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24 March 2014 @ 05:41 pm
The Walda Dress pt. 1  
I have a weird relationship with all my crafts, but mostly sewing. The majority of my skills are self taught, and most don't even come from reading a book or watching a video, but are literally me just looking at something and figuring out a way on my own to replicate it. Which is great in some ways, but usually leads to me reaching a point in said craft-skill where I can't just "figure something out" anymore and so find myself stuck and unable to progress any further.

Sewing is the worst of all at this. Finding patterns that actually fit me is pretty much impossible, and I've tried once to alter a pattern to fit me and it ended dismally. The result is that I've never sewn anything for myself before. I've also never actually sewn real clothes before. In fact, I've never even really used a pattern before, and I've certainly never drafted one myself.

So, when I decided to cosplay Fat Walda Frey/Bolton for Ice and Fire con in May, I tried pretty much everything I could to avoid having to sew a full length dress by myself. But everything from color choice to dress designs made that impossible. I looked all over etsy and ebay, but found nothing ready made. I contacted dress-makers and they were all either indisposed, or out-right refused to make anything resembling my design. I wasn't even able to find a dress that I could alter. So it became apparent I would have to do this myself after all, despite my complete lack of experience. And to top it off I had such a hard time finding fabric (even when I looked in bedsheets, curtains, and houseware fabric!) that the only thing I found that was workable was some thick pink knit.

The skirt was pretty simple, and I got that finished within a few days of washing the fabric. Every time I've machine-hemmed knit the results have been horrible, and nothing about this attempt was any different. So after hemming the whole thing on machine, I then folded the hem down, pinned everything into place again, and re-hemmed the entire skirt by hand. There is just something about me that guarantees every project, no matter how easy, will always involve copious amounts of hand-sewing for no apparent reason.

Every step I've taken with the bodice has been hesitant, mostly because I was terrified it would go wrong. I started by tracing a very rudimentary pattern from a pre-existing top I own, and made a mock-up with it out of muslin. From there I made adjustments to size and style, cutting off where it was too large or adding in sections of fabric where it was too small. I also worked at making it more balanced (such as the sleeve holes being the same size) and made changes to taste (such as seeing it on and suddenly deciding I wanted a plunging neckline). Eventually I had a sort of Frankenstein's Monster-style top cobbled together. The fit was fine, and I'd figured out the neckline, but I found that in order to fit my boobs comfortably, I wound up with inches of extra fabric at my armpits that I didn't really know what to do with. I thought through all the solutions I'd seen to that problem and finally settled on those curving side panels a lot of bodices have. My lack of familiarity with patterns and clothes sewing fixed things nicely again, since I don't even know what those are called, and so finding instructions on how to install them wasn't really an option. However, after some trial and error and a lot of thinking I was able to figure something out, and finally decided to start on it Saturday. But Saturday my period-ills became so bad that I literally spent almost the whole day in bed, so I had to delay my start til Sunday morning instead.

Anyway, I started by butchereing my Franken-top some more, then added new sides and in the end was pleased enough that I felt ready to move to the next level. So I cut out an entirely new front and sides from muslin, joined them to my old mock-up back and verified that, yes, indeed, I was certain enough that I could actually make a pattern now. So I undid all my sewing, laid the muslin pieces out, and traced them onto tissue paper. Then I took my new pattern pieces and cut out my pink fabric.
With much fear and trepidation, I assembled the final pieces, but not having a ripper, and worried that I would have to go back and change something, I sewed everything by hand. That took me quite awhile, but I finally finished late Sunday night, and was pleased as punch to see that I had succeeded in constructing something that looked dangerously like a legitimate bodice. I was so pleased in fact that I bounded out of the bathroom to show Anthony, despite the fact that I was basically wearing a crop top, and a rather skimpy one at that.

So, I've gone from never having even used a pattern, to not only having used one, but having made one (primitive though it may be) AND I've done it without any help and without a dress form. I am rightly proud of myself for having accomplished this. I'm so excited and encouraged that I've even taken the necklace I'll be wearing up a notch! I had originally planned for just a red droplet bead on a length of ribbon, but with all the charms I've been sculpting lately (and inspired oddly enough by the sadly lackluster costume Walda's got in-show) that I'm going to sculpt a little charm of the flayed man on the Bolton's sigil, and have the little drop bead dangle off the botton of it.

As for the rest of the dress, I plan to get the top machine sewed (except for collar and sleeve holes) tonight, and then I'll only have these steps remaining:
  • Figure out, sew, and install sleeves (The most daunting task of the whole dress.)
  • Gather skirt top (easy peasy)
  • Sew skirt/bodice together (also a cinch)
  • Add trim to sleeves, and collar trim/false neckline (will involve a lot of pinning and fiddling, but shouldn't be too hard.)
The prospect of making the sleeves scares the crap out of me, but I'm crossing my fingers and hoping they turn out as good as the bodice has!
Current Location: Work
Current Mood: excitedexcited
Current Music: Co-working humming "All of You" next to me