Lady Vader Cosplay Part II -- The Bodice

Last I wrote was post-SDCC and I only gave you a brief overview of the entirety of my Lady Vader costume.  Now for some details!

I started with a Civil War (1860s) bodice pattern, Simplicity 3727.  I only used the bodice part of the pattern.  I did not use the giant pagoda sleeves.  Instead I drafted my own fitted sleeve pattern with this tutorial from The Curious Frau.  One thing to note about the sleeve tutorial: by "fitted," she means that the sleeve cap does not have to be gathered or pleated to the armscye (there's a word I'll never be able to pronounce!), not that the sleeve itself is shaped/fitted.

I'm fairly pleased with this pattern.  This is the first time I've made a bodice that needed to be fitted, so I approached the mock-up with a fair amount of trepidation.  I ended up taking out a fair amount at the shoulder seam on the back, a bit on the waist at the side seams, and then some length-wise on the back  because I have an short torso.  There's still a moderate amount of wrinkling on the final product, especially at the center front, but I suspect that's because I haven't added a waist-tie to anchor the waist of the bodice down.

Since I don't have a handy little minion experienced in the ways of fitted bodices and since I still have not fit my Uniquely You dress form to me, my way of taking in at the seams was to pinch and eyeball approximately how much I needed to take away, then write down exactly what the adjustment was.  I would then take off the mockup (it safety pinned closed at center front) and then use more safety pins to  create the adjustment.  Then my younger sister would help me pin the mockup closed again so I could see how the adjustments worked.  I also had her take pictures -- in fact, it was one of these pictures that alerted me to the fact that I had to take a huge chunk out of the length (see that giant crease?).

The bodice is flatlined in denim and each panel/piece is finished with a machine zig-zag stitch.  The sleeves (which you can see towards the bottom of the picture below) are repurposed synthetic velvet pants that I got at a shop-and-swap event.  I boned the back and side seams from the waist to the curve of the princess seam and to a couple inches below the armpit, respectively.  The center front boning and the front dart boning goes from the bust all the way to the bottom.

I didn't have any boning channels or any bias tape that could double for boning channels so I made the seams themselves into channels, into which I slid some very thin zip ties.  Below shows one of the back princess seams, which has a piece of zip tie boning going from just above the notch towards the bottom at the waist to where my finger is (note to self: it's time to redo my manicure).  I sewed the seam allowances together very close to the raw/zig-zagged edge, slid the trimmed zip tie in between the seam and the line of stitching, and sewed it in.

I'm very proud of the amount of hand sewing that I did for this project.  I normally avoid hand sewing as much as possible, but my parents got me a helpful little book of sewing tips and tricks that has given me a lot more confidence.  Below you can see some of the thread loops I made for the center front closure.  I have two rows of thread loops: the first was almost at the very edge and did not hold the bodice all the way closed, so I redid them a bit farther in.


I added a welt pocket just below the left waist dart (it's on my left as I am wearing the bodice).  See this and this - they're fine examples of watch pockets hidden (on the left) in the seams of women's bodices.  I wanted to do something similar in the sense of creating a hidden pocket in the waist dart, but couldn't quite figure out how to do it, though now I realize that I could have figured it out at some point.

Welts are not fun.  They look really good when they are done right, but they are not fun.  I used this tutorial for the most part because it explained the process the clearest, though I'm not convinced it's the best tutorial.  I recommend looking at a bunch of different tutorials and then mashing them together to work best for your needs and abilities.  I did a lot of sewing of the pocket bag itself by hand mainly because I wanted to have more control over it.  I was working with a much smaller seam allowance than I am used to (1/4 inch versus 5/8 inch).  However, I finished the edges by machine with a zig-zag stitch.

I also did the trim by hand.  For the bias tape along the bottom edge I used the sew-flip-sew method.  I have no idea if this method actually has a name, but it's basically when you machine sew the bias tape to the front and then fold it back in such a way that you get a very clean line in front, then either hand-sew the back or stitch-in-the-ditch in front to secure the bias tape on the wrong side.  I opted to hand sew it.  I also hand sewed the fringe in back.  I'm starting to really like hand sewing because of the control it gives me over the project.  Also, I can sit comfortably and watch a movie while I sew, which I can't do when I'm at my machine.

I especially like this picture below because you can see where I messed up a bit and caught some of the front bias tape while I was sewing on the fringe.


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