Sunday, April 17, 2016

Emerald City Comic Con 2016 Fifth Avenue Dress Cosplay

This is not my first year going to the Emerald City Comic Con. Not even my first year costuming myself as a character from Dr Who

I don't know why I love them I just do.

(I stole this GIF from Dolly Clackett. I could watch it endlessly. When I've had a tough day, I go look at it on her blog. Thanks honey! You're the greatest!)

So after much much much thinking, I combined my favorite Dr Who villain with my favorite elegant dress

The Sew Chic Fifth Avenue.

As I have mentioned, I have been recuperating from a frozen right shoulder. I had a frozen left shoulder a few years ago, and am all too familiar with how long it takes to undo itself. So I knew well in advance that I would have a devil of a time pulling any dress over my head.

Thus an adaption. I switched the zipper side to the right and left the right sleeve seam open (closes with a snap I can just manage with the left hand).

I designed several fabrics for Spoonflower, cutting and pasting and massaging and pixelsmoothing and friggin hours and hours and hours. I built all these images by hand in Paint.
With a mouse, not a stylus/pad.
Because I am just that OCD. 
And there was no copying a photo and having it look like I needed it to look at the end of the process. 

Fun note: the words Dr Who and Dalek have been removed from the Spoonflower database as tags for images by the request of the brand manager for Dr Who of the BBC. The fabrics (including mine) were not. 
The fabric design took the longest. There were mistakes and swatches tossed. These are not your BBC robots, trust me. The whole design process took about five months.

I used silky faille, because it drapes nicely, takes a photo print like a...really good piece of photo paper, and it comes in a wide enough yardage I could get the skirt out of one yard. Because of that,  I had to lose the back center seam, and moved the skirt vents to the sides.

And yes, I built the repeat size height around the skirt length I needed.

The collar and the drape and one sleeve, which I changed up from here.

I tested the layout of the bodice parts on the grill section

This is a rough layout of the front bodice pieces, lining up the tailor marks.

In the end, I used the plain colored section for these parts. It was just too hard to match them up.

I underlined with gold poly lining.

I found the first time I made this pattern that an order of construction would be helpful. And I like to make lists by hand to give my brain a chance to process complicated bits.
The Fifth Avenue isn't complicated except for the front bodice. Parts are left open for later insertion.

I make the lining first, to double check the fit on the cheaper fabric. The black 'reinforcing' with rayon tape is a recent suggestion from Laura Nash, and a great one.

The bodice in the print 

Where the cup joins the waist panel

I machine stitched the lining to the front at the seam along the front of the bodice below the cups to the waist panel

And some quick and dirty tacking at the center join

I serged the lining to the pieces (the bodice front, back, skirt front, skirt back), then sewed the darts, and then assembled them. I did this with my first version of this dress, and it has made it a more solid and easy to wear dress. 
In this version, the faille on it's own would not have been substantial enough.

I lined the collar, but not the hip drapes (if the wrong side was showing, it would mean I was upside down and had bigger things to worry about).

Silky faille needs more steam than you'd think

A lot more steam, and maybe some extra weight on that tailor board.
Which really came in handy for all the short curves.

So I get it put together, and I don't like the drape in the plain fabric.

So I came up with another print design, spent a few nights hammering at it, ordered a yard with rush delivery, and cut out a new set of hip drapes.

I cut it really close on the pattern placement on the fabric pieces, using some of the white surrounding fabric in the seam. Which ended up SHOWING. Arrrgggg!
The clothespin is holding the gathers on the drape while I play with them. 

An important aside: Silky faille shows pin marks in the darker colors. So does the sport lycra. I've tried to take photos of this, and my camera just won't focus that hard, so take my word for it. Keep the pins out of the visible area.

Which makes hemming tricky and topstitching impossible.

I'm still not satisfied with where and how they gather and drape with this fabric; you really need to play with them. I needed more yardage than I bought.

And of course, I was in a hurry and there's a flaw in the repeat of this print; I didn't match the edges to see if they were precise. 
As one does.

Unhemmed but done.

So how did I hem this? 

I also recommend the noniron versions. I have started carrying a roll in my car glove box. It is the BOMB! It' s much easier to handle and place than wonder tape (which is pretty damn wonderful).
I hemmed the whole thing with the iron on version. The drapes, the sleeves, the vents and the hem on the skirt. 

Damn I love those halfspheres! They are glowing.

As for the cranky woman trying to look like a villain, it's not happening. The purse is obscuring the skirt, I need different shoes, and the bodice just doesn't read in the plain fabric. And the hat does not read well.
But this dress is so easy to wear, and has such built in drama, I can't let it go.

I will rebuild! I have more Whovian events to attend. Ripping the bodice will be tricky with this fabric, but I think it's worth it (and at 21.60$ a yard to me with the designer discount) I am not starting all over again. The material I used for the improved hip drape will work for the front bodice. It has texture without being overly patterned. And I fixed the repeat edge error, because that is what I do.

As for the hat and the other stuff I didn't use, we'll get to that later this week.

I did have fun, though!

And that is the point! 


  1. Oh thank you - for making me think I may be normal with my pintuck OCD. But paying so much attention to detail, you're giving justice to the brilliant, gorgeous fabric you've designed. I love the centre front belt and shoulder draping and how great to be able to redesign to suit your shoulder immobility; this is one of many reasons why we're right to sew our own, but it's got to be in the top three. I hope you enjoyed the Comicon. I'm now looking out for some Cuban heel burgundy ankle boots to go with for you! I have a clutch bag pattern (haven't tested it) that might look great with a small amount of your fabric but not sure how much you can fit into a clutch bag other than cards!

    1. Oh thank you! There are no cuban or other heels for me (I had black hose and shoes to go with, and then it got all summer like outside).

      It needs a paint roller weapon, just like the real Daleks have, but I just hate carrying around stuff that you can't put other stuff into. And that's for next year.
      The post about the fail of that weapon (and its friends, I built several) will be coming along in a week.

  2. Wow!!! You go girl. I mean, exterminate.


Thanks for reading! I love your comments, I love your ideas, I love your recipes, but if you post links to advertising, I will delete your comment.