Queen of the Summer Seas Final

So today is World Ocean Day and I thought to myself, ‘this would be a great day to throwback to my Octopus Dress’. And then it hit me that I have a blog. A blog I’ve neglected. A blog I never posted the results of the costume contest on.

Um, hi guys, how y’all doing?

So anyway…

I won!

Those two little words blow my mind. I’ve simply never been lucky enough to win anything before. Also, as a writer, I feel it’s pretty easy to get used to, and expect, rejections, even if you’re upbeat and roll with the rejections and move on, you can still start to feel a bit downtrodden. Winning something, even just a costume contest, breathed a little bit of wind back into my sails.

Having won the contest I was obligated to spend both days at the Pirate Fest that had hosted it as well as appear as a guest judge for their Mermaid Pageant. I would have spent both days at the fest anyway, so that was fine, and acting as guest judge was a neat experience! I also won a big tote bag of Pirate Fest merchandise, some of it was pretty cheesy, like a a little foam pirate hat (I think I gave that to one of my dance kids) but some of it was nice, like a gift card to Hoffman’s Chocolate factory, and a huge, good quality pirate fest travel cup. I also won a professional photo shoot which took place on the second day of the festival.

It’s been so long now that I unfortunately can’t recall the photographer’s name (oops), but she was a pleasure to work with and had lots of ideas for posses and was able to guide me through them. The only thing I will say is I thought the choice of location was odd, she wanted to do the photos on the train tracks. It’s artsy and the photos did come out beautifully, but I probably would have chosen something more pirate or sea themed as a back drop. But again, no complaints, the pictures my friend took for the first photo shoot have an excellent backdrop so I don’t mind the train tracks in these ones!

Funny story though, my dance school was performing at the fest on Saturday Morning. I was supposed to walk in the parade that morning as well, in costume. I started with the parade then as soon as we went past the stage where my school was supposed to dance, I tore away from the parade and shucked off all the skirts and tentacles just in time to practice the new choreography with the group (We had a newly choreographed pirate dance drama made just that week for the show, practice was vital!). I had to keep my corset on and wear the dance top over it. After we practiced the drama a million times (ok, so probably only half a dozen), and then danced it full out during the show, I literally couldn’t breathe! I almost had my very own Elizabeth Swan moment. When I practically collapsed after the show I had to keep insisting to people that I wasn’t tired, or hurt, or out of shape, I just hadn’t been able to draw a deep breath for the last hour!

I am NOT perpetuating the myth that you can’t breathe in a corset. The corset I was wearing was fully boned, tight, sturdy and I could normally breathe just fine. Just not after dancing in it for almost two hours straight!  After the show I had to put all those layers of costume on again (and boy was I hot and sweaty by then…) but wow was it worth it! I have never in my life had so many pictures taken of me in costume. It took forever to make my way down the streets because mostly I just stood and posed with growing lines of people! It was overwhelmingly awesome. It was a fairly expensive and time consuming costume to make, but the kids who stared in awe at my tentacles and the people who wanted pictures with me made every bit of it so worth it. While a big part of what I do is for personal satisfaction there is nothing like knowing so many other people liked my work!

Anyone have a favorite costume they’ve made or worn? Link in the comments, I’d love to see!


Queen of the Summer Seas Part 2

Part 1 here :https://dancingseamstress.wordpress.com/2017/09/22/queen-of-the-summer-seas-part-1/

So the last post ended with the construction. Next, the decorating!

I did some research and found that Octopi are quite the avid little hoarders. They seem to love shiny things. I wanted to reflect that in the dress. I began collecting all sorts of bits and bobs to decorate the corset. Old crystals that I had floating around my room, pearls, suitable beads, etc. And then Michaels had a fantastic sale and I scored some shell beads!


To add a little extra sparkle, I purchased a gross of Swarovski in Scarabeus Green, which is a greenish blue. In retrospect, I probably should have picked a different color as these blend right in to the dress, but oh well, they sparkle!

Playing around pinning a few decorations here and there. I wanted it to feel somewhat organic and to capture the idea of the sea, so I cut out some ‘seaweed’ to tack to the bodice.


The skirt also got the sparkly treatment. I hand sewed dozens of sequins along the hem. Also, can we take a moment to appreciate the color of this two tone organza?!?!?

It was about here that I was reaching the finish line and stopped taking progress pictures. Honestly, I’m impressed I manged to take this many! So after all this I whipped up two black velvet arm covers (Handless gloves? What do you call them?) and a little shrug made out of fish netting (Michaels, if anyone needs to know) . I decorated the shrug with yet more pearls, sequins and crystals and added a few more drapes of sea weed to hang gracefully.

