After the Elsa dress for Comic-Con this summer, I guess I knew I wasn’t going to get off lightly for Halloween. A few weeks ago my daughter said that she wanted to be Veronica Daring this year. But who is Veronica Daring you are probably asking yourself?
Veronica Daring is the heroine of an animated movie that doesn’t even exist yet. Hullabaloo is a 2D animated steampunk movie which has been seeking funding on Indiegogo. The movie features two girls – Veronica Daring and her friend Jules, who are scientists and inventors who must use their intellect and skills to save Veronica’s father. The steam punk artwork is absolutely gorgeous and the characters of Veronica and Jules are intended as positive role models for girls, encouraging them to “get excited about science, engineering and sci-fi”
My daughter is hugely into animated movies and this looks like an amazing project. So Veronica Daring it was.
I used Simplicity 1819 Steampunk costume for the skirt and corset.The skirt is very similar to the artwork for the character and very unlike anything I have made before.
There are no finished measurements on the envelope or the pattern pieces and by the time I was ready to sew this I didn’t have time to make a muslin. I would say that there is a bit of ease in the pattern but it isn’t too excessive – the corset isn’t as snug as a corset really should be and the skirt is a bit loose at the waist but as this is a costume and won’t get a lot of wear it was all manageable.
I made the corset first in case I had to size it up or down. I used a piece of brown brocade curtain material from Abakhan which was reduced. I have never made a corset before but it seemed to go together well. I interfaced with a rather cheap medium weight interfacing so it ended up feeling quite substantial. I ran out of time to insert the boning which I do regret – it doesn’t hold up well after an hour or two of wear and you can se it folding a little at the back already – but again its a costume and my first attempt. Inserting the eyelets/grommets for the lacing was fun. I was able to use a thing like a giant hole punch in the wardrobe department at work which made it really easy – the grommets we had were larger than I think the pattern intended but I quite like the brass look on the brown fabric. The lacing is a piece of black satin bias binding from my stash, so it is a bit stretchy.
For the skirt I used 5 metres of taffeta – again from Abakhan which has a great selection of curtain remnants for projects like this – the taffeta cost less than £20 and I have quite a bit left. I chose this colour as the fabric seemed quite soft but I wonder if I should have gone for a different one which was a bit stiffer to really hold the pleats on the front skirt. The skirt is constructed in two parts. The part you can see at the front has 5 pleats at each side to give the cascade at the front and two semi-circular sections are stitched together and folded to add the additional drape sections at the side.
The back bustle is a completely separate piece which is very long and is tied into loops on the skirt piece to create the voluminous folds. It is quite clever the way it comes together. However – the completely incomprehensible part of the pattern was how this rather large piece is supposed to attach to the waistband.
The pattern instructions show this piece attached to the waistband and then being able to completely overlap the centre back where the zip is on the under-skirt. However the waistband piece simply isn’t long enough to allow for an overlap, so either you squash the piece onto one side which wouldn’t make any sense, or you would cover the zip and not be able to get it on and off. If the zip had been inserted at the side it might have been possible to attach the bustle as described. I saw a few other people who have made this pattern refer to this problem but I didn’t see that anyone had worked out how it was supposed to go. In the end I made a separate waist band for the bustle – I put buttonholes on it and intended to button it in place but in the end as I ran out of time I safety-pinned it onto the main skirt. I am not sure that buttons would have been secure enough as the bustle pice is quite heavy – it is completely self lined. All of this is covered by the corset and it allowed me to pin the waist a little tighter as it was slightly loose.
I love the overall effect. The taffeta was actually much easier to sew than I feared – I was able to press it easily and it didn’t shift about too much when I was sewing it. Projects like this can be a lower risk way to try out new techniques and completely different fabrics! I love the detail of the skirt which was much more ornate than anything I have ever made before.
We found the fabulous steampunk hat and goggles at a fancy dress store in town. It really completes the outfit. The eagle-eyed may notice that the white top is actually my Bellini blouse!
My daughter loves the outfit – which is always the point with anything like this. Secretly I quite enjoy sewing something so totally different so it works out well for both of us – she is already plotting what she wants to wear for Comic-Con next year so who knows what we will try next!