Miscellaneous, Sewing Projects

Once Upon a Time Costume Replicas

I’m afraid I’m long overdue in updating this blog; there’s been so many changes in my life lately and it’s been a challenge finding time to sit down and actually post! Back in August I resigned from my 9-5 office job with the intent of pursuing my costume design career while also offering princess parties and appearances.. and then along came Sephora. Many years ago I freelanced as a makeup artist (and continue to do so when possible) and had an opportunity to join as a seasonal cast member, so I figured why not? I had the intent of balancing both sewing and makeup, but as often happens with life plans reality came along and pretty much laughed in my face. I had no idea just how busy the holiday season can be for a store like that and now that I’ve experienced it I realize that trying to pull off both had landed me in the same boat as I was in while at the office; trying to balance a regular job, freelance job, and still having some semblance of a life.

With that said I’ve loved the ~3 months I’ve spent at Sephora; it was a great opportunity to work with some lovely people and learn new things. It’ll all be coming to an end shortly, and in preparation for that I’m in the process of getting back to all things costume related including party appearances as Elsa. I’ve re-opened the Etsy shop, updated social media accounts and am now working on the blog!

The project I’ve most been waiting to post about is my masquerade group from this year that I mentioned a few months ago. We ended up with 7 total characters from Once Upon a Time: Killian Jones/Captain Hook, Emma Swan, Snow White, Prince Charming, Queen Regina, Queen Cora and Belle. It took 7 weeks of insanity (while balancing Sephora and trying to sew!) with plenty of bedazzling assistance from J & D, but together we pulled it off. In the interest of not writing 7 individual posts I’m just going to include some photos and explain a bit about each costume; should anyone be intending on replicating these feel free to ask for further detail and I’d be happy to explain.

Killian Jones was my best fabric find; after some serious online research I tracked down one of the fabric sources that Once Upon a Time uses and managed to acquire the exact same fabric (even the exact same bolt it came from) that the show used for Killian’s jacket from S03E22, Snow Drifts/There’s No Place Like Home. It’s a gorgeous embossed silk and was surprisingly easy to work with, just a challenge to press and steam without wrecking the pattern! My lovely husband was pleased to wear this outfit. The jacket was lined with a soft taupe cotton and French microtwill black facing and accents, with black grosgrain ribbon and more buttons than I ever again want to buy from Fabricland. I also whipped up a bright white sateen cotton shirt and coordinating French microtwill black vest as well; because I am determined, the vest itself was made entirely the morning of the masquerade. I am so beyond proud of his ensemble, the jacket is a particular point of pride for me partly due to fabric source and partly due to how it looks on the husband!


Since he’s in the above photo as well, we also had Prince Charming. I’m responsible for his shirt and tunic, the pants and boots were his own (and he insisted on cowboy boots to make it more ‘him’). His shirt was the same as Killian Jones’, but in a soft ivory cotton instead. The collar was a particular pain in the butt, as Charming’s is quite frayed. I sat with it for hours with a pin gradually unraveling the edges to keep it frayed without letting it fall apart. The tunic is a beautiful black faux leather with a natural grain, lined in red Kona cotton and trimmed with chocolate brown microsuede. The real tunic has perforated leather sleeves, which was a fabric I couldn’t find, so we went with a diamond quilted pattern instead.

DSC2689The boys’ costumes were actually the easiest ones to put together, the ladies are the ones with all the insane amounts of detail. Regina nearly killed me; K chose her dress from S03E02, Lost Girl, and of course it was plastered in rhinestones, hand painted lace and feathers. I found the original fabric for this one as well, but at $30/yard with a 10 yard minimum order it was just way too pricey, especially when we only needed 7 yards. Instead I opted for a satin charmeuse that came in a black/fuschia print, which was then dyed piece by piece with iDye Poly in Crimson. There’s roughly 600 black rooster feathers and 2000+ rhinestones on this one (all individually attached), but it was a labour of love even though it took the longest. It’s two separate pieces, a big skirt with pockets and then the bodice, worn over a bum roll and a triple hoopskirt.

