When the 9 year old downstairs, who you have known her whole life, comes up and shyly asks if you will make her a Wonder Woman costume for Halloween you say yes. And so begins my second ever commission and first one for a child.
*From this point onward I will be using "WW" for "Wonder Woman" in this build.
I did quick sketch based off the film costume, which of curse was what the kiddo wanted (no satin tights here), and then started re-working the sexy little number down to a more child friendly style. My client is a very active girl so I knew the design had to withstand playground antics at school. I chose to go with a tank top style and have the neck portion made from a flesh tone mesh. The body of the tank would be red jersey sewn to resemble the pattern in the bodice of the WW film costume. I decided I would make the warrior skirt into an over skirt attached to the belt and add an under skirt made of tulle, for modesty sake. (yeah I just said tulle and modest in the same sentence, ha ha) I would use pleather for her bracers and belt and Lame for the chest emblem so it would be light and not hinder movement. The hubby found a dress up set for kids from the film that had the tiara in it so we chose to keep with that and not make a new one.
3 yrds red jersey
8 yrds of Blue glitter tulle
4 yrds navy blue nylon
1 yrd wide bad elastic, blue
2 yrds gold tissue lame
3 pks gold lame hem tape
3 yrds blue pleather
1 can gold leather spray paint
1 red separating zipper
1 pk hooks & eyes
3 spools each of red and blue thread (I always buy more)
2 yrds gold cord
From the Stash
Velcrow I had left over form another project
Gold metallic Sharpe
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Step 1: Comfy Woman!
As I said before, I wanted to use Jersey so this would be a more comfortable, and hopefully more durable, outfit for a rambunctious 9 yr old girl. I also wanted to mimic the diamond pattern design from the costume in the WW film so I set about drafting a pattern based on the client's measurements then working up the design which I cut out, pinned tot he jersey and cut out.
- I could also have named this step "How to use Jersey to make something that has no stretch" but I thought that was too wordy.
I was pretty proud of my design until I realized I lost just about all of my stretch in the fabric by doing it this way, OOPS! Oh well, at least I knew it would still be comfortable, if not quite as stretchy. I completed the front pieces and stitched them together. Then moved on tot he back pieces. I had drafted out the design from the film WW costume for that too, but in the end I went with a simplified version. (and if you notice I also put them in backwards, but I didn't realize it til I was completely done with everything. Oh well, I'm the only one who knows and now all of you so shhhhh.)
The mesh, although a good choice, is a pain to work with sometimes. In this case I double folded all my sections to have enough fabric to catch when I ran it through my machine. Honestly, I should have done it by hand. I found the neck to be a bit scratchy, I as a kid I was always sensitive to things like that (still am too), so I trimmed out the neck with some gold lame hem tape then connected the shoulders. Although not in my original design I really liked the look of it. I lined the inside with flat pieces of red jersey to help make it a little more comfortable. lastly, I had stitched the hook and eye closure at the back of the neck.
Next up it was time to get to work on the chest plate decoration. I drew a mock up again based on the WW film costume and set about attempting to make it from Tissue lame . . .
Tissue Lame is THE WORST fabric! It shreds into a million pieces, my machine hated it, even using the right needles it was just a mess. I tried to stabilized it by using some interfacing and this only sort of helped. This part of the construction drove me nuts and I ended up with tissue lame shreds all over my sewing area. In a bleary eyed late night I thought about simplifying the design and seeing if I could us my lame hem tape to create the pieces. With some 'fineness" and a few choice expletives, it bent to my will. I still made use of one piece from my stabilized tissue lame for the eagle head shape, but everything else was the tape. You can see the finished piece in later pictures.
With the lame torturing me I needed a break so I moved on to the tulle under skirt.
Step 2: No One Can Escape Glitter!
I'm afraid I did not document every step of this because I got mad at the glitter tulle and forgot to take pictures. Why did I get mad? Let me put it this way, I'm still cleaning glitter out of my machine 2 years later. F-ing glitter! I will forever regret that I bought glitter tulle for this blasted skirt, but I will say it did look really good.
I knew I wanted a little fullness to this under skirt so, for my nylon lining, I took two and a half times the waist measurement of my client for the width [24+24+12 = 60] and cut out two rectangles. Along the raw edge of the waist I put in my gathering stitches. I pulled on the threads to gather up the fabric and manually adjusted so that no one area was more puckered up than another. I then pinned in place and connected the two piece, I double folded the hem as this fabric can fray badly.
I cut my wide elastic waist band to my clients waist measurement (+ 1/2 inch seam allowance). I actually cut two of them, my plan was to sandwich the lining and tulle between two elastic pieces so you wouldn't end up with an itchy waist from all the gathers. I connected the ends and stitched it down to make the first waistband, I then fitted the other piece inside of it and pinned it's open edges together. I removed the second band and stitched it's closed where I had pinned it. I fitted it the second band back inside the first and stitched along the top edge with a zig-zag stitch. I now had a double layered waist band, connected at the top but open at the bottom, ready for sandwiching those layers.
