sewing & needlework
…ships ahoy…

…ships ahoy…

“Iceberg, straight ahead!” …and so began a century long fascination with the “unsinkable” ship. Would the Titanic have become part of collective consciousness, I wonder, if they weren’t quite so ostentatious in their claims? If it wasn’t supposedly unsinkable, would it have faded away like innumerable other wrecks? There was a whole lot going on in the decade or two surrounding the sinking, and yet here we are, still gripped by the story. We are even introducing it to the next generation. Yesterday, after a two year, plague-enforced hiatus from performing, the two littles were back in costume, up on stage with the rest of their drama class, and taking us back to 1912 as they promenaded up and down the decks of the Titanic.

Costume making has always been fun, but in The Before, it was also another stress at the end of the year. Another deadline looming on the calendar, in between four hundred Santa sessions (I wish that was an exaggeration), Christmas shopping, at one stage, open houses, or prepping the house for market, finishing up the school year, and juggling everyone into costumes and out the door and arriving to the performance on time – usually on my own, with the mister meeting us there due to timing and work commitments. After a two year absence, it was an absolute joy to be once again helping my little folk bring their characters to life.

Mr8 was easy – he was a gentleman on the ship, so all I needed was trousers & a button up shirt from his winter clothes crate, and a bow tie her already had, leaving me with just a waistcoat to sew. My go to for little boy formal clothes is the Oliver + S Art Museum pattern, and I even had the right size already traced off. I found some navy cotton in stash that would blend nicely with his other clothing, and we were off and running. I did cheat a little and attached the buttons on the outside, and hid a velcro closure behind that, and I also left off the welt pockets, but otherwise, it was a stock standard waistcoat.

Miss 11, however, was a whole different board game. She’s in the midst of an anti-dress phase, which is rather inconvenient when we are talking costumes for 1912. I showed her a few options, but nothing was grabbing her. Then, we got the brain wave. She was playing a feminist suffragette. What else would one do with a dress-averse suffragette but lean into the concept, and take inspiration from Downton abbey’s Lady Sybil Crawley?

I ran the idea past the dram teacher, just to be sure it could work, and with a massive thumbs up and a side serve of “are you going to make the headband too?”, we were off and racing. I started with the same vintage pattern I used for Madam’s current favourite mummy made outfit, the floral jumpsuit I shared a few weeks back. It had a silhouette that would work as a starting point, and I knew the fit was good, as well as being a Girl Approved style. I pulled it out, along with some spare tissue paper, and got to work. The first adjustment I made was to drop the crotch. This was a super technical process involving holding the pattern against Miss Butterfly’s legs until the positioning looked about right, then lifting it up to where the waist should sit, and measuring the difference. From there I simply added length to the waist and took length from the leg. I also removed the structured ankle cuff and instead added an elastic cuff.

With the pants sorted, I turned my attention to the bodice. Step one was to move the opening from the front, to the back. An easy process, really, acheived by folding the front placket and instead cutting on the fold. then the reverse for the back bodice, cut in two seperate pieces with the equivalent placket width added at the centre back. For ease of costuming, I made the back a velcro closure, rather than buttons or a zip, so she could get herself dressed during rehearsals. I then drafted up a sleeve, adding some extra width across the shoulders to allow fabric for gathering. I then drafted up an arm band, just a simple rectangle based on the circumference of both upper arm and clenched hand (to sure it would slip on easily. The final part was to create a pattern for the underlayer, based on the bodice pattern, arching up from the bottom of the arm hole up to the centre front.

To pull it all together, I went stash diving. The pants were made from some magenta lining I had on hand, to give them a lovely drape. The under bodice was a hot pink broderie anglaise that I had left from shorts I made for her when she was tiny, to add interest and dimension. I lined it in the same magenta, and then created the full bodice and sleeves from navy organza. The organza was quite a narrow cut, so I had to cut it in two pieces, and then join with a narrow seam. To hide that, and keep the whole bodice together, I added a decorative hot pink stitching up the centre. The finishing touch was a piece of gold braid I had from…I don’t even know what, to be honest, but I found it while ferreting around in my stash, and it became a waist accent.

The headband was cut from a Jatz box, and covered in the broderie and organza, the last of the gold braid, and a little flower made from the lining, then an elastic stapled on for wearing. I ended up curling Butterfly’s hair for the performance to give the headband something to work with, and I think the whole thing came together fabulously.

I’m down to one performance and one costume to go. The big boys have their performance this coming week, and the guests have been asked to dress to match the 1920s theme. My fabric arrived today to sew myself this dress. I’m making it in a mint satin I picked up from Spotlight last week when I had a coupon. I printed the pattern this afternoon, and am planning on spending some decent time getting stuck into it this weekend. In perfect timing, it’s Bathurst weekend, so I will most likely find myself glued to the laptop on Sunday, watching the race, talking trash at certain partners in creative crimes who is the wrong kind of supercars supporter, and sewing up a dress. A bit of moving needs doing first, and while I’m doing other bits, I have prints to run and cricut cuts to make. All in all, it’s shaping up to be a fabulously busy crafty weekend. Have a great one, friends!

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