Posts made in October, 2013

Black Diamonds Costume My Way

Posted on Oct 31, 2013 | 0 comments



That special evening is almost here!  The count down has begun and we are preparing.  Carved pumpkins will be our sentries standing guard at the threshold of our front door and there will be candy treats for our evening visitors.  This is only part of  the evening of fun.  At our house, everyone dresses up on Halloween and we celebrate with a harvest supper!  This year, turkey and stuffing, rosemary potatoes with gravy, candied yams and baked apples!   So what is my costume going to be?  Well… have you seen the movie “Moulin Rouge“?



Moulin RougePhoto:


It is an Australian-American musical that came out in 2001.  At the time, I was attending Linfield College and this movie was one of the hottest topics around campus!  I have watched it enough times through the years that I’ve lost track of just how many.  Why?  Because I loved the songs and I loved the acting, but even more, the costumes were phenomenal!  The one that caught a lot of eyes was this one… the Black Diamonds costume.



BlackDiamondsPhoto from:  Costumer’s Guide to Movie Costumes


You can find it done up on a number of costume maker sites in their renditions, each as gorgeous as the other.  I am therefore certainly not alone in my “black diamonds costume” infatuation.


I do have to share a word of warning though to any of you that would be interested in creating this costume.  It requires lots and lots and lots of bugle beads, rhinestones and bugle bead fringe so be prepared to bead heavily for weeks,unless you are one of those super-dooper beaders,  and plan on spending some money.


There is obviously not a pattern for this costume.  I spent a great deal of time searching the internets and studying pictures and any other postings that shared any details relating to it.    My version is what I thought I saw, utilizing what I could find available.  I purchased my supplies as I moved through the making of the costume so that it wasn’t a cash crunch all at once.  I have worked on it  for several years now… wore it to one of my costume parties.  But… the tails were never done properly to my liking because I got tired of beading and couldn’t justify spending any more money.  Then several months ago, I decided that I wanted to share it with you and so knew what I needed to do first.  I removed the tails from the corset, rebuilt them, purchased MORE 3 inch bugle bead fringe from Fultons Trims, then attached them back onto the corset.  My “Black Diamonds” costume is now ready to wear tomorrow night and to share with all of you!


So starting at the beginning… the shape and style of my corset came from Simplicity 5006.




It’s made up of 10 pieces, three for each front side and two for each back side.  I didn’t follow any of the constructions directions since I spring boarded off into my imagination after cutting out the pieces!   I used 11 (eleven) strips of 1/4 inch spiral steel boning (center, front, front sides, back sides, back and back edges) cut from yardage I purchased along with casings from  The outer layer of the corset and the tails were made with Faille fabric that I purchased from Mill Ends in Beaverton, Oregon.  I underlined the Faille with Coutil from  For the lining, I used black Batiste though I don’t remember where I purchased that.


Before I lined it, I begin sewing the rows and rows and rows of strings of bugle beads.  After this, I used sew-on Lochrosens Austrian Crystals in 4mm, 5mm, 6mm and 7mm sizes purchased from Fulton’s Trim, in sort of a fish scale pattern over the entire corset and the binding along the bottom after the corset was finished.  I noticed that my link shows these crystals to be closing out. 🙁


LochrosensPhoto:  from Fulton’s Trim



It is hard trying to take pictures of the corset with all its amenities but for starters, here is the front of the corset itself.





And the back.. I chose hooks instead of lacing.



The lapels are shaped similar to a peter pan collar but are actually individually sewn onto the corset.  The pattern of beads, sequins and glue-on flat back rhinestones from Fulton’s Trim are in a pattern that I felt somewhat matched images I’ve seen.


FlatbackPhoto from:  Fulton’s Trim


They are trimmed with  silver crystal rhinestone chain #24 purchased from JoAnn Fabrics, however I purchased it in the store in the trim section.




The straps are constructed from the same silver crystal rhinestone chain.  I sewed a strip of it on each strap made from the faille fabric I made the corset from.  I also sewed a short strip of elastic on the back end of each strap for comfort before applying them to the corset.



At the lower front you can see a mass of layers of bugle beads strung in individual lengths.  Yes… I beaded it all!  My understanding is that this is called a modesty panel.  I made my fringe modesty panel using 1/2 inch heavy twill tape.




There are several layers that I sewed together before attaching the whole unit to the front of the corset.  The lining comes down over the twill band so it looks finished inside.