Well, that’s how I put it together, are you ready to see the finished product?


Of course you are.

(Forgive the mess, busy sewing and all that!)


This is the only picture I have of it on Sue, it doesn’t really show off the tentacles. It does, however, show off its awesomness (She said humbly).

The necklace was handmade out of clay, painted and decorated with swarovski and a ‘fairy’ stone. Pearls connect it.

I am unabashedly proud of this dress. I’ve been dreaming of it for years and it’s finally a reality. A few days after completion my friend and I packed up and drove to Jupiter for a photo shoot. We got some simply AMAZING pictures that I can’t wait to share with you in the next post!

So, how much goes into a dress like this? Well, let’s see.


Blue/green two tone Organza-3 yards

Lime Crinkle Organza-3 yards

Black shimmer Organza-Bought 3 yards, used 1 1/2

Purple Shimmer Organza: -2 yards (FREE!)

Black and purple cotton scraped together from stash for non-sheer underskirt, -3 yards

Two tone Avocado Green Taffeta-2 yards.

Black Crushed Velvet- 2 1/2 yards

Bag and a half of Stuffing

Duck canvas for Corset lining- From stash, plus muslin lining for velvet.

Steel Boning

Fish netting

Sea Shell Beads/sequins/swarovski/pearls/various gewgaws.

Rubber tentacle finer puppets. (yes, I’m serious, but wait till you see what I used them for.)

That totals up to about 16 yards of fabric used in the dress.

For a total cost of approximately: $113.

Not bad! Luckily some things were in my stash (boning, lining, etc.) and I’m an extremely frugal shopper who hates to waste a penny, so the cost of this dress remained reasonable.  (not that I’ll be dropping 100 bucks on materials for one dress again any time soon). The true cost was time!

Next, the photo shoot! Let’s see this thing in action!

Queen of the Summer Seas Part 1

Confession time. I’ve got a thing for tentacles. No, I don’t know why.

In August I set myself the task of sewing a costume that has been on my mind for years. An ‘Octopus’ gown, a la Ursula from the little mermaid. I’ve been lusting over the idea for ages, but 1: it was going to be a ton of work, 2: a lot of money for the fabric, and 3: no place to really wear it which sort of makes it hard to justify spending said money.

Well, a local pirate fest recently announced a costume contest, all pirate, and sea-themed fantasy costumes accepted. HALLELUJAH, a reason!

Here is the original idea sketch. It did change slightly from beginning to end, but then everything I make does!


Here’s the fabric I collected for the project. Fun fact: there are about 16 yards of fabric in this picture. And this isn’t even all the fabric!

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Cutting and pinning pieces!

Testing the different layers of the skirt, there are four layers of fabric to create the rainbow-y waters effect I wanted. Super washed out in this picture due to sun coming through my window, hang tight, I have better!



Testing the overskirt minus the underskirt. This part was, unsurprisingly, the hardest part of the dress. Getting the chiffon webbing between the tentacles was a nightmare. On the other hand, I’d chosen a crushed velvet for the top of the tentacles, which is super stretchy. As I started cutting them out, I panicked and told myself I was an idiot, Velvet stretches! It warps! I would have to layer and adhere it all to make it behave, adding a ton more work and fabric to the equation. Then I calmed down, took a breath, and realized that the warping, stretching velvet was PERFECT. Look at how those tentacles are twisted and writhing! In any other situation it would have been a disaster, but for this my miscalculation was serendipitous!

Plus as a bonus, I managed to get all eight tentacles stuffed with only a bag and a half of stuffing, I’d been expecting half a dozen, at least. I stuffed them very lightly at the top so the corset can settle over them comfortably.



Above, the corset, with boning channels sewn, top bound, ad middle insert all sewn in and pretty. But far from done! Part 2 coming this weekend!

Ren Fest Costumes

My friends and I got together for a day at the Renaissance Fair. This should be a fun sewing opportuity  for me, but I have to admit, it drives me crazy. Half of me wants to study the period it’s set in and go Historically Accurate, the other half wants to go full out fantasy.  Que internal battling, dozens of hours on pinterest trying to decide, several calls into the bff and one extremely stressed out me. I do this every freaking time. This usually leaves me with a week to a few days to get my costume together.

Of course, I’d volunteered to dress my friends too, so here’s what we all eventually decided on.

Dragon knight

To match the theme of the helmet she bought last year, I made a knight’s tabard. To mimic chainmaile I used this old cloak that my mom had bought from party city eons ago. It was made of this strange, silvery, meshy, stretchy material and the cloak itself was torn and old. I squeezed out just enough and I think it got the point across!