Photo courtesy of Morgan Turner PhotographyIn keeping with the evil queens we also had Cora, Regina’s mother. Our Cora was less of an exact replica and more of an ‘inspired by’ type of deal. It’s actually what prompted the whole group masquerade idea; husband’s and my original plan was Red Death Phantom of the Opera and Christine (her movie masquerade gown) but the fabric I ordered did not look anything like it had on the website. In the hopes of actually getting some use out of it I suggested J join us for the masquerade, which led to an interpretation of Cora’s wedding gown from S02E18, The Miller’s Daughter. This is a duochrome taffeta and tulle mix with beaded bridal lace and more rhinestones than I really want to count. Tulle is an awful skirt choice when done in single layer, by the way.. especially when you’ll be walking around outside, hence the uneven hem as this was towards the end of the night when it got caught on stuff. The top is a proper steel boned corset (also worn over a much heavier steel undergarment corset) and the skirt is a gathered poofy concoction worn over a triple hoopskirt, also with pockets. I really like ballgowns with pockets. Our Cora is also best friend J who is usually behind the scenes manning my Nikon to take photos of Elsa and Anna!

Photo courtesy of Morgan Turner PhotographyAnd now the non-evil ladies! Belle was the original OUAT take on Belle’s classic yellow gown, the one she was seen in through seasons 1-3. My version was done with yellow satin and dyed brown satin, as well as brown beaded and heavily rhinestoned lace. The top was a proper steel boned corset as well, with the pleated skirt and pockets. Worn over a single hoop skirt and a small bum roll. Unfortunately Belle’s gown best shows how much my garment steamer failed me the day of the masquerade; while I’d pressed my seams during construction I didn’t iron the entire thing in the process as I’d planned to put the men to work steaming while us ladies handled the makeup and hair. Sadly the Rowenta upright steamer I’d purchased just for this occasion decided to spit water instead, and of course I was informed of this when I was in the process of dressing everyone and it was too late to bust out the ironing board. Therefore, please pardon the creases in the fabric. 😦

Snow White is the purple gown she’s most often pictured in (the one worn to Cinderella’s ball) from S01E04, The Price of Gold. It’s a beautiful lilac shantung two piece (sensing a theme here?) with a proper steel boned corset as the bodice, covered in hand painted lace and plenty of rhinestones. The skirt was pleated and also had pockets, and was worn with a bum roll over a triple hoopskirt. She didn’t take a single photo, but I do have one of her with Charming!

DSC2678And last but not least, my own gown. This is Emma Swan’s fairytale princess dress from S03E21 & S03E22, Snow Drifts/There’s No Place Like Home. I hate to point this out, but in the rush to get everyone laced into their dresses and to the masquerade I forgot to throw my bum roll over my petticoat, so I won’t be posting photos of me standing. I do, however, have a lovely photo that one of the photographers suggested that is my favourite! My dress was 10 yards of satin, with a steel boned bodice worn over a fully steel boned undergarment corset, and a massive pleated skirt with pockets over a triple hoopskirt (and designed for the bum roll I forgot to put on!). The original dress from the show had  bit of embellishment along the neckline but that was it; as anyone reading this blog knows I’m a huge fan of all things sparkly so of course I had to add more. The lace around the neckline was rhinestoned, but the hem is where it really stood out. It’s 9.7 yards around, and had scalloped lace sewn on the whole way. I then hand beaded that lace with Swarovski bicone beads and seed beads, and attached quite a few clear Swarovski crystals along with an insane amount of red crystals.


All 7 of these costumes were a TON of work, but they were an absolute pleasure to do and one hell of an experience. We had a lovely night at the masquerade, and we all looked amazing! Hopefully we’ll be able to visit the mainland in the spring to do a photoshoot in Steveston, where Once Upon a Time films their Storybrooke scenes.


Costuming, Sewing Projects

December is Crazy

The last month or so has been absolutely crazy. Between holiday Princess appearances, sewing Christmas presents for friends and family and putting together a dress for New Years Eve, time has just absolutely flown by.

The crazy kicked off with the Christmas parade on November 23rd. Devin and I had already arranged with the DVBA to visit Centennial Square in costume and hand out candy canes. Best friend K was coming over for the Doctor Who 50th anniversary episode, so she planned to come with us. We then had a request from Ballet Victoria to join them on their parade float, which was an absolute dream come true! Since I won their Halloween costume contest we’ve worked with them quite a bit, but the parade was just the beginning.

