If I were to have a patron, Sarah would be it. Over the last year she has commissioned several skirts from me, choosing the most whimsical, geeky, STEMy fabric imaginable. As a client, she is a joy to work with. So, when she approached me about creating a Miss Frizzle cosplay, I said yes without hesitation.
What Sarah wanted was simple in it’s vision: a matching skirt and shirt that would look like a dress, with the wide elastic of the skirt acting as a belt. Being a busty woman, Sarah wanted to avoid the problems she’s had in the past with fitting dresses to her figure. We talked at length about what kind of shirt would work best for the costume. Though she was hesitant when I brought up a button down, she said she trusted me to make it work.
I understand her trepidation. Button down shirts can be difficult for women with large breasts. Not only is there the button gap issue, but in order to fit a shirt to your bust you often end up with a garment that looks like a tent. In this case I had the advantage because I would be sewing the shirt from scratch.
I chose a pattern I already had on hand: Simplicity 9818. I’d used the pattern before to make a shirt for myself, so I was familiar with the instructions. The pattern itself stopped two sizes short of Sarah’s measurements. This is where having multiple copies of a pattern on hand helps. Using pattern paper I first traced the largest size, then I slid the pattern paper over, matching the markings with the smaller, inner size, and traced the larger size again. From that pattern I made a muslin to make sure the sizing was correct.
If I were making the shirt for every day wear, I would have added bust darts up from the waist to make it a bit more tailored. Since it was going to be tucked into the skirt and needed to look like part of the dress, I didn’t. When she got the costume, she told me she was over the moon with the fit. For once she had a button down shirt that fit her measurements. Her trust in me had been well founded. And it’s responses like that, the feeling of pulling on a piece of clothing that just fits like it is supposed to, that make this job so satisfying. As someone who got into sewing because I hated going clothes shopping, I love that I can help others in that regard.
The fabric Sarah chose, Microbes by Erin Hayward, is what really made this outfit work. The design is recognizable for what it is, and it has just the right cartoony look to it. With her wig and plush lizard, Sarah said that people at DragonCon immediately knew who she was.
This is an aspect of cosplay that I really love: going out in a character that other people relate to on a personal level. To see a beloved character in the flesh, so to speak, to be able to interact with them, get a picture with them, connect with them, even if only for a moment of pretend, is one of those small moments of joy that help offset the horribleness of our current reality. There are shootings and poverty and people without health care or power and natural disasters and suffering the world over. Those things need our attention and help. But we also need to have moments where we can retreat and recharge. And this one small action, dressing up as Miss Frizzle, had ripple effects. While I made the costume I felt happiness. When Sarah dressed up, she felt happiness. Those who saw her, not only in person, but in pictures posted on the Internet, felt happiness. That is no small thing.
I’m already working on more skirts for Sarah. I’ve sewn enough for her that they almost warrant their own post. For now, I leave you with pictures of Miss Frizzle, out and about at DragonCon. I hope seeing them brings you a moment or two of happiness.