Friday, 4 December 2015

A Christmas Elf Costume for a Record Breaking Attempt

So my little hometown has decided to attempt to get into the Guinness book of Records, by breaking a previously set record and going for the 'Most People Dressed as Christmas Elves in the One Place'

I had really hoped to get this dress finished and this post up long before now, but I've been quite unwell with my Asthma playing up (a few local bushfires certainly weren't helping) but luckily I have finished it just in time.

I am not one to buy and wear store bought costumes. Life is too short of crap quality and bad fitting clothes, even when it comes to costumes. And so I decided to sew my own Christmas Elf Costume! I picked up 2 pieces of red stretch velvet from the remnant bin at spotlight last visit, and I had some scraps of green panne velvet from a 1940's dress that I have been working on (that is sitting in the naughty corner at the moment) I thought, why not use my 1949 Sun Frock pattern again? It only took some slight alterations to be made into a perfect Christmas Elf dress pattern. I am no longer offering my graded version of this pattern for free, but you can get it for a measly US$2 from Etsy.

Initial plans

So, for those of you with the pattern, here's how I transformed it into a Christmas Elf dress pattern.

Firstly, I am making this dress in a stretch fabric, and I want it fitted, so I will be making a few sizes smaller than the size chart says, as the original dress is for a loose fit. I am a 44 inch bust, but for this, will use the 40 inch bust size. I will also be removing the excess overlap for the buttons at the back, and using a zip closure instead. To do this, I fold away 1 1/2 inches from the centre back edges. (perhaps more, but I can always cut away extra later)

Next I grab my Trim pieces, and some tissue or tracing paper. Trace the pattern pieces out, adding triangular points along the bottom edge.

I cut the trim from my scraps of green, and my bodice, pockets and skirt pieces from my red.

For the skirt, I initially thought I would only have enough fabric for a wiggle skirt, but with some careful cutting, I managed to cut out what will be almost a 1/2 circle, slightly shorter skirt than I would normally wear, but still long enough to be decent. I was going to do a jagged hemline on the wiggle skirt option, but now that I am making a 1/2 circle, I will just leave it as a straight hem, otherwise it would look odd with a petticoat

I began just like I did for my Sew-Along dress, by sewing the darts and overlocking around the edges of all my pieces. As this is a stretch fabric I will be sewing all the seams with either a Zigzag stitch or a triple stretch stitch on my machine.

After the darts, its on to the side seams for the bodice, then a quick fitting to check everything is working how I planned it.

I decided to just leave the pockets plain, so I just cut out 4 squares of the red velvet, sewed each one right sides together, leaving a gap to turn back through, then put aside until I got to the skirt.

Leaving the skirt for later at the moment, I moved onto the trim pieces, As I am not even attempting piping on this version (on those points, are you kidding?) I just sewed the side seams, then laid the 2 sides, right sides together and sewed. As Velvet has a pile/nap to it, it's best to use plenty of pins to hold it together, otherwise it will shift around and not line up properly. All of the corners were then clipped and the trim was turned right side out.

As the panne velvet is quite flimsy and difficult to work with compared to the cotton I used for my Sun Frock, I simply pinned the trim with it's right side against the wrong side of the bodice, sewed, clipped the curves and flipped it the right way out.

It was at this point I realised I had forgotten to cut out and sew in my shoulder straps. So I unpicked the 4 points the straps attach to, cut 2 straps out of my leftover red velvet, sewed them into tubes, turned right side out and sewed them into the gaps I had unpicked.

The side seams for the skirt were then sewn, and the skirt was sewn to the bodice, using a secure triple stretch stitch. Then to finish up the dress, all it needed was a back seam and zip, a hem and the pockets top stitched onto the skirt. I couldn't find a zip in an appropriate colour, so I just ran a basting stitch up the back to see if it had enough stretch to slip on over my head, and it did! So I reinforced that seam, them hemmed the skirt. At this point it was 11pm, so I decided to leave the pockets for now, and do them in the morning if I had time. I did try the dress on, and realised the skirt would not quite be full enough to wear a petticoat with. Bugger, but oh well, it still looks cute!

Luckily, I got myself into gear this morning and managed to get the pockets on! I pinned them on while the dress was on Dolly, then quickly top stitched them on while drinking my cup of tea.

I was in too much of a rush to get a completed photo on Dolly, but I will try to get photos of it on me tonight.

Voila, the perfect vintage inspired elf costume, from a 1949 Sun Frock pattern!

Now to buy a set of elf ears and elf hat (which I would've liked to make if I had the time) whip up a belt at lunch time, and get ready to break a World Record!


Here's a photo of me all dressed up, and a photo of the group. Don't know yet if we managed to set a world record, but I will keep you updated!

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