Love spells have been a staple of magick since the beginning of time. Research any witchcraft or magical tradition in any culture and you’ll find a plethora of spells for gaining love, retaining love, recovering from a broken heart, and wreaking havoc on those who would spurn love.
In most of today’s magical practices it is accepted that working spells against the will of another is verboten. Some even go so far as to state that such spells won’t work. Some reference the three-fold rule. Personally, as someone who has been victim to controlling partners, I’m not a fan of anything that tries to impose the will of one person on another.
I am lucky in that I get to work with so many lovely clients. Justine is a friend from my LARP days, and an honest-to-goodness mermaid. And I mean mermaid in the old-fashioned way; the kind that would sink your ship while painting her nails.
I’ve made a few pieces for Justine over the years, including two corsets and a bustle. She approached me a couple of months ago about making her some dresses for an upcoming vacation. Her specifications were: skater dress with a ballerina neckline and pockets out of knit fabric.
Next was fabric. Justine provided me with two “must have” choices from Spoonflower, and then a list of other choices from JoAnn Fabrics and told me to choose one for a total of three dresses.
The Kitschy Coo pattern is as easy to put together as advertised, however it doesn’t give you much margin of error. I learned this quickly when I cut out the first dress and found myself without a large enough section to cut the front and back bodice pieces. It was my fault for not laying everything out ahead of time, a mistake born from overconfidence.
I dealt with that mistake by redrafting the two pieces. I added princess seams to the front and added a center back seam to the back, which allowed me to use the fabric left after cutting out the skirt and other parts. I made sure that when the new pieces were basted together they matched the size of the original bodice piece. I also reinforced all the seams.
These changes led to a slight complication when the dress was finished. There was an ugly gap at the back. A quick pin and seam fixed that.
The other alteration I made was to the neckline. Justine wanted it just a little wider. This involved not only adjusting the bodice pieces at the neck, but also making sure the facing was the right length.
Despite figuring out the issue of laying out the pattern, the other two dresses had their own challenges. The fabric for both was a one way design, which meant making sure I was placing the pieces in a way that the designs looked good when sewn together. This isn’t a major issue, it just means slowing down and taking care. The whole project was a needed reminder that even seasoned pros need to remember the basics when working.
Adding the pockets meant altering the sewing instructions as well. Instead of one long seam from arm hole to skirt edge, I had to sew the top and bottom separately and then sew them together. If I had been using just my regular sewing machine, Kenny, I could have done the continuous side seam. But with my serger, Sergei, that wasn’t an option. This didn’t affect the look or fit of the dress in any way.
The most important part of all of this is that I created three dresses that fit Justine’s specifications. She has worn them several times since I made them last Summer and gets compliments wherever she goes.
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.
I’ve never hidden my love for unicorns. Back in middle school a group of boys gave me all sorts of grief over it, telling me to never play leap frog with a unicorn; a joke that never got funny no matter how many times they’d yell it at me. Despite this, I’ve not lost my love for Scotland’s national animal. I’m even part of a unicorn gang with several friends. We’re fun and fabulous and will cut you if you make fun of us.
So of course the very first thing I did when I happened upon Spoonflower lo these many years ago was to search for unicorn fabric. Of course the site that gives us Golden Girl Toss fabric isn’t going to disappoint. Here are nine of my current favorite unicorn designs.