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).
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
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!
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!
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 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!
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.
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?