The tails start at center back, following the bottom edge of the corset towards the front of the hips.  They are covered with layers of 3″ bugle bead fringe that I also purchased from Fulton’s Trim.  Hey!  I was tired of sewing bugle beads… I think you can totally understand!





Glued along each band of fringe (except for the top band) are rhinestones in 3mm, 4mm, 5mm and 6mm sizes, all purchased from, yes, Fulton’s Trim again.  But I did order a second batch from  Dreamtime Creations.  Clearly I needed a form of modesty for the back so I made a bustle of netting that snaps to the corset on the inside but peeks out between the two tails in the back that you can see above.  The original costume tails were more narrow leaving a wider space between them for JUST the netting!  I decided to not be so bold except I think I should have made the netting shorter.


There is a border around the tails made up of bugle beads, regular crystal beads, more rhinestones and french sequins.  The edges are trimmed with the silver crystal rhinestone chain #24 that I used on the lapels and straps.




Now… it is time for the accessories!  Oh yes… they are what bring it all together!


You have to have stockings of some sort.  I was going to wear fish net but I can’t locate my pair.  Ended up wearing Hue hosiery in stripes.




Long opera gloves are in order.  The actual gloves for this costume were leather which would have been sweet but too spendy for my budget.  Besides, I never wear gloves… except for snowmobiling!




Of course when there are tails involved, you must include a top hat!  I needed a fancy hat band so this required a bit more of the silver crystal rhinestone chain that I sewed together into a triple strand.




Jewelry most definitely!  Earrings to be exact.  My daughter got them for me and they are so perfect for this costume.




There is still one more important thing needed… shoes!  This was a bit of a challenge for me.  I hunted a while and finally found the perfect pair of bare black suede shoes from Famous Footwear.  Then.. the real fun began when I started decorating them.





Now all that’s left is showing you the real deal.  I just love blingy glitzy glam!  It’s too bad that Halloween is only once a year!





Okay… guess I’m having too much fun.  How about this?






The tails from the back… still not liking what I see.   Maybe a bow?  Hell!  Who likes to see their back side!





Fun is increasing with self-medicated chardonnay!






Just having way too much fun!






So  I guess this is the end of  my 2013 Costume Fashion Show.  Hope you have enjoyed it.  It’s been a lot of fun but I am getting sort of antsy to get back into sewing clothes that can be worn in public!


As a side note, all my grape must has gone through primary fermentation and quietly resting until it finishes its business.  In a couple of months we will be bottling it up and then let it lay until it’s time for the official coming out party.  Mmm… can’t wait!  With that.. Have a fun Halloween!

Salute!  Jessica

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Simplicity 2851 Feathered with 2966

Posted on Oct 23, 2013 | 2 comments



Feather fashion is said to date back to the 11th century with the birth of plumes in head dresses of the wealthy.  Twelve century venetian masks were adorned with them.    Through the middle ages, feathers were a wardrobe staple for high society.  However, when the 1800’s rolled in, feathers were for everyone!  AND… the boa stepped into the spotlight!  They were actually an accessory in the 1700’s but didn’t catch on very well.  Thank goodness some dear soul was determined not to give up!  I Love boas and would own dozens if my practical side wasn’t so dominating!  I saw a beautiful pink one at the Oregon Fabric Depot in Portland a few years ago.  It was $55.00 and about a foot in diameter.  It was gorgeous and I remember how I longed for it but there were many other things that my family needed… things that cost less than that boa!  Besides, it would likely have ended up in the basket with all the other boas that I do have… but they are special boas.


This one I wore several years ago at the Seafood & Wine Festival in Newport, Oregon along with about 10 other ladies wearing them too!





In 2008 I visited Trinidad and stumbled across one of the biggest Carnival supplier shops in Port of  Spain…  Samaroo’s Limited on Abercromby Street where I found this black one!





This one was my daughter’s that her grandmother (my mother) gave her when she was about 10-years-old.  A few years  ago she was reorganizing her room and stumbled across it somewhere in her closet.  She asked me if I wanted it because she grew up and was not into pink anymore.  I told her  Y-E-S – I want it!!!!  Does a bear poop in the woods!  End of discussion and now I have a pink boa!





So about now you are asking what all of this has to do with a costume!  Well… this next costume I want to share with you is a cornucopia of feathers!  To start, let’s take a flight with Simplicity 2851.