081085(This is my favorite shot! I love the sun bleeding though)


Poisoned Rose Corset

This is the first part of what will eventually be a full costume, but all we had time for was the corset. Made of a rose pattered green jacquard and boned with steel, my friend paired it with faux leather pants and a lovely black shirt.


Dragon Queen

This is what I finally decided on (obviously I went with fantasy in the end) Floor length sleeves mimic wings and the shoulders and top of the bodice are adorned with dozens of black scales and dripping silver chains. I cut out the scales individually out of some sturdy black satin then ran the edges above a candle flame to seal it. The stomach is designed to look like a dragons chest and stomach scales.


I really wanted to get pictures that looked more, I dunno, Fierce? You know to fit the whole dragon queen idea of the dress. Sigh, it can really suck to have such a baby face. Last night I was running a quick Irish dance show at a pub that just opened. I walk in and greet the owner. She say’s “oh! The dancers! Great I was just looking for you!” and walks right past me and goes to my mother. I am twenty four years old, darn it, my mom was only there because she and my dad enjoy getting out and having a drink at these events, and half the time no one believes I’m in charge because they assume I’m sixteen or so.

Anyway, that little anecdote out of the way, I’d like to find a new setting to shoot some more pictures of this dress. I don’t *love* it, but I put so much work into that I think it deserves some better pictures. Anyone have a dragon I could borrow for a photo shoot? Please? I’ll return it, I swear. Maybe.

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.


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


Compiled by Tammie Pattie


This one is great for understanding how titles work

A Quick And Dirty Guide To Feudal Nobility



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.



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!



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



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!

Christmas Photo Shoot

After a sudden idea and a quick frenzy of sewing I got two of my friends together and held a small Christmas themed photo shoot. I had different ideas for each costume; mine was traditional. A Victorian bustle dress in the seasonal colors. The second was also a Victorian (inspired) gown but with a more Steampunk twist, my colors inspiration for this one was cinnamon; crimsons, browns, and coppers. The third costume was more fantasy, inspired by Yule and the older celebrations of winter. I called it Evergreen, the Spirit of the Winter solstice. This was done in black and green with a collar of ivy on the cloak and a matching headdress.


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And what costume would be complete without a matching one for the dog?


And some of the behind the scenes pictures!

"No. More. PICTURES."

“No. More. PICTURES.”

"You said photo 'shoot' right?"

“You said photo ‘shoot’ right?”

Molly lost her nerve in the dark park and needed a little cuddling.

Molly lost her nerve in the dark park and needed a little cuddling.


Sadly our preparation took so long I didn’t get the pictures I really wanted in the park. We rushed out the door as the sun was sinking, certain we were going to be too late, as the parks close at sunset. But we had some luck! The park was open late for some game and we were able to take advantage of the forested area. This was perfect for the Evergreen photos but not really for the two Victorians. We certainly had fun though so that’s definitely what matters more.

The corset for the Evergreen costume will be for sale on my Etsy page shortly. Here are some close ups of the costumes!

006The Evergreen Corset, the color is washed out since I was too lazy to take a proper picture ;). It’s forest green and black the green lace panel is sewn over black taffeta so the black subtly shines through and the main fabric is green shot with black, very pretty! It’s steel boned and laces up in the back with silver grommets. Slightly larger that Sue here so it’s only pinned and thus looks loose.

001 I ended up leaving the bullet baldric off, I’d originally considered putting candy canes through the loops but never got around to buying them. This was cobbled together from several pieces, the only costume I didn’t make from scratch for the shoot. However, I loved how it went together! Definitely want to use this again.


And A few more shots of my dress; I admit it, I’m VERY proud of it. I need a proper bustle cage, here I simply used a bustle pad and after a while it just stopped working, (which, of course, made it more appropriate for the natural era style bodice I’m wearing, but HA wasn’t my main concern here, I just kinda did whatever I wanted!) but the dress itself made me extremely happy! Except those wrinkles on the green panels … I’m properly corseted and the jacket top is not even tight or pulling, WHY DOTH THOU WRINKLE??

I can’t help but be extremely critical of my work and as I get better I’ll probably look at this and gasp in horror that I wore it but whatever, I wish I had another reason to wear it!


My bustle deflated after driving to and from the park.

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I’m grateful to my friends for being willing to help me with these silly projects, they endure pins I’ve left in the costumes, a burnt ear from the heated hair curlers, and being forced to stump around in the dark posing. Can’t believe they still talk to me, actually!


“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a family possessing dogs will never again take a picture without a dog wandering into the scene.”