category: in progress

Queen of Hearts – update

Sometimes the hardest thing to do (and the right thing to do) is change course. After scrambling to put a skirt together for the Queen of Hearts project, I realized that I was making something I didn’t really like just to get it done. I really want to make sure that this project is something I can be happy with when it’s complete, so I’ve decided to give myself more time to finish it the right way.

I finished the bodice – it has princess seams, which I know is not period accurate as far as Elizabethan costume goes, but I am not being that stuffy about these things. The inside is all lined, and I made a corset type closure in the back. It doesn’t close properly on my dressform, but it fits me well. I added boning to the bodice where I could to make it more structural and clean.

Now I’m working on the ruff – which I realize now was the whole reason I wanted to do this project! The ruffles are intoxicatingly swirly. It’s a bit floppy now, but today I am going to dip the whole thing in stiffener and mold it into shape as it dries.

It will be done when it’s done, and it will be what I consider “right”. And that’s what matters for a project like this.

in progress: Queen of Hearts – shoes!

My personal deadline for the Queen of Hearts dress I’m working on is March 5th, the release date for Tim Burton’s new Alice in Wonderland movie. It’s less than two weeks away, which means it’s time to consider details like shoes! Using vintage shoes as inspiration, I have picked these black beauties from my shoe collection – I’m planning on white stockings (Alice style), so these should look more period inspired in context.

I have been keeping these magazine pages in my inspiration box for ages. I don’t even remember what magazine they came from, but the shoes are from the impressively large and immaculately maintained collection of Lillian Williams.

in progress: Queen of Hearts pt 2.

After basting the bodice together to get a better picture of how things were shaping up, I’ve decided to severely minimize the use of black in this project, perhaps removing it altogether. The color palette I am using is dusty and muted, and the black seemed too harsh and contrasty. So I completely redid the middle bodice panel and I’m much happier with the new direction.

The panel now uses the red fabric and has a single cut out heart instead of the embroidered motif. The heart is filled with pleated “champagne” colored organza, the same fabric I will use for the “ruff” that will go around the collar of the bodice.

I added a gauzy ruffle around the edge of the heart, and am currently working on sewing small pearl beads over the seam.

I am also adding a “medallion” I found at the antiques market that looks like something a state official might wear. I am going to paint the blue areas black.

“victorian” top hat

I’ve been working on a Victorian themed dress, and this is the top hat I made to go with it. It’s not perfect, but it is completely from scratch and it’s the first I’ve ever made. I’d like to have a sculptural element in some of my designs, so it’s good for me to “craft” something instead of just sewing all the time. (I haven’t lined the inside yet, so you can see that I made it out of an old Urban Outfitters shopping bag.)


in progress: Queen of Hearts

I am making a Queen of Hearts themed dress to coincide with the release of the new Alice in Wonderland film by Tim Burton. For inspiration I have been watching old Elizabethan period films, specifically The Seahawk (1940), Fire over England (1937) and The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939). As usual, I started out with a specific idea in mind, and am completely evolving it as I go.

The "Elizabeth" section of my inspiration board.

Swatches of the fabric I'm using.

Pattern for the design I'm embroidering on the center panel of the bodice.

I'm working on embroidering the bodice. Looks primitive now, but there's a lot more to do!

Muslin for the bodice.

Sneak peek at the mock-up for the Elizabethan "ruff" that will be added to the collar.