattern and to sew together all the little weird bits. The body is sewn in two pieces with the wings and four back spikes sewn into the seam along the back. The tail is attached with velcro-Molly doesn’t really like stuff touching her tail. She was an excellent sport about it, enduring us sliding the loop over her tail to hold the piece on long enough for a picture, but we then immediately removed it. I also considered making a head-piece with Toothless’s ears and head flaps but I didn’t think she’d go for that-she loves dressing up but I always take her preferences/issues/comfort into consideration.

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I was surprised at how well she managed the wings, have I ever mentioned that this dog is the biggest clutz I have ever seen? Seriously, she will trip over anything. I was sure she was going to knock into everything!

Interested in making your own Toothless costume? I took a few pictures of the pattern I drew after I had cut it out.

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One side of the body cut out along with the four back ridges. For each ridge I cut two pieces then sewed them together like a pillow and stuffed a little filling inside.

 

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Both body pieces. To the right is the leg hole and head hole, the left side extends out over the dog’s rump.

I didn’t get any picture of the wings’ construction. I made them both a different way trying to see which worked better, in the end both ways kinda sucked but did the job. You’re just going to have to experiment!

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I used some wire in the wing to give it shape.

 

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One piece of the body with the wings and ridges pinned. Note that the ridges are pinned upside down so that when they are sewn and the pieces flipped out they will be right side up. Pin the second body piece (right sides together!), sandwiching the wings and ridges. When sewn all the ends and ugly bits should be hidden beneath the seam.

 

As the tail wasn’t intended to last long, I simply cut out a long thin V and sewed the tail fins to the bottom. A piece of velcro held it to the body of the costume and another piece went around her tail to momentarily secure it.

177 One last picture, I couldn’t resist this one, she looks like she is contemplating murder.

A friend helped me out with a small photoshoot featuring this costumes so hopefully we get the pictures uploaded soon!

Were my fantastic photos and brilliant explanations unclear? (Impossible! *sarcasm*) Feel free to ask me any questions you might have about making your own Toothless dog costume.