Of course it was cold out, so with the DVBA Centennial Square visit I had already picked up a ridiculous quantity of fleece to make hooded cloaks for K and I. Putting them together was quite easy until I ran out of ribbon about 85% of the way through K’s.. poor Devin had to brave Michael’s on a Saturday afternoon to try and find me more, hours before we were due downtown, and ended up convincing another customer to part with her roll of ribbon. Brave husband! It all worked out perfectly with the parade, so after handing out quite a bit of candy in Centennial Square we made our way over to the start of the parade and spent the next hour or so waving at the crowds from atop Ballet Victoria’s float promoting their Christmas show, The Gift.

20131123_173926 editedpic3


After the parade came loads of Christmas presents. Those I didn’t take photos of, mainly because it was the same concept over and over with different variations. Everyone got pajama pants this year with some form of embroidery. Side pockets either had monograms or custom designs like Hello Kitty, a vintage Singer sewing machine, and various tattoo concept ideas for my parents. I made a plaid onesie for Devin’s best friend, and have a snowflake patterned one on the go for best friend K.

In between getting Christmas presents ready there were rehearsals for The Gift, which was on December 28th and 29th. Every week Devin and I attended rehearsals, partly to attempt to learn choreography (we are both painfully aware we are not dancers by any means) and partly to ensure that we could make our way around the stage and interact with the dancers without getting in anyone’s way. It was an amazing behind the scenes experience that culminated in the actual performances this past weekend.

Having done musical theatre quite a bit in school when I was younger, I was fully prepared to be a basket case prior to the curtain going up. You can imagine my surprise when I realized just how full the Royal Theatre was (with a 1416 seat capacity!) and the panic didn’t set in. It was the first time I’ve been on stage in ages, the largest crowd I’ve ever been in front of, and I was fine. Devin and I were wandering the theatre before the show and during intermission to take photos with guests, and adding that to actually being a part of the first act made for an amazing experience overall. I am so thankful to Ballet Victoria for including us, and am hoping to work with them more in the future.

This video also shows you a bit more about the ballet and cast, it’s worth watching!

To make things even crazier, I fell in love with some fabric and a dress concept, and ended up express shipping the fabric in from Thailand when I couldn’t find any local substitutes that weren’t three times the cost! I wanted something amazing for New Years Eve. Last year Devin was deployed so I went out with best friend K, and our choice of venue was a bar so I wore a short black sequin and rhinestone dress I threw together. This year we’re attending a black tie party being thrown at the Victoria Public Market by Brink Events, so given Devin’s and my shared love of all things retro I went with something 50’s inspired. I worked quickly on this one so there aren’t any progress photos to share, but I am 100% thrilled with the final product. I have yet to photograph this fabric and have it show up as it does in real life, but I will keep trying until I am successful!

nyedress nyedressback


Tonight is the actual NYE event and I am beyond excited. Any chance to get dressed up is fun, and to do it in a dress of my own creation is even better.

Sewing Projects

New dress, 98% complete!

As promised, an update on the new black dress! I worked on it last night while best friend K was over; we had a girly night of Disney movies, sewing and homework.

I prefer to use bias tape to create channels for my boning. Here I’ve pinned the bias tape to each seam, with the seams individually serged and pressed open. At the top right of my ironing board, you can see the massive cable tie that I’m using for boning. I’ve heard about doing this before, and always used Rigilene boning from Fabricland, so I decided to try the cable ties this time.

Here, the bias tape is sewn onto the lining.

Just a closeup shot of the stitching; since the cable ties are larger and stronger than the typical small ones, I had to be very careful to stitch very close to the edge of the bias tape. I was able to fit the cable ties into the casing as planned, but it was a very tight fit. Now that I’ve had the dress on I’m quite happy with the cable tie method of boning; Rigilene is crap and has a tendency to bend however it feels like but the cable ties are sturdy. They’re also cheap and readily available, which is a huge bonus!

