Costume Notes: Ms. Marvel Ballgown

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Still feels weird to see myself as a blonde.

Completed: June 2014

Hours Spent: 20~

Debuted: A-Kon 25

Why This Costume: I was positively thrilled to see that A-Kon was holding a masquerade ball this year. Any excuse to wear a pretty dress! I hemmed and hawed over what I wanted to wear. I was pretty much set on just costuming up my satin Cambie or thrifting a prom dress, but then I saw this gorgeous artwork by Hanie Mohd. Done.

How I made it: 

The base of this dress is Kwik Sew 3400 (view A with the train), which was gifted to me when I first started sewing. It’s a fairly straight-forward design: empire waist and six panels. Easy-peasy, right? Well, I hoped.

I decided that I should attempt a FBA (full bust adjustment) on this dress since I wanted the bust to be as precise as possible. One of these days, I will master a FBA, but this dress was not that occasion. I made the FBA way too big, despite checking and double checking my measurements, AND making a muslin. I wound up with massive underbust puckers that had me ready to trash this dress. After getting very thoroughly friendly with my seam-ripper (seam ripping serged stitches blows), I finally went back to the drawing board and cut a straight XL for the bust and tapering to a L at the waist. Much better.

EDIT: Did you guys know that Kwik-Sew actually accommodates for different bust sizes based on the size pattern you cut? So I basically attempted to do a FBA on a pattern that was already drafted for my cup size. The more you know…

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My initial run at this. Bad bust. Bad.

Once I got the bust issue sorted, I had to deal with the lightning bolt. The bolt is made of a gold charmeuse. I double-layered it and applied interfacing to help hold the shape. I topstitched around the edges for design and to help it lay flatter. This was another situation where I checked my measurements multiple times and made up a muslin, but I wasn’t happy with the initial result. I was afraid that the charmeuse would be too shiny and glare like crazy in pictures, so I used the wrong side of the fabric. Meh…

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Bolt the first. Bleh.

The bigger issue was that the shape was just… wrong. To get it to lay flat, I would have needed to add massive darts to the bolt, but I wasn’t liking the look of it. Fortunately, I had just enough charmeuse to cut another bolt, so I used the dart-ified bolt to draft another bolt and use the proper side of the fabric. Much better.

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Once I was satisfied with the bolt, I hand stitched the bolt to the shell of the dress. I secured the neckline by attaching jeweled straps from the top of the bolt to the back of the dress. I ultimately decided to change the zipper in the back to an invisible one and used Tasia’s method for attaching the lining. The pattern instructs you to understitch the lining before adding the zipper. In hindsight, that probably would have been better for my version of this dress, since I can’t get it under my machine to understitch now. I’ll probably do that by hand before I wear it again.

The pattern calls for boning in the side seams, but I also added some in the seams under the bust. I harvested the plastic boning from a crappy fashion corset I got ages ago and used bias tape for the casing.

A moment of silence for the corset that gave its life for a pretty dress.
A moment of silence for the corset that gave its life for a pretty dress.

I hacked off the bottom lining to view B so that it wouldn’t get caught in my shoes and finished it off with a rolled hem on my serger. Hemming the shell was surprisingly fun. I decided to hem it with horsehair as practice for my upcoming sailor fuku. The result is lovely, even if it did take several hours. I used a bit of ribbon I had in my stash to create a wrist strap on the train.

The rest of the outfit was pulled from my previous Ms. Marvel, making this one of my cheapest costumes to date at about $60 for materials. Not bad for a formal gown! I did spring for a masquerade mask from my new favorite costume shop, Dallas Vintage Shop (they carry Ben Nye!), but I didn’t wind up wearing it. Oh well. There’s always the A-fest ball!

I was really happy to shoot this dress with ACCosplay at A-Kon. He’s got a background in fashion photography, and I learned so much by working with him. I love how he captured the lighting with this dress and really made the colors pop.

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Photos by ACCosplay. I love this piano, and we stumbled across it completely by accident!

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You can see more pictures of this costume and my other costumes from A-Kon on my Facebook page! Also, I promise a non-cosplay thing later this week 🙂

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