Simplicity 2851

This costume pattern includes what they call an apron.  When I think of an apron, I think of what you wear when you’re cooking in the kitchen however, the apron you can create using this pattern is a whole lot different, really cute… AND certainly perfect for a Moulin Rouge costume!


I started off constructing apron B, using black fabric that I chose for it’s draping qualities but for the life of me don’t remember what it was.  I do know that I didn’t want to use cheap fabric so I was picky when I chose it.  I was happy with the way it turned out but I knew that we needed some extra poof in the back, bustle poof to be exact so I made a giant bow out of black petticoat netting and fastened it permanently to one side with a snap that fastened to the other side when worn.






When it came time to sew the train, I knew that it was going to be too long for what I had in mind.  I used only one puff and sewed the long train onto it just like if it was puff number #2.  The train was still a little too long so I gathered the sides from where it was sewn to puff number #1 and down about 10 inches on each side.  I took a picture to share but the picture looked so stupid and confusing that I decided not to post it.   I think it would be easy to understand what I am saying if you were sewing this.


Now that I had got the apron/puff/train finished, it was time for my daughter to try it on.  It just wasn’t working.  Then an idea hit me… wasn’t sure how I was going to do it, but I saw feathers all over the back somehow attached to the puff/train.  To the internets I went and after a bit of surfing, ordered three six-foot 60 gram boas. from Rhode Island Novelty.  Why here?  Well, they were the only ones that had a red AND black boa.



I spent an hour or two figuring out how I was going to attach them and when I finished, had my daughter try it on again.  It was DA Bomb!  This is it and the puff/train that it’s attached to is underneath.





Now that the bottom half of the costume was taken care of, it was time to create a top.  We already had a vision… a corset of course!  After much thought, I decided not to draft a corset and instead used Simplicity 2966.



Simplicity 2966



I had already made a few corsets and I knew the proper way to construct them so I used the pieces of this pattern but did my own thing for all of the construction.  I used a Brocade for the outer fabric; underlined this with Coutil that I purchased from; and lined it with black cotton batiste.  I think lacing looks cool but I wanted the corset to be a one-person job, in other words, I wanted my daughter to be able to dress herself!  I therefore decided to use a 12 inch busk for the front which I purchased from




Below is a picture of the front of the corset.  To finish the edges, I made bias strips to encase them using remains of the black fabric that I used to make the apron/puff/train.






This is what the busk looks like when it is opened.





I put lacing in the back, but it doesn’t have to be undone so it gets to stay put and look cool!




If you are a regular reader, by now you know that I really have a thing for accessorizing my costumes, a condition which all my children seem to have developed… even in their everyday attire!  Calley and I decided that the right hosiery was necessary for our version of the Moulin Rouge costume so she chose these from Art of Adornment.






We thought a fan was in order!






And there has to be something to adorn the head so I made this using sinamay, satin, lace, netting, red trim, lots of feathers, a red jewel and rhinestones.






For shoes, she chose these.





And… when you lump it all together.. Voila!  You have Lady Calley!






The bustle of boas!






Hair adornment…





And a picture of my lovely daughter that was just too pretty to pass up.




Well… there it is, our version of a Moulin Rouge costume.  Next week is zooming in fast and of course the grand finale of my costume presentation… It has taken me months to make this last one and  is definitely an eye catcher in the light!  Until then…

Salute!  Jessica

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Butterick 4827 Medieval Dress

Posted on Oct 17, 2013 | 4 comments



Here is my son in total bliss in the vineyard.   You might think it’s because he is spending the afternoon outdoors on a beautiful day.  But nope… that’s not it.  He is laughing his derriere off because he knows that he’s dragging home 300 MORE pounds of grapes for me to make wine out of!  As of today while writing this, I have almost 500 lbs of grapes fermenting in my kitchen!  We are going to be very happy people for the next year!


So there it is… since I’m knee deep in grapes, I’m a little bit late posting costume number4 for you but better late than never eh!  In my last post, I mentioned that I was going to show you something renaissancey!  I should clarify that what I am actually going to show you is medieval.  The difference between Renaissance and Medieval is really nothing more than two different periods of time in history with the medieval period coming before the renaissance period.  There… now that I have that covered, we are off!


The Butterick 4827 pattern is a very nice put-together medieval dress ensemble.