I didn’t take any pictures as I finished it, but I’ve put an invisible zipper in the back (successfully this time despite the added surface layers, unlike the anniversary dress!!) and hemmed it with the serger. I did the narrow three thread overlock stitch with narrow stitches on both the satin and chiffon, and am quite happy with how it looks. I say it’s only 98% complete because there are two small things I still have to do; the top of the zipper needs a hook & eye, and there’s thread tails on both the hem and at the back that have to be tucked in/removed. I didn’t put the chiffon part of the skirt into the invisible zipper, so it also has the overlock stitch hemming it. It needs to be tacked down under the waistband pleat. However, I was far too impatient and after foiling some more highlights into my hair today I was feeling pretty and decided to make the husband take photos of me in the dress.

Husband and two of his friends have seen it in progress, and saw the final dress on the dress form this afternoon. They know I made it, but firmly believe it looks store bought. This makes me happy. 🙂

Sewing Projects

A new dress in the works..

My friend N is getting married next weekend. I’ve spent the past few weeks hand-beading a veil for her, off and on, with Swarovski crystal beads and little silver beads. It was my lazy sit on the couch project post Fan Expo, and now that it’s done I decided to make something to wear to her wedding and use up some of the fabric stash I have.

When I made the black one shoulder anniversary dress, I had over 3m of fabric left over. I still have quite a bit left, but decided to use the same pattern as my Rose Tyler dress, Simplicity 4070, as it’s a fairly easy pattern to work with for a base. I cut out the circle skirt and bodice from the satin, but that’s just plain and boring. Chiffon was on sale at Fabricland, so I picked up 3m of it and decided to do a chiffon overlay on the dress. 

One shot without flash, and one with. I know taking photos of black on black isn’t the greatest for showing detail. Here I started draping one side of the bodice. I was aiming for something similar to two formal dresses I own, as I love the style of them but they aren’t exactly wedding appropriate. I also see this style all the time on wedding dresses and formal gowns, so I wanted to try doing it myself.

This is the side of the dress, which was much easier to pin. I was able to lay it flat on my ironing board with a rotary cutter mat underneath to pin it. 

Just after completing the other half of the front, which was followed by a repeat of the side. I just did a quick basting stitch to hold the folds in place, as the waistband that’s added later will secure the bottom and the lining will secure the top.

Without and with flash, again. This shows the draping across the top of the bodice, as well as the skirt. The chiffon was cut longer and wider than the pattern called for, and then gathered & attached to the waistband of the skirt. When I have the whole thing together and am able to put it on, I’ll decide how long/short I want it and hem the chiffon about an inch longer than the satin. 

A lot of this is still just pinned. The top seam on the waistband is connected, and the bodice is just pinned to the skirt on the dress form. I wanted to make sure the bottom fold on the waist would hide the seam line.

Just a closer look. The one random pin above the waistband is a small part where I have to tack down the chiffon overlay by hand. 

Showing where the waist seam will be.

The back’s a bit of a mess right now. I was pinning/sewing til about 10:30 last night, and then gave in and went to bed. I’ll be finishing it this weekend. I’m undecided as to what exactly I’m doing with the back; whether it’ll be invisible zipper, regular zipper or if I’m going to add lengths to the waistband and be able to tie a bow over the zipper. 

The side of the dress, and yes I know my skirt seam needs to be pressed/steamed. I’m really careful with chiffon and heat, and was too tired to concentrate and do it properly last night.

Also a small, pleasant surprise. My serger does a three thread narrow overlock stitch, so now the seams on the chiffon and the hem will be much tidier than originally planned! 

I still have to finish basting the waistband in place, connect the skirt to the bodice, and then put the boning in the lining and sew it to the bodice. After that is hemming and zippers! I figure I’ll have it done over the weekend, so hopefully by Monday I’ll be able to post some photos of me wearing it.

Sewing Projects

J’s Christmas Ball Dress

One of the best parts of being a navy wife is the opportunity to attend formal events. Christmas 2011, my husband’s ship was having their annual Christmas Ball. Awesome hubby bought me a dress to wear as a Christmas present; I went browsing in a dress shop and fell in love, and he couldn’t resist. Janet thought it’d be a fun opportunity for me to make her something unique, so after browsing the pattern books at Fabricland we came up with a McCalls’s evening gown pattern (that, of course, is no longer in print!)

I didn’t keep any progress photos of this dress, but I do have a few of her in the final product. We used crepe back satin, some acetate lining that was on sale as it was only going to be worn once, and sequin trim for a bit of glitter!