Ugh…. It’s still snowing. I thought we would have snow for one or two days, but nope! It’s been snowing on and off all week! I know I live kind of up north in the Midwest, but seriously? What is this, an ice age? I guess I’ll just have to play Spring by Vivaldi every day when I’m practicing violin. Maybe that will help.
Well, I did finish the dress and it was great! It was definitely the most comfortable thing I have made thus far. The other things have been a bit too tight around the waist and ribs. It was awesome for dancing- the circle skirt was great for all the twirls involved in swing dancing. Best of all, this is probably the most professional-looking thing I’ve made at this point. The seams are very uniform and neat. And it was a very unique costume- most of the girls dressed up as Wonder Woman or Catwoman or Black Widow. (The only trouble was that people didn’t really get who I was supposed to be…. but oh well.)
When we left off last time, I had just assembled the bodice. As it turned out I had overestimated on all my measurements (on purpose, so I would have room to adjust stuff) and so I had to take all the seams in by almost half an inch. That really adds up, when there are lots of seams. XD I had to keep adjusting it several times because then it was too small, but eventually I got it Just Right. Another problem was that the side front panels were too short, because of constraints due to the width of my fabric. (I only got half a yard of the blue satin. It was plenty enough, but in order for me to keep the grain of the fabric correct I had to cut it kind of funny. That resulted in the side front panels being too short… which resulted in inevitable wardrobe malfunctions!)
To solve this problem, I created little triangle shaped panels to go on the top of the side front panels. This worked really well! Not only did it help to completely cover the exposed area, but it also made a really cool seam that added even more fullness to the bustline.
Then I had to make the lapels- those things that look like the collar of a military jacket. There wasn’t much rhyme or reason to how I came up with the shape- just intuition and trial and error. I put the fabric over my shoulder and basically drew on it with a crayon to mark out what I wanted it to look like. And that worked pretty well! I made two cuts of each piece so that they could have lining. I’m glad I did that. There wasn’t enough fabric for me to line the whole bodice, but it was a good thing I lined the lapels because otherwise I would have had to hem them and that would have frayed and looked sloppy.
After that, I cut a long strip of red to be the waistline, and ironed the edges to make that really nice, sharp, professional edge you see below.
You can also see the lapels- the collar sort of thing- and the triangle panels I added to the side front panels. They’re right next to and under the lapels. I think I would actually do these triangle panels again in the future, next time I have a bodice with princess seams! I like the fullness they add to the bustline, and the more defined and controlled shape. Adding those actually made the bodice construction a little easier.
So that was the bodice! The bodice took about 70% of the time I worked on this costume. The rest was easy.
For the skirt, I used red satin and some thinner white satin left over from the petticoat of my 50s dress. I made six panels of each, with the top being just below my waist, and the bottom being about 18 inches away. There was a bit of math involved because I wanted the skirt to be a circle, so I just had to figure out how wide the bottom had to be. That came out to about 10 inches. After cutting those, I stitched them all together, and it looked like this.
The rest was pretty straightforward from there. I attached the skirt to the bottom of the bodice, chopped about 4 inches off the skirt hemline, hemmed it, and closed the back seam and put the zipper in. With the zipper installation, at first it was so tight that I really couldn’t put it on. So I ripped it out and adjusted it again… Wearable, but still uncomfortable…. After adjusting it a third time it was finally comfortable. Bluh, I hate zippers.
And viola! The finished costume!
You can see the proof that it’s a circle skirt. Folded in half, the skirt makes a semicircle. Circle skirts that go above the knee are my favorite thing ever! They’re just so bouncy and twirly and full and cute.
And then here I am, in the costume, with my 40s hair and makeup which you sadly can’t see too well. I’m so glad that I already had the little silver pumps that look a lot like the original shoes!
There are three things I should have done to make the costume perfectly accurate. I should have made the hat, gotten white gloves, and made stars to go on the lapels. But I didn’t have time to do those things.
Here’s what makes me really happy about this costume. In swing dancing, there’s a lot of twisting your arms over your head and stretching your chest and shoulders, while moving really fast. It’s easy to have wardrobe malfunctions especially if you’re wearing a strapless bra like I was. And my costume was functional enough to COMPLETELY avoid wardrobe malfunctions, despite all the dancing- and it was still sleeveless and it had a V-neck. It really is the best costume for swing dancing.