Saturday the 6th I went to the Escondido Renaissance Faire. I decided a week and a half beforehand that none of my clothes were suitable enough for the Faire, so I asked myself (and some friends) “Am I crazy enough to make a Ren Faire costume in a week?” The answer was a resounding “YES!”.
I wanted to draft my own pattern for the bodice, but after one night of trying to steal the pattern from a vest I realized there’s no way I could do that in the timeframe I had available. So I went to JoAnn’s and got Butterick 3906 and used up some of my beautiful black denim. I also spontaneously decided to make a matching overskirt but didn’t bother using any pattern because it was so simple (a tutorial for my skirt is at the bottom of this post). I’m really happy with how it all turned out.
I had to make some minor variations to the bodice to make it fit properly. I have very odd proportions: big in the chest but relatively small in the waist, then huge in the hips. Therefore, in order to get a bodice that will fit my chest, I had to make it a size that’s too big in the waist. In the end, I probably could have just made a smaller size since it laces up, but I made the smallest size this pattern was for which was 12.
When I was all done with the bodice, I had to take in the back so it was more form-fitting, fold in the shoulders since they looked odd and weren’t comfortable, and I added a strip of elastic to the back at the base of my neck to keep the shoulders up. For the back, I turned the bodice inside-out, pinned straight up the center of the back, and took in about an inch off each side (for a total of 2 inches taken out). I sewed straight up the back from the inside, then laid the big flap down so that what had previously been the center of the bodice was laying right on top of the seam and was even on both sides. After that, I just sewed straight up the sides to keep them flat. It also gave a bit of decoration to the back. For the shoulders, I just turned them in a little since the tips were scratching at my neck and were uncomfortable. I just sewed over the edge stitching I had done before, caught the turned-under fabric beneath it, and at the same time sewed the elastic strap in place. And voilà: completed bodice that looks great and fits perfectly!
I needed to add eyelets to lace up the bodice but since there would be a lot of strain on them from being laced up, I didn’t want to cut holes in the fabric like I had for my corset tote so I therefore needed an awl. JoAnn’s is kind of far away and the cheapest they had them for was about $5, which was more than I wanted to spend. So I went to the 99 cent store right by my house and bought an ice pick, then sharpened it with a metal file. I used my little stabby to poke holes in the fabric, then used a chop stick to stretch them out, and it worked wonderfully while only cutting a couple threads in the fabric!
Now for the skirt tutorial!
- Fabric that is long enough to go around your waist at least one and a half times and is 2 inches longer than the length you want your final skirt to be (mine was 60″x30″)
- Elastic long enough to fit around your waist
- “The basics” Sewing machine, thread, scissors, pins, etc.
- One big safety pin or something else to thread your elastic through with
First, take your fabric and hem the bottom (one of the longer edges). You can pin it and then sew or just fold and sew as you go. Then hem up the shorter sides the same way. Next, take your elastic and fold a bit of fabric over it, enough that you can sew the fabric without catching the elastic. Once again, you can pin everything and then sew or you can just use your elastic as a guide.
When you’re done sewing your tunnel, take your elastic and attach the big safety pin to it (make sure you pin it in a way that the elastic won’t break off of it) and start threading it through. When the non-safety-pinned end of your elastic reaches about to the entrance of the tunnel, pin the end to your fabric so it won’t just keep sliding through! Continue threading your elastic through; as you reach the end it will get a lot harder, just hold the end of your elastic that’s inside the tunnel and scrunch the fabric up against the beginning hole.
When you’re done threading your elastic all the way through, sew the two ends of your elastic together (make sure the elastic lays flat and isn’t twisted at all inside the tunnel). I used a zig-zag stitch on my sewing machine but you could use a couple lines of straight stitches to secure it. After your elastic is sewn into a circle, scrunch the fabric around a bit so you have a nice, pretty piece of elastic in the front (just in case it shows) instead of the sewn bit. Wear your new overskirt and bodice with a nice underdress or similar clothes and you’re ready to party like it’s 1499!