Sewing and painting my costume

I’ve been incredibly busy this past week just getting my dress put together, but in only a few days I managed to sew, paint, and finish pretty much everything! The only exception is my wings, which I’ll be working on today and tomorrow.

After I got the bulk of the green dress sewn, I started working on modifying my pattern to make a layered leaf-shaped skirt. I thought it would be easier to make a separate skirt for the orange and red leaves instead of trying to sew everything on one dress, so I went with the simplest pattern I could find, which turned out to be New Look 6004.

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Using the New Look pattern as a base, I traced my own pattern pieces for a layered skirt, purposefully making the red and orange layers different lengths to help accentuate the layered look. Once the fabric was cut, fray checked, and ready to be painted, I moved on to the fleece gloves.

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I had to make my own pattern for the gloves to ensure they’d fit right, but luckily this was much easier than I’d thought, and there are lots of helpful tutorials online that will show you how. After I’d taken measurements and drawn up the pattern, the gloves were a quick and easy project. And, they were cozy and fit me perfectly!

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I’d been looking forward to working with the SoSoft fabric paint I ordered last month, so I was excited to start the next step – testing out my new paints!

I went with SoSoft paints because they are designed to dry “soft”; they won’t make the fabric feel rough and stiff like other fabric paints tend to do. Painting with SoSoft paints is a lot like using watercolors, and knowing how the paint interacts with water on your fabric is key. Wetter fabric absorbed the paint better and was better for creating a marbled, watercolor-like effect, and also made it easier to making gradients. Drier fabric, on the other hand, absorbed less paint and preserved individual brush strokes and details on the surface of the fabric. You can really see the difference the water makes once the paint has dried (pictured in the image below on the bottom right).

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For smooth gradients, pre-wetting your fabric is key. I tried multiple ways of wetting the flannel and found that a wide paintbrush did the trick – the sponges didn’t transfer much water, and the foam brushes pulled too much at the fibers of the fabric.

I saw those foam spouncer tops at the craft store last week and thought they’d be perfect for my project, but unfortunately the SoSoft paint bottles are just too small to fit properly; turns out the tops are made to go on 2 ounce bottles, not 1 ounce bottles. Luckily, the little sponges worked so well on their own that I used them anyway… they’re perfect for filling in gradients!

After I was more comfortable using my new paints, it was time to get back to work on my costume. I set up a waterproof work area with a piece of aluminum foil underneath two layers of thick paper towels, and used painter’s tape to secure everything to the table. Then I started painting!

Click on each collage to see the full-size images.

Using water, sponges, and paper towels to soak up excess paint, I began laying down gradients on all of my fabric. It took a full two days to paint everything by hand, including both layers for the skirt, the sleeves for the green dress, the orange accent leaves, and the shoes. All the vein detailing on the leaves was done freehand, too.

So, now that it’s nearly Halloween and the outfit portion of my costume is – at long last! – complete, it’s time to see if I can put together a pair of fairy wings in time to hand out candy tomorrow night. I’ll be taking as many photos as I can, so expect more updates soon, along with pictures of my finished costume!

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