Padme Gown - The making of, part 1

Padme Gown - The making of, part 1

This will be long and picture intensive, so I will break some of the components off into their own posts. I kept notes the whole time of the process, because it's never quite as neat or organized as it seems like it should be.  I also chose to keep it in the form of a diary, just because. : )

Day 1: Saturday, August 11.

Chest placard: I resized and printed out a beading chart I found online for the chest piece. I cut out the chest piece inner lining from duck cotton, intending to cover it with the same suiting fabric as the skirt. Only one layer of duck didn't seem thick enough, and I wasn't sure how much stiffness would be gained by the embroidery and beading, so I cut a second layer of duck to stiffen the piece. I then cut out the suiting cover, and pinned it to the pieces with the edges covering the duck, and ironed it so that it layed smooth and perfectly flat. I sewed around the edges to permanently attach it. I did ponder using glue, since this is distinctly a costume and not a historical garment, so I have a lot more freedom in techniques; I opted to sew it instead just to keep the work cleaner. I also cut a back lining piece, and ironed it with the edges turned under so I could exactly size it without having to iron it on the piece after the beading was done. So now I have the chest piece blank ready to transfer the beading markings onto it, and I also have the lining ready to sew on once the placard is done. Next step is the embroidery!


Skirt: I had originally wanted to use dark silver shantung for the skirt, I thought the slubbing would mimic the effects of the original costume. Once I got to Joanns and had it in my hand, I realized it was shinier than the original. I debated using a costumer's trick, turning the fabric inside out and using the wrong side, but it still wasn't quite right, and Joann's didn't have the right color. I also debated dying another color silver, but it still wasn't right. I wandered up and down the aisles, turning it over and over in my mind. That's when I stumbled upon the suitings section, where I found the perfect fabric, weaved from grey and darker greys, giving it the perfect color and texture for this skirt. And it was $3 a yard cheaper! It was lighter than what the original skirt was, so I picked up black broadcloth to line it. And may still need to use a petticoat under that for just the right amount of body. To reduce the bulk at the waist, I opted to use a yoke under the waistband, so the pleating would begin about 3" below the natural waist. Again, due to the thinness of the suiting, I opted to also line the yoke, which also makes me happy because the lining will cover the seam allowance of the pleating. Shannon likes neatly finished garments, inside and out! : ) I cut the yoke using my tutu yoke pattern, I had no idea that would come in so handy! I planned on a back button closure for the skirt, for no reason other than the yoke was cut centered at the front, and even though no one will see it, I like the yoke fabric to be vertical at center front. And then, because I'd bought just exactly enough fabric for this, I didn't have a straight run long enough for a one piece waistband, so I cut a front piece and two side back pieces. This will prevent having a center front seam, and will still allow for a back closure.

I sewed together the skirt suiting panels, ironed the seams, and did a test run of box pleating to see if that would work. In the movie stills, it appears the skirt was either box pleated or cartridge pleated; I'm guessing box pleating because the pleats are so perfectly even, and cartridge pleating would cause a lump under the jacket where it attaches to the yoke. I had to prewash the lining before I could sew and attach it to the suiting, so I couldn't test pleat both together. At the end of the day, I had the tube of suiting sewed and ironed, ready for lining; the linine fabric prewashed; the yoke suiting cut out, and the waistband pieces cut out. Next step, cut and sew the lining, attach it to the suiting, and start assembling the skirt.

Vest and sleeves: For the sleeves, I ordered an out of print medival pattern that has the perfect sleeves. I made a few changes to the cuff design to use points at the wrist and sleeve attachment. Instead of making the bodice of that dress, I decided to follow what the original costumes appears to employ, and re-designed my victorian corset pattern into a vest type corset; figuring I'd sew the sleeves directly to that, and would top the corset vest with with the velvet vest so the corset wouldn't show. While I know the movie garments aren't lined, I am opting to line the corset so that I don't have to use separate boning channels (laziness, I suppose). I am going to just sew the corset vest together, and make adustments to the shoulder lines and attachments as I go, and cross my fingers that it will work out. At the end of the day, I had the new pattern pieces drafted, and cut out two of each in both duck cotton and cotton broadcloth for lining. I found an old shorter busk that I will use for a center front closure (not in the movie stills, but I don't have a customing assistant to help me get into this, so I think using it will be forgiven by any purists. ; ) I also have the sleeves and cuffs cut out from a silver crepe.

Velvet vest: For the vest, I opted to not use the costume pattern for the vest that goes with the dress with the sleeves; I felt it looked to costumy, and I knew from seeing pictures of it finished that it didn't have the fitted look that is so integral to this costume. I pulled out instead a Victorian bodice pattern, and drafted it to fight smaller than the mourning gown bodice I did last year; I also made changes to the hemline so that it more closely fit with the movie costume. I have left the neckline as a high neckline with a mandarin collar; this will have to change to more of a closed-v neckline, but I will deal with that when I get closer to sewing that part. At the end of the day, the pattern pieces are drafted and traced, and the fabric is ready to cut.

Wow that's a lot for one day! I thought I'd maybe get only the skirt done this weekend, so I'm glad to have a solid start to the entire project. I still have a lot to go; not only finishing all of these garments, but also making the jewelry for the headpiece, making the hair pieces, and making the armbands (heavy aluminum has been ordered and already arrived). And meanwhile, I'm finishing hemming a skirt on another dress so that I can clear it from my queue. Ironically, for the person who could never finish projects I started, I can't seem to comfortably move on to new projects without wrapping up old ones!

