Bodge Job

Babydoll (Sucker Punch) costume

Botch job? That might make more sense. I think my spelling muscles have atrophied from years of spellcheck.

(Editor’s note: what follows is a really whiny, ranty post, heavy on the pet-peeves and largely self-created irritations. Despite the overall tone, it was really nice to spend a good chunk of time sewing—I haven’t had much time lately. But feel free to skip to something a little more cheery)

Hallowe’en sewing has been happening.

In theory, I should love Hallowe’en sewing. I love the holiday, the decorations, the costumes, everything. I love costumes in general, for pity’s sake. There’s just something about the thought of “worn only once” that I can’t shake out of my head, and it trickles down to crappy sewing. The overall look I’m happy with. The details suck balls.

An irksome skirt pattern

Let’s start with the skirt, since that’s where I started, too. The pattern is Simplicity 5084, a Lizzie McGuire pattern for a skirt in about a bajillion different options; View A was pretty much what I was going for, though. The package is for kids’ sizes 8-16, but whatever lovely soul owned it before me (and I shouldn’t complain too much since I paid less than a dollar for it, but it’s my blog and I’ll whine if I want to) cut it to the size 10. And then helpfully stuffed the cutoff little strips back in the envelope. I know I should be grateful for that, but I have to admit I find it even more irritating than just having a cut pattern set to that size in the first place. This is not terribly rational of me, I know. And ten is, technically, Tyo’s bottom-half size, so it wasn’t the end of the world.

This is not, however, the end of my irritations with the pattern. The next one comes from the drafting—there’s an identical yoke piece for front and back. Now, in my experience even children without Tyo’s particularly J-Lo-esque figures have a different shaped bottom than front. This kind of dumbed-down pattern drafting always annoys me. I traced out another version, keeping the waist the same but spreading the bottom to give it a little more room. I even managed to remember to add extra width to the pleated skirt piece when I cut it out. The fabric is a lightweight cotton denim, sturdy and nice to work with.

Poorly-executed lapped zipper

The next set of complaints are purely user error and failure-to-think-things through. I did a reasonably-successful blindstitch hem on the machine, but in hindsight I could totally have used the navy ribbon we got for trim to hide the hem—and then the ribbon would’ve been on BEFORE I topstitched the edges of the pleats down, rather than only trying to put it on after (which was really, really dumb. I think I was in Trim Denial.). Then I figured I’d try a lapped zipper. I followed the instructions from one of my vintage zippers, and basically it’s the

Lining creating weird pocket with the lapped zipper. I are speshul.

same idea as a jeans fly, except on a much narrower scale. I think it was the narrowness that befuddled me—anyway, results were not so good. Laughable, really. Although it works fine, it just isn’t pretty or well-finished. And then I couldn’t quite wrap my head around putting in the lining for the yoke, and managed to create some weird things like a part that folds over the top of the zipper. Ah, well. Costume-grade, sigh. I should’ve just put the lining in first. I should’ve done a lot of things differently, really. Live and learn, etc. The pleats didn’t come out even, either, even though I marked them off the pattern with remarkable (for me) precision.

Overall, though, it worked out. I’m very glad I added the extra width in the back. I also wound up scooping down the top of the front yoke a bit and letting out the yoke side-seams, which may have contribued to throwing off the pleats.

Simplicity 7401

The top needed to be a basic, short-sleeved, cropped top with a sailor collar. I figured pullover-the-head with elastic at the bottom. I have no idea how the tight-fitted movie version of the costume opens, but pull-over is good enough for Hallowe’en. Digging through the stash produced Simplicity 7401, which has a very basic top. My package goes up to size 8, which is technically Tyo’s upper-body size. So, whee! I traced it off, roughly measured to the length Tyo wanted, just above her belly-button—she informed me that the shorter original was too short. I’m not sure where she picked this modesty up from (especially as she’s going to be wearing a leotard, AT LEAST, underneath) but, well, I’m not going to complain. Syo doesn’t suffer from it in the least, I’ll add.

Poorly-finished V-neck with sailor-collar

Anyway, modifying to a V-neck (making sure it would be large enough to pull over the head) wasn’t too tough, nor was drafting a collar to match. Figuring out how to finish the collar—now that kinda broke my brain. A facing would probably have been a good idea, but I was lazy and just wanted to hide the seam on the outside under the collar. It worked great except for the bit at the V right in the front. I’ve never done a sailor collar before—I imagine there’s a trick to finishing the front. I could probably even have learned it if I’d bothered to do ten seconds of research. I didn’t. So it’s a bit, erm, rough. There may be some fray-check involved.

