Costume progress

I’ve been meaning to write this post for ages, but life kept getting in the way. But I have made some actual progress on my Tauriel costume from Shieldmaiden March (ha!), so I thought I’d share how my dyeing experiment in particular went.

The short answer:  the right side is the before, and the left side is the after. Much improved!

The longer answer:I started off with an old green bedsheet set that my mom had passed on to me for muslin purposes. It’s a good thing I had both the fitted and the flat sheet, because I ended up needing the fitted sheet to cut the last two pieces of the coat out of. I went ahead and roughly sewed the outside pieces together, too, minus the sleeves, because I wasn’t sure how much the dyeing and washing process would make things fray. (Good thing, because it was a LOT. Fortunately, the costume ended up being huge on me anyway, so I was able to take it in enough to compensate.)

This was my first time experimenting with iDye— as a reminder, I already tried dyeing the bedsheets once with regular RIT dye, and it didn’t make much difference due to the partial polyester content of the fabric. So I bought one specifically for poly in green, and also an olive for natural fibers, just so both types would be covered.I bought a huge cheap pot at Walmart, which I normally avoid whenever possible, but for a pot I’d never want to cook food in, I figured it would be ok. And I went to work.

The pot turned out to be a pretty good size for all of the fabric. I realized as I was looking at their website just now that I did mess up the directions a little by cutting open the packets and dumping the dye powder in. Apparently, you just throw the whole packet in and it dissolves. Oops. I let it simmer for about an hour, while stirring it with a big stick and reading a book. Then I threw it right in the washer, as soon as I’d gotten enough cold water into the pot that I could handle the hot fabric.

A few tips for working with the iDye, since I’d never done stovetop dyeing before, and I’m sure I’m not the only one:

  • Wear old clothes. I did end up splashing some dye on myself at one point when the stick slipped, and if Doug hadn’t advised me beforehand to change into my painting shirt, I would have ruined a perfectly good band t-shirt. (Thanks, Doug!)
  •  Turn on the stove vent and open a window. The poly stuff in particular smells pretty bad.
  • So far, I’ve washed this three times, because it still smells, and the fumes are permeating my sewing room! I ended up tweeting Dharma Trading Company (where I bought it from) to ask for some advice, and they suggested washing it in vinegar and warm water, and letting it air dry. Doug was kind enough to do this for me, since we finally had a warm, sunny day and I was at a rehearsal for most of it. It reduced the odor, but it hasn’t gone away entirely. (Though thankfully, it is starting to fade– I only notice it now when I’m bent close to the fabric.) But the edges were getting very, very ragged, and all of the washing actually tore some of the lower seams open, so I think I’m going to wait until this is actually more finished before washing this again.

    Now that I know how to dye on the stovetop, I think it will come in handy for smaller batches, like one piece of clothing or whatever.   

Here’s where I’m at now. (Sorry for the not-great photos. Between extra rehearsals for multiple concerts–yay! and 6-day workweeks at the garden center again–boo! I’ve barely been home for a couple of weeks now. And when I am, it’s usually dark.)
IMG_1322Here’s the front, sans sleeves. Obviously I need to give this a good pressing–it’s more to show the length of the front angles and all. I may need to shorten these a bit. I’m also still trying to figure out how to handle the collar. After all of that frankenpatterning, I watched the movie again, and the collar was stitched on as a separate piece. It wasn’t really working anyway, so I chopped it off and will tweak it and the facing to lay a little better. I’m thinking I’m just going to do some hooks and eyes as the front closure, since this has a leather-looking bodice over top anyway. I also need to figure out exactly where to stitch the shoulder seams, which are currently just pin-basted closed.

IMG_1321Here’s the back, and a lot more splits. I’m also trying to figure out how to hem these. Since I’m trying to fake suede with a bedsheet, it will probably look the best if I blind hem it by hand. But then, a really huge part of me is wondering if I want to spend all of that time hemming all of those split seams for a costume that I’m more likely than not only going to wear once. It’s not like this is my wedding dress, you know?


In the meantime, one of my projects lately has been this detailing over the seams. I still have several more to do this initial stitching, which is just one of the decorative stitches that Bernadette has, slightly overlapping the seams. (The added perk is that this will strengthen the seams a bit, since the last round through the washer to try to get rid of the dye smell made several of them tear at the bottom. It’s a good thing that this thing turned out huge, because all of those tears are now mended and  will be confined to the hems.)

I’m also going to do one more pass on either side of them once the initial embroidery is done, as a satin stitch with the shinier machine embroidery thread.  Basically, I’m trying to replicate this look:


Honestly, considering their material vs. mine, I think it’s pretty close!

I really need to get my butt in gear and try to finish this coat up. I had to pause because I was running out of thread, but I bought more. I still also need make a bodice, gauntlets, leggings, and fake weaponry. I was going to make some faux boot tops, but since I ended up replacing my old brown boots recently, I think the ones I bought will be close enough.  Oh, and did I mention that I need to make about 3 other costumes for this event? And all those other clothes I want to make? But I have a plan to make as many of these costume components real-world wearable as possible. In fact, one is already on my capsule wardrobe list, and the other will fit right in, if I can find the right fabric!


2 thoughts on “Costume progress

  1. Aaaaaarrgh! You're making me want a LotR costume! Maybe I can get home with enough time to finish my Rapunzel bodice AND add shortener thingies to my Red skirt (the year before last I passed it off as a generic Hobbit costume, but it's too long).

    Looking great!


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