Holy crap, I just sewed a gown!

*knock, knock, knock* “Heather?”

Yes. I’m alive. Please know I haven’t forgotten about you little bloggy blog of mine! It has been quite some time and in between work-outs, trying to keep up with my shop, working and trying to keep my social life at least a little bit afloat, I’ve spent the remainder of my time asleep. And these hours are very few and far between. So weekends, the free moments I have, oh you better believe I am snug in my bed, blissfully napping.

Unfortunately, I’ve forgotten that days only have 24 hours in them and have had none left over to just sit. I miss sitting. And staring off into oblivion. And it’s my favorite time of year to do so… I need to find time to do that. Outside in a pair of jeans, a warm sweater, a hot cider and my thoughts. Doesn’t that sound glorious?

But I’m glad to get a chance and touch base with my blogging world. I feel like we need to sit down on a cafe terrace, sip lattes and talk about the weather, our families and Bethenny Frankle’s new talk show (God she’s hysterical, I adore her) and Tamra Judge’s wedding (GORGEOUS!).

In the meantime, let me share my biggest feat to date… or at least what feels like it to me.

I sewed a gown.

*pause for reaction*

Yes, I said gown. Remember last year’s Comic Con that I slacked and never put up pictures from like I promised? Yeah, so that happened again. But the shirt wasn’t enough this year, I had to kick it up a notch. So to Cosplay City we went. I did. I cosplayed. I wore a costume. And walked around downtown Baltimore. Like the ridiculously awesome fool I am. That happened. This is real life right here.

Join me on my sewing adventure.

My great aunt, who has inspired many of the crafts in my life, used to be a sewing queen. In her basement, she had this table that was as long as the room itself to use to lay out patterns, fabric, etc. During her off-sewing-adventures, we used the table for family gatherings. But this table was amazing, even if it did take up most of the room. She’d sew us all dresses, outfits, album covers and of course: our classic Raggidy Ann/Andy dolls. She was amazing. We’ve all tried very hard to continue her legacy through baking, crocheting, sewing and just general craftiness. She taught me to sew when I was little. I learned again from our home-ech class in middle school, but that just reinforced what I had already learned. I really haven’t done much sewing since, a few things here and there like a skirt for last year’s Halloween (which I just totally improvised), this pillow and a few other knick-knacks. I did learn to tailor my concert gown for my college choir after I lost 90 lbs during my undergrad career (I since have gained it back and have begun losing it all over again!). But nothing as extreme as I would like. My pinterest “That’s sew fab!” board has been overflowing with ideas to do. Again, ain’t nobody got time for that!

IMG_7927So I made time. I decided that this year for Comic Con I wanted to dress up. It took me a good while to figure out what I wanted to be, but I finally decided to bring my childhood and pose as Princess Peach from Super Mario Bros for a day.

To be completely honest, I haven’t played any Mario’s related game for years. Luckily, my sister had all the up-to-date versions of Mario Party, etc to help refresh my memory of how Her Royal Highness acted. I did have the TV Show from the 80’s playing in the background, however, I was going more for the game version. Have you noticed the TV show version was more of a brunette? And half her skirt was hot pink instead of the trim? Yeah, this blondie wasn’t having any of that.

I learned some tips along the way of this sewing journey, get ready for this:

1. PAY ATTENTION.

The pattern I originally bought I was so excited about. I got it from Joann’s for $2.00 when it was originally $15. And then I realized the cold hard truth of the matter: It wasn’t the right sizes. Here I am thinking the sizes on the back for reference refer to a basic pattern that has EVERY size within the pattern. Nope. Big fat nope. I got one that wouldn’t have probably fit my left leg. So back to Joann’s I went. And I was kind of crabby to them, to which, I apologized later because it was obviously my fault for not paying attention. But how was I to know? I’d never used a pattern before!

2. Utilize to your own measurements and make the pattern work for you.

Alright, maybe this is just me, but I took every damn measurement I possibly could for my body. I got my waist, my hips, about 10 different spots in between… everything. Well when you compare my measurements with the average of the pattern, it was off. SO off. After a giant glass of wine, I went back to the working table and trimmed and cut the patterns to my body type/shape. Screw patterns. Screw you perfectly shapped skinny-minis. So I have more in my stomach region, so what? MAKE IT WORK. Tim Gunn and I got along just fine during this week. Just fine indeed. In the end, I didn’t get a chance to actually fit the dress once it was done, which, made it look baggy and boxy. But whatever.

