This past weekend I was finally able to debut my new Victorian Hufflepuff costume. This costume was heavily inspired by a black walking suit worn by Eva Green in Penny Dreadful. While my original plan was to make the suit for my Victorian Hufflepuff Professor, I can and will be able to also use this suit for Vanessa Ives, Missy from Doctor Who, and even Mary Poppins. It would seem that costume designers really like the black Victorian walking suit. 😉
Below is my brief recap of the process. I doubt there is much to be learned from it other than my self-deprecation as a costumer, but perhaps breaking things down can help other people who are planning to make a similar type of costume.
When I originally started this project, I was thinking that I could make it pretty quickly and that it wouldn’t be a bit deal. I wanted to keep it simple since I was coming off of the madness of making my Lucille Sharpe costume. It didn’t really turn out to be simple, unfortunately. In all honestly, this coat might actually have been one of the hardest things I have EVER patterned. (yes, this made patterning Thranduil’s coat seem easy peasy) The front part was easy enough, but the back part involved princess seams from shoulder to hem, and in the middle the notches for the deep pleats. Deep pleats that need to fall, not squarely, but in a perfect A-line shape. And that must line up perfectly when hemmed.
I think I had nightmares about this.
But it all worked out. After a full month of agonizing, working, agonizing, working to frustration, leaving it for a few days, and then repeating all over again.
Ironically, I think I was a little overly enthusiastic in my pleating, because they ended up being a little too dramatically poofy. After frantically panicking and nearly throwing the whole thing out the window, I decided to try sewing each pleat down about four inches. Duh. Crisis easily averted. But I’m still irritated that I screwed them up.
Other things I should have done differently: more interfacing. I tried to go about this project using everything I know about proper menswear tailoring (thanks to my nerd husband who has made period menswear). But despite interlining everything in canvas and interfacing the front inset and collar, I think I could have used more. The collar really doesn’t have the stiffness that I was seeking, so yeah, next time I’d do that differently. I feel like this coat is one of those things that I probably overthought. I probably could have done half as much work and it might have looked better, but overthinking is one of my shortfallings as a costumer.
The skirt is my late Victorian 9-gored skirt. Eventually, once I find enough of the right fabric, I am going to try to do a tutorial on how to make your own. It wasn’t particularly difficult, but there was a ton of hand-hemming involved. I kept the hem nice and wide. I know that these skirts are often found totally lined, which makes a lot of sense, but quality lining is oftentimes more expensive than the fashion fabric itself. I saved the expensive lining for the coat instead and did French seams throughout to keep everything nice and tidy.
The blouse is self-patterned from muslin that I happened to have in my stash, and is loosely based off of one that I found while googling shirtwaists for some inspiration. It had a similar “V” design down the front in thin rick-rack. I had been throwing around different ideas on how to embellish the blouse, and the usual Victorian lace just didn’t seem right for a Hufflepuff professor. I feel like the Hufflepuff aesthetic is a little quirkier (I mean, we are the house that Tonks and Newt Scamander came out of) and for that reason rick-rack seemed spot-on. I went with medium-sized rick-rack (which is probably not historically accurate but…wizards) and went to town. The buttons are also not historically sound, but I had a whole lot of them leftover from another project so that’s what I used.
I meant to interline the puffed sleeves with some tulle to give them additional structure, but ran out of time (due to aforementioned coat), so that will be a future project.
This was my first time making a Victorian blouse like this, so I know it isn’t perfect and there are quite a few things I will do differently next time. But I don’t think it was too bad for a first.
Overall, I’m pleased with how the entire costume turned out, and while it wasn’t really on my “to-do list” for the upcoming year, I think I’ll probably wear it a fair bit. On to the next project!