Day 2 - Sunday (and part of Tuesday)

I was so excited to get so much work done on the Padme gown, but instead, I couldn't seem to stop finishing another dress that I don't need for anything. On the one hand, I'm glad that my am finally showing consistent persistence on finishing projects, but on the other hand, I have a feeling this is really just a manifestation of ADHD and my inability to focus on something that needs to be done on a timeline. In any case, the green dress that I don't need is now finished, and I could finally set it aside to work on the Padme gown.

Skirt: I sewed together three lining panels, and pressed the seams. I made sure to leave the back center seam open at the top, for the same lengths as the fashion fabric opening. I fitted the lining into the skirt, sewed the rear opening seams together inside out so the would have finished edges, and basted the top edges of the lining and fabric together. Then, using excel, I calculated pleat lengths for box pleating to fit the skirt onto the yoke, and started the tedious process. Actually, I was watching the Olympics closing ceremony, so it wasn't really tedious. But it did take a while. : ) I measured each pleat so they'd all be the exact same size, and pinned each box pleat twice. Once half the skirt was pleated and pinned, I ironed the pleats gently, basted across the top of the pleats to hold them, then removed the pleats. Then I did the second side. I wish I'd planned the yoke process out better, because it was a bit unweildly doing it the way I did it. First, I attached the skirt to the fashion fabric yoke, then realized the weight of the skirt and lining would pull the yoke oddly and likely unevenly. I cut another yoke from duck, and sewed it to the existing yoke, not as a lining, but an afterthought interlining. Then I cut a third yoke from broadcloth to use as an actual lining, and sewed it on the other side of the skirt seam allowance, so that there is no visible seam from the right side of the skirt, and I wouldn't have to hand tack the lining. That's when I realized the 3 yokes would never line up perfectly smoothly, because they were all cut on the bias. :SIGH: Oh, well, it doesn't have to be perfect, no one will see it anyhow. I sewed the seams on the waistband, turned it, and ironed it, and pinned it to the yoke. I knew it would all need adjusting, since I'd frankenpatterned it all together, so I was prepared for the bit of frustration, but finally ended up getting the waistband sewn to the yoke, and while it's not perfect or square, it fits and it works. Now I just have to add a few hooks and eyes for a closure, and hem the skirt with a narrow hem, but I'll leave that for another time. : )

Day 3 - Wednesday

Vest - The vest corset is one of the pieces I am most concerned about pulling off, since I recut my corset pieces to better fit me, and since I had to modify them to be a vest instead of an overbust corset. I also opted to include a busk, which I originally wasn't going to until I realized it would immensely help my ability to dress myself, which will be necessary since I won't have a costuming assistant here to help. : ) corsets, once the patterns and fabric are cut, go together incredibly fast. In an hour, I had both busk pieces sewn into the front pieces, and then sewed the entire right side of the corset. The corset fabric and lining are sewn at the same time, in panels; there are six panels from front to back that form each half / side of the corset. My goal today was just to get both front panels with busks together so I could check the length, because I know I will have to shorten the front length for this costume, as the longer length will not only be not necessary, but will also be uncomfortable for no good reason. But since the front panels went together so easily and smoothly, I decided to keep going, and ended up getting the entire right side panels attached. yay!!! I haven't finished the back edge yet, I am going to likely add a lacing strip to test the fit once I have the other side done, and I can use that back edge to make small adjustments in size and fit. I also was extremely curious to see if I'd cut the vest part of the shoulder seam correctly, so I pinned that seam, and tried the half on. I was expecting it to be too short, based on nothing other than dismal pessimism and lack of faith in my abilities, so I was already brainstoming ways to fix the problem. Once I tried it on, however, it looks like it's going to work!! I won't know for sure until I can lace it up, but I am not going to worry about it until I get there, since I think it will be just fine.

So now I have the skirt done except for adding a narrow rolled hem; and I have half the corset vest assembled. I'll finish the other half tonight, and then do a test lace before finishing. After I'm happy with the fit, I'll have to trim the bottom edge to it's final length, then I can sew boning channels. Then, bind the bottom edge, bind the top edge at the chest, armholes, and back; add lacing grommets, and the basic corset vest will be complete. Once the sleeves are done, I will sew those directly into the armholes of the vest, so that the velvet vest will be separate from the sleeves, since in the original costume they are distinctly two separate garments. By attaching them to the corset vest, I can avoid needing a shirt underneath the vest, which will add bulk but also make the costume hotter than it needs to be.

Day 3 - Wednesday night
Vest - In the evening, I put together the second side of the corset vest, and before I finished the back edges, I tried it on. I still havent made testing lacing strips, but I could tell that the corset is a little smaller than I really want. I cut another set of back panels, and added them on to the existing ones, and tried it on again - I think it will work! I finished the back edges, and marked the placement of the grommets. Tomorrow morning, I'll punch the holes and set the gromments. I usually do it on my front patio, because the cement pad makes a nice hard surface for this, so I usually punch grommets while the dogs are turned out after breakfast. :)


The making of the Padme Gown Blog Posts: 
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
The Making of the buttons
Part 4
The Making of the hair forms
Part 5
The Making of the head jewelry
The Making of the armbands
Part 6
Padme's Packing Gown

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