Costume: Mara Jade part 2

If you followed along in part one, then you’ll know my next adventure was making the bodysuit itself. I’d put it off for a long time, but after confirmation in one forum and input from multiple Mara’s in Ladies of the Legions, I finally cut into my fabric.

Reminder that I was told to use the McCall’s M7269 pattern with heavy modifications.

Front of catsuit.

You can see above that for the front piece I had to add material around the boobs and thighs. How did I figure out how much more to add? I measured my body, halved it and then measured the pattern before cutting it out. If the pattern lines were not big enough, I marked how much more space I’d need, then cut along that line to make my catsuit pattern.

Note that this is cut on a fold, so there is not a seam in the middle of the front piece. That would be unapprovable for a costume club.

Back of suit.

The back of the suit needed a little more modification too. After cutting, I pretty much just sewed it together.

Terrible in progress shot.

You can see I pinned this together before sewing. I wanted to double check that everything lined up how it should. After I sewed those seams, I used tailor’s chalk on the inside of the suit to mark where the thigh panels and piping should go.

I don’t have a photo, but I made the crotch diamond (why would that be a thing, ever?) by chalking the inside of the suit, seeing what shape looked right that way, cut the final shape out of the suit, used the piece I cut out to cut a new diamond (slightly larger than the one I just cut out for seam allowance) and then sewed it in. I redid this like three times.

One of the worst things about working on this was trying to make the unrealistic costume work with real materials. It’s not fun.

You can see chalk lines above and my pinned panels. I’d go on a rant about how useless and unflattering they are, but I feel like better costumers who have come before me have covered it.

To create the panels I used the chalk to draw where they should be and then put on the suit to make sure it looked right (I did this for every step of my process). I did the drawing on the inside of the suit because that’s where the sewing was going to happen, but also because I didn’t want to mess up anything on the outside.

For the panels I cut a layer of quilting batting that was the shape of the panels I drew, then I cut the same shape from the material I used for the suit. I pinned it down and then sewed away.

You can see the panels above. Next was the piping.

I used elastic cord for the piping to allow for movement while wearing the costume. If you want info on piping, look it up on YouTube! That’s how I learned it for my Agent Carter racetrack dress.

After the piping I was ready to sew the seams and the zipper.

I took approval pics soon after that. I was Rebel Legion and Saber Guild approved (with a different wig).

Costume: Hamilton Ball

I had no gowns for a Hamilton-themed ball, so this called for making my own (because I am not just going to rent a gown, that would be the easy way out!). The options for this included everything from the late 1700s through the Regency era. While I did have ample Regency attire, I decided this was my chance to take a stab at a 1760s-ish dress. 

I wanted an excuse to finally channel the opulence of the French court, ok? Isn’t it every little lady’s dream to have pocket panniers and powdered hair? No? Alright.

For this project I acquired a floral fabric (in the form of an IKEA duvet) so I could reuse the outfit for informal 1700s events too. I relied heavily on the American Duchess blogs, podcasts and pattern from Simplicity.

Besides the pattern and fabric, I needed boning. Luckily I had a bunch from a failed dress in high school (yes, I have dragged that boning with me since 2007). I used the light but thicker plastic kind for the panniers. When I altered the front of my dress immensely (which I will detail momentarily) I needed to keep the front opening stiff, but didn’t want to get boning, so I glued two zip ties together and sewed those down. It worked fine for what I was going for.

But back to the dress. First I made the panniers, since I assumed (rightly) it would help me see how the skirts should look. 

I used a thrifted (and heavily bleached and cleaned) sheet for the panniers, pocket and underskirt. Make sure you follow the instructions for the pockets! It’s a game changer and lifesaver for events.

For the underskirt and overskirt I cheated. I didn’t use the American Duchess pattern for that part. Instead I made a simple petticoat and did the same thing for the overskirt. (I know I should be ashamed.) 

You’ll notice I left the front unpleated on the underskirt and overskirt. It was the keep with the silhouettes I saw on the costumes of the era. A lot of making this costume was taking time to look at garments from the period. Many museums have online catalogues which let you explore the various fashions of the era and let’s you feel more confident as you sew. 

