Padme Gown - The making of, Part 3

Padme Gown - The making of, Part 3

Day 7 - Sunday

Vest - I cut out the duck for the vest (I luckily had enough, I was worried I was going to have to run out for more! And we all know Joanns is like going into a black hole for me!!!) and then I cut out the velvet. I needed to deviate from the pattern I'd chosen at the left front panel, at the armscythes (for sleeveless), and at the neckline. The costume has a slightly v-d neckline with a mandarin collar, and the left front panel is cut to angle underneath the placard. After confirming the different panel was indeed the left one (it wouldn't be the first time I backwardsed something!), I layed out the rest of the pieces, and cut them out. I cut the right panel out as the pattern specified; I figured I'd have to sew the vest together to be able to try it on to mark the new neckline. I cut the left panel out mostly according to the panel, and left an additional 5" at the front seamline for shaping around the placard.

I interlined the velvet with the duck, and serged the edges for neatness, since I really do not want to line this vest. NOrmally, I LOVE linings, they just look so neat and finished, and they hide a lot of the construction. But in this case, I want the garment to be very form fitting, and I don't have a waist as tiny as Natalie Portman, so I need all the help I can get! Also, It will likely be screaming hot when I need to wear this, and I really don't need yet another layer of fabric. So, with serged edges, they will both hold the duck to the velvet for stability and structure, but will also have their own finished edges on the seam allowances. (I could also just serge the vest seams, but then I'd have zero room for fitting adjustments, and I think a traditional seam pressed down will have a closer fit than a serged 4-layer seam.) I did not serge the front panel closing edges, since I knew I'd be making modifications to them. I basted them instead, and planned on returning to serge post-trim.

Once the fabric was cut out and the velvet interlined, putting the vest together took roughly three minutes. (How, how, how did my first two Victorian bodices take so long???) It took me longer to get into the corset vest than to sew the velvet vest. ; ) I had to put on the corset vest before trying on the velvet vest, because I needed every inch of squeeze I could get before determining fit on the vest, since I had cut it to fit exactly my corseted measurements. And, since I'd used all of the velvet in cutting out the pieces, there was no going back, and I didn't need to have a meltdown over too small of a garment. I tried on the velvet vest, and my very first thought was, "NOW I know where there were TWO costuming assistants helping Natalie Portman getting dresses, it wasn't because she can't help herself, it's because she could not get dressed in these tight garments on her own!!!! I am hoping I will be able to, with some wiggling and jumping, be able to dress myself when I actually have to wear this thing. I am NOT going to ask the young Armenian guy that lives in the house in front of mine, that would just bring way too many questions. ; )

Surprisingly (which it shouldn't have been), the vest was a perfect fit. I'll have to crank the corset down to it's smallest size or the vest won't be a perfect fit, but I'm okay with that. I folded the high neckline down to a gentle V neck, and pinned it in place; then I pinned the placard base directly to the velvet vest, checking the costume pics for reference. The effect was... very Padme. The costume is really starting to come together! I feel much less panicked for time now. : ) I made sure to check the armsythes of the vest to see how the sleeveless option would go; I remember having to make adjustments to the shoulder seams for the mourning gown bodice, but this one looked perfect as was. All I needed to do was turn under the arm seams 1/2", and they'd be perfect. Same with the right front panel. Which made me realize that without a lining to hold and cover the turnback seams, I'd need to do facings. I was anxious for a brief second, then took a deep breath, reassured myself I could do this, and I then I took off the garments to work on them.

I cut arm hole facings from black broadcloth cotton. I used the front panel pattern for the front of the facing; I simply traced the armhole itself, down each seam edge for 2", and cut out a shape about 2" from the armhole. For the back facing, I didn't want to try to piece together the three back and side pieces, so I just traced the back edge of the armhold of the actual vest, marked the seam lines, and added the same 2" from the edges. I seamed the facings together, realized I was short one side piece on each. Bad measure? I don't know. But I pulled out that side panel pattern, cut a piece using the top 2" of it, and seamed it to the front and back pieces. With a little seam allowance adjustment, it fit perfectly. Yay! I made the second one, the exact opposite, and pressed them. I didn't want to turn the unfinished edges together, and it IS a costume after all, so I serged the edges to finish them. My, I'm taking to costuming like a duck to water, it's so much easier, lol!!! I fit the facings to the vest, right sides together, pinned them, and sewed them in using a 1/2" seam allowance. I clipped the curves, turned the facings under, and voila! Perfect!!! I pinned the facing to the inside of the vest, pressed the seams gently from the facing side, and then handtacked each facing to the interlining. I can't believe how easy that ended up being, and they turned out perfectly! There is a visible seam following the front armhole line in the costume pics; I am guessing they machine sewed the facing down. I don't need to do that, but I may do it just so the garment is closer to the original. I am finding that all the little details really do add up to making the reproduction believable.


