The Refashioners 2018: Miss Fisher Costume

If you’ve read my blog before you may know how much I love the show Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries in part at least because of the costumes. So when Portia announced this year’s Refashioners theme was ‘inspired by’, I couldn’t resist making a costume from Miss Fisher. I really wanted to make her amazing silk robe, but I didn’t think my embroidery skills would be up to it (I’ve done embroidery twice and both times it’s been a little rudimentary).

(image source)

So having ruled out the robe, I then decided to make her signature trench coat and matching hat. I also made trousers, a blouse and a camisole to go under the coat! Fair warning this is a long post with lots of photos! Feel free to skip to the end to look at the finished look!

Here are the garments I started with (and how much I paid for each one):

Large trench coat



Jersey maxi dress


Polyester petticoat skirt


Polyester blouse – I wanted to get a dress to make the blouse, but couldn’t find anything suitable so I had to settle for this blouse.

TROUSERS

First I dyed the dress navy blue – it was mostly viscose so the normal Dylon hand dye took quite well and it didn’t matter that it was beige.


I then sewed 2 parallel lines from the hem upwards, with the right sides together, to roughly where my crotch was when I held the dress up with the hem on the ground. I then cut between the 2 lines and voila, I had trouser legs! I then tried them on, sewed a better bum curve. I then sewed a large hem channel at the top and threaded some elastic through  – I know elasticated waisted trousers are not super accurate for Miss Fisher, but these will become my ‘lounging around the house’ trousers, so at least they’ll get some more wear!

CAMISOLE

Again, I started by dying the skirt – I put it (and the blouse) in the same dye as the dress, knowing that because they were both synthetic that the dye might not take as well, but it didn’t take at all! Luckily Instagram came to my rescue and a couple of people told me about Rit Dyemore Synthetic dye. I ordered this in navy blue (to match the trousers) but this was as dark as it went.

First I cut off the elastic, and saved it in my stash to use on another project in the future. I turned the skirt upside down, so the lace on the hem was at the top. I then pinned and sewed new side seams and trimmed off the extra fabric, to use as the straps. I cut 2 strips 5cm wide, then sewed them with a 1.5cm seam allowance so they ended up 1cm wide.

I then stitched the straps on the back, put the top on and pinned the straps where they needed to sit on the front and stitched them in place.

I made the camisole because often in Miss Fisher you can see through her very thin blouses that she is wearing one underneath – I guess it was also underwear in the 20s – but my blouse was too thick to see it so I didn’t really need it, but you live and learn!

BLOUSE

After dying the blouse and petticoat supposedly navy blue they looked like this:

Then after the synthetic dye – which involved cooking the whole lot for over an hour – it looked like this, which was an improvement, but sadly not the colour I was after. The outfit I was basing it on was black, but I was going for navy but then it was this light grey-ish blue.

I unpicked most of the blouse – which took a while because it was all overlocked! I unpicked the collar and placket, and then sewed a new centre front seam to get rid of the extra fabric from the placket. I then used the scout tee as the basis for the new shape of the back and front, but I made the front a v-neck. I then sewed the sleeves back in, and used the yoke which I’d removed from the back to make a facing, understitching it to try to make it lie on the inside.

This is the blouse I was basing mine on so I decided to make the pattern on the fabric myself, since I didn’t find a garment with the right kind of geometric pattern on.  I remembered seeing this blog post on Tilly’s blog by the lovely Zeena Shah so I bought some dylon fabric paint. And I thought an empty spool of thread would be the perfect thing to approximate the circles on the original blouse.

Again, because the fabric was so synthetic, the paint didn’t take as brightly white as it would have if it was a natural fibre, but I think the effect was okay.


I used the 2 halves of the collar as the scarves down the sides of the blouse, and although it’s the wrong colour, I think it looks okay as a copy.


I’m pretty proud of the fact that this tiny pile of scraps is all I had left from the above 3 garments!

HAT

I initially thought I was going to be able to make up a hat by myself, but after doing a bit of research, I discovered someone else had also made the Miss Fisher hat and coat and she used the Sybil pattern by Elsewhen Millinery so I downloaded it and am so glad I did!


(image source)

There is a lot of topstitching on her hat – and that was definitely the part that took the longest! That and working out if I had enough fabric to squeeze the hat pieces onto. I used every scrap I had – the fabric I cut off the hem of the coat, both lining and main fabric, and the big flap from the back of the original coat. Apart from the buttons on the coat, and the elastic in the trousers, the only other new thing I used was interfacing for the hat. All of the main pieces are interfaced and one side of the brim is.

I found my tailor’s ham had an additional use by allowing me to pin the lining to the outer of the hat. The lining overhangs a little, which it’s supposed to.

