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August 28, 2015

I don't know what it is about Myths and Legends Con that brings on a massive creative spurt, but this year I again found myself madly sewing in the weeks leading up to the event.

It really started with the custom corset by LoriAnn Costume Designs.  When I got it, it immediately started whispering that it didn't WANT to have anything to do with Steampunk, and began suggesting fairy to me.  I remembered how awesome this fabric had looked in B.'s orange office, and then I began thinking of various ways to do a layered skirt, and then found myself researching wings . . .

The results amazed me.

The peasant blouse was a McCalls 5050 pattern, with the lower sleeves added from Simplicity costume pattern 4046.  I found the Simplicity pattern instructions so convoluted and strange that I went right back to the McCalls pattern.

The skirt was a lot of fun, once I figured it out.  Math got involved.  It's a handkerchief skirt, but not in the way you're probably thinking of.   Imagine you're taking a bunch of actual handkerchiefs and sewing them together.

The diagram hopefully helps explain my pattern for each square.  I did not include seam allowances, so add those as you please.  I don't think I actually did at all, and it didn't make any significant difference in my final skirt.

You'll need: 

Fabric - the amount you need will be determined by the number and size of your squares, see below.
A sewing machine, and ideally a serger, or at the very least a rolled hem foot.
1" wide elastic

Before you start, decide how many squares, or points, you want on your skirt.  You can have as few as 4 and as many as  . . .well, it'll probably get a little crowded around 20.  You can also do multiple layers, just cut a smaller square for the outer layers.

A is your preferred length of the skirt, or the highest point of the skirt hem.  Measure from your waist to the shortest desired length.  

Now you'll use this number to determine B, the side of the square.  Take the skirt length and multiply that number by 1.414.  Cut out your squares by that many inches.

Example:  I want my highest hem point to be 8.5".  8.5*1.414 = 12.01".  Cut out 12"x12" squares of fabric. 

Now give yourself a pat on the back, because you just used the math you never thought you'd see again after high school geometry!

d=diagonal, a = side of square.  Since we only needed the measurement of half the diagonal anyway, I left the division out.  All you need to know for this is: 1.414 x hem length of skirt = square side length.  

OK, time to measure your hips. NOT your waist, your hips.  You want to have enough room to pull the skirt over your hips, and the elastic will hold it in place around your waist.   Take that measurement and divide by the number of squares you plan to cut out of your skirt.  Example:  36" hips, with 6 squares, 36/6=6.   This gives you C, the dotted line, where you need to cut.  I merely took a ruler, and moved it down horizontally from the point until I got my length from edge to edge, drew a line, (make sure it's even) and then cut.  

Next you have the fun of finishing all the edges.  The serger made short work of that, until I somehow managed to snap off one of the fingers of the needle plate.  You can either leave the squares all separated or sew them together from the cut corner to the next corner, marked D on one side of the diagram.  I sewed the lower layer together this way, and simply serged them together.  I used a contrasting thread, so did my serging on the outside so it showed.  

Cut a length of fabric at least an inch longer than your hip measurement, and about 2.25" wide.  Stitch the short edges together to form a loop.

Fold in half longways, wrong sides together, and stitch, leaving an opening of about 2" somewhere along the line.  This will be the casing for your elastic.  

 Pin the cut corner edge of your top layer of squares to the stitched length of your fabric and baste.  Then pin the next layer and sew everything down.  

Now you can measure your waist, and add a little extra for your seam allowance.  Cut your elastic to this size, and feed it into your casing, then sew the ends together.  Sew your casing hole closed, and if you like, add a few stitches here and there, through the casing and the elastic, to prevent it from twisting around.  I wouldn't recommend sewing it all the way down, because eventually the elastic will need replacing and it will cause a ridiculous amount of seam ripping (she says from experience in buying skirts with shot, sewn down elastic at a thrift store.)  You now have a handkerchief skirt!

Please feel free to email me with any questions.  I am writing this after an exhausting and unpleasant week, so my brain is fried.  My inspiration was this little girl's outfit on Melly Sews, so hopefully that will help you where this doesn't.
Finally, about the wings.  I fell in love with EnchantedHearth's wings on Etsy (I originally found pictures on Pinterest), but her shop was closed, and closed, and closed, and I panicked and made my own.  (she reopened it the weekend of the con, wouldn't it figure?)  

There really isn't a pattern, just a 'jump in and do it.'  I played with tissue paper, drawing wings until I got a size and shape I liked, then used that as my pattern.  I left a little extra at the top so I could make a casing for the wire.  Then I serged around all the edges.  Well, 'serge' is a generous term, since my serger was broken.  I ended up doing a really tight zigzag stitch on my sewing machine, and went around all the edges TWICE.  It was probably better this way, since I don't have a lot of speed control with my serger.

I used a sheer drapery fabric that was mostly flesh toned, but felt they needed more green.  I just couldn't find anything that had the mottled look I wanted, so I screwed up my courage and bought . . . spray paint.  

Design Master Tint It was recommended by other people on the Internet as being good for fabric, so I took a chance.  I also bought a glitter spray paint, because I wanted some sparkle.  Then I took the plunge.  I sprayed mostly around the edges, and particularly along the top, as the layers of fabric didn't all take and I had some obvious peachy spots.

This was a bad picture, since it was at night in the basement, but I loved the way they turned out.  here's a better photo at the con:  

I used green florist wire and simply stuffed them down my back, making sure they got tucked behind my bra strap and under the corset.  I quickly learned about wing awareness and how to maneuver in crowds, but they held up great, and also packed pretty well.  The paint made them a little stiff, but that was actually a good thing.  I'm not certain if I left a trail of glitter, but there's still plenty on them!

Of course I brought a Mal to MaLcon!

I also bought some pretty elf ears from The Implied Line, and got my face painted at the event.  I didn't even know they'd have that, so it was a nice surprise!