The sleeve cap-ease seemed weirdly distributed, although in hindsight that’s probably because the shoulders are supposed to have button-overlaps and I forgot to remove the extra length on the back piece.  Which is probably throwing something really off somewhere, although I think it looks fine. Teehee-whoops. Either way, there’s a fair bit of ease and denim doesn’t do ease, so I didn’t even try. There’s some weird gathering and pleating going on in the shoulders. Costume.

I did think to use my navy trim to cover the hems for the sleeves—nice, clean finish. This mock-grosgrain ribbon doesn’t go around curves as nicely as real grosgrain, but with the running stitch decoration you can tighten up the inner side and make it curve fairly nicely, which I do like.

It was determined that Tyo could, in fact, slip the thing on and off over her head, although it takes a bit of wriggling. Maybe I need to check her measurements again, although I measured her only a few weeks back. In particular, the arms seem tight. Ah, well.

Then, I decided to stitch the elastic at the bottom to the fabric, the same method Peter covers in his boxers sewalong. I’ve been meaning to try this for a while, and figured it was as good a place to try as any.

Silly, silly girl.

Erm, so this technique probably works really well with light, thin fabrics, the kind you might used for boxers. With denim, not so much. I mean it looks fine. It’s just that the elastic, which was snugly comfortable around Tyo’s ribcage when I measured it, now doesn’t pull in nearly enough, because of the thicker denim. And unlike a plain elastic casing, it’s a PITA to fix. I tried ironing with lots of steam to tighten it up (as sometimes help with shirring) and that produced a small improvement. Next step may be soaking and throwing in the dryer.

The last bit of the costume (aside from accessories like a gun with charms hanging from it and two katanas) is a neck-tie which goes under the collar and ties at the front and, mercifully, covers my nasty collar finish where it shows at the front. Yay! Even better, this  light-weight navy cotton with a little white flower-print was in stash, from the stuff my grandma gave me last summer. Even even better, there was a long, narrow, folded bit hanging off one end of the remnant that, when snipped off, was perfect for being finished into this long, narrow tie. Yay!

Buffy Sleeves

Next up: Syo’s costume. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, as cheerleader. So far, I have the sleeves! (The “black” stripe is actually blue stretch velvet I have lying around. If I get crazy ambitious, she may even get a leotard out of it.)



Filed under Sewing

31 responses to “Bodge Job

  1. I stopped reading after the disclaimer (very handy, thank you!) but I’m glad you’re sewing and having some fun with it. I’m struggling to “get my hand back in” too… It’s like life gets busy, sewing goes away, “wait, come back, sewing!”, then it’s hard to make your hands and fabric do what you want them to…

  2. Sorry, totally did not intend to sound like the evil lady who hasn’t had her coffee yet. Completely unintentional.

    I’m of the opinion that garments made to be worn once should suck balls in the details and construction department. Why should they be nice?

    (well… except I guess for wedding dresses. They should be nice…)

  3. I just keep saying to myself, “it’s just a costume, it’s just a costume.”. They’ll be adorable though, and they won’t care about wacky zippers.

  4. Pff, they will be so happy to be exactly who they want to be they won’t care about a zipper being a little odd at all. It’s still going to be a better cosutme than 99% of what is out there. I’m good for making one thing most Halloweens, but that’s about it. And if I do put real effort into it, then I want it to have potentially multiple uses. We are going to a party on Saturday night, my husbands coworker I don’t believe I’ve met. I suspect I will be recycling a costume.

    • We just got tickets for the school hallowe’en dance (there aren’t always enough to go around so we weren’t sure)… which means hubs and I should probably have some kind of costume, too. Crap. For Friday. Double crap. ooopsie…. 🙂

      Have fun at the party!

  5. Shams

    I don’t know who Babydoll is, but that’s a cute costume! You know, when my kids were little, I threw myself into their costumes. I am now enjoying NOT doing that!! Maybe I’ll be ready again if and when grandkids roll around.

    • Babydoll is the main character from Sucker Punch, a very surreal quasi-action flick that came out this past spring. The ending blows, but my kids love it anyway (the eye-candy is astounding). Anyway, she runs around kicking ass in a sailor/schoolgirl costume.

  6. I admit to reading avidly after the disclaimer. Sewing woes are better shared IMO, such a nice ranty post makes other people feel better :).
    I share your displeasure with the dumbed down Lizzie McGuire pattern. I made this once upon a time, with a new back piece, we have plenty of booty here, and I don’t know too many children with a back view the same as the front either.
    I like Katie’s costume mantra.How else could your children be exactly the character they want to be? They are lucky girls. I hope the next one goes a bit more smoothly.

    • I tend to like rants, too… it’s probably a character flaw ;).

      Glad it’s not just me re. that pattern! I don’t make many skirts, so I must admit I had a moment of “um… is this how it’s supposed to be?”

