Happy (belated) Pride Month! For all my LGBTQIA+ readers, I hope you find love and joy not just in June, but every day. You are beautiful and wonderful.
I had a fairly eventful June, including a two-week honeymoon during which our car broke down (but hey, we saw whales, so everything’s fine really), and I participated in my first author event! Last weekend, I was one of 16 authors that was part of the Art Walk in Salida, CO. It was a blast meeting some other local authors, talking with readers, and even selling a few books!
I am still working hard on making edits for The Enduring Flame, and will hopefully have a call out for beta readers in late July or August.
Now, I promised a couple of months ago that I’d talk about my other main hobby: sewing. I thought it would be fun to reflect on some of the outfits I’ve made over the years, both cosplay and everyday. Instead of going chronologically, I’m going to go in order of my favorites (either to construct, wear, or both). I have more outfits and pieces that I’ve made, but I think I’ll just focus on the best of the best.
Outfit #7: ’70s Jumpsuit (2021)
This jumpsuit was made to wear on my honeymoon. I used a vintage pattern I found in a thrift shop, but modified it to not have a collar. The fabric was also thrifted (lucky find), and was a stretchy knit that was easy to sew, but didn’t quite have the drape I was hoping for. I’ll probably make the pattern again sometime with cotton or linen.
Outfit #6: Modern Jumpsuit (2020)
This jumpsuit I made last summer from a pattern purchased online. It was very simple, and the printed cotton fabric was super easy to sew. I didn’t have a long enough zipper, but improvised with a tie-back between my shoulder blades. Unfortunately, I gained a little pandemic weight, and it’s a bit tight now! Hopefully I’ll be able to fit back into it after some biking and hiking.
Outfit #5: Greek Island Dress (2021)
The other of my main honeymoon outfits, this was made from a Folklore pattern that I fell in love with. I adore the flowing sleeves on the tunic and the simple dress underneath. The tunic is made from a light rayon while the dress is a white muslin, both purchased at a local fabric shop. This was another quick and easy project, with the only time-consuming part being the hemming of the tunic sleeves.
Outfit #4: BBC Maid Marian Cosplay (2013)
This cosplay holds a special place in my heart, as it was my first real foray into cosplay using a combination of pre-made patterns and draped patterns. It was also my first project on my sewing machine. The design is based on my favorite dress of Maid Marian’s from the BBC Robin Hood show that ran back in 2006-2009 (and was one of my first obsessions).
Through this project, I met the costuming director for my university’s theater program. She taught me how to drape, which is the process of making a 2D pattern from the 3D dress form by marking seam lines on the form and draping fabric on it. After this, she hired me, and I worked for the rest of my university years in the costume shop! Though I don’t wear this dress often, I remember it fondly because of how much I learned from this project and the connection I made with my mentor.
Outfit #3: Kahlan Amnell Cosplay from Legend of the Seeker (2016)
I know, I know, Terry Goodkind’s The Sword of Truth series is pretty derided now (and rightfully so), and the show made from the book series wasn’t exactly Game of Thrones, but I adored them both as a high schooler. My best friend and I had always talked about doing a cosplay of Kahlan and Cara (you see, I loved the series so much I used that name), and my friend ended up gifting me the actual prop knives that were used on set, so how could I not make the outfit? The knives came with the metal accents featured on the actress’s costume, and so I incorporated those as well.
By this time, I was fairly comfortable with modifying patterns and draping my own. I made this entire ensemble in about two weeks, just in time for Denver Comic Con. It’s still fun to wear at Renaissance festivals!
Outfit #2: Historical “Wishing Gown” from The Phantom of the Opera (2015)
During my last semester in college, I asked my costume shop mentor if she could lead me in a costuming independent study. She agreed, with the caveat that I record and reflect on all steps of the process. I’ve always loved the costumes in The Phantom of the Opera (also my favorite nostalgia musical), and so I chose Christine’s “Wishing Gown.” I researched real gowns from the early 1880s and modified the show’s costume to have some more historical elements.
Nearly every pattern piece for this project was draped. It took four months with biweekly work times, and includes a petticoat, pillow bustle, underskirt, aprons, panniers, train, and bodice, most of which are lined and with hand-sewn accents. I made the cape after graduation, though by comparison it was the simplest part of the whole ensemble.
Though I don’t wear it often – it’s hard to find an excuse to pull out a Victorian gown – I do fondly remember this project as the one that truly taught me the most about sewing. It gave me the courage to do the next, and final, project on this list.
Outfit #1: My Wedding Dress (2020)
This is it. The big one. The most ambitious and stressful solo project I’ll probably ever take on: my wedding dress. Many amateur seamstresses want to make their dress, but it’s daunting even for those with a lot of experience. Having made the Wishing Gown, I felt confident in undergoing this process.
It…did not go so well at first. My initial ideas proved too difficult for me to drape, and I went back-and-forth on many design choices. The fabric shop ran out of the purple floral silk I was using and only sent 12 yards instead of 18, forcing me to rethink my entire design. I even redesigned and reconstructed the bodice entirely after it was finished, as I was so unsatisfied with the first one!
I thought I knew a lot about sewing after my previous outfits, but I learned so much about couture sewing, hand-stitching, draping, sizing, fitting, and more after this beast of an ensemble. It ended up being three separate pieces: bodice, skirt, and train, the latter being removable for ease of movement after the ceremony. The skirt had pockets (of course) and the bodice had a total of four layers of fabric, including hidden boning and corset laces.
Would I do it again? Maybe I’d choose a simpler design, but I would still tackle this project again, because there’s nothing like spending 160+ hours on your own wedding dress and getting to see your husband’s expression.
Thank you for indulging my non-writing hobby! I won’t make posts like this often, but I thought it would be fun for you to see what else I get up to in my spare time.
And who knows, maybe someday I’ll write a book about a tailor weaving magic into their clothes, and this will all turn out to be completely relevant research.