This is a painting blog, so you might wonder what a sewing tutorial is doing here. Part of the back story of my paintings, is creating reference photos that inspire me. And the back story to creating interesting reference, is crafting the settings which include the costumes.
When I say costume, it’s more about building a time and place instead of “playing dress-up”.
We don’t need access to the prop department at MGM Studios to come up with character pieces, after all we are creatives…right?
About a month ago a friend offered me this dress after it didn’t sell at her garage sale.
At the time I saw the potential in it, but wasn’t sure what it was. One evening while scanning Pinterest for ideas an image sparked the direction to go.
A pair of scissors quickly severed the glittery top half from the voluptuous bottom half.
Examining the inside structure I saw there was a lining and, bonus, black netting I can expose as more texture! The lining will make a solid base for the tucks. I experimented with how much tuck to take by measuring down from the inside lining center front 8″ and marking with a pin. Going around the lining I placed pins at this same measure at the side seams and center back.
Than I measured down on the skirt center front outside, sides and center back 20″ down and marked with pins.
Next I brought the outside pins upward until they met up with the inside pins and joined the outer skirt with the lining at these points with pins. This measure gave some nice heavy tucks so I sewed skirt to lining where they were pinned with a 1″ join.
I made a second layer of tucks doing the same thing, going down on the lining and marking, than going further with the outside fabric (so that tucks would form), and attached outer skirt to lining by sewing.
This whole process took about an hour. The last thing to deal with was the back closure. Since the original dress had a zipper going all the way up and partially down to the skirt section, my cutting off the top left the zipper inoperable. The answer here was sewing a simple fabric extension to the back with Velcro as a fastener. Velcro is the best solution because it’s easy to sew on and it enables the skirt to fit a variety of waist sizes.
Give reworking something a try, it doesn’t need to be perfect, it doesn’t even have to be wearable for more than 10 minutes.
Next month I will be teaching “The Costumed Figure Bootcamp”, at Scottsdale Artists School, May 13-14. Sewing won’t be a part of it but creating scenes, posing models choosing themes and painting from inspiring reference photos will be the focus.