Halloween 2013: Homemade Black Swan

The Black Swan-stagram.

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For those of you that haven’t seen the film, the Black Swan is the ballet counterpart of the White Swan — graceful, measured, sensual but not overtly so, bold, violent, passionate and dominant.

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halloween-blackswan-reference-103013

Natalie Portman reference photo.

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The only part of this costume that I made was the skirt. The skirt is twelve layers of tulle, sewn in layers of three layers of tulle, and sandwiched together four times until I got twelve layers. I did not want a sad, not-very-poofy tutu, and I was also worried about making one that was a little see-through, but this one works well enough I think. Tulle is really, really hard to work with: slippery, hard to cut, moves around a lot, and the Esteemed Sewing Assistant loves to sit on it. This skirt is definitely not precise, but I think it works. If you have to make anything precise with tulle, cut very carefully and work very slowly. Tulle has a mind of its own.

I cobbled together this costume from last minute purchases from Amazon (white tights, shoes, tiara) and things that I owned in my closet (black leather bustier, loads of eyeliner). To deal with the see-through factor (since I didn’t have a leotard bustier) I’m wearing a black high-waisted undies over my tights, just in case anything shows in the back, which it somewhat does. My outfit looks nothing like the official Black Swan costume from the waist up, since I failed at putting feathers on my original bustier, but I’m ok with taking artistic liberties.

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Of course, I’m not the only one who dressed up. Esteemed Sewing Assistant absolutely hates his costume.

Geometric Sorbetto with Scalloped Collar

Front view.

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Scallop collar view.

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Scallop collar alternate view.

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Outfit view. (I thought this would look frumpy or baggy but surprisingly no.)

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Closeup. (Still trying to get used to the new 50mm and this whole depth of field thing.)

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I’m a little late on the Sorbetto bandwagon, but here it is anyway.

I first attempted Sorbetto over a year ago which led to a tremendous fail. It didn’t fit, it looked really short and it was weirdly-shaped. I gave it a second try and surprisingly I like it. I drafted a scallop collar which I think (?) makes it look more vintage but it’s hard to say here considering I didn’t set my hair.

Fabric used: Geometric blue cotton voile, remnants (about a yard?). Swiss dot for the collar, less than a yard, also remnants.

Construction notes: Used French seams. Serged the sleeves and hem before folding it over and tacking it down.

What I did differently this time:

  • checked the printed pattern swatch to make sure it was 4×4 (this was crucial)
  • cut a standard size 2 everywhere but cut a size 4 in the armholes
  • drafted some cap sleeves
  • added 4 inches to the hem
  • drafted a scalloped collar which might possibly make me look like a deranged clown, but I like it and I don’t care

I have many more Sorbettos planned out (especially for those remnants that I love to hoard) but hopefully each will look different each time. This is definitely a very versatile pattern.

Make This Look: The Vocal Celebrity Skirt

The Facts

Fabric: Blue microfiber, $7/yd. White cotton swiss dot, $4/yd.
Pattern: Gathered skirt, self-drafted
Year: 2012
Notions: Blue invisible zipper, $1. White lace trim, $12/yd.
Time to complete: 6 hours
First worn: Never been worn!
Wear again: Yes
Total price: $30

This skirt was inspired by the Vocal Celebrity Skirt from Modcloth. The skirt was self-drafted and is a simple rectangle gathered at the waist. I inserted an invisible zipper and sewed the lace on to the hem. I didn’t have any cream silk or silk charmeuse so I made a sash belt from cotton swiss dot in my stash.

All the materials from this project except for the lace came from my stash. I wouldn’t have otherwise thought of making this skirt, but it came together pretty well with what what was in my stash. A more accurate version would have a silk or charmeuse sash. Mine was cotton since that was what I had on hand. I didn’t compromise on the tall wide lace for the hem since I think that makes the look.

During construction. My favorite part of the skirt is the lace.

It was a cloudy day indoors when I took these photos so there are very few full outfit shots that aren’t blurry (will definitely have to repost when I find a better light source for these), but I accessorized with this confetti lucite hinge bracelet from the 50s. It has seashells embedded in with huge glitter confetti.

(crossposted to Sew Weekly)

The Fashion Week Skirt

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The Facts

Fabric: Faux leather
Pattern: self-drafted
Year: 2011
Notions: black invisible zipper
Time to complete: 3 hours
First worn: New York Fashion Week, last Fall
Wear again: Yes
Total price: around $10

This skirt was inspired by two accessories: these leather studded platform boots and these two leather cuffs, worn stacked together. I picked up the chunky leather cuff with silver studs at a now closed-down accessory place on St. Mark’s Place. The other bracelet wraps twice around the wrist and has gold studs, and was a gift from one of my best friends last Christmas.

Way before I got into vintage, I’ve been very much inspired by the music I listen to: glam rock and classic rock and roll. The whole look consists of leather, loads of black eyeliner, tights, unset hair, tattoos, and tons of attitude.

