Sunday, 6 January 2019

Fairy Queen Costume - M4997

Patterns: McCall's 4997 "Renaissance Robe", and Simplicity 2777 for the under-dress. Alterations made to both.
Fabrics:  Pink fabric is a polyester/spandex/metallic blend with moderate stretch in one direction. A very fine silver thread interwoven creates the glistening effect. Green fabric is 100% polyester georgette, semi-sheer.
Available on Etsy HERE
Chest: 46-48"
Waist: 36-38"
Hip: Free
Hem: 40"
Back Width: 16.5"
Upper Arms: Very wide, OSFA

The $1/yd Challenge!
I am a big proponent of inexpensive sewing, but with no loss of quality. I bought both fabrics in this costume from Wal-mart at $1 per yard. Both were part of the "value" fabrics that are sold between $1 and $2.50 a yard.

Now, what some people might not realize, is that a you can often find surprisingly high end fabrics in this "value" spread at Wal-mart. They are, essentially, cast-offs from the mass clothing and upholstery industries, or fabrics that have been discontinued and their remaining stock sold off. Wal-mart buys these cast-off fabrics and sells them directly to us. Despite almost always being artificial fibers, except the occasional cotton, they are still quite high end. Strong, well made, and a unique change of pace for people who are sick of seeing the exact same stock of fabrics at JoAnns year after year.

Anyway, the pink fabric is a polyester/spandex/metallic blend with a moderate stretch in one direction. A very fine silver thread is interwoven throughout, creating the beautiful sheen affect. My guess would be this fabric's original purpose was dance costumes, or possibly prom dresses. It is incredibly silky, almost like a full rayon, and has a weave so tight you almost need a magnifying glass to see it.

If I tried to buy this kind of fabric straight retail, I know it would be over $10 a yard. When you see your opportunities at Wal-mart, you take them. =)

The green fabric is 100% polyester georgette, semi-sheer. The great thing about the georgette weave is that it breathes so well regardless of fiber content. It has a loose weave but is strong at the same time. This one was also $1 a yard.

In keeping with the $1 Challenge spirit, the silver satin lining of the sleeves and bodice was originally $2 a yard, but reduced to $.50 a yard clearance! Also, the pretty jewels stitched on the connecting points of the sleeves were originally earrings that ended up on the clearance shelf for $1 a pair. I just took the earring hooks off and voila.

The final material result:
Pink Fabric.................$1 x 8.5yd = $8.50
Green Fabric..............$1 x 5.5yd = $5.50
Silver Fabric............$0.50 x 4yds = $4.00
Jewels...........................$0.50 x 6 = $3.00
Silver Ribbon..........$1 x 1 spool = $1.00
Green thread to match $2.50 x 1 = $2.50
Floss for Eyelets......... $0.37 x 1 = $0.37

Construction - McCall's 4997 Renaissance Dress
Needless to say, the word "Renaissance" gets thrown around by The Big Three pattern companies pretty badly. I would say this pattern is firmly in the fantasy/costume category. This is also my first time making this one, despite having owned the pattern for well over 10 years (So many patterns to get to...)

First, the alterations I made:

1) The openings going down the sleeves are far too wide in the original pattern. The final result doesn't give you a nice slashed-open effect, but more of a big gaping round. I had seen this in multiple pictures from other people who had already made this pattern. So, I went ahead and "filled in" the curves on the pattern piece so the resulting opening would be narrower. I highly recommend doing this. The effect is much more pleasant, especially if you're using this pattern to pull of an historical impression.

2) I added full interfacing to the bodice, flat lining the backs and front with plain white muslin. Anything meant to be worn tight against the body, especially if you're going to have other layers beneath it, needs more substance than just one lay of fashion fabric and one layer of lining.

3) I drafting my own skirt panels, I didn't use the pattern pieces at all. This is only because I've been doing this so long I can draw an A-line panel in my sleep, and adjust them to fit the fabric best so there is no waste. (It might be tempting to just use a long rectangle and gather it to the waist, but a straight skirt piece won't give you the final shape you want. You really do need wide, curved bottom gores, despite what a pain in the ass they are.)

Recommendations and Fit Warnings

The first thing I noticed is the position of the fit dart on the bodice fronts (see last picture above). It is rather close to the center front edges, which makes me pretty sure this robe is not meant to close entirely. Meaning, if you follow the pattern size guide and make no changes, there should be an open gap at the front of at least 2". If you bring the center fronts to meet, the fit dart will be so far over it will be inside the curve point of the bust, which would make no sense and cause the sides of the garment to pucker.

Now, if you do want the front bodice to meet up and close fully, you will have to add to the leading edges when you cut out your pieces. A simple alteration.

Second, the sleeves are quite long. This usually wouldn't be a problem for this type of robe, but the openings down the sleeves make this awkward because the last opening will rest pretty much over the back of most people's hands (your hand will keep slipping through the last opening). I did not make this change, but I would recommend shortening the sleeves at the opening by just making the final slash opening shorter.

Also, the sleeves in general are as long as the hem. So, if you need to shorten the hem you will also need to shorten your sleeves overall. Otherwise, they will touch the ground when your arms are down.

Construction - Simplicity 2777 - View A dress
There really isn't much special about this under-dress. The raglan sleeve, gathered neckline shape has been reproduced by all three of the big pattern companies countless times. It's a standard costume piece.

The usual warnings for level of pain in the ass apply: The pieces are very large, with seams that end up on the bias, so you have to be particularly careful about stretch as you are tracing and cutting. If you don't have a huge dining room table, you'll end up on the floor or doing the careful acrobatics of tracing out the pieces on smaller table in sections (what I do, because I am not getting down on the floor!).

This particular pattern has a rather high underarm/armhole seam. Which I actually like, because most of these types of under dresses have no fit at all, and just end up being tents on the body. Plus, I can't stand low armholes on anything.

The only big alterations I made was to the neckline. I went with a simple drawstring channel so the fit could be adjusted to multiple wearers. The pattern calls for securing the neckline gather to a static binding, which is great if you're making it for yourself and can be sure you like the fit.


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