I used my same facing technique of using the front pattern piece to cut a 3" wide front facing for the right panel front. I pinned it in place, right side to right side, and sewed a 3/8" seam (hey, I might need all the help I can get if I don't stop eating grilled cheese sandwiches and hash browns!!). I pressed it under from the facing side, pinned the facing down, and hand tacked it to the interlining. I wasn't in the mood to try it on again, mostly on account of getting in and out of the corset vest, so I put it on my dressmakers dummy, over the corset. My dummy is pretty close to my measurements; the biggest difference is she wasn't modeled after someone who was a bodybuilder, so she doesn't have the thickness across the back, shoulder, or upper chest that I do, which makes it really hard to fit shirts and coats on her. I am going to either buy or make a tight fitting turtleneck shirt so I can pad her out to be my size, because it is SO helpful to have a same size dummy for fitting issues and making mockups. (I really want to make a duct-tape dummy, but I really don't trust any of my friends to wrap me up in duct tape and then cut me out. Well, I trust every one of them would LOVE to wrap me up in the duct tape, it's the cutting me out part that I just don't trust.

With the vest on the dummy, I could drape the collar, which could need to be gently curved to avoid too much buckling and pulling. I can see from the costume pics that they did the same thing, and their collar isn't perfect, so that took a bit of stress off me. I cut a mockup collar from the duck scraps I had left, and pinned it to the vest; a few adjustments here and there, and it will totally work! I'll cut a velvet collar piece next, sew them together, which will hide the upper collar seam allowance. I'll serge the collar to the vest itself to remove that seam allowance and keep the line tidy; it won't cause any disruption in the lines, and I'm not doing a lining for just the collar. Although, as I type this, I might do a cotton lining; I am not sure I want duck directly against my neck... hmmmmm.... I set the collar pieces aside for another day, and moved back to the left front panel, the one with the placard piece pinned to it.

In the costume pics, it's clear the vest has a center closure at the bottom of the garment; and it's also clear that the top collar seam extends past the left side of the placard. What is not clear is what the actual finished edge is shaped like. I figure it doesn't really matter; the placard covers it, first of all, and it's not like I can wear this vest for anything other than a Padme packing dress costume, anyhow. I cut the bottom of the panel in a straight vertical line at center front, and then edged it to the left to meet the finished edge of the collar, to the left of the placard. I traced the edge on broadcloth for a facing, and then I realized then that I should have curved the line better to accomodate the facing... I sewed a triangle of velvet in place to adjust the line, turned the velvet over, and realized it looks completely frankensteined. :SIGH: I guess the placard will now be permantely affixed to that side to cover the patchwork, LOL!!! I adjusted the facing, sewed it in place, and turned it to the inside. After a pressing and pinning, the front edges were nearly complete. :YAY!: I am going to wait until the collar is sewn in to hand tack the left front facing, because ideally, the tops of both front facings will meet the collar seam to give it a more finished look.

So, now I need to sew the collar together, and attach it to the vest; handtack the left front facing, and the top of the right front facing to the collar; add hook and eye fasteners to the front of the vest, and hem the bottom of the vest. For that, I'm just going to turn up the bottom served edge, cover it with bias tape, and sew the bias tape to the interlining. I'd debate on just handtaking the serged edge to the interlining and calling it good, but the bias tape method is clearly visible in the costume pics, and there has to be a good reason for that. (Also clearly visible is waist stay that is attached to the vest only at the center back seam; I am guessing that is to keep the vest from riding up in the back. Mine doesn't seam to move at all, but I will reserve the waist stay decision until I have front fasterners in and can see how the garments lies and moves. I'm also reserving making a decision on boning in the vest itself until then; I will likely add a few pieces at the back and side seams, and along one front dart, just to make sure the garment lies flat and doesn't buckle or wrinkle when I move. I also plan to handtack all of the seam allowances to the interlining; this will help the garment to fit a little closer, as it will remove that potential bulk. The boning would fit in the tacked seam allowances, which is why I can wait to make that decision.

I set the vest aside, and added binding to the corset. I found a packet of 1/2" double fold bias tape; I used that instead of wasting nicer satin bias tape on a garment that isn't meant to be seen, and won't exactly be worn often. ; ) I had enough to do that entire bottom of the corset, the entire neckline, and one armhole. Rats, lol... I added bias tape to my running list of things I need from Joanns. : )

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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