The only challenges to making it, from my perspective, are in the fitting and putting in the eyelets if you happen to get some of the crappy gold ones that I used!  (Sorry to say it but I think they were a Dritz product)  They did not set well and so have snaggy edges that are messing up the cording that laces up the back, replacing the need for a zipper.  Yes!  No zipper, but… be eyelet aware!  They have some very nice grommets in assorted colors at which I have used since making this dress and they are definitely worth the trouble ordering.   Grommets are just a little bit more heavy duty than eyelets but so is a zipper!  Oh.. also a bit of warning… since the back laces, you will need help getting dressed AND undressed but that’s none of my business!


For the dress I used drapery fabric, a little heavier than I would have liked and which may have have played a little part in the eyelet disaster, but I loved the look of it and couldn’t resist!




The instructions are pretty easy to follow though I did get tripped up a little when it came time to make the bands that the eyelets are inserted in.  The instructions talk about “the band” and it’s not until step 21 when the instructions say to apply eyelets to each band!  Maybe I was just having a dork moment but there it is just in case it’s confusing to any of you.


The finished dress has princess seams with a small chapel train built into the length of the back.  As I mentioned earlier, the zipper is replaced by lacing down the back.




I made this dress several years ago for an SCA event and at the time did not make a skirt so to give this pattern a fair review, I decided to go ahead and make the skirt.  I envisioned some sort of gold taffeta fabric with embroidered somethings on it but the fabric gods were not interested in helping me out!  I had to keep reminding myself that it was just a costume so I found myself settling for some gold metallic fabric.  I had many reservations, clear up until it was time to cut out my pieces.  Following a  glass of wine, I decided “who cares!” and started cutting.  It was actually really fun sewing with it and I am quite happy with how it turned out.  No zipper here either… just a button and buttonhole though you can finish it with hooks or whatever type of fasteners please you.





I loved the look of the belt that the model is wearing on the pattern envelope and assume it is made using the belt pattern pieces included.  However… where do you find that kind of fabric?!!!  Once again, I detoured and decided to go with something that I had stuffed away in a costume basket.  I don’t know where it came from but I think it use to belong to my daughter.





Of course there is footwear that must be considered!  I purchased these medieval boots on-line at Costumes of Nashua.  You have to scroll down a ways before you see these.






Okay!  So there’s the necessary garb for a medieval female.  And here she is doing her best to not look too tired!  LOL





The fabric of my dress was too heavy to really look good hanging over the gold skirt.  Fortunately it is being held up with safety pins that I can easily remove!


No skirt, but now you can see the dress and train.




Of course there is the interesting back…






And one with my hair.  Hey… it’s about the only thing that I was born with that I half like!  I keep toying with cutting it off though…





And you always have to have a fun one!  I was trying to show some boot!




Okay then.  That’s it for this week… I hope this is helping give you some ideas for your Halloween debut if you haven’t already set to work creating something fabulous!  Next week’s costume line up involves lots of feathers!  Will see you then.  Now I have to go check on my wine… and have a glass to celebrate finally getting this posted!

Salute!  Jessica

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Butterick 5662 with Simplicity 3677 For a Pirate

Posted on Oct 7, 2013 | 0 comments



What you see above is a few of the tools of winemaking.  Yep!  It’s that time of year.  I get to make believe that I am a genius chemist while brewing up my wine (Einstein would roll his eyes!).  Tonight the first  batch of grape juice gets inoculated and fermentation begins.  For the next few weeks, my son Jared and I will be spending time taking temperature readings, punching down the popping up grapes, doing lots of taste tests and drinking a bit of wine and beer in the process!  Certainly a good reason to love the fall season, but not the only reason!  Besides the winemaking harvesting mash-up that occurs, there is also the cherished evening where everyone dresses up in all sorts of sorts, Halloween!


Yes… it is creeping up fast and I have got to stay on task and do what I said I was going to do.  So… this week’s featured costume is my interpretation of a sassy fancy Victorian pirate!  It’s made up of 3 different patterns and a few accessory purchases.  I think we will start with the Butterick 5662 pattern.


Butterick 5662


Corsets are a always a good topic for discussion among women.  It’s quite entertaining to listen to!  Some women absolutely hate the whole idea of them and have a bazillion reasons for why.  Then there are those of us, myself included, who have a fascination with them.  Why?  Well… they are feminine, pretty, and just too cool to not like!