I also look at modern costumers (Instagram has so many good accounts to follow) and looked at their work for inspiration.

The hardest part was the top. I still have things I want to redo and finish about it, but it was ball-ready when I needed it to be and that’s all I can ask for.

I measured my (corseted) body and looked at the measurements on the pattern. My body is curvy and petite, so standardized fitted things are difficult for me (a challenge that has really left me frustrated with clothing construction since I started sewing as a child).

Pro tip: It is easier to take a garment in than to let it out, so cut a size up if you are concerned! I cut the pattern size that would fit my widest part the best. From there I needed to take it in, while maintaining the same shape that the garment would need. 

The big change I made to the pattern was the top, I didn’t want to work with grommets and lacing, so I made the front open instead. This is why I made improvised boning from zip ties and added bows down the front (to hold it closed and be a frivolous detail). 

I fitted the top over my corset, the one I would be wearing under the outfit for the event. I also cheated and didn’t line most of the top.

I didn’t have the ribbon I wanted, so I just sewed some strips of fabric to make the ribbon I used. 

Next was the sleeves, which I want to go back and fix since they came out a bit too baggy. I added detail to the edge, which will probably ultimately make me not want to fix the sleeves later. 

After hemming the raw edges, I was ready. The panniers came untied a couple of times (it’s the cheap ribbon I used, I’ll definitely replace that), but a collapsed pannier wasn’t a huge issue. The dress held up really well besides that, plus it was easy to dance in. 

When I need to use this dress again I will definitely add details to the neckline, change out the bows down the front and add snaps behind those bows to keep the bodice extra secure. 

Overall, it was really satisfying to know I could make this kind of a dress. It felt really overwhelming, but it felt super fancy once I put it on. I felt like the fabric was super breathable for dancing and was just all-around gorgeous. I have a lot of room to grow as a seamstress, but this was a project that boosted my confidence. 

Costume: Mara Jade part 1

As most young nerds, I always had a character I dreamed of dressing up as one day. I fell down the rabbit hole of Star Wars EU when I was in Jr. High and Mara Jade stuck out to me. She was a badass Jedi, and a lady in a sci-fi universe who got respect! At that time there weren’t many lady badasses in the genre, so I’m sure that’s why I’m not alone in adoring her.

Fast forward to Celebration in Orlando, where I had a chance to throw together a costume for my precious bby Mara.

Here I am right after getting my first lightsaber and the wig.

I had tons of fun and people stopped me constantly to talk EU.

So now it’s time to get serious. That means making a catsuit (gasp!) and working on accessories. If I’m going to work for Legion approval, I’m going to have to work hard.

I’ll be using this pattern as base, but drastically changing it.

I acquired this Yaya Han 4-way stretch fabric. It wasn’t cheap, but it’s thick and I got extra in case I mess up. I’ve never worked with spandex.

I made the harness for my costume back in April, so I’m hoping it passes critique and I can use it now.

Update: I now have shin guards!

Costume Journals

I make costumes frequently for various events (mostly historical dances) and people are constantly asking me how I did it. Since I do take a ton of photos during the process I thought this may be a good topic to blog about. 

One of the things I will be touching on is how each costume is a learning process. I don’t have professional clothing experience, and I don’t like spending tons of money on stuff I may only wear once or twice.

Anyway, I hope these posts will be helpful to those that undertake similar projects (and hope any professional costumers don’t cringe at my cheats).

What am I working on?

I feel like I only ever remember I have this website when the yearly renewal reminder comes in. Instead of letting this remind me that I have no new content, I will strive to actually get content here. Besides endless sewing projects, work and occasionally, sleep, I figured a list would be a good way to organize my current to-do list but also be obnoxiously braggy to any future employers who have found their way here.

  • Coordinating venues, speakers and marketing for JASNA NorCal
  • Writing a presentation on social media for AustenFest
  • Still rocking co-admin status for the Drunk Austen community
  • Working on a social media/content strategy pitch for an internal group at Facebook
  • Endless Etsy orders
  • Promoting said Etsy account
  • Weaning myself off my caffeine addiction
  • Tackling my to-read pile