3. Read the damn directions. And then read them again. And then if you don’t know what the hell your doing still, google it. AKA: LEARN YOUR TERMINOLOGY.

Ok, so my dumb self was supposed to cut the broadcloth (this was the poormans version of what it was actually called, I honestly can’t even remember) lining for the boddice (wtf is a boddice?) along with the satin, but didn’t… and then had to go back and pin and cut and ugh, it was annoying. Read the directions. And then if you don’t understand ask. If whoever is to help you doesn’t understand or you can’t find anyone who doesn’t laugh at you when trying to answer, google it. There are so many amazing ladies and gentlemen who are here to help! Want to hear one of my more idiotic moments? I couldn’t remember how to thread the bobbin. Yeah. For real. Like I said, I haven’t sewed since I was like… 10 (Lies). SO I had to google a youtube video… which wasn’t even my machine type and play and curse and get pricked (don’t ask me how I got needle pricked, I’m a clutz) until I finally figured it out.

4. Take pride in the victories, even as small as they may be.

I figured out how to thread my bobbin, enough said. I created poofy sleeves. Boom. What a badass.

5. Learn how to work your fabrics.

I had a lot of satin happening. It overwhelmed me initially, but after working with it, playing with the stitches, I got the hang of it and it wasn’t so bad. I think my least favorite part of working with satin was putting the boddice, the skirt poofs and the skirt itself together. I think it was my sewing machines least favorite too. But learning the tension, the thread patterns, the thread itself… it made a big difference.

6. Not every machine needle is the same.

Did you know there are different size needles for different fabric thickness? Oh yeah… me too. Definitely knew that.

7. How you position your pins makes a difference.

How did I find out the machine needle were different sizes? Well because I broke the damn thing sewing the skirt together and ran into a pin that was sticking out the wrong way, one I forgot to take out. I swore you could sew with needles in to keep your fabrics together. Yeah well, they can’t go with the machine grain… I felt dumb. I still feel dumb.

Again, I still don’t know the terminology, but I never went to sewing school… so whatever.

8. If something goes wrong, put it down and walk away.

So that happened. I got frustrated with the bodice at one point. My machine got clogged. I mean, shit happened. Shit always happens. So when I felt like throwing things across the room, I threw myself into something else… like jewelry making. Starting over is ok when you’re not frustrated too. After calming down, I sat and ripped seams out for 20 minutes while watching “Orange is the New Black” and life was ok. Maybe it was the fact I was watching incarcerated women searching for a mysterious chicken, but I doubt that had anything to do with it.

9. Steam or iron your fabrics first. And then steam or iron upon finishing.

I didn’t. They looked silly and rumpled at the Con, because I didn’t steam it either. Oh well. Next time.

10. YOU JUST SEWED SOMETHING. GIVE YOURSELF A HIGH FIVE!

I started off using a different Princess pattern: Snow White and Cinderella, courtesy of Simplicity. Again, I bought the pattern and was SO insanely proud of myself of the deal I got… I honestly should have known by that deal… alas, I had to return it for the larger pattern sizes. Whatever. The pattern called for a few different fabrics, which, I had no idea of. One that did resonate was the main fabric used for the gown: Satin. Princess Peach’s dress is all light pink with a dark pink trim at the bottom and skirt poufs, so I picked up about 500 yards of each fabric from Joann’s. To say that I was at Joann’s about every day is an understatement. It got to the point that the fabric ladies begun to know me by “That girl who bought us out of pink satin”… it was borderline pathetic. After buying the pattern I begun to get nervous about the daunting task ahead of me. Once the fabric was purchased, I broke out in a sweat and hives. Never have I sewn anything of this magnitute and I have NEVER used a pattern.

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I was starting to feel doomed.

