The Forest Sprite Costume

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The forest sprite costume was my first official costume piece. Before it, I had spent a few weeks sewing skirts, dresses, and a shirt or two, learning the basics of sewing, and figuring out what I was doing. All patterns were completely hand-drafted by me. All together, it took about 10 hours of planning and mock-ups, and 20 hours of actual sewing and work.

I don’t have good pictures of the construction process, since I made this costume before my blog was started, but I’m going to try to use the best of the ones I have on my phone, and also use finished pictures to show the process.

The shirt of the costume is quite simple – it’s two rectangular pieces of fabric, with fake leaves hand sewn on. The back is shirred (I took the measurement of the area between my shoulder blades, subtracted two inches for good measure, and then doubled the number I was left with). This allowed it to have some stretch and fit snugly, while still not fit too tightly and lose the unfitted and thrown together look of a sprite.

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(Excuse the fact that you can see the seam – I have a funny shoulder-blade that I often have to pop back in, and I did so and popped out the seam without realizing until AFTER I had already taken the costume off!)

The ruffle at the bottom was intentional, mostly because I love ruffles, and also because I didn’t want the bulkiness of a piece of elastic there.

The skirt was a process in itself, and (not counting mock-up time, as I had to revise the shirt a few times) was probably the bit of the outfit that took the longest. It is made of upwards of 15 yards of tulle, each cut into approximately 5 inch wide pieces of tulle. Each one was cut to the length of my waist to my knee multiplied by 2, and then folded over onto a waistband. This process was made shorter by figuring out the system pretty early on of marking the length using painters tape on my kitchen  counter, and then cutting in between those lines to get the right lengths, before cutting the strips).

Although it included no actual sewing, the cutting and folding process was lengthy, and then hand sewing the leaves on also added to that, as I was very picky about where they were placed.

Skirt Progress

You can see that in the middle I didn’t really take any pictures, but you can see from the amount of volume in the first two pictures, to the final picture, that were was a lot of strips. The over skirt is a large triangle that is closed with a press stud, so it folds over itself. It it tucked into the waistband of the skirt, and also had a border of leaves.

Next came the flower crown. My first attempt at this was utterly miserable, and I abandoned it. I used florists tape, and only florists tape, and the weight simply couldn’t be supported on the tiny piece of wire. I learned my lesson, and instead created a better base by wrapping layers of florists wire, and then attaching the flowers with a mixture of wire and tape. The end result was this:

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The crown tied at the back for size adjusting. It used 3 different kinds of flowers, and ivy leaves to match the top and skirt.

I had planned to finish the costume after this (especially after I found that pretty wig I am wearing in my box of wigs, and found that it went perfectly), but it looked incomplete. After taking a few mirror selfies and becoming more and more dissatisfied, I hand sewed an armband and an anklet out of tulle, and then layered them in leaves and flowers and hand sewed those on, too. Both closed with press studs, hidden by the leaves.

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(Here is an awkward foot phone selfie on a very loud quilt background).

I finished the armband and anklet at about midnight, and the next day (or that day, depending on how you look at it), I  got up, waited for the afternoon light, and proceeded to take a bunch of photos sporting bright green eye-shadow and very pink blush, something I do not normally wear on a day-to-day basis but for some reason had lying around.

Forest Sprite back and front

Overall, I was really pleased with this costume. Not only was it my first attempt at something completely of my own design, it also was my first attempt at pattern drafting, and my first experience of the rewards and frustrations of design (the former of which there will hopefully be many more to come!). The costume, although not technically very difficult, was time-consuming and a very good learning experience. And hey, it looked impressive in the end, and isn’t that all that matters? 😉

Inara

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