Thursday, November 21, 2013

Tales from the Sewing Crypt

It's Halloween-time again and that means that my sewing machine is going full-steam ahead. This year Maeve decided to wear her costume from last year, so I don't have to try to top that one! However, this year I have to make a costume for the baby (yes, I'm masochistic like that), as well as Miss G., T-bird and myself. Luckily, they should be fairly easy to do, with the exception of Miss G's.

Gwyneth decided that she wants to dress as Merida from the movie "Brave" this year. I've done several Disney princesses - Maeve was Cinderella and Snow White, as well as a sort-of Sleeping Beauty (the dress was pink, anyway). Anyway, I was kind of hoping that Gwyneth would opt for the Snow White costume this year and give me a break on costume sewing. Of course not. Merida is her favorite princess and I have to agree with her on that, since Merida is the one princess who doesn't end up falling for the prince at the end, and is actually the one who does the 'saving'. Tallon decided that if she was going to be Merida, he wanted to be one of her brothers the triplets.

At first I was hesitant but then I decided that this was a good idea. Normally I'm a stickler for authenticity when it comes to iconic costumes like the Disney ones, but I'm taking a different view this time. Here's why: there is plaid involved and a kilt. I could make a kilt, but it would be time-consuming and I wouldn't be able to find a plaid that was the same as the plaid in the movie. Since that's the case, I decided to go an easier route, unusual as that may be for me. Tallon already owns a kilt in our clan tartan and Gwyneth, Maeve and I have sashes in the same tartan. How easy is it to just have him wear our tartan? Then all I have to do is make a green shirt to go with it and I'll have to do very little sewing. I like this idea.

The Merida dress, however, is more difficult. We decided on this project before McCall's put out their Halloween patterns and apparently they have a 'licensed' Merida dress pattern. I personally don't like it that much and since it wasn't available, I scoured online pattern sources until I found a pattern that most closely resembled the dress from the movie - McCall's 5207, which is currently out of print. I got my copy on ebay and I'm sure there are several copies out there. The thing I like about this pattern is that it runs up into the larger girl sizes (12, 14) so I could make her another dress from this same pattern when she's older. To keep that option open, I traced the pattern pieces. I will be altering the sleeve construction to make it do what I want (not surprising) and I'm adding embroidery to the neckline and hem. Yes, I know that in the film Merida's dress is plain, but I'm not sticking to the authentic version, remember? Besides, I need to justify having the embroidery machine and this is a good reason. That and the dress will look that much better when it's finished. Lastly, I'm going to do hand-made eyelets on the back (it laces up!), rather than apply the metal eyelets which never stay properly, anyway. And it's a good excuse to practice making eyelets by hand.

Merida wig before haircut.
Accessory-wise, Gwyneth already has a Merida wig that she got for her birthday last year and I ordered a bow-and-arrow from the Disney store so it will look authentic. Mr. T is blonde and insisted on having a wig too, so I bought a cheap Merida wig from Party City and I've cut it down to look like a boy.


Here you can see the wig in the middle of the trimming process, after I'd cut off the long pieces at the back and on the sides. I was concerned that I would cut too much off and then I would have wasted $15 on the wig, so I went slow and only cut a bit at a time. The triplets in Brave are drawn with curly reddish hair that's short on the sides but the front bangs are puffy and stand up quite a bit, so I didn't want to cut too much from the front. The trick was getting it to not look too much like Merida with short hair. Here is the end result, from front, back and side:

 As you can see, I tried to make the back look as natural as possible, cutting it short but leaving enough that you can't see the wig base. I also needed it to look a little messy, otherwise the curls would look too girly. I think I managed to get a good balance. This wig was in the section for littler girls and I think it's a tad small for his head, but that's okay because that way the curls aren't too overwhelming. Overall it looks pretty close to the triplets' hair in the movie, but I think it's  best judged with the entire costume, and that will come next time.