After I had all of my stuff (or so I thought), I begun my journey after taking off a whole week from work leading up to the Con. Now, I needed some vacation time after quite a crazy summer at work. We’ve gone through A LOT these past few months and I just needed a mental break, one to try and rejuvinate my spirit, which, was becoming to feel very beaten down. So it wasn’t just to sew, it was another staycation that was desperately needed.

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It took me about two days of just cutting out the pattern. After realizing that my body wasn’t quite the same shape as those darling little skinny bitches you see on the front of the patterns, I decided to take fate into my own hands. I took so many damn measurements of my body it became insane. I wanted to make sure it would fit me, but not look like I was wearing a just really pretty potato sack. First, I had to check the patterns closely. I intended to merge the dresses into one: poofy sleeves from Snow and skirt poofs from ‘Elle. Again, as I never sewed from a pattern before, I wasn’t really sure how it was going to work out. In my mind, I started mentally preparing for a back-up and easy costume should this just end up in shambles. Remember how I tend to binge watch shows or movie series while crafting? Well, I chose to watch the entire second season of “Once Upon a Time” while sewing… I thought it quite fitting, no? I figured, “Hey, if this gets totally jacked, I can find a red jacket, some boots, curl my hair and steal Zoe’s sword to be Emma Swan. Part of me was wishing I had after seeing the amazing Once cosplayers that Sunday, but that will come later.

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I had to psych myself up to pin and start cutting the fabric. I had bought extra, just in case, but still, it was a huge step for me. SO I decided to start on the skirt first, that seemed easy enough, right? I cut about a half a foot from the bottom of the pattern to use for the dark pink trim and used the rest of the light pink for the top. When I realized that one of the three panels was only SLIGHTLY out of line, I felt a great sense of accomplishment and regained sense of confidence in finishing the dress. This was that Wednesday.

What I didn’t realize is that the bodice was going to be my most challenging portion. I figured it would be the sleeves… no… those were a sinch. It took me a whole day to psych myself up to work on the bodice. I kept walking away and going back to it after different portions of the rest of the dress: sizing and cutting out the poofy sleeves, cutting out the skirt poofs, making the jewelry. Finally I went back to it and just improvised. I mistakenly didn’t cut the pattern out of the broadcloth and satin together… note to self: next time, figure that out ahead of time. That set me back a few hours on Friday, especially having already sewed the two front panels together and the tops of the bodice… oh the joys of a seam-ripper.

Like I said, the sleeves turned out to be one of the easier portions. I should have put broadcloth with those as well, keep the sleeves poofier, but I didn’t. They actually turned out to be slightly bigger than I expected and I had to take them in upon my “final” fitting. Even the the bottom of the bodice turned out be larger than I was expecting.

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Unfortunately, I finished sewing the gown together around 10:30 Saturday night… literally. So not much tailoring occurred. But whatever, I SEWED A GOWN.

The total sewing portion took about three days total, prep took about three days as well… mostly just trying to get myself to woman up and just do the damn thing. All together, it took me about 6 days to do it… if that.

So yes. My first dress/gown. In less than a week. Without ever having sewed from a pattern before.

That. Just. Happened.

I started the jewelry the first day and finished up the night before, so it didn’t turn out as clean and jeweled as I was hoping. I used polymer clay from the craft store. I found I liked the Sculpey brand better than Fimo. The Fimo was hard to mold and work with. Boo.

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I painted a water/paint mixture over top the baked portions to give them a shine. The earrings I made by rolling up similarly shaped balls, poked a hole in with a jewelry pin and then attached them to hook earrings. The rest of the crown was foam with a gold shimmer to it. I used a hair comb to secure it into my hair. I’m a little sad about the blue clay, which, turned out a little darker after baking.

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I wanted my make-up to be very basic. I didn’t want to go overboard on it, though I did go a bit thicker in the eyeliner than I usually do. I didn’t have time to properly do my hair… actually, I take that back. All of my hairspray was used *cough*Mom*cough* and so I just gave up. So limp my hair was. No poof. Oh well, you can’t win ’em all.

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I decided I’d be cool and wear my brothers Jango Fett helmet on the way. He had a great shirt of Boba Fett playing in the sandbox with “Daddy’s Little Bounty Hunter” underneath. Very cleaver.

