Anna Costume, Embroidering The Bodice

So I finally finished making the muslin for the bodice. I ended up using a sewing pattern and heavily modifying it. I happened to have this one, Simplicity 2813, laying around and it was a decent fit, if a bit boxy.

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I added a few inches to the body, and tweaked the hips and shoulders. I also changed the neckline and the back of it. And most obviously, I left off the skirt. Here’s a quick shot of the muslin just so you can get an idea of what it looks like.

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It’s exactly what I wanted. Although in the end I decided to leave out the center seam, even if Anna’s bodice has one (and it does), just cause I didn’t want any issues with the embroidery.

I purchased a nice cotton velveteen at JoAnnes and was lucky enough to get it on sale so it only cost me about $10 total and I bought a yard and a half. It does fray and drop pile quite a bit, but that’s sort of what happens with these fabrics. So I basted the edges to keep anything horrific from happening and tried my best not to touch it. I think it went fairly well.

Now to do the embroidery on this was a bit tricky. There are a lot of designs and obviously trying to get them all to fit into a single hoop just isn’t realistic. So I had to hoop each design separately (except for the center front design, I merged those two with my software). It was a pain getting everything exactly perfectly right. I think I was getting super tired towards the end and it’s why my only slip ups were on the back pieces. Even then, the difference between the two sides is minor. And getting them to be mirror images really isn’t possible without me going grey. So if something’s off a couple millimeters I’m fine just living with it.

I tried making my own designs and it was not going well. I really did try my best but I’m still very, very new to this software. So I ended up buying my designs. They were very inexpensive and the woman I purchased them from was kind enough to offer a discount when I asked. If anyone’s interested, I bought them from OCDEmbroidery on Etsy. Here’s a shot of my tests, they came out really well so I didn’t bother to do the opposite side (please ignore the back right shoulder design, it says right but it should say left, oops).

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Just as a quick note, you will not see the back design in her shop. That was a custom order. She does have a different one available that I think is very pretty. Also, she may still be able to make that one if you ask. I believe the boot designs I had her make are now available in her shop, so it’s possible this one will pop up too. All I can say is I hope to become as good at this as her someday. She managed to make both of my requests in just hours!

Anyways, after I was certain everything would stitch out properly I cut out my fabric. Here’s a shot of all the pieces.

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At first I thought about just marking the fabric, embroidering it, then cutting it our once the designs were on there. I think that would have worked too. But I’m happy enough with the way I ultimately did things.

Hooping the fabric was an ordeal. Basically because you can’t actually hoop it without ruining it. The pressure would cause something known as hoop burn, and it’s not reversible on this type of fabric. So I had to do what’s called “float” the fabric. What I did was hoop a piece of stabilizer, then I measured where I wanted my fabric to go based on where the design would stitch out. Then I used a piece of this water soluble stabilizer on top. That keeps the embroidery from getting sucked too far down into the nap and helps it to sit on top better. It looks better with it, just trust me. To keep everything from shifting I found I had to pin, it was just non negotiable. I pinned in the seam allowance or places that will be covered by trim whenever possible. I also did a basting stitch. I actually found the basting stitch to be a great help when it came to lining up designs. I would just do one, or part of one and then use the marks on the top stabilizer to tell me where I needed to put the fabric so both sides looked the same.

Here’s what my velveteen sandwich looks like.

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For the most part it pulls off cleanly. But for any tiny little pieces I can just steam them off or rinse this in a bit of water and it’ll all melt away. My fabric is cotton and machine washable so I’ll probably just toss it into the machine when I’m finished. You can see the basting stitch here as well. It’s great if you really can’t use pins at all, but I was lucky and they didn’t seem to leave marks. So I kept using them.

Finally here’s a shot of all the pieces embroidered.

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This fabric attracts lint like there’s no tomorrow but I don’t care. It’s so soft and lovely and the embroidery looks so good on it. Right after I post this I plan to haul my serger out of the closet and get to work assembling it. I am lining it cause you really can’t leave velvet or velveteen unlined, it just doesn’t look right. While my machine was embroidering these I took that time to cut the lining fabric and transfer my marks. I need to transfer the marks for the darts onto the velveteen and it should go together fairly quickly. I expect the most issues will come with attaching the trim. It’s a gold “something”, I’m not really sure what it’s made of, but I know it’ll look good if I can get it on there. We shall see. The zipper shouldn’t be an issue. I bought a basic black separating zipper and I’m actually really good at installing all types of zippers. I absolutely hate doing them, but it’s apparently my special skill. Go figure.

My next post will be showcasing my fabulous new bodice. I can’t wait, so I’d better get to work!

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