Before we go any further, I should clear up any confusion you may have.  In brief, a corset is designed to cinch in or narrow the waist and the bustier, a more modern style,  is intended to boost the bust! For me, I really have no interest in the squeezing or boosting part because I just want to feel comfortable.  This is certainly do-able with this pattern.


I should also mention that the true traditional corset would use spiral steel boning and either strong cord for lacing or a busk.  With regards to the boning, I have used the plastic featherlight boning and it just doesn’t have what it takes like the spiral steel does.  As for corset closures, I have tried metal grommets, metal eyelets, creating eyelets by using an attachment for my sewing machine or using a busk such as this one from


Buskat delicious



All of these work but if you apply grommets or metal eyelets and don’t install them properly with the required pliers, they can snag your lacings.  (Yes, I have learned this first hand 🙁 ) does offer grommets that install quite nicely and they do also carry spiral steel boning, cording and lots of other goodies too!


I will buy strong cording by the yard from a fabric store and then cover the tips with shrinkable corset lace tipping which is nothing more than skinny plastic tubing that you melt onto the ends of the cord (another tidbit at Corsetmakingsupplies).




Last but not least, a traditional corset would be made of or at least under-faced between the outside fabric and lining with Coutil.  My source for this is


The Butterick 5662 pattern can be made as a traditional corset using any of the things I just mentioned but you can certainly make it out of whatever you choose.   Be prepared however when doing this pattern because if you follow the instructions exactly, you will be making your own boning casings which you sew on the outside!  My advice if you want it – get yourself a Clover Bias Tape Maker (range in sizes 1/4 to 2 inches) and will make things easier, especially when pressing your biased cut strips for the casing.



Photo: Clover USA Bias Tape Makers


This is my corset with a view of the inside of the front so you can see how the extension or flap is sewn so that it lies under the cording.  I should say that there is a proper way to lace the cording and when you look at my picture… it is NOT done properly!




It ties in both the front and back which is nifty so there is an extension or flap for the back lacing as well.






I made the casings from the same outer fabric of the corset, a brocade.




The front of the corset.




Then there is the Simplicity 3677 coat and pants that we have to talk about!




The coat in the top left corner grabbed my attention and  I knew immediately what fabric I was going to use.. a bargain special from the Red Tag section at JoAnn fabric store that I purchased and stuffed away several years ago!   It’s sort of a brocade but sort of not.  Likely it is a drapery material that has gold metallic embroidery.  Being that I am “Queen of Lining”, I lined it in Ambiance or Bamberg though I kind of complicated it more than necessary when working around the godet in the back.  It all worked out though.




The sleeves are way to cool!  I love the big cuffs.  I would so like to just wear this coat with everyday wear.  The pattern gives instructions for adding a flap as shown in the picture but I went one step further and also installed pockets.  Hey!  I needed a place to stash candy!




I saw the pants in my mind so clearly under the coat, in gold… I always have such big visions that sometimes send me landing on my butt!  Once again I ended up with none other than drapery fabric I think!  The cardboard bolt label had silk printed on it… what kind of silk I know not!




There is the matter of a “doilie shirt”, a name my son Dylan has dubbed them because of his dislike of the ruffles they have.  Making mine was sort of a process.  I started with making the top from the Simplicity 8855 pattern.  Unfortunately it’s  no longer available, even in the out of print section of the Simplicity web site though I have seen it offered at various on-line web shops.





It was simple looking and went with the skirt and vest that I also made.  However… I needed a pirate shirt so I liberated it from the rest of the outfit and converted it to a “doilie shirt”.  I went a bit nuts sewing ruffles all around the neck!  Then I decided that it needed color so I dug through my craft drawers and found cording and baubles!




Keeping in mind that my costume is a sassy fancy Victorian pirate, I decided I needed some additional panache so  I created a fascinator.





And of course a tricorne for good measure though I did not make this but ordered it from the internets!




There is the stockings and gloves that I just had to have!  Compliments of Icing and Claire’s respectively though I do not see them on either on-line web site.  I purchased them last year so that is probably why.






So here the sassy fancy Victorian pirate in all her shiz!






The coat has a godet in the center back.









I guess that wraps up this post.  For next week I think we will roll the clock back even a little further and try out some renaissance wear!  Until then… Adieu!  It’s now time to get back to work on our wine!!

Salute!  Jessica

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