Please enjoy the following scenes from the day:

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The Deadpool’s were on point and hilarious that Sunday. Fantastic. I also really enjoyed this Poison Ivy, she was very classy!

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How cool was this?! Holler for the mermaids!

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I FOUNDA MY-AH MARIO!

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So, backstory: I was very overwhelmed upstairs with all the cosplayers. I wasn’t doing the contest, but we wanted to take a gander of all of the costumes. They were fantastic! However, I being me and the anxiety prone girl that I am, I needed a break. In the midst of a slight hunger-and-anxious-induced tempter tantrum, I scoffed at the escalators and decided I would use the elevator for my final voyage down to the main floor. Needless to say, the dress was too big and too long and ended up getting stepped on all day. I also had to hike it up a lot in order to go down the escalator and everyone else had to hold my stuff. I was feeling pretty shitty about pawning it all off on everyone else. As we all took a breather away from the crowd, I watched a group of Once Upon a Time cosplayers enter the building. I. Flipped. Out. Instantly I hiked up my dress and went right for the escalator, Zoe close behind me. We had a blast with these guys and they were so nice! GREAT cosplayers! This guy cosplayed Jefferson/Mad Hatter and instantly connected with Michelle who was also the Mad Hatter (Tim Burton version). They imitated through the looking glass!

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The Evil Queen was MY favorite. I’ve found a great kinship with Lana Parrilla who plays Regina/Evil Queen on the show after finding out how she got her lip scar (I’ve recently acquired one and have come to kind of like it. 🙂 ) She’s become my favorite character on the show. This cosplayer was WONDERFUL! She and Zoe (Teapot Alice – Tim Burton version) got along quite nicely!

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Obviously, pictures must be taken.

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This was LITERALLY the highlight of my day. You guys, I got my HEART ripped out.

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And of course, needed a shot with the great Jefferson!

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They all loved Zoe! Here, Zoe… eh em, Alice was pulling the White Rabbit out of his hat! She was hysterical the whole day. If people didn’t ask for a picture with her (which, she got A LOT of requests) she’d go right up and ask if they wanted one. She got insanely sassy and was even directing ME in posing for the camera. I can’t with this girl, I can’t.

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I was walking back into the main floor when all of the sudden I hear from across the room “PEAAAAACH!”. Loved meeting these genderbending Mario, Luigi and other Princess Peach cosplayers!!

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Jimmy met this little Darth Vader. It was fantastic.

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Gangster Deadpool. I was embracing my Baltimore upbringing. Princess OG.

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If I haven’t already tagged your cosplaying pages with your pictures, let me know and I will make sure to do so! 

All in all, it was an amazing day and I honestly can’t believe I finished it in time. I wish I had taken more pictures along the journey, but I was so hell-bent on finishing it, I never got the chance to! I definitely felt Aunt Annie looking down on me and guiding me along the way. I can see her face, rolling her eyes and scowling at me as I’d do things messy or half-hazardly. I understand why people continuously do this, this crazy cosplaying thing. It’s fun! I’d love to do it again soon, already thinking up my next one!

I do have to say, it takes a lot of courage to do a cosplay. To put yourself out there and put something you have put so much energy, thought and passion into. Don’t hate on others, please. That’s all I ask. When you’re at a Comic Con like this, please be respectful. Everyone I met was so amazing about it, congratulating me for finishing and creating a full gown on my very first time of sewing from a pattern. I did overhear one snarky comment from a woman after her husband/boyfriend said “Hey look! It’s a Princess Peach! How cool!” She snubbed him and turned away saying, “She’s too heavy to do that.” No. That’s body shaming. I’m proud of what I accomplished. I’m proud of how far I’ve come in my weight-loss journey, that has been done for semi-vain by also very much for my health reasons. I honestly felt sorry for this woman. Because honestly, I had the courage to dress up, put myself out there and have fun with other people while you are walking around being a hateful and judgmental person. I’m sorry he dragged you with him, but seriously, be nice.

ANYWAY…

Till then!

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One thought on “Holy crap, I just sewed a gown!

  1. Pingback: Birthday shenanigans: Sip & Paint | Glitter In The Air

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