  7. Bri

    Well, I definitely get where you’re coming from regarding the only wearing it once, but I still think Halloween is the #1 holiday of the year, and even for all your “griping” I think the costume turned out fantastic, and I can’t wait ti see the completed Buffy costume since that is my most favorite show ever!

    • The Buffy costume has been a long wrangle, since the kids are fans of the show, too, and I have the movie-version on the brain. Since as far as I can tell Buffy in the TV show wears completely ordinary clothes. Which would’ve been easy… but so not satisfying. /sigh… 🙂

  8. I’m neck deep in costume bodging also, (though for me and the flatmates). I usually throw any old scraps together, but I am using my flatmates corpse bride bodice to test out the construction of Gertie’s bombshell dress, so I am attempting to do that one fairly properly (ish anyway-no drama with linings, but I will be making proper cups!).

  9. Oh it looks really good despite any zipper or collar wonkiness!! She’ll be a fantastic Baby Doll! I’m deep in costume territory and telling myself it doesn’t need to be perfect!

  10. JillyP

    Your babydoll is very cute in the photo, well done. “It’s only a costume” was my mantra too while making an “I dream of Jeannie” outfit out of slippery, icky, poly satin stuff. It’s hard to let go that desire to have nicely constructed pieces.

  11. You’re such an awesome mom! So much fun to get a specific costume made instead of some cheap-y crap from the store. I’m sure they will appreciate all the hard work!

  12. Susan

    Bodge is just the word you want if you were over here(UK). They look just fine to me, the only halloween costume I ever had was made out of crepe paper! The time and effort you US and Canadians put into costumes is amazing to us!

    • Oh, good, I’m glad I’m not completely out to linguistic lunch (this time).

      Hallowe’en without costumes seems so tragic to me… it’s just the getting to the costumes part ;).

  13. Well, I think the first outfit looks pretty good! If you look inside a store-bought costume, you’ll probably see it’s a lot worse.
    Totally agree about the mirrored yokes, it’s not as if it is hard for them to do! My pet peeve is when front and back armholes are the same…

    • The thought of paying good money for storebought costumes is definitely buoying me up through all of this. My materials are a zillion times nicer, too.

      Funnily, the T-shirt pattern for Syo’s costume has identical front and back armholes (I kinda expected better from Kwik Sew). But, it’s just a T-shirt, it’ll be all right.

  14. Oh dear. Sounds like your Chi was blocked from the start. Store-bought for next year?

  15. ElleC

    loved the whiny tone, although you might need lessons compared to the whine fest that has been my life lately. Anyhoo, the costume looks great, if you doubt this go to the Village of Values and have a look at the complete excrement that they charge $$ for. Last year I made my BFF’s daughter the obligatory pink princess costume and could only be grateful that here in the northern hemisphere kids trick or treat in the dark, The damn kid loves it so much she is wearing it again this year, so I get to feel guilty of not doing couture quality sewing for the second year in a row,

    Holy Crap, I just reread what I wrote, See what I mean about whiny?

    • Hey, whine away! (See above about how I personally love a good rant.) LMAO about your BFF’s daughter, BTW (that officially might be my most-abbreviated sentence ever—I should probably be shot for it.)

  16. OMG, I love the Babydoll costume! It looks so good, I’d be tempted to make something like that for myself (except I’m pretty sure it would look much worse on my rapidly-approaching-middle-age body). Yeah, the inside might be fudged a bit but for a Halloween costume? You did good.

    I once made a shepherd costume for a nativity play that Oldest was in during Kinder. No finished seams, no fancy trim, strictly a cut and sew job. All 3 of my kids ended up wearing it several times as various characters until the last one outgrew it (I suspect it would still fit Youngest, but I’m not about to drag it out and try it on). To this day, I think that was the single most cost-efficient thing I’ve ever sewn.

    • Personally, I think you’d rock it—and if anyone complains, cut their head off with your katana! Perfect! 🙂

      See, if the costumes I make got used that much, I’d be over the moon! So far nothing’s ever even been used twice—the best I used to get was lots of dress-up-clothes mileage, but lately the costumes don’t even get used for that…

  17. Joy

    Front and back the same? So ridiculous. Clearly, as a pattern company, they know better, too.

    But the end product is very cute. And it wouldn’t be SO bad for a summer garment or two…

    • I’ve been really disappointed in a lot of these “aimed at cool kids/young set” patterns (the McCall’s Sassy Girl line, too). If a pattern is so dumbed-down and simplified that it doesn’t create a quality product, it just perpetrates the idea that home-made clothes are somehow shoddy and second rate. ARGH!


    I to am currently in costume hell, I only til tomorrow to get them done though, they will look fab but the details will be lacking for sure.

  19. Pingback: How they keep me hooked | Tanit-Isis Sews

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