I drafted the pattern myself based on my bodice block. This is my first time working with faux leather, and it went along smoother than I thought it would. I did make the fatal beginner mistake of pressing down my seams with a hot iron, which absolutely melted the fabric so I had to re-cut one of the pieces again. I pressed the pieces down with a cold iron the next time around and it worked out well.

This skirt is very comfortable and it survived my second day of Fashion Week last year. Since then I’ve worn it several times (including to work). It’s a nod to the East Village, riding the L train late at night, listening to Bowie on your headphones while cutting fabric at 2 am, seeing your first runway show at Fashion Week, and evokes the energy that surrounds the city I live in.

(cross-posted to Sew Weekly.)

Black Lace Dress, self-drafted

Closeup view.

Front view.

Our company had a holiday party last week and again I had nothing to wear. This dress was supposed to be made from Simplicity 4298 but right after I finished the muslin, I lost the drive to make it.

So it was back to the drawing board. I wanted something that was easy to make on a deadline, since I had a week to go before the event, with simple clean lines but a unique detail. I came up with a one-shoulder dress with a fitted bodice and tulip-shaped skirt with pleats, loosely based off of a 1940s skirt. I drafted the top based on my bodice block.

Sketch of dress.

I underlined the black lace with a nude colored lining, and it worked well enough for modesty. Fitting was a bit of a pain since the lace stretched and I had to take in the side seams quite a bit. I don’t know how many one-shoulder dresses I need, but I’ll probably use this pattern again for another variation if necessary.

Bodice, work in progress.

Bodice, closeup of lace.

Cigarette Pants, Self-Drafted

Front view, #1.

Sweater: thrifted
Pants: self-drafted, homemade
Blouse: Daffy’s, from many years ago,
Necklace: homemade
Leopard platform stilettos: thrifted

Front view, #2.

Front view, #3.

Side view.

Closeup view.

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These pants were inspired by Midge Daniels. After my pants-fitting debacle a few weeks ago, I finally decided to draft my own.

Fabric used: medium-weight cotton sateen, with 1% stretch

Construction notes: I used my skirt sloper to draft these pants. I drafted these to sit at the natural waist with no ease and used fabric with 1% stretch. I made my muslin with stretch fabric and made my final version with cotton sateen. I used an invisible zipper on the side.

Beta-testing notes: I’ve already worn these pants out and about and they’re very comfy. Will definitely make again, either in more cotton sateen or brushed wool corduroy.

Parade of Pant Muslins, Part 2

Pants drafting.

I know I said I’d use my last franken-pattern as a base, but I still didn’t have enough confidence in it to cut into my stretch good black brushed wool corduroy or my cotton sateen. I had such a hard time with Clover that I thought I would just draft my own pants.

Since I was going to be using a stretch fabric, I drafted these to my measurements with no ease. I used a white fabric with similar stretch properties as my muslin. I think this is my most successful pants muslin yet.

Front view.

Side view.

Almost back view.

Sitting view.

Edit: I actually finished these pants using cotton sateen and tested the live version yesterday and it held up pretty well. More photos to come.

Finished Project: Cap Sleeve Dress, 1940s inspired, self-drafted

Front view.
Back view.
Closeup. (You can see my poor layered hair trying to do its best and blend in.)

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This was so hot this weekend (about 104 degrees) that I barely did any sewing. Most of this dress was made in bits and pieces over the week, sewing an hour or half an hour on it here and there. I used some cotton voile that I had in my closet in this Spring, in a print that felt vaguely 40-ish to me. I have three more pieces of cotton voile left, and am trying to use up most of them before the summer ends.

I drafted this dress from my bodice block. I have many patterns that have cap sleeves but somehow there’s always too much ease there for me to fit properly. I drafted cap sleeves with a center back seem, and grafted on a four-gore skirt. I made a muslin to check the fit and inserted a center back zipper. I love cap sleeves as a vintage detail, and will definitely use the bodice block in more variations.

Basic 1940s Dress: Work in Progress

Here is my progress on this project so far. I found some small floral print that I’ve been hoarding for a few months now. I plan to start Fall sewing by August, so I’m trying to use up as much of my cotton stash as possible. It’s surprising how authentic it looks with the small floral print and the desaturated flowers.

Bodice, front view.
With the skirt, pinned on.

Basic Dress, 1940s Inspired, Self-Drafted

I definitely like drafting my own dresses. It’s very freeing to work from your own sketch, and be able to change it up as you go along. I’m starting with my basic bodice block and changing it to have French cap sleeves. I have no idea whether I’ll graft on a simple four-gore skirt yet or a full skirt. I’ll probably muslin the entire dress first to see how it looks before I decide.

I know it looks like a five-year old drew it, but I can’t sketch to save my life.

Directions for drafting a cap sleeve pattern.

Drafting the cap sleeve.