To stiffen the brim a little – I thought it would be too floppy with nothing, but I didn’t want it to be really stiff – I remembered I had this wire stuff from when I made my Doc Brown costume. It was perfect!

I put 2 rows in and sewed another couple of lines of topstitching, each with a 1cm seam allowance. I can definitely recommend this pattern if you want to make a 20s style hat. I did make a change to the shape of the brim and made it a bit wider at the back, though it was still a little narrower at the back than the front.

COAT

The coat was, obviously, the main task for my refashioners project. First I unpicked everything!

I even unpicked the welts from the pockets.

I also unpicked the collar, which it turned out was unneccessary – Miss Fisher’s coat doesn’t have a collar stand, but I thought I would have to resize the original collar since I had resized the rest of the coat so much, but weirdly the collar fitted in its original size!

Miss Fisher’s coat has big patch pockets, so I placed some fabric behind the holes from the welt pockets to try to repair the holes – knowing the holes themselves would be covered with the patch pockets.

This is what it looked like from the front when I’d finished the repair.

I then made new pockets from a piece of the coat which I no longer needed – I can’t remember what it originally was, though.

I used the original welt from the pockets as the flap on the top of the new pockets – handy!

The adjustments I made to the body of the coat were:

  • resewed the back seam, removing the excess fabric from the original vent, with an extra 2cm taken out.
  • Stitched the raglan sleeves back in, with an extra 2cm seam allowance at the front and the back.
  • Stitched the underarm and side seam, as one, with an extra 2cm seam allowance, then stitched again with another extra 2.5cm.
  • I did all of this with the lining too, though it had set-in sleeves instead of raglan sleeves.
  • I cut 7cm off each of the coat fronts and off the facings, and then stitched the facings back on. I ended up cutting off all the original button holes, which was handy!
  • I then reattached the collar.
  • I then sewed the lining back in, fudging it where it didn’t quite fit any more – It miraculously did fit quite well, it was just at the front where I had changed it from double breasted to single breasted, where it needed some tweaking.
  • I cut 23cm off the length of the coat, off the shell and the lining, then bagged it out.
  • I cut 8cm off the sleeves and used the great Grainline method for attaching sleeve linings and shells.
  • I also used the original shoulder tabs as the tabs on the cuffs of the sleeves.

The final things was to make new button holes and sew on the new buttons, which I got from my local sewing shop.

This is all I had left from the coat and hat refashion. There is a bit more than I thought, but it’s mostly thin strips which I shaved off each seam, and some bits left over from the larger pieces after cutting out the hat. Not bad, though, I don’t think!

Phew! If you’ve read all of that, you deserve a medal. If you’ve skipped ahead to just look at the photos, I don’t blame you!

I took the blouse off so you could see the camisole underneath, but it looks so, so wrinkled – sorry! It was actually sticking to me, it’s so synthetic, so it may not be a top that gets much wear when it’s hot, but it would be good for layering when it’s a bit chilly.

I especially like the back view – it’s a distinctive silhouette and I think I look quite like her! (Obviously when you can see my face, the illusion is less complete!)

I couldn’t not have an outtake from all the ‘walking towards the camera’ shots. You. Are. Welcome!

I really didn’t mean to be posting this so close to the deadline, but I’m not surprised! Everything always takes me longer than I think it will.

Did you do a refashioners project?

 

 

Coral Anderson Blouse

When I bought this gorgeous fabric from Guthrie and Ghani (I think in around April), I planned to make an Anderson Blouse (by Sew Over It) and I’m glad I’ve finally finished it! It’s a crepe fabric and it has a really nice drape – though I think it might have been a little too thick for this pattern as the gathers on the shoulders and then hem look a bit bulky, but not so much that I won’t wear it loads.

I’ve really liked coral as a colour for quite a while – I wanted to make the jacket I eventually made in mustard for a wedding in coral but couldn’t find any good fabric. Also it’s one of those colours that’s not one colour – it’s anything from orange to pink, but this fabric is the perfect shade for me.

I think the pattern says to put ribbon through the hem, but I decided to use elastic instead – I almost wasn’t going to put anything through, but there was a bit too much fabric around the hem, even for my baggy-top-loving taste.

I made this blouse in the size 8 and made only one fitting change, which was to cut 1.5cm off the shoulder of the top (and not off the top of the sleeve). This is because the sleeve was too long on my arm, because the shoulder seam was quite far down my arm and I thought I could fix the sleeve length by raising it up by moving the shoulder seam. I used the pattern pieces to take the 1.5cm off, to make sure the arm hole was the same size as before, so I knew the sleeve would still fit.

