Cropped Circus-y Tailcoat Project Notes

I really seem to like belly-barers, huh. Well, most of my costumes are for Burning Man at this point, where bellydance and/or swim attire are the norm, so deal. If you wanted to copy this look, you could easily draft the front longer.

The camp that I stay with is pretty solidly circus themed, and last year the Compatriot and I stuck out a bit. So I decided to make something that went a little more with the theme, and less with the fantasy-desert-nomad thing. (I’ll still be rocking that, of course, but when I’m working for the camp I wanna go with the flow, ya know?)006

And I didn’t want to just BUY something, because I don’t like most of the fabrics that ‘circus-look’ costumes are made from. They’re usually all shiny-gross and icky, or else way more expensive than I can justify. (Even though the expensive stuff is worth it!)

Plus, I didn’t want sleeves, I didn’t want it to ride up when I throw my hands in the air like I just don’t car, and I wanted to be able to do yoga and/or climb things in it. I wanted a black-and-white color scheme with a contrast patterned lining for the tails. I didn’t want much in the way of decorations that can fall off and cause MOOP. I wanted matte black, with no sheen or shine whatsoever, but nothing textured. Oh, and I wanted a cotton lining because acetate linings feel gross on my skin when I sweat, and the tails touch my bare back. Also because acetate linings are shiny and I don’t like the way that looks on the ‘wrong’ side of a tailcoat.


Contrast lining, just for fun!

So I drafted my own tailcoat! If you wanted to do something similar, it’s easier than it looks. If you’ve ever lined a garment, you’re 3/4ths of the way there already. Seriously, I just cut rectangles for the front and traced the armhole from a jacket for the arms. For the back, I just extended the rectangles the full width of my fabric, and freehanded a curve for the tails.

Like this:

Tailcoat diagram

I cut these two shapes from my shell and my lining fabric. If you’ve lined something before, you know that the back of the lining has to be a little bit bigger to account for movement. I’m honestly not sure why this works, it seems like if the shell is big enough it should be fine. But work it does. When you sew everything together, you’ll basically make a little pleat in the lining to make it match the shell.

I’m not going to show you a photo of my lining pleat, because I very foolishly made a lovely box pleat on the wrong side of the fabric, which resulted in a very weird thing happening when I turned it right-side out. And since it was made completely on a serger… I just kind of left it. But it does the job, so.

To assemble, I used this tutorial for lining a sleeveless vest:

It worked great! I just marked the side seams of the back pieces so I didn’t sew too far, and sewed the tails together just like the bottom edge of a normal jacket. (Just, you know, with more changes in direction.)

Lastly, I wanted a nipped-in look to counter how boxy the straight shoulders look. I considered nipping in the back and then trimming the lining to fit, but in the end I just said screw it, and gathered the whole back. That’s another lazy thing that happens when your concept is mostly finished, partially made up as you go along.

Oh, and I didn’t worry about facings and stuff for the lapels. I didn’t want a collar on the back of my neck because I tend to overheat really easily, and I wanted the contrast lining to show. So I just folded out the square front of the neck into little lapels. I’m pleased with that result, and it was WAY easier than trying to make a collar with a serger or by hand.


Just showing off the range of motion. Part of why I left off sleeves (other than because I usually find them too warm) is so that I could easily move around without worrying about perfectly drafted sleeves. (Still practicing those.)


The other reason I left off sleeves is so that I could do this!


The back is quite boxy. This is because I like to cover my whole shoulder at Burning Man, so I don’t have to remember to apply sunscreen to just part of my shoulder. (I still get my shoulders along with my arms, but when there’s not much shoulder coverage I end up with a weird tan somehow anyway.)

See how the tails cross just a teensy bit when I stand a certain way? That’s pretty normal because I didn’t adjust the size of the tails when I cinched the jacket in. I went back and forth on that before assembling, but ultimately I liked the folds created by the overlap, and decided to keep it instead of trimming the tails to fit the cinched-in shape.


Shiny buttons on the gathered back bit are the only embellishments. And cat hair. Always cat hair.

There you have not. Not a tutorial, but hopefully enough to be going on with if you’ve made a jacket/vest before.


Adventure Pants: Using an old garment to make something completely new

So… the first part of this post was TWO YEARS AGO. Bad, bad sewing blogger! Check it out — I detailed my process for taking apart my favorite pair of pants and using them as a pattern. Part One here.

One good thing about the super long gap between parts is that I was able to test my