Dawn's Costume Guide


Because one pirate costume isn't enough!


It's renfest, who needs research?


This is a stash project. Most of what I am going to use is a leftover from another project, or was bought as a remnant. [photo]

I should not need to buy anything, but if I do it will likely come from Joann's or Hancocks, since that's what we have here, and time is short.


  • red, blue, and gold striped upholstery brocade
  • red cotton gauze (drapery scrim)
  • black oriental poly brocade and fringe
  • pleated gold silk shot with black
  • black silk designer sample


    August 18, 2009

    The plan is to wear new costumes to renfest the first weekend of September, which the faire has designated "Pirate weekend". It's worth noting that Labor Day weekend is also usually the hottest weekend of the summer here in Kansas and temps are expected to reach 100 F. So my green velvet frock coat from my other costume just is not going to work.

    Tara and I have decided to revamp our old costumes into something more wearable for the heat, and try for a more disreputable style this time.

    I have two and a half weeks to get this done, which should not be a big problem for me, as I have practically nothing else going on during this time. Most of the design and idea work I did a couple of weeks ago, before I went off to GenCon. So most of what is left is sewing.

    Here is the plan. I'm starting with Simplicity 3629. It's got cute, long line corset-vests that are just the sort of thing I want to do. They are sleeveless, too, which should help in the heat. I'm going to move the opening to the front and use laces or hooks for fastening. Since I'm not a mini-skirt kind of girl, I'm planning to wear the requisite two skirts with the vest -- my old red paisley gypsy skirt, and a new one made out of the red cotton scrim. I dug out a piece of black oriental patterned brocade that I will use for a new sash. A little cheap black fringe on the end should glam it up nicely. If I have time, I will make myself a new chemise. Something with fabulous drop sleeves would be cool...

    So far today I spent the morning getting fabrics ready and started the ironing. First up is the pleated silk. Some of you may remember this fad from back around 1999. It showed up in fabric stores, was about $20 a yard and nobody knew what to do with it. Shortly after it ended up in the remnant bin at much cheaper prices and I bought a bunch of it. I thought I could iron it and use it like regular silk dupioni, but the pleats don't really come out, even after it is flattened. Nonetheless, it makes a great lining fabric since it is smooth, lightweight, and nobody will see it.

    August 19, 2009

    Worked on the project from a couple different angles today. Took the car and went down to Hancock Fabrics and did a little shopping. Tara and I had gone a week or two ago to look for striped fabric. We hit every fabric store within a 20 mile radius and came up with nothing. You wouldn't think red or black striped fabric would be THAT hard to find. Anyway, I noticed Hancocks had a bunch of cotton-linen blends on sale for half price and I was tempted to buy some but didn't because I have several bolts at home already.

    Well, I went back today, the last day of the sale and bought two 1.5 yard pieces to be made into early 18th century vests for the guys. One for each husband. I need to get mine to try on the vest from our last pirate project, the one he's never worn, and see if it still fits. I still have the muslin pattern for that.

    I had already copied my pattern onto tissue, so today I spent some time making a muslin copy of that and basting it together for a test fit. I am so glad I did, as the pattern size I cut is too small. And this is after adding 1" to each of the front and back center seams. I think I am also going to add some gussets into the side back seams, in imitation of a frock coat.

    August 26, 2009

    Been a busy couple of days, and I even got some sewing done. I cut the lining and fabric over the weekend and got my vest (that's what the pattern calls it) assembled. Monday I put boning up the front, and spent the afternoon picking sequins off my black fairy skirt.

    Tuesday Tara came over and we worked on getting her sailor's slops fitted. Had to make two muslin mock-ups, but the 2nd one worked and she cut the lining to use as a pattern. I hemmed my vest.

    Today I gathered my red scrim into a ribbon waistband so it can be worn as a skirt. I want to find a good puddle to drag it through so I can 'distress' the hemline a bit and make it look dirty. It's easier to be a scruffy pirate if your clothing doesn't look brand new. I may have to create my own puddle because we haven't had enough rain to leave any.

    August 28, 2009

    My husband's hat came. I ordered it last week from the same place I got my last one, Lady MacSnood.

    August 30, 2009

    Went shopping again yesterday. I want to make a jeweled pendant. Tara lent me some polymer clay, all I needed was a large glass cabochon jewel. I might as well have been looking for Martian fossils. It seems that the only thing the chain stores carry is beads. If it is more complicated than that, like jewelry settings, they don't have it. Soooo.... plan B is to use some plastic jewels from my stash and make something from that. We'll see.

    Trimmed the hat today. It's black and I bought some narrow black braid to put on it, but since black doesn't show up well against black, I also bought some thin organza ribbon in a silver color to put under it for contrast. I used a running stitch to tack the two pieces of trim together and then fabric glued it around the edge of the hat, holding it in place with wooden clothespins until dry. I love clothespins as fabric clamps for projects like that.

    It's beginning to look like our weather this week is going to be unseasonably cool. It's been about 20F below normal this weekend (not complaining!) and it looks like it is going to hold for the rest of the week, only warming up to about 80 by the opening date of the faire.

    August 31, 2009

    It was a busy day! I finished my husbands vest (hemming, buttons, buttonholes) and went on and put a lining in his new hat. I had some lovely oatmeal colored linen scraps that I used on the hat... after picking out all the pretty floral embroidery all over it. That went faster than I expected, since much of it just pulled out once I cut some threads.

    There was enough leftover linen to make a pair of stuff sacks for the guys to carry their personal things in. Should be able to finish those tomorrow.

    I still have to finish my vest, hem the arm holes and put hooks up the front. Tara says I should trim it, too, but at this point I don't have any ideas.

    September 5, 2009

    It's been a crazy couple of days. I finished hemming the arms on my vest on Thursday, and Friday I sewed in the hooks and bars to close it in front. I was able to do the hook part with the machine so I only had to do the bars by hand.

    I also got some work done on my jeweled necklace. Using the polymer clay I made a fitting that would hold the various shaped stones I had (are they still stones if they're plastic?). I had to bake it in 3 or 4 stages, so I wouldn't ruin it by mashing parts I had made while trying to do other parts. And I got to do this in between drying slices of tomato and peppers from the garden, since you can't bake clay and food at the same time.

    Friday night at 10pm I decided I hated my old chemise and should make a new one. I had been wrestling with this idea all week and of course waited until the last minute to actually do something. The front of the vest is pretty low cut and it's square, while my chemise neckline sits a little higher and is round. So I got out some pre-washed muslin and started cutting it up. And since it was late I had trouble with it and couldn't figure out how to keep the front horizontal and the sleeves in place.

    So Saturday (today, the day of the faire) I got up and went right back to work on it, having figured it out in my sleep, sort of. With a new design for the sleeves and some safety pins I got it to work pretty much as intended. I also finished gluing in my jewels for the necklace, and I got compliments on it. Found my boots, and eventually my pouch (never leave important stuff like that for the day of) and off we went.

    We got to the festival late, but well dressed. It was a near perfect day. We got rained on twice, once lightly and once less lightly, but both were short events.

  • All text and artwork copyright 1990 - 2003 D. Duperault. NOTHING on this site may be reproduced or distributed by any means without my written permission. This information offered in good faith, and worth only what you paid for it.
    Send me e-mail

    Help Keep this Site Online