Completed: July 2017
Hours Spent: 200+
- Simplicity 8162
- Simplicity 4092
- McCall’s 3609
Super Helpful Tutorials:
- American Duchess 18th Century Stays
- Watteau Pleats
- Robe a l’Anglaise Costume Analysis
- Robe a l’Anglaise tutorial
- MET Robe a l’Anglaise reference images
- Making a Stomacher
- Bias tape for stays
This build was an intense project! We started working on the mock-ups and underpinnings in late January 2017. I (The Geeky Seamstress) took helm on making the corset and chemise. When Victoria Bane joined the group in February, she dove right into assist mode and tackled the hoop skirt and the tulle petticoat.
For the corset, we followed the pattern mostly as is, adjusting for Storietellers‘s height. She also wanted a secure and historically accurate-ish set of underpinnings, so I referred to the American Duchess 18th Century Stays tutorial on adding extra boning placement. Since I added A LOT of boning to the pattern, we opted to use a combination of spiral steel, flat steel, and cable ties for the boning, with the last one being used in the majority of the body to fill the smaller lines. Steel boning is a wonderful option, but it can get pretty pricey, and we didn’t want to have to tip all those bones ourselves! Historical costumers often use cable ties as a cheap substitute for whale boning, and it suited our needs quite well.
Victoria Bane likewise followed the pattern as-is for the hoop skirt. The major challenge with it was adding lots of extra height! Storietellers is 5’8″, and wore crazy platforms under “Walpy” to get a larger-than-life witch vibe. We used steel hoop boning for the channels, and Vickie finished off the bottom of the skirt with a lovely lace trim.
We started with the top portion of the dress, using Simplicity’s
Pirates of the Carribean pattern 4092 as a guideline. There were definitely a few fit issues, covered fairly comprehensively here. To make this pattern more accurate to Walpy’s design, I lengthened the sleeves and added a bell shape to the ends.
This dress pulls inspiration from 18th century robe a l’anglaise designs, so we nixed the lacing in the concept notes and added Watteau pleats. We also added Walpy’s topskirt to the bottom of the bodice to reduce overall bulk at the waist and reduce the number of pieces Storietellers has to wear.
We also decided that we wanted to make the stomacher a separate piece, so we took cues again from 18th century designs and added an under-stomacher closure. The under stomacher portion closes with grommets and lace, allowing for some flexibility in sizing. In hindsight, I should have added some boning to this section, since the stretch taffeta we used likes to collapse on itself over time. Thankfully, the stomacher helps combat that situation. The stomacher attaches via heavy duty snaps instead of traditional pins and stitching, since we didn’t want to have to sew Storietellers in every time she wore it.
The stomacher was a collaborative effort between myself and Storietellers! I ironed and interfaced some satin brocade, and Storietellers did the beading by hand. Once she was finished with that, I added a strength and lining layer to the stomacher and added lace trim around the top and bottom edges. I used quite a bit of boning to help support the weight of all those beads, including some flat steel boning I had on hand.
The skirts were fairly straightforward, but gave us a bit of grief since we were on a time crunch when constructing them. Koholint and Victoria Bane stepped in to help expedite construction! The base skirt is a giant rectangle with a brocade center that gathers with a drawstring, and the skirt that goes over it is essentially an open front skirt that operates the same way. We didn’t have a lot of time for patterning, so this approach worked, but created a lot of bulk at the waist. If we get a chance to go back and tweak it, I’d switch to more of a trapezoid shape for both skirts that decreases in size at the top to minimize waist bulk.
For the headdress, Storietellers started by getting her head cast by MASK Props. From there, she created a chicken wire frame around the plaster mold, covered it in plastic wrap, and sketched out the design and boundary lines with a Sharpie. After that, she used 3 layers of newspaper paper mache to create a base, making sure to leave room for the eye holes. She repeated the paper mache process until it was about 1/4″ thick all around. To conceal the crown of the headpiece, she used e6000 to attach flat pearls and mosaic stones.
Like many projects, it’s always easy to see what you should have done differently after it’s complete. While we were mostly happy with how this piece turned out, there’s definitely some improvements we’d make if we were to do this over.
Still, Storietellers was an impressively awesome witch and Ash Snap ‘Em did a fantastic job photographing this monster of a costume!
Check out photos from this set at the top of this post and in our Madoka gallery!
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