Monday, August 27, 2007

Star Wars - Padme Packing Gown, the making of

Which costume to pick? There are just so many fantastic costumes from the star wars movies that I don’t know which one that I want to use. (Costumer’s Guild Queensland Party). I mean there are the Padme outfits from episodes 1, 2 and 3 then there are the Princess Leia outfits. Not to mention the pretty cool handmaiden dresses and from the books Mara Jade has a very neat costume too.

But after that dilemma, I picked one of Padme’s very many dresses to reproduce. This one (see picture) is the packing gown from episode II. It is not exactly worn for very long in the film (she has so many) but I love the complete outfit and the look that it gives. So far, I have got my fabric and am using patterns that I already have. I have so many that I better have one that would work. For the skirt I am using a grey marle polycotton, hopefully this will give the look of a slubbed silk but cheaper to make. For the under blouse I picked up some light grey georgette which should give a nice fall but still be thicker than chiffon. And for the vest piece, I have Black Poly-velvet. Ideally I would have bought true velvet but at $60 / metre I could not really afford it. Initially I was thinking of velveteen but as summer is coming in nowhere I went have any left in stock. So I settled. Also I went black as I could not get charcoal. I am thinking that if I stiffen it with some shapewell and line the bodice with a nice stiff cotton, it should not stretch too much anymore. I will just have to be careful when I am sewing it to not stretch the stuff too much – lots of pins.

The hair I will tackle when it comes time to get dressed. I really feel I should progress towards getting my costume made first. Thankfully I have next week off from work, as the projects just keep on stacking up.

My Padme costume is coming along nicely. While the 6th of October is fast approaching. Also, I will not have that Saturday morning to prepare and finish sewing as I have a full on 6 people wedding to do makeup for. I guess I am just going to have to buckle on down and get some work done this week.

Good news though, I have the skirt finished. It was not really that hard to do in fact. I just ripped off a piece for the waistband, lined it with shapewell for stiffness, and pleated the remaining piece on. A small seam up one side and a buttonhole closure, and I was done. I didn’t even bother cutting the salvage off as it meant that I would not have to finish the seam. And it was the perfect height for me with a small hem. All I dread now is pressing the pleats in place. Ugh.

I started creating the under blouse. A bit of gathering into the yoke, some ribbon ties, sleeves and cuffs and I will be done. I think that the most time consuming part will be covering the buttons with fabric and sewing them on. Come to think of it, I have seen my mum cover buttons before. I usually just buy plastic ones that will match (big old slacker that I am).

I have also progressed to getting my vest done as well. I tired very hard to find some velveteen or velour in a charcoal colour. I finally settled on black, as blue was the other option, and had to resort to a poly stretch velvet. It is really nice, but I now have to use some heat and bond so that it will not stretch once made up. This is what has me held up at the moment. I stuck the stuff to the velvet half, but once I got to the sticking onto cotton, I ended up with the glue on the iron. Meaning that I now have to clean said iron. I think next time I will make sure that the heat and bond is cut to the correct size with none hanging over the edge to the fabric. (It was a long day).

I also really need to get some sculpy so that I can create the head pieces. They will only take a little while to make and bake, and I figure that I will work out some way to stick them on later. The only other part that has me a bit worried is making the “embroidered” detail piece for the front of the vest. I don’t actually intend to sew this to the vest, just attach it in place with hook and eyes. I am also cheating in that I don’t intend to embroider it at all, but am going to use some puff and fabric paint to get the desired look. Hey, I did say that time was limited.  
I have finished my Star Wars Padme costume. (well mostly). The most annoying thing in the whole process was making the vest. Mostly because I had to bond the stretch velvet to a cotton, as I did not want it to stretch. The biggest annoyance was that the heat and bond stuff reeks. Every time it is heated, you get this horrible pungent odour. Ew. But it seems to have worked. The lining has pulled a bit funny on the vest, but no one will see that as it is the inside only. I ended up using hook and eye tape down the front to hold the vest together. I was going to hand stitch hooks and eyes along the closure, but it was easier with the tape. And there was no point really, as the tape is covered by fabric and cannot be seen.

My other cheat was with the embroidery panel on the vest front. It is supposed to be beaded. I ended up making the piece as a separate add on. I blanket stitched around the edges. (thimble was necessary when stitching through 4 layers of fabric including 4 layers seam). But then I just painted on the background colour with some acrylic paint (wont be able to wash this now) and used puff paint to get the overall design. I just didn’t have the time and inclination to do a heap of beading. I am just going to hand tack this piece onto the front of the vest, so that it can be removed for washing and other costumes easily.

The only other pieces I am now missing are the metal armbands. I intend to find some form of bracelets (cheap jewellery shops here I come). I also need to make the hair headpieces – need a wig and foam. And I need to remake the clay headpieces. I did it the first time, but forgot to put holes for the chain in them before I baked the sculpey. At least it is a quick process. And I now know that I have Saturday free (wedding has been unconfirmed) to finish any last minute items. Whew. Hopefully I can be done in time.  
Well, here are my photos of my Padme Packing Gown. I am actually really happy with how this turned out. And surprisingly I did not get too hot wearing it all night. I ended up wearing quite a few layers for this complete outfit. First there was the voile chemise (made for my Edwardian – knee length) and cotton bloomers (more for my comforts sake then for the costume). Then there was my corset (original cream cotton one). I then had the petticoat (actually my cancan petticoat because it gave the right bell shape). I then had the grey georgette blouse (complete with decorative buttons on the cuff and black ribbon as the upper arm cuff bands – I couldn’t find any bracelets that were suitable). Next was the skirt (a lot of fabric). But I had it sitting nice as the petticoat was sitting on my hips (glad I had a corset underneath as support because it is very heavy) and the skirt was sitting at my waist. And the last layer was the velvet jacket with the detailed panel tacked to the front with a few hand stitches

For the hair, I ended up doing buns on the side of my head. I just could not get the horseshoe shape that they had in the movie. I did these by tying my hair into high pigtails, teasing sections to get enough bulk, and then loosely wrapping my hair to create the buns. And used about a gazillion bobby pins to hold it all in place. I also kept out a section of my hair at the front and back, so that I could create a small bun at the back of my head (like in the movie). This game me some way of getting my fringe to sit back neatly (crusty with hairspray), and it covered up the centre part for my buns. I then used come fringe pins to attach the chains to my head, and stuck the clay headpieces in place. I ended up using double sided sticky tape to attach them to my hair, as I had no other way of doing so. I am just glad that I actually finished everything, and it turned out so well.

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