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Dawn's Costume Guide


Carnival Showgirl

March 13, 2013

Started planning. The convention is carnival/circus themed so I wanted to do something suitable for that. Have known about this for a year and done nothing. Spent the day browsing the internet for ideas.

The inspiration artwork for the show shows the company mascot dressed in shorts, a bustier, ringmaster's coat, with a riding crop and steampunk top hat, and I think those are meant to be fishnet stockings. So I decide to start there.

Some internet images:

Good old Trashy.com has an outfit that almost gets it. Bustier, stockings, top hat. Not quite circus-y though. And a cute top hat.

Someone on Etsy is selling this pink and black burlesque costume. I like the "showgirl" feel of it.

Net bustles/butt poufs seem to be a thing.

Stockings! OMG I want these so bad for my costume. I spend days searching for these but the only internet source for them seems to have dried up. I find different styles on Ebay and order them.

Once again, the plan is to do this from stash as much as possible. I pull out some fabrics (why do I have so much red?) and feathers and this is what it looks like.

I look through my patterns and this is what I decide to use:

Simplicity 1819, a "Steampunk" costume has a bustier and a delightfully ruffly overskirt. Sort of saloon/show girl-ish.

Simplicity 2525, it looks pretty wacky but it has THE ringmaster's coat that I want.

And for DH, McCall's 6143 or the man's tailcoat.


I bought some boring black pumps at the thrift store and spray primed them, then sprayed them red. They will end up getting covered in red glitter.

March 24

I start with DH's coat. I figured I would get his done first and then if necessary I can pull my costume together with duct tape and safety pins at the last minute. I only have 3 weeks until the con. Didn't have sufficient yardage in black cotton so I went to Joann's and found some, also bought some red poly lining material, and a yard of black cotton with skulls and roses on it in case DH wanted a new vest. He didn't.

The measurements on the pattern indicated that the "large" size was not large enough so I made a mock up in muslin to be sure. I will have to add some width across the back seam, but mostly it is not far off. I'm just taking my time with each step. There's a few new things in this pattern that I've never done before and I hate having to re-do seams. I should have everything but the hemming done tonight though.

March 26

Almost set the kitchen on fire. I've been focused on this costume skirt, it has complicated pleating in the front and I've had to mark about 2 dozen places on both sides of the fabric. I took a break to make tea, realized I did it wrong on one side and was busy trying to fix it so I didn't smell the smoke at first.... turned the wrong pan on.

I spent the afternoon fighting with the pattern instructions. They read like someone got 75% of the way done with them and then realized "Oh crap, my deadline is today!" and rushed off the last few steps, leaving more than a few things out.

I also realized that I bought some lining for this project which I do not need. Sigh. I was going to take it back, but Joann's doesn't give refunds on cut yardage. At least I bought it with a coupon, and can probably use it someday.

March 28

I'm still fighting this stupid skirt pattern. I got part of it figured out and then realized I cut the waistband about 5" too short because the markings were unclear. Argh!

I got the waistband on. I can't believe it took me all afternoon to figure it out. An hour of that was hand sewing it closed. The fabric is a very nice heavy rayon, drapes beautifully, but is very closely woven. I thought I was going to break the needle. I had to find a thimble -- haven't used one in 20 years -- to keep from driving the end of the needle into my finger.

April 4

Finished hemming and putting in the bustle on the skirt from hell. And then since I had put it in inside out, I took it apart and did it over again. You can sort of see it in this bad mirror shot. And the sexy stockings I got.

Got a test sleeve together for DH's coat. Need to get him away from the tv to try it on.

April 10

DH's coat is finished so at least one of us will have a costume for next week. I put the sleeves in backwards the first time, and it kind of pissed me off because I transferred all the markings very carefully to avoid doing just that. Sleeves hate me. Scrounged some buttons to use on the coat.

Off to fuse some lace to some satin. I got some really cool spiderweb lace cheap a few years ago, and this is the perfect project for it.


I got a few seams done and realized I was missing pattern pieces. Ugh! No telling where they are at this point so I will have to copy off new ones. (I trace the originals rather than cut them).


Still sewing. Making progress but I think it's going to take working over the weekend to get everything finished. I had a moment of panic last night when I remembered I still had to make the little coverup jacket and that I didn't have any fabric for it. I was dreading having to go out because it's a 30 minute drive (1 hour round trip) to any fabric store and I didn't have time to waste. But this morning I found something that "will do". I'm still searching for a box of costume accessories that I need. I know where it should be....but itsn't. I got my little coverup cut out. I had to, because I decided to use the same cotton as the lining in my top, and I needed to be sure there was enough fabric. So lots of pieces of stuff all over right now, nothing really assembled.

I'm also going to make something like this Her Royal Highness Fascinator | Teacup Milliner for my hair. I have all the feathers I need in my stash. I got some of those skinny red ones from christmas clearance and I'm going to use peacock feathers instead of ostrich. photo: bustier with piping


Today was two steps forward, one step back. Made good progress on the top, used up two opened packages of bias tape.... then had to run to the fabric store for one more package to do the last 2 feet. At least I was able to combine it with a trip to the grocery for the last few things we need before our trip.

Found my box of costume accessories. Yay! The hairpiece I made many years ago was looking a little sad, so I decided to pull it apart and make a hat. I didn't have to buy anything for it, got plenty in the stash. I'm aiming for something like this: Victorian Hats | How to Make a Victorian Hat I didn't need to add another project to my list of things to do, but I was heartily sick of sewing on that top so it will be a nice break.


I got to the sewing after lunch, finished the two hats. Used up a couple inches of stretch velvet, some ribbon, a few fake flowers and feathers I had in the stash. They came out very nice, I think. Then I had to make hat pins to match. I bought stuff for that years ago, 12 gold tone pins and 12 silver tone and two bags of random beads, and of course didn't use a fraction of it. So it was nice to get into that and use a little more of it.

Used up some scraps of headliner fabric I had, too. The top hat we bought for DH was too big, and a strip of headliner on the inside was just right. I also used it on the shoes I bought and painted, as they are a full size too large. Made a pair of shoe inserts, and put two layers of padding in the heel area so I don't go clomping around like I'm in mommy's heels.

Started sewing on the coverup jacket I am making. The outer fabric is sequinned, so it was a little slow going, but it is coming along nicely.

I think tomorrow I am going to start packing. I need to make a list of everything I need to do, too.


Down to the wire now. One sleeve left on the coverup. Unfortunately I have to take the seam ripper to the top I've been working on, it's too large across the bust and there's no cure but to rip it out and cut it smaller and re-sew it.


The jacket is done. I may add some tassels to it later. I put a waistband on the petticoat and stuffed it into a pillowcase. I finished the necklace I made to go with the outfit, even used a few beads from the stash. I got the corset top more or less fitting and have finished the trim on it. Just need to bind the top and bottom edges. Then I should have the evening to relax and finish packing.

Well, shortly after that last post I was looking at the jacket hanging on the door and I thought "something is off". So I got out the pattern again to look at it and, yup, I had put the wrong collar on. I hadn't noticed there were two different choices and just cut the first one I came across. Then, yes, I made a new collar and ripped the old one out and did impossible things with an inside out jacket and put the new one on.

Then DH took me for a steak dinner.

I have a 15" piece of trim to hand sew on the bodice and then it's over. Over. Done.