Friday, 5 September 2014

Making a Princess Bubblegum Cosplay Dress

I was around my friend Keely's  house when she started talking about a Fancy dress event called INVASION COLCHESTER! Her and her family were planning on going as characters from Adventure Time, a strange cartoon for children set in what appears to be a post apocalyptic nuclear wasteland. My friend was stressing about getting a dress to become "Princes Bubblegum". I asked why she didn't just make one. "It's okay for you with a full sewing room and hundreds of reference books, it's much harder  to make things up as you go along". Challenge accepted. Can I make an affordable costume (around £20) using a standard sewing gear and no fancy or difficult techniques.

Many of these ideas would work just as well for a Halloween costume. 

Step one - Reference

What does Prince Bubblegum look like?
The dress looks simple enough, puffy sleeves, tight bodice, long skirt section. Then a contrasting collar and belt.

Step two- Initial planning

I decided to make a pattern for a tight-ish bodice and a floor length circle skirt. These would be sewn together at the waist and the belt would hide the seam. The whole garment would be made of poly cotton and have a zip fastening at the back. Initially I was going to leave the seams untreated and the garment unlined, however my friend said she would like to be able to wear it a few times. As a result I quickly change my  plans to make the dress more durable.  The bodice section would be lined and all exposed seams would be bias bound. The hem of the circle dress would be bias bound as well.

Step three - Making a pattern

Normally in my studio I have proper pattern paper or brown paper. However these aren't essential. You can just tape newspaper sheets together. use MASKING tape however and not sellotape. If need be later on you can iron your pattern if you use masking tape but sellotape will melt everywhere. You can also draw on masking tape much easier than sellotape.

I didn't have access to my books and so I had to come up with a pattern off the top of my head.
I can not stress the following enough- There is no supbstitute for a good pattern or a pattern making book.
However here's what I did. I drew a rectangle that measured 2cm more than my friends' nape (bottom of neck) to waist measurement high. The width was half her bust plus 5cm. I worked the neck out by measuring her neck and adding some ease this is VERY unscientific. The waist darts are easier, just take the difference between the bust and the waist and half it (as the pattern makes half a garment). The amount left is the amount you have to dart into the waist.I guessed at what angle the should sloped at and then drew in the arm hole, going down as far as the bust line.

Once the pattern was drawn  I cut it out, and then cut up through the bust darts, the side dart and the back dart. This left me with 3 pattern pieces.

Step four - Cutting out fabric

The fabric was folded selvedges together and the centre bodice panel placed on the fold. The pattern has NO SEAM ALLOWANCE. At home I'd use a seam guide to ass a traditional 5'8 of an inch seam. However I was back to basics here and so I fashioned a guide out of a cereal packet.

Step five - Making up
Construction of the bodice was relatively simple.  Just sew the panels together, right  sides together. The sleeves were slightly trickier. Now  here I went totally off track. I knew the sleeves were going to be VERY puffy, this gave me a lot of wiggle  room in design. I just taped the pattern together  the shoulders to give me the outline of the arm hole. I drew this on to some newspaper and then stretched the design making it Twice as wide and nearly twice as high. I then added 15cm to the bottoms length for the actual sleeve.

I removed the seam allowances from the arm hole of the LINING and bias bound it. Each sleeve was sewn along it's length and then pleated into the armhole of the bodice.

A pattern for the collar was made the same was as the sleeves with it being cut at the back for the zip.

Before the collar and lining were attached to the bodice  the circle skirt had to be made and attached.
Check out our guide on " How to make a circle skirt ".

The seams of the circle skirt were pressed open and bias bound and the hem was bias bound.
The collar was basted with minimal seam allowance to the neckline and the circle skirt was sewn to the bodice. All that remained was sewing the lining around the neck hole and  then pulling the dress right side out and pressing it. I tacked the lining to the bodice around the shoulders and around the waist as well to give it stability.

Final Thoughts.

This post isn't one of my typical "how to make" posts. It's more a collection if ideas and concepts. If you are not sure how to make something just get some poly cotton and give it a go, fly hands free once in a while, you may surprise yourself by your own ingenuity.