Merida is Ready for Action!

I did it!!!

Although I apparently blanked on the fact that I should, you know, blog about it. I posted a picture on Facebook when I finished it on Sunday night though....close enough? But anyway, here is the long-awaited (by me anyway) blog post about the Making of Merida.

It was a pretty fun process, actually.

First, so we're all on the same page. This is the dress I was attempting to replicate:

Pretty great right? I thought so. I have various white puffy shirts that I could wear underneath, and long flowy skirts that would work well as petticoats. So I only needed the overdress. I wanted to make it out of a velvety heavy fabric so I went to Fabricland on a Quest. I couldn't believe it when I walked in and saw the EXACT shade I wanted. It was meant to be!

I bought three meters and hurried home. At this point in time, I was planning on using my tried and true "wing it" method of sewing. No pattern, just making it up as I went along. So three meters was a total guess based on how I was planning on doing things.

At some point, I changed my plans. Do I know why? Oh hell no. I suddenly altered course and decided to use a pattern.

Granted, it's a good pattern. I've used it for two dresses before and I've loved them both.

BUT.

Sigh. I made such a stupid, stupid mistake. More on that later though.

I decided to do this Right. Which I almost never do. I laid the fabric down and did my best to fit all the pieces on it. Again, I should've decided to use the pattern BEFORE going to buy the fabric, but whatever. I made it work! At least for the main body of the dress. I didn't use a pattern for the sleeves, as they are rather unique!

I even used pins! PINS!

I sewed it all together as quickly as I could, because it was late and I was tired. And I wanted to figure out the sleeves.

I measured around my upper arm and my forearm, and cut two rectangles of fabric to fit around. Basically assembling the sleeve as two tubes, connected by three strips of fabric at the shoulder and at the elbow.

But then I left it for the night. Because I could.

It was the next day I worked on it that I realized my mistake.

Here are the facts: the first time I used this pattern, I was in....grade 12, I think. Maybe first year of college. Around there. In any case, before I lost weight, and DEFINITELY before I got Lyme disease which made me lose a lot of weight too fast. Some of which is coming back now, but either way, I'm nowhere near the size I was when I first made this pattern.

Or, apparently, nowhere near the shape. In some areas, the dress fit great. In others, it....oh boy. So, so many alterations needed.

I think when I realized the mistake I just sat on the couch and sulked for ages. I know better, I really really do. But I got so caught up in the excitement of getting the dress made that I didn't think about stuff like, you know...measuring....

Wine and sewing is an awesomely powerful combination, people, but it can bite you in the ass.

But there was nothing else for it so I had to get altering. More pins....

Yeah that's a lot to take in. Eesh.

Fyi, this is how I have to sew. My chair is not my own.

The alterations were so frustrating but I had to keep telling myself it would all be worth it in the end.

Spoiler alert: it's not. I cheated. The alterations aren't 100% done because there's a piece that won't lie flat no matter what and it's driving me INSANE. I know I have to pick apart the whole front of the skirt and I just don't want to deal with that right now...so I'm not. But the dress is still DONE, technically, so I don't count that one wrinkle that still needs fixing.

On to the sleeves!

Oh my GODS this fabric is gross. So pilly! Shredding and going bald everywhere!

But the colour is spot on so good enough for me. These are the strips to connect the sleevey tubes! Which, if you say it fast enough, sounds like something out of Lewis Carroll. Jabberwocky and slithy toves and momrath and sleevey tubes? No? Just me?

I haven't had coffee yet, don't judge me.

Simple was the plan. Sew the rectangle into a tube, turn it inside out, and stitch it to the shoulder hold - one at the top, one at the front, one at the back. Then stitch it to the top part of the sleevey tube, then do the same with the other three strips to connect the one sleevey tube to the other and finish the last one with a hem!

RAWR!! I AM THE CLAW!!!

See? Sewing can be fun!

So once the alterations, sleeves, and hems were all done, the only thing left was the back.

The back is exciting. Laceup! As is the front slit at the neckline. However as I discovered, I didn't get enough cord for both of them. So that's another thing I still need to finish. Whatever.

I also need to actually get the eyelets. I bought a box and promptly lost them. So while the holes in the dress are all punched and ready to rock, I need to put the metal in. I'll get to it I swear!

First things first, putting some strong interfacing in to keep the fabric holding its shape when it gets laced.

This was the view from my sewing table while I worked on this. Bread, wine, and in the background, waiting to be made complete...the Merida wig.

Next step: using my seam ripper to punch holes down the strip!

Several harrowing moments of nearly slicing my fingers off later....

And finally.....TA DA!!!

Not too bad right? The sleeves are a little tight. I need to let them out a bit. Need to fix that front wrinkle and put the eyelets in. When the sleeves are looser, I can wear the puffier shirt under so that it puffs out appropriately at the elbows like it did in the movie.

But I'm feeling good about it! Comic Con is going to be awesome this year!


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Photo Credit:  April Laramey