I added a popper/snap to the neckline as I had heard the pattern gapes quite a lot, and I’m glad I did – the 2 sides of the top are only attached at the bottom, where they go into the hem, so it would definitely gape without the popper. I’ve still worn it with a vest top underneath just in case of accidental flashing!

This is my sort of outtake for this post! I was trying to show the cuffs and the buttons – which are ones I took off my raglan tee refashion top and were a perfect colour match for this top, hurray! But I ended up looking a bit like Mr Burns. I was going for a Tom Hiddleston pose – anyone else notice he often poses holding his cufflinks (or where cufflinks would be, assuming he’s not always wearing them)?

Although I found the instructions a little confusing at times – mostly because I was low on colour ink so the photos didn’t print properly, and the photos really do help to ‘illustrate’ the instructions – I think I would make this top again. It’s a good, slightly smarter top for work. I would use a lighter weight fabric next time, though.

 

 

Robert Kaufman Aster Blouse

I feel like it’s been a while since I made something I didn’t totally like, so I guess I was due a ‘meh’ make and unfortunately it’s made from some beautiful Robert Kaufman fabric (called Storm Drown I think) which I got from Guthrie and Ghani when I went shopping in Birmingham a couple of months ago.

I definitely think part of the problem was my fabric choice – it’s quite a stiff cotton, and I think the Colette Aster would do better in a fabric with a bit more drape – even a slightly more drapey cotton would probably improve things.

But there is also the problem that I obviously did something rather wrong when sewing the button bands as the blouse ended up really quite big on me – hence the sad/perplexed photo below! You can also just about see in this photo that the neckline does not go to a point, but is flat where the button bands meet. It is not meant to look like this.

Of course, since it’s not a super fitted make, I didn’t try it on until I’d totally finished it – lesson definitely learned for next time! I made the size 6.

I did realise, though, that it fit much better – like the darts were vaguely near my boobs which they hadn’t been before – if I folded the button bands back by each band’s width (if that makes sense?!). I think my mistake was to not turn them back on themselves enough times, so the shirt ended up too wide.

So after finishing the whole blouse, I took off the buttons and turned the bands on both sides back on themselves and top-stitched them again! I then re-did the button holes – which was super fun given how much my machine enjoys sewing them, not! Then I stitched the buttons back on and there was definitely an improvement.

I don’t think the neckline sits very nicely on me, though. Again, this could be because of my fabric choice, I don’t know. I don’t generally wear or make things with v-necks so I probably could have guessed this might not be the best shape on me,  but I was seduced by the versions in the pattern photos, particularly the long-sleeved (I think) chambray one – it looks really chic on the model.

I dislike the back neckline less than the front, though it does look a bit weird to have all the shirt shapes like a yoke and pleat, but no collar!

I did learn a new skill making this blouse, though, and that was to make my own bias binding using a great tutorial by one of my sewing crushes, Helen from Stitch My Style. It meant I had loads of bias binding, so I’ve still got some to use next time I’m making something and don’t realise I don’t have any shop bought stuff and can’t be as lazy as usual! I don’t have one of those gadget things for making bias binding, so that is definitely now on my to-buy list!

Aside from the neckline sitting a bit funny, one of the other things I’m not super keen on with this pattern is the sleeve length. For some reason they feel a bit frumpy – they’re not proper short sleeves or 3/4 length sleeves, they finish literally at my elbow and I don’t know why, but I don’t really love it 😦

I’ve been wearing it (yes, even though I don’t love it, I’ve still worn it a couple of times for work) with the little cuffs folded up and I feel like even that little change makes a bit of a difference – it’s probably all in my head, but never mind!

So all in all this was a semi successful make, which I don’t think is helped any by my looking quite washed out and tired in these photos! Luckily I have some of the fabric left so hopefully I can make something a bit more successful from the leftovers – it’s a shame to waste such lovely fabric on something I don’t totally love. And to think I was moaning that I didn’t have much to say about some of my recent makes, because they’ve been relatively simple and successful. I guess the lesson is be careful what you wish for!

 

Outtake! Mid-blink. And what is my hand doing!?

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Tilly and the Buttons Mimi Blouse

I was lucky enough to get a copy of Tilly and the Buttons‘ book Love At First Stitch for free from a publisher at my old job. I also was lucky enough to go to the launch at Drink, Make, Do waaaay back in May I think. I like quite a lot of the patterns in the book, as I mentioned in my review, and I decided quite a while ago that the first pattern I would be the Mimi Blouse.

Love-At-First-Stitch-7I did make my blouse quite soon after getting the book, but have only just got around to writing up the make!

