Victorian Hufflepuff Cosplay

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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.

The Coat

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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

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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

 

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!

 

Easy Drawstring Bag Tutorial

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I am so excited to share my first little cosplay sewing tutorial with you! Carrying a handbag or backpack with your cosplay is, for most of us, a necessary evil. Conventions usually involve long days, and with that comes the need for water, snacks, badges, and makeup/costume touch-ups, among other things. Even if you are lucky enough to score a room in a host hotel, you still need to carry your badge, phone, ID, and other essentials. A simple drawstring bag is a discreet way to stow those essentials away without detracting from the look of your costume. You can make one to match your costume using leftover fabric, a simple black one, or even out of a cute nerdy print fabric. This tutorial is for a small bag (about 8×10 inches), but you can customize the size to suit your needs. I made mine big enough to hold a bottle of water, but you could make a littler one that is just big enough for your phone/badge/ID.

There are more advanced ways to go about making these, but this is intended to be a beginner level tutorial. I’ve tried to simplify things so that someone with almost no sewing experience could do this. No patterns needed!

  • *1/4 yard fashion fabric (this will be the exterior visible part of your bag, I chose my Hogwarts house colors – Hufflepuff pride!)
  • *1/4 yard lining fabric
  • 56″ inches of silky cording (you can buy packages of this in the jewelry section, or in the trims-by-the-yard at most craft stores)
  • Thread to match fabric
  • Fabric marking pencil
  • Seam Ripper
  • Safety pin
  • Pins
  • Fray Check

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Estimated crafting time: 2 hrs // Skill Level: Beginner/Novice

*Note on fabrics: 1/4 yard is just a reference, but to be honest I’ve always made these with just the scraps I have laying around my studio! Also, for the lining, I recommend a heavyweight, slick lining fabric like taffeta. JoAnn’s sells a one that I love – I can’t remember the name but it’s usually about $9.99 a yard in their Special Occasion fabrics section.

To start, take your fashion fabric (if it is wrinkly, make sure it is ironed flat first!) and lay it flat on your cutting board. You will need 2 rectangles. Measure out your rectangle with your marking pencil (or you can eyeball it, easy to do if you have a rotary cutting board). You can make it any size you like, really, just remember that all of your pieces must be the same size. My pieces were 9″ x 11″ , and when finished my bag was about 8″ x 10″. Cut  two rectangles of this fabric.
Repeat this process for your lining fabric. You can use one of the first rectangles you cut as your “pattern”, if you like.

You should end up with four rectangles: two of your fashion fabric and two of your lining fabric.

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Now comes the sewing bit. Take your two pieces of fashion fabric. Pin them together as pictured below, leaving the top part of the rectangle open. Then take your lining fabric. Pin them together as pictured, leaving the top part open as well as a 3″ inch opening on the lower side of the bag. It doesn’t have to be in an exact spot, just as long as you leave an opening. It may not make sense now, but once you sew everything together, this will be your only way to turn the bag right side out! Sew your pinned parts.

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Once you’ve sewn these parts together, you will have two “pockets”, and your lining (the black one on my project) will have an opening.

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Snip the bottom corners on both your lining and your fashion fabric. This will ensure that the corners of your bag look sharp and tidy when all is said and done.

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Now press the sewn edges of both “pockets” as shown. Again, this is to ensure your seams are all crisp and sharp when the project is completed.

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Next, take your lining pocket and turn it right side out. Your fashion fabric should still be inside out. Take the top opening of your lining pocket and the the top opening of your fashion fabric pocket and pin these together as pictured. The raw edges of both the lining and the fashion fabric should both be visible.

 

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Sew this together.  It should look like this.

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Turn your bag right side out. Straighten everything out. Go ahead and iron all of the seams flat, poking out the corners so they are nice and sharp.

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Return to that little part of the lining we left open, and hand stitch the opening closed. You can do this however neatly you like, since no one will see it. The main thing is that you want to make sure it is closed up tightly – you don’t want your lipstick or your ID slipping through that opening and getting lost between the lining!

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Next up, you are going mark both sides of your bag, at least 1″ inch from the top opening (you could go wider, it depends on how big of a ruffle you want at the top), as pictured. I just used tailor’s chalk for clarity and because my fabric was light-colored, but you can mark this with pins, too. Next, mark another line about 3/4″ (don’t go any narrower than this, you will have a lot of cord to thread through here!) of an inch below this line, as pictured. Sew along these lines around the entire perimeter of your bag. You now have two parallel lines. This is going to be the channel for your drawstring cord.

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Now, carefully make two tiny snips each between your parallel lines by the seam line. Repeat on the other side of bag. You should have four snips. You can either finish these raw cuts but making a little buttonhole stitch by hand with embroidery thread, or if you are in a hurry (as I usually am), you can just dab some Fray Check on the raw cuts. (be careful with Fray Check if your fabric is thin – I accidentally used too much and it ended up seeping through the lining and staining my fashion fabric! woops!)

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Now, take your first piece of cording, cord #1. You are going to thread this through the channel you made. I find it is easiest if I attach a safety pin to the end of the cord to help guide it through the channel. Bring cord #1 allll the way around, back to the notch next to where you started. Pull it out, and bring your two ends together and knot them. You can dab some fray check or melt your knot together with a hot tip to keep the knot from coming undone.

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Starting on the OTHER side of the bag, repeat this. You will end up with loops on each side of your bag. You should be able to securely pull them open and closed with ease.

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There you have it, you now have a handy little bag to match your cosplay! It is easy to adorn with lace, beads, or anything else you like to customize it and match to your cosplay. Be creative and make it yours! Since I need a cute little bag to go with a Victorian Hufflepuff costume I am making, I decided to embellish mine by handstitching some lace and beads on.

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Thanks so much for reading this, I hope some of you found this helpful. If you found it useful, please feel free to let me know and share this link with your friends!