It was time to get my tulle on. I had 8 yards of tulle to gather up. Since it came folded perfectly in the middle I kept it that way to help make it more opaque and used the fold as the "top" of my piece. I sewed gathering stitches in to sections, then pulled them and tied them off on each end by typing the threads into a bow. I continued this process until all 8 yrds was gathered up. I laid this out on the living room floor with my tape measure taped down flat to my clients waist measurement. I then began untying and adjusting the gathers until I had the completed piece matching that measurement. When I was happy with it, I started tying off the ends of each gather section in knots to secure them.
Next it was all about the layers. I took my gather nylon, gathered tulle and my waistband and began to sandwich the fabric between the two layers of the waistband and pinned it in place. Pinning it was a pain, it was a lot of layers to pin through and I stabbed myself abut a million times but I got it done and it was ready for the fine run through the machine on a zig-zag stitch. It was slow going, pulling pins out just as I got a section but I got it done! I threw the as yet un-shortened skirt over my body form and went to de-glitter myself with about 3 showers. OMG that vile stuff get's everywhere!!!!!!!
When I was done with my de-lousing, I did a quick fitting to get the desired length, so good to have the client live right below you, and I shortened the skirt. I also checked the fit of the top, with that signed off on I trimmed the lining piece I still had loose and hemmed the bottom, I then added in the zipper to finish it off.
All that was left for the top of the garment was to finish the chest emblem . . . ugh more lame! I was able to incorporate the eagle piece by slipping it in behind the lame hem tape pieces I had already constructed and stitched it in place by hand.
I was just about ready to jump for joy to be moving on to my pleather, it's sad statement when I think pleather is the easier item to work with .
Step 3: No Gold Pleather You Say?
There must have been a run on the stuff because none of my fabric/craft stores in the area had any gold pleather. So I bought more of the blue that I was intending to use anyway and ordered a can of TRG Color Spray Paint for Leather/Plastic/Vinyl in Gold. This was a new brand for me having only used Meltonian Nu-Life Color Spray on leather/pleather before. This paint was just as good, no complaints here. :)
With all my blue pleather I set to work on the warrior over-skirt/belt. I eyeballed the size of the panels, trimming and adjusting until I was happy, and used the first one to be the pattern for the rest. These were very easy, rectangles that come to a point at the bottom. I used my Gold Sharpe and a ruler to color in the bottom trim. I under tape to help with placement and when I sewed the panels to a blue piece of pleather I had cut the same length as the gold belt. I also attached a pleather loop and added a snap, to hold the laso of truth.
Now on to the fun part, the belt. I drew out a design based, you guessed it, on the WW film but took a little liberty with the design and let some of the base blue pleather for the belt show through. That blue part should be a silver/pewter color but I didn't have a Sharpe that color or more paint so I went with the blue and I think it looks pretty good. I used gold thread to accentuate the "V" shape since it was gold on gold, with a dab of hot glue to keep it in place while I sewed the rest of the details on each side. I added tan Velcro to the blue pleather base portion of the belt (hiding the stitches) and then wrapped the gold piece around the edge and hemmed that in place. On the other side, where the belt would overlap to connect, I notched out some of the gold to fit around the Verlco and stitched around that to finish it off.
Next up was the bracers. I drew out the design (from the film WW, blah blah blah) on paper and sized it down until I had it to the right measurement for a 9 year old and then I put them out of blue pleather. I drew in the design with my gold Sharpe to see how it would look and then I painted them. Funny thing, I totally thought the Sharpe would be covered up but it wasn't! It came though as this great tone on tone look and I was thrilled with it. I used remnant pieces of purple Velcro (I was out of the tan) to add with more gold thread and with that, Wonder Woman was complete.
Step 4: Fighting for Your Rights . . . in a Glittery Tutu
This was my second piece made for a client. It had it's ups, that over skirt/belt was so cool, and downs UGH! Lame & Glitter!!! I had never drafted my own pattern before so that was new and no doubt more experienced seamstresses (seamstressers?) will be able to point out all the ways I did it inaccurately but it worked!
It was a fun challenge to make something for a 9 yr old. I learned I hate tissue lame, although some part of me wants to find a way to master it just out of spite. And I may never use glitter tulle every again because of the mess, seriously it's in the base of my machine and no amount of cleaning can ever get it all out. It irks me to know it is there. The client was happy, able to run around at school and be the active kiddo she always is while letting her inner Wonder Woman shine for all to see.
I kind of wish I had made one of these for me . . .