Saturday, April 28, 2012

18th Century Summer Ensemble

Sometimes, there have to be advantages to working in the textile industry. This week, as they were cleaning out old samples at my work, I snatched this IKEA Duvet cover and pillowcase set for just 5$.

IKEA Duvet cover

As a general rule, it is not really my style for home décor, but the print immediately struck me as perfect for a summery 18th century number. The duvet cover is about 150 cm wide by 200cm long (60” x 80”) with both sides printed: plenty of material for a skirt and jacket with short basque.

Since this product is still sold in store apparently, and for only 19.99$, I could also get a second set to expand my choice of patterns for this dress. 25$ for  metres of material would still be a good deal. We'll see.

I am now looking at pictures of similar dresses to inspire me.

Keira Knightley as Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, The Duchess (2008)
Costume design by Michael O'Connor 

This is another project for 2013. I do not plan on making any period maternity wear for this year, and besides, I am only halfway through this pregnancy and I am constantly exhausted (the fabric for my Titanic “Sink” dress has been waiting for me to cut it for 3 weeks – I don’t think this project is happening anytime soon). But planning for costumes is half the fun, so why should I deny myself this pleasure?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Audrey Parker's coming back

Of all TV show types, I prefer SciFi. So lately, I’ve been watching the 4 seasons of The 4400 (it is frustration that this show was cancelled – I could have watched more seasons). There are very few costumes in this series other than in the first episode, when we see people in their original timelines, before they are taken, but in season 4, one episode struck my costumer’s chord: Audrey Parker come and gone (2007).

The character of Audrey Parker is an old woman who can astral project herself wherever she wishes. Her astral self is a younger version or herself, from her glory days of traveling the world and hanging out with the crème de la crème, in the 50’s.

And I love her look.

I am really thinking of making this (after my pregnancy that is, and when I no longer have to constantly breastfeed). Maybe for Christmas 2013. In the meantime, here is my little research on this costume.


The dress has a front and back “V” neckline, short sleeves, and a typically 50’s poufy skirt held up by a crinoline. The neckline and waist are decorated with a sequined band. The perfect pattern for this dress is (in my opinion) Vogue 2903 (from 1957).

The neckline of view B is perfect, and I can adjust the sleeve’s length to something I feel comfortable with (I prefer short sleeves to reach just above my elbow). Material to use would be red satin for the dress, and sequined ribbon for the neckline and belt.

Crinoline Petticoat

A crinoline is key for this era’s look and this type of dress. The crinoline worn by Laura Mennell, who plays the young Audrey Parker, is black. I am still looking for the perfect pattern or tutorial to make a period crinoline, but it does not look too complicated. Vixen Vintage has a great post on how to choose an appropriate petticoat, which you can find here.


I’m not sure rounded toe shoes are period, and those heels don’t look too high, but I think I could get away with a pair of black fashion flats. That is, if I still can’t wear high heels by then; otherwise, I have a pair of black pointed sling backs which look very much like the one’s in the Vogue pattern’s illustration.


This bolero looks like it is made of some sort of knit fabric. As I do not knit, I would either make it from knit velour, or use this ThreadBanger tutorial to make one from a thrifted black sweater.


If you notice in some of the pictures, she is wearing short gloves which I believe are lace. Generally, those can be found around Prom time in fashion accessories’ stores like Ardène or Claires.


At first I thought that the astral projected Audrey wore the diamond necklace we see in the beginning, but it seems her jewellery is darker and made of a series of tear drop dangles. I looked through the differed sets offered on my favourite costume jewellery e-store, yoNEED – I have a set from there that has the perfect shape, but it is yellow crystals and gold, and I would look more for something silver and black or red. Unfortunately, they no longer carry this model. Instead, I found a vintage hematite necklace on eBay that would be perfect.

As for earrings, I have some tear drop black paste earrings that might do.


If I was going to use this outfit for Cosplay, I would need a dark brown wig to get the proper look. If it is just for my 1950’s pleasure, I can stay a blond. I was never really good with hairstyles, but this looks a bit like a pageboy hairdo (correct me if I’m wrong). I found a great tutorial on YouTube on how to achieve a look similar to the one in the picture. 

So there you have it: all my research and thoughts on this costume. Like I said, I am not about to start making it, but I do like to go through the exercise of planning – it keeps me sane. For now, I will just file it to my wishlist.