Mimi-Blouse-1I made the size 1 and accidentally traced the wrong size of the yoke, so couldn’t get the pattern to go together and tried for ages to work out why it didn’t work, until I finally figured out I’d cut out the wrong size! Duh! Rookie error.

The fabric is yet another ‘remnant’ that I got some Rolls and Rems in Holloway Road. I’m not sure what the fabric is, but it’s got a quite nice drape but is quite thin. It also marks super easily, and any pin marks seemed to be pretty permanent, so I made sure all my pins were inside the seam allowance. I love, love, love this fabric – it reminds me of Orla Kiely, who I love! Also, this was quite a big length, so this is not the last time you’ll see this on my blog!

Mimi-Blouse-3I made one or two little changes. One was to use calico instead of interfacing, as I didn’t have any interfacing in my stash. I thought this would be fine – and it may have been if i had already pre-washed the calico, which I didn’t bother to do as I generally use the calico for muslins or other makes which aren’t going to be washed. As soon as I washed the blouse, the calico shrunk and make the front of the blouse a bit puckered and wrinkled, which is a shame. But I’ve learned my lesson – I won’t substitute interfacing again in the future! You can see in the below photo the front doesn’t sit flat and the collar is a bit odd. I might try to unpick some of the seams and take out the calico. Any tips on how to do this without having to completely unpick and re-make the blouse?

Mimi-Blouse-4The buttons were in my stash and came off my parrot shirt refashion. I think they go a lot better here than they did on the shirt!

The other change I made involved the sleeves. As I mentioned with my stripey Colette Laurel dress, I seem to have bigger arms that the rest of me would dictate in sewing pattern sizing. I made the size 1 sleeves, with the pleats and cuffs/facing…….and couldn’t get them on. So I traced off the size 2 and made the sleeves again…….and still couldn’t get them on! Not sure what is up with my arms – maybe they are really freakishly fat?! I don’t care if that is the case, it’s just mildly irritating to have to redraft sleeves. I decided to leave it as the size 2 and leave off the pleat and cuff/facing, so I just have plain sleeves, which I hemmed with a small hem.

Mimi-Blouse-5I also took 4cm off the length and then did a hem of 2cm folded up twice. I’m not really sure why I took it up so much – it did end up quite short. If I make this again, I would just do a normal hem and leave it with a bit more length.

I do still like this pattern and the fabric, in spite of all the errors on my part and changing the sleeves, I really like the collar and the gathers on the shoulders – there are some unique design elements, which make this pattern interesting.

Mimi-Blouse-2

Gingham Colette Violet

A friend of mine gave me some fabric she had lying around and wasn’t going to use, so she gave it to me. I had it for quite a while and then thought it was perfect for a Colette Violet blouse. This pattern has been on my list to make for ages, and I’m definitely going to make at least one more in the future.

Gingham-Violet-5I love this gingham! I don’t wear red a huge amount – despite trying to wear red and knitting my Miette cardigan in red, I don’t feel like it’s super flattering on me. This fabric, though, isn’t all red, so I feel like it’s fine.

Gingham-Violet-7I made the effort to match the stripes going across (unlike for my GBSB Boyfriend shirt, where I just didn’t even think of pattern matching!). It’s pretty close across the front. I thought about trying to match the downwards stripes too, and it kind of worked on the front, but I’m out by one square in the repeat.

At the side seams I didn’t bother matching the stripes vertically, just horizontally.

Gingham-Violet-11I made a straight size 0, with no changes – I love loose fitting patterns for this reason! As long as it’s vaguely the right size, there aren’t huge fitting issues usually. The only change I did make was to use 6 buttons instead of 7 as that’s how many I already had in my stash. I spaced them at every 10cm.

It looks equally good tucked into a skirt (in this case my Navy Simplicity 2451) and loose with jeans. Cue loads of photos!

Gingham-Violet-1Gingham-Violet-2Gingham-Violet-4Gingham-Violet-6I thought the instructions were really clear and there was a handy tip for sewing the hem at the button band facing, so that it looks like the below – basically the hem goes inside the facing, rather than having to turn up the facing and have a really thick hem.

Gingham-Violet-10I sewed in one of my labels, of course.

Gingham-Violet-9

Gingham-Violet-3

So this was quite a quick and thrifty make as I was given the buttons and the fabric. All I had to buy was the pattern – and if I make it multiple times, then the cost of the pattern goes down per make. I bought the patter from Ray Stitch, who stock basically all the independent pattern labels, meaning I don’t have to wait for postage when I’m feeling impatient! I currently have about 6 independent patterns I’ve bought from them that I still need to make up – I’m going to ban myself from buying any more patterns or fabric until I’ve made up a lot of what I already have!