I’ve sewed absolutely nothing since the leopard print shirt I told you all about three weeks ago. The sewing machine has been in hibernation due to work, climbing, and study based distractions. I’ve got a few projects in the pipeline but I haven’t gotten around to starting any of them.
So this week we’re going to go on a little trip down fantasy clothing lane as I share with you various projects that I’d love to make one day. Some of them are significantly more likely to happen than others but that’s not going to stop me daydreaming.
Here is an ode to all the clothes I’ll make one day, probably.
Henry VIII and his Massive Codpiece Shoulders
This outfit definitely falls into the ‘not bloody likely’ category. I have no logical need for it. I’m unlikely to wear it myself. It would cost a fortune in fabric and take many hours of stitching to put it together.
But I love it.
I’m firmly of the opinion that Henry VIII was an egotistical misogynist arsehole with vast amounts of blood on his hands. However, the people who made and designed his clothing were absolute geniuses. Ordinarily I favour subtlety with men’s clothing and adore nothing more than a beautifully tailoured three-piece suit with a plain shirt and a cheeky pocket square. This instinct abandons me when it comes to this outfit.
The deep rich colours are magnificent. The whopping great shoulders are delightfully masculine and powerful. The hints of lining popping out between the slashed outer fabric lets you know he’s fancy on the inside and outside. I adore the sneaky bits of embroidery on the shirt cuffs and down the centre front that add a delicate touch to this otherwise very broad and boxy shape. Gosh help me, I even enjoy the tights that give the fine Tudor fellows a chance to show off their magnificent calf muscles. This outfit simply makes me weak at my fragile lady knees.
The images shown here are from a book called The Tudor Tailor, which provides all the information you need to make your very own version of the outfits worn by Henry and his six poor unfortunate wives. I have the patterns and the desire to make this outfit. I’m lacking the guts to commit to it and the willingness to spend a shit tonne of money on very pricey fabric.
From the ridiculous to the realistic.
I’m far more likely to make this dress because I have actually already done so. I crafted this dress from some splendidly spooky fabric designed by Alexander Henry for a friend’s wedding and, although I don’t wear it often, I am very fond of the fit.
It would be great to have some more versions of this dress in different fabrics and I would enjoy the opportunity to have another crack at the pattern so I can learn from past mistakes. The skull dress turned out reasonably well but I was unhappy with the zip fastener I put in the front and unsure if I got the finished length just right. Little details but irksome enough to warrant a second attempt.
A Great Big Circle Cape
This garment is ridiculous enough to stop me from taking the plunge and making it. On the other hand, a small but not insignificant part of my brain is gobby enough to convince the rest of my grey matter that I might just wear a great big black circle cape.
Look at how perfectly this garment hangs over the body. Look at those gracefully draped folds. Fabric wizardry at its finest. The pattern and instructions I would follow for this project come from one of a downright biblical set of costume books by Jean Hunnisett. I got rid of a lot of my costume books when I quit working in theatre but couldn’t bear to part with this over-qualified quintet. They’re written so clearly and the patterns are so easy to follow. And you can tell they’re written by someone who has actually used a sewing machine (the same cannot be said for all costume books!)
Similar to the Henry VIII outfit, a big barrier to making this cape is the amount of fabric involved. If I were to make it, I’d want to go balls to the wall on the fabric and get something glorious (possibly velvet but that would be very heavy), which would be very expensive as I’d need a fair bit of fabric meterage. For now, this is a fantasy project but I expect the goth inside me will eventually win out and I will make the sweeping voluminous cape of my dreams.
Pointy Steampunk Jacket
If I didn’t have to do irritating things like cycle to work and back, eat, or walk about in the rain, I would dress in full steampunk all the time. There are so many things I appreciate about the steampunk style. The monotone colour palette. The asymmetric and jagged shapes. The quirky accessories of goggles and tophats. The brassy cogs and button details. The tailoured but unusual cut of the garments. I adore it all.
Past JoJo clearly purchased this pattern with an idea of becoming a steampunk heroine but present JoJo has failed to make this vision become a reality. Whenever I pick up this pattern I become completely paralysed with indecision about where to go with it. I can’t decide what colour I want it to be (probably black but you never know!), what fabric to use, which buttons to go for, if it should have a subtle lining or a colourful lining, whether to make the short version or the long version.
There are too many options and I can’t commit to any of them.
I also don’t make a lot of coats or jackets so I’m a bit intimidated by it. The possibility of blowing a load of money on fancy fabric and doing a terrible job of the project is currently enough to put me off starting at all. To do a really good job of it I would need to make some mockups in cheaper fabric and put a decent chunk of time into fitting it properly. Not a problem when I get my head in the game and invest the time and effort. There simply always seems to be other things to do.
I’m sure it’s time will eventually come. I feel too fuzzily positive towards this pattern to let it go unsewn.
Mrs. Lovett, You’re A Bloody Wonder
As I’m sure I’ve mentioned many times, I never grew out of my teenage goth/emo phase and will love the best examples of Tim Burton’s work until I resemble the Corpse Bride itself. Sweeney Todd is an example of Tim Burton at his best, in my humble Helena Bonham Carter loving opinion. The recipe is simple. Black, white, and red colour palette and cheese grate the hell out of all the fabric until there isn’t a neat edge in sight. Oh, and add some stripes.
These outfits fall into a similar category as my impractical steampunk dreams. In a world unaffected by weather, dogs, and bicycle chains I’d dress like Mrs. Lovett all the heckin’ time. Whether she’s warbling about a perfect life By the Sea, cooking up The Worst Pies in London, or trying to get her murderous associate to Wait before slitting Judge Turpin's well deserving throat, Mrs. Lovet looks a bloody wonder. Costume designer Colleen Atwood worked on a number of Tim Burton films, including Alice in Wonderland, Sleepy Hollow, and Big Fish but Sweeney Todd is my favourite of their co-creations. Especially the outfits so splendidly sported by Helena Bonham Carter.
I also discovered, while typing up this post, that Colleen Atwood designed the costumes for another of my teenage loves, My Chemical Romance’s video for Welcome to the Black Parade. Now I’m aware of this fact I’ve no idea how I didn’t connect the dots between these two worlds before. Let’s just say there is an aesthetic similarity I really should have spotted.
And finally . . .
A Swashbuckling Pirate Coat
I don’t think this one needs much explanation. Who doesn’t want to have pockets big enough for several bottles of rum (or gin in my case) and pretend to be a carefree pirate?
Let me know in the comments below if you’ve got any projects (sewing or otherwise) that you dream of completing one day but potentially need a kick up the arse to get cracking with. Or if you’ve got any marvelous suggestions for my steampunk wardrobe do feel free to let me know!