Last May I posted some sketches from Sherlock Holmes and talked about working on making Watson and Mary for Comic Con 2010 with my boyfriend.
Since sewing is it's own form of art, I thought it would be nice to share both some progress pictures as well as some pictures of the finished costumes!
It was a really fun project to undertake! I made both of our costumes from the base up! I learned so much about the Victorian/Edwardian fashions, from appropriate undergarments to detachable collars on men's shirts. It was really a neat experience, and once they were done, it was fun to wear around downtown San Diego with my Man!
Getting started, I wanted to be as authentic as possible, so I decided to find and follow as many patterns as I could, altering them as needed to better suit the costumes. Here was my initial lineup before starting!
I had wanted to make this corset years ago and never got up the courage, so I already had everything I needed! For Watson I was able to find a retired Simplicity pattern that would help me make all the pieces of the suit aside from the white button up, which I purchased the basic McCall's pattern for. At this point I was ready to get started!
Having never made any real menswear before, I decided to start with Josh's Watson costume. We chose to do the gray with blue stripes suit that he wears in the film (Photo A), and were able to find a fairly similar suiting material for it. We then picked out a really nice light cotton for the white button up shirt, which we felt would be helpful since he was going to be wearing it all in the summer heat. Now it was time to start sewing. I made the white shirt first, which came together in about 2 nights, minus sewing on buttons. Next I started on the vest! It was so neat to see it with the white shirt (Photo B). Next up I set to work on the Jacket. Photo C shows a close up of the pocket detail I was doing. This was not actually part of the pattern so I had to make it up as I went along. I did 3 pockets on the jacket and one on the vest. I had totally spaced on making the vest pockets, primarily for his pocket watch, and so I only made one since I had already sewn up the rest of it. If I ever remade this costume, I would be sure to put to pockets on the vest haha. The pants were super easy and straight forward! I whipped them up in a night, minus the waist band and hem since I wanted to make sure it fit Josh before I finished it all. It was neat to see 3 pieces of the suit all together though (Photo D) I just couldn't wait for Josh to try it all on!!! At the point that Josh visited I had everything finish, jacket, shirt, vest and pants, minus sewing on the buttons and having the pants hemmed. We did a fitting and he looked so dapper! Photos E and F show him both with and without the jacket on. His costume was almost finished, which meant it was about time to start on Mary!
A) B) C)
D) E) F)
Once I finished Watson, it was up to Josh to get the rest of the props and accessories for his costume! Now it was time to start on Mary. I wanted to make it feel as authentic as possible, so that meant creating the right undergarments. Having a corset would give my body the more appropriate shape to really sell the look of that period. It was my first time ever constructing a real corset. I used the Simplicity 9769 pattern and was able to order a kit from this site CorsetMaking.com that included all the correct boning sizes, busks, grommets, casings and lacing! It's a great deal for really high quality stuff! I will likely order this kit again when I make another corset! Now it was time to set to work, but I was a bit nervous about cutting into my expensive corset coutil and white brocade, which I purchased from a local store Richard the Thread (you can also order from them online) so I decided to do a test run in muslin just to see if it would come out the way I wanted, as well as give me some peace of mind (Photo G). After the dry run with the muslin, I felt ready to cut into my coutil and brocade. Now the interesting thing about this Simplicity pattern is it doesn't call for the corset to be lined, which seems silly to me since the lining, I used coutil, would help to give the corset more strength and support when you're sinching it in. I did use my coutil to line the corset, by following the same sewing instructions for the brocade. I still attached all the casing to the brocade because I liked the line details it added on the outter side of the corset (Photo I). Once I sewed in the busks, I basted the bottom of the brocade and coutil, wrong sides together. I then added double fold biased tape to finish off the edge with a nice clean look. It also helped to close off the bottom of the boning casing, meaning it was finally time to insert the boning into the corset (Photo J)!!! After inserting all the boning, I added double fold biased tape to the top of the corset for a clean finished look (Photo K). All that was left now was to add the grommets so it could be laced up. I marked all the places on the corset and Josh went to town hammering head grommet into place (he's so helpful). I was so pleased with how it turned out! Here's a shot of it from the front (Photo L).
G) H) I)
J) K) L)
With the corset finished, the bustle was the next step in creating the right shapes for under the garments. Since I still had an entire skirt and polonaise to construct, I decided to go for a simpler/easier bustle. The corset had taken a significant amount of time already, and the Comic Con deadline was closing in fast! So in roughly one night, I constructed an adorable but pillow! It required 2 pieces of fabric, 2 pieces of boning, stuffing and some elastic. It certainly looks ridiculous, but overall it was very effective and aside from seeing my breakdown of the costume, you'd never actually know when looking at the finished garment. ^_^
It was time to tackle the next most complicated section of my Mary Costume, the Polonaise! BEfore starting this project, I had no idea what a polonaise even was. A quick search on the internet put me on track though. "A polonaise (originally robe à la Polonaise) is a woman's garment of the later 1770s and 1780s or a similar revival style of the 1880s inspired by Polish national costume, consisting of a gown with a fitted bodice and cutaway, draped and poufed overskirt, worn over an underskirt or petticoat." (This was copied from Wikipedia.com) Armed with this knowledge I found a great polonaise pattern on TrulyVictorian.com that was a perfect starting point! It would need a few adjustments (reference Photo M) such as making the sleeves more fitted so that they don't flair at the elbow, making it wrap in the front to create more of a v-neck instead of the square one suggested in the pattern, and finally fixing the bustle in the back to better replicated the artistic drape in the film. I bought yards of this beautiful navy blue silk charmeuse, and it was not cheap, so before I so much as stuck a pin in it, I wanted to do a quick run through in muslin (Photo N) to make sure everything fit perfectly first! I was able to practice the bustle with the patterns suggest bustle piece, I think it worked pretty well (Photo O). It was finally time to start cutting the silk (Photo P) which was both exciting and terrifying! After getting all the pieces cut, it was time to start sewing, and that I did! I loved finally seeing the silk with the striped fabric for the under side of the bustle (Photo Q), everything was looking so great even in pieces!
Seeing the silk sewn and on the dress form was really rewarding! It was really starting to look like Mary's polonaise (Photo R)! In all my searches, I wasn't able to find a good faux fur trim, so instead I made my own using some decent looking faux fur I found at Jo-Ann's. It wasn't as ideal of a match as I had hoped, but with limited time and selection it was the best I could do! Since I was making it into my own trim, I did a trial run to see how it'd work with the silk sewing it between some of my scrap fabric (Photo S). With the trim figured out it was time to sew it to the polonaise (Photo T). Even though I hadn't attached the sleeves, it was so exciting to see the drape working, especially on the bustle (Photo U). Once the sleeves were on, it really started to feel complete (Photo V). The end was near, it was time to take on the skirt and all its massive amount of pleats!
M) N) O)
P) Q) R)
S) T) U)
The skirt was fairly straight forward, I used another pattern from Truly Victorian since it was designed to be worn with a bustle. The Pattern also had the pleating at the bottom, the only thing it was lacking was the double fold trim that transitioned from the skirt into the pleats. This was easy enough to figure out though, as I was able to just cut 2 strips of the fabric, fold, iron and sew on at the point I was attaching the pleats to the rest of the skirt. However, I'm getting ahead of myself, once everything was cut out, I was able to start pleating. It was a long and tedious process as I measured, marked, starched and iron each pleat. The end result was definitely worth it (Photo W)!!! Once attached the skirt I threw it on the dress for and stepped back to enjoy seeing it in 3D with the bustle and everything (Photos X & Y). Wrapping the Polonaise on over the skirt really just made it all come together.
W) X) Y)
After months of sewing these costumes, it was already the week of Comic Con. Needless to say I did not have time to make the hat, or the fur muff. Perhaps I will have them finished for Comic Con 2011! All in all, I was still very happy with how the costumes turned out. We wore them on Saturday of Comic Con 2010, the weather was gorgeous, and we were able to get some beautiful photos takes by our friends. Our friend Steph joined us in her wonderful Irene Adler costume as well, which made for a really fun group!
The Following Photos are thanks to Katie Reihman:
Katon Callaway Also took some Lovely Photos of our Group: