For the past four years I have made a new costume to wear each year San Diego Comic-Con. My obsession with Game of Thrones hit a peak last year, and so I dressed as Catlyn Stark, as presented by Michelle Fairley in the series. The costume went over well, but a lot of the feed back I was receiving was that I looked a lot like Sansa. So this year I decided to go for it.
With Sansa’s extensive four-season wardrobe to browse through, I decided on a dress from season 3. There were several factors that informed my choice, one of which was that I have never done any embroidery. I knew teaching myself another skill was not in the cards for completing my project on time. Another factor was the fabric. The motifs used on the show are distinct and finding a good look-a-like will either cost you time, money, or both.
Spurred on by the annual 50% off remnant sale at Britex, I started scouring for a purple upholstery fabric with a reverse towards the end of April. I spent about two hours digging through the remnants to find something that would fit the look. The total sale was $63. I came home with two things I thought might work. First, I grabbed 4 ¾ yards purple upholstery fabric that had a barely visible pattern. The second purchase was a flowery brown and gold print that I mostly bought for its reverse. I bought 7 yards of it, came home and realized it wasn’t what I wanted. It looked too “Lannister”, yucky! (The Lannisters are yucky but Sansa’s ok?! - Ed)
The purple fabric at top left ended up being my under-skirt.
Over the next two weeks (until I was paid again), I looked online. I checked every discount fabric store Google could feed me. There were several viable options, but buying fabric online felt a bit risky.
I opted to check another San Francisco gem – Discount Fabrics on Mission ave. This store had some fantastic candidates. There was a beautiful lavender with a large, silky flower motif, and several purples and browns to choose from as well. In the end I didn’t get the purple and olive green I was looking for, but I got damn close. I took my prize to the cutting table to find out there was only 5 & 3/4ths left on the bolt – and there was no more anywhere in the store. I considered my options and decided to go for it. And because I felt I needed a “just in case”, I bought 6 yards of the pretty shiny lavender fabric. These two items plus two packets of light green piping bumped the project up a good $89.
I used the “wrong side” for a more GoT look.
The costume designer uses very specific motifs for each character, and wanting to be true to her vision, I started to obsess a bit on jewelry. I found an almost perfect copy of Sansa’s dragonfly necklace on Etsy and wrapped the chain with dark mauve embroidery floss. Etsy also sold a suitable “vintage” substitute for Sansa’s Cabochon-type engagement ring in Lannister red and gold.
Sansa’s dragonfly & Tyrion’s engagement ring.
Let me be honest here, after that I did bloody nothing towards making the costume for a month. I did add the occasional reference photo to my iphone, but otherwise I squandered my time. I was scared – the next step meant actually drafting a pattern.
I had watched as a friend effortlessly took a sharpie to wrapping paper and made the shapes of a garment one year ago to draft my Catlyn. He didn’t even have to measure, it just worked. So cautiously, I took out my wrapping paper, I grabbed a pencil and I started to draft my first pattern.
ONE MONTH, ONE WEEK TO COMIC-CON – Pattern Drafting
The first thing I wanted to tackle was something I saw as a rather large hurdle, the front of the dress. Sansa’s dresses almost always have a princess seam, however the dress I chose also had a triangular neckline and a wrap-like front. I attempted to sketch out what I thought this would look like until I was happy and out of wrapping paper. Grabbing whatever cloth I could find from my graveyard of scraps, I traced the pattern onto fabric and pinned it together. Voila! But it was more like Voil–huh? Everything fit together, but the dress was about twice as large as it needed to be. So got a good laugh at how I looked in the dress and then I set to work with alterations.
Not quite what I had in mind.
ONE MONTH TO COMIC-CON – Experimentation & Anxiety
I was afraid of screwing up and cutting something I might not have a copy of, so I decided to set to the lazy man’s way of altering a pattern. I sewed all of the seams together and tried the dress on inside out. Starting from the back, I pinned where I thought a seam could come in to make the dress drape right. After pinning a piece on the right side until I was happy, I would measure and pin until the left side replicated it. Then I would sew over the line I had made in pins and test if it improved the fit. If the answer was yes – it stayed. No? It got the seam ripper and I started the process over again. I did this with every seam on the bodice until it was about 80% of where I wanted it.
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