Medieval costume dress inspired by Arwen gown from Lord of the Rings

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10620743_1537194393179811_8618754685626454262_nWe were invited to help out at our local Parish fete and given the opportunity to display some of my bears and dresses which was great.  It also turns out there was to be a fancy dress theme.  So I figure great a chance to dress up and have fun plus create costumes.  My daughter was easy.  She would wear Princess Sofia.  I just had to plan something for me.

After much deliberation and with input from my son I decided to try creating a medieval style dress.  My inspiration was the beautiful Arwen from The Lord of the Rings.  After posting a collage of some of her gowns on facebook the one everyone loved was this black and red gown.

First thing was to find a pattern that I could work with.
I found a Simplicity costume pattern and ebay provided the materials.
I ended up ordering 4m of red craft velvet and 12m of black velvet.The pattern looks like I don’t have to alter it at all. Simplicity 4940.

It took ages to cut out and thankfully I remembered to cut all the dress pieces on the same grain. I remembered from watching the Great British Sewing Bee that velvet brushes differently up and down so you need to make sure all your pieces go from top to bottom in the same direction so it doesn’t look odd. There was so much black velvet I had to lay it all out on the floor to cut it out. I also did the same with the red velvet for the sleeves. I ordered this lovely satin gold brocade for the sleeves and neck plus some gold lace for the trim.  I know it won’t be identical but it will be close enough to hopefully look good. Since I only plan to make this costume once I cut the original pattern which I don’t usually do but it did save me time.


The sewing of the dress was actually quite easy in terms of which pieces went where but I discovered that black fabric is quite difficult to sew as you can’t see easily where the stitches are and velvet is really odd. It pulls against itself so seems to slip about. You have to watch carefully to make sure your seams don’t fall out of line. I loved working with the gold lace and the brocade though and I love the big long sleeves. In the end though after hours of sewing I was really pleased with the result and couldn’t help wonder what this dress would be like in a gorgeous modern fabric as an evening dress or even a wedding dress instead of as a costume. The costume fitted great though and it was fun to wear.  I loved the detail around the neckline. I can’t wait to have a go at my next costume project. Plenty of sewing between now and Christmas but am planning on taking a bit of time for personal projects in the new year. Meanwhile am looking for excuses to wear this one again.

I wonder if it’s too much for a Tesco shop?


Sewing Basic Equipment list

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I’ve been asked by some people what things you should have in your sewing kit.  So after some thought I figured it merited a short blog post.  Here it is.  My list of basic sewing equipment.


Basic Sewing Equipment

1. Needles.  I have a small pack of various needles actually bought in a supermarket.  So these don’t have to be super expensive.  I like the ones with big ish eye openings as they are easier to thread and sometimes I use embroidery thread and this won’t fit through a small eye.
2. Pins.  I have two packs.  One is fine dressmaking pins that are 0.6mm thickness the other are these pretty glass headed pins that are 0.65mm. I think they are pretty and great for most fabrics.


3. Scissors.
I use 3 scissors. A small pair of needlepoint scissors that are pointy and sharp. An ordinary size pair mostly for normal use. A large pair of dressmakers scissors. Flat bottomed perfect for cutting fabric. Most bought on ebay for an average cost so again not expensive ones.

4. Threads.
I tend to use Gutterman or similar quality threads as I am putting them in a machine. Why? Because cheap threads tend to shed fluff more which clogs up inside your seeing machine. I have a huge collection of colours as I am fussy about matching threads to the material I am using.

5. Measuring tools.
Tape measures and rulers. I don’t have expensive quilters rulers and measure rulers I used 2 clear flexible rulers that I had in school. I also have a variety of tape measures but my favourites are these wind up tapes with a button that snaps them back into their case. Saves time winding.

6. Marking pens
You occasionally have to make marks on fabric. I have a tailor’s chalk wheel which is fab and works well on fine fabrics and dark colours but I use washable felt tips most of the time. I buy super washable and they are just perfect.

7. Seam Ripper.
Remember not to hack away with one of these as they are pointy and sharp and you can end up with holes in your fabric or items in places you didn’t want far too easily.

8. Hem / Seam gauge.
This might not be absolutely essential but I find it so useful as a small measuring tool. It also has a pointy end great for pushing corners out in sewing Eg collar or cushion corners. It’s designed to help measure hems and seams. For me it’s part of my essential kit.

If you are using a machine you will also have feet and bobbins and other bits but I think they need their own entry. So watch out for my sewing tips post 2.


Snow White dress

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Having successfully made the Princess Sofia dress I decided my next project would be Snow White.  I looked for photographs of Snow White so I could see what her dress looked like in terms of colours etc and ordered some satin fabric from eBay in the perfect colours.
Snow White dress fabric coloursWhile I am working on this project I am also looking at fabric for an Elsa dress from Frozen. I posted a query on a page on facebook that I use and had lots of replies. People are so helpful.

It’s nice to know you are part of a crafting community.
I looked for a pattern to help with the snow white dress and though I had the bridesmaids dress pattern I found an actual snow white so bought it. It’s Simplicity 2563.
Since this had the piping detail and correct shape for bodice it was the best bet rather than an adaptation. The big change I made was the sleeves. The pattern has these teardrop shaped appliqué red shapes on it but I had found a couple of online tutorials for proper pleated sleeves like in old period costumes.
pleated sleeves for Snow White costume
This is what I did here in this link to pleated sleeves. I ended up with these lovely sleeves I was really happy with the result. Much better than appliqué.
pleated sleeves for Snow White costume
I spent ages choosing colours and once again changed the colour scheme slightly from the pattern. When I looked at pictures of Snow White the sleeves were more royal blue than pale blue and the bodice was darker. The bodice was more like a navy. The sleeves had a yellow band. So my colours were navy bodice. Royal blue and red sleeves with yellow band and yellow skirt.
The end result was lovely. Really bright and beautiful. It’s an age 4 as it was made for a friend’s granddaughter. I hope she loves it. Snow White dress costume tutorial
Now I just have to make a smaller one for my little girl.


Disney Princess Sofia Inspired Dress

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How to make your own Disney Princess Sophia Dress.

1920486_1457211484511436_611266417_n My littlest and I were invited to a 4th Birthday party.  The theme was fancy dress.  Specifically Disney Princess fancy dress.  Our favourite Disney Princess is Princess Sofia.  We love this little Princess and I really hope Disney make a movie to go with the TV show. Princess Sofia wears a gorgeous purple dress and this was the dress I decided my littlest should wear to the party.

Since dressmaking is my thing it made sense to make the dress. It ticks lots of boxes.

  1. I couldn’t find a Sofia dress online for less than £40.
  2. I knew I could buy the fabric relatively cheaply.
  3. I already had a pattern I thought I could adapt.
  4. I get to practice sewing in satin a complete first for me.

So the first thing was to buy fabric. I bought polyester satin which is reasonable price and purchased 2.5m purple and 1m white. I also bought matching purple thread and purple ribbon. I had a zipper in my box and already had 3m of netting plus some white lining fabric.

I used Simplicity 1507. It has a lovely full skirt with 2 layers plus a lovely sleeve just perfect.
The next decision I made was to separate the net underlining layers and make a separate skip/petticoat that could be worn under the dress. I felt this would make sewing the waist easier and mean we could always do away with one layer if need be.

I actually followed a great tutorial I found online for inspiration and used a vest plus lining and net. Here is the finished product and a link to a separate tutorial. This is the tutorial I used although I did adapt it slightly SewFearless children’s tulle petticoat

Now to sew the Disney Princess Sofia dress.
I put the top together first and just followed the pattern.

I will note that this was my first time working with satin so I spent a whole evening searching for tips as when I first started the fabric was puckering. I found some great clips on YouTube and spent my Friday evening watching various clips. My life is pretty rock and roll these days he he. Ok don’t laugh I actually enjoy it so armed with wine and snacks I eventually realised what I needed was the right needle. I use Universal needles usually but satin requires sharp needles so a quick trip to my local supply store the following morning meant I was all set to go. The finished top also included some rick rack for a design. This should really have been added before the top was assembled so that’s a note to remember. Oh here is one of the best YouTube links I found working with satin.

Next was the skirt. I mulled over making a circle skirt but decided on following the pattern which uses a tube gathered at the top. Before I did anything I needed to create the petals. I decided 4 was enough for a little girl though I know Princess Sofia actual dress has 6. I sewed all the pieces together apart from the back seam. I then folded the fabric in half then half again with another fold so that I could cut a semi circle that would give me a complete petal at the front, one on each side and one at the back.

I zig zagged all the pieces before sewing them and didn’t french seam though I would in future as I found that despite zig zagging satin frays more than I was happy with.
The next step was the appliqué design. I first traced my design onto baking paper. Then taping it to my kitchen window I traced the pattern onto bondiweb. I bought mine on ebay and it’s double sided iron on webbing perfect for application of applique designs like the bottom of Princess Sofia dress.

Before I moved onto finishing the skirt Pr10155572_1472252703007314_7184052084309138778_nincess sofia dress has these peplums or side pieces. I freehand drew two loops on dressmakers paper though baking or tracing paper would work too. I zig zagged the edges and added rick rack trim then gathered the tops and pinned then basted these to the dress top.

Next I simply followed the pattern and after sewing the back seams of both skirt layers I gathered the tops then pinned them to the dress top and machined the whole thing together. I was excited to turn the whole thing right side out and see the final product. I was so pleased. It looked amazing.

It was something of a labour of love and I learnt lots about working with satin but immensely pleased with the finished garment.

It swishes wonderfully and of course my littlest insisted on Princess Sofia music to dance too.
The party was great and my princess was super excited to be wearing her Princess Sofia dress.


How to make a sock snake

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I promised my cousin I would write a quick blog entry on how to make a sock snake so here it is.
How to make a sock snake

To start with you need a pile of socks or sock ends. I make lots of sock animals so having a pile of sock snake parts was easy for me.

It does not really matter what colour or pattern though I mostly had stripes. It also doesn’t matter if each part isn’t the same length but I would make the socks the same size so that the width is more or less the same. I stacked my sock tube parts up then and got my sewing machine ready.

To sew each part together I folded one sock tube inside another making sure the right sides were together. Then pin the raw edges together.

Once the two parts are pinned together you can sew as neatly as possible around the tube.

I did this from the inside as you can see. Removing the pins carefully as you sew around the tube. I didn’t bother zigzagging the edges of the join but I did whizz round a second time to make the seam strong.

Now simply repeat this process until you have the length you want. I should note that I started with a sock toe so this could be the snake tail.

I simply kept going and going as we wanted a lovely long snake. Once you have finished the length choose another sock toe section for the head. I used my scissors to cut a neat hole in the toe that I will sew up later for the mouth.

Stuffing was not as easy as other animals and I had to roll the whole snake back in on itself to start stuffing it’s tail. I use lovely soft toy stuffing which I buy in bulk from eBay. It’s proper safety fire regulation tested too which is good. You can buy this type of soft toy stuffing from most fabric stores. I know big stores like Dunelm also sell it.

Once snake was stuffed I cut a length of ribbon and sewed the opening closed with the ribbon in the middle. I did this in a straight line not gathering. After I had sewn the sock closed I created a mouth by pushing the end of the sock in and sewing it closed with a running stitch along the edge. Running stitch being just in and out. It created this lovely ridge.

The eyes are pieces of felt bought at a local fabric shop. I craft glue them into place then sew them on. There you have it. Lovely long sock snake.


Halloween Pirate inspired costume

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Halloween pirate costume. pirate fabric inspired outfit

I promised I would write a blog entry / post / article on this sewing project and here it is.
The fabric was bought from s local Fabric craft shop recommended it for novelty fabrics like these pirate prints and they have an eBay store.

pirate fabric

I decided to make trousers from the dark fabric and a top from the light.  I chose Simplicity 7189 for the trousers.

pirate fabric

The pattern for the trousers is only two pieces cut out.  You need some bias binding and some elastic.  I used 6mm for the legs and 12mm on the waist. I cut out age 2 for the pattern since my little one is quite tall. As always I recopied the pattern on to new paper rather than use the original. This is an easy pattern so only took a couple of hours of sewing. The hardest part is seeing the bias binding for the elastic and making sure you catch the edge but leave a big gap for the elastic.
Simplicity 7189 pirate fabric inspired outfit with trousers in skull and crossbone
For the top I chose a dress pattern but decided to make it short like a tunic top. I used Simplicity pattern 1924. This is one of their new project Runway patterns and is lovely.

I especially liked it for the top as it uses poppers or buttons as fasteners rather than a zip.
Simplicity 1924 using pirate themed fabric

Once again I copied the pattern out then measuring against one of her tops I worked out how long I wanted it to be and drew out bottom pieces in the required length. I used some blue facing as I felt the white needed a backing. I love the poppers on the back.
skull pirate theme fabric top using Simplicity 1924
I simply adore this top. I bet the dress is adorable. The Simplicity Project Runway patterns encourage you to pick and choose from elements of the pattern and embellishment like sleeves of different styles, added lace here and there, different style bodices or adding collars or pockets to suit. I prefer simple lines so no added extras. I love it and can see this outfit in lots of other fabrics for the summer.
She seemed really comfortable and it fitted beautifully.


Sewing Posts

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sewing stuff will also go onto my new site. I plan some tutorials but also just posts on fun creative things and plain old sewing & fun stuff. I added some posts categories too which might make finding things easier. I am all for easy site navigation – oh thats the post nerdy techy geek in me peeking through LOL. Oh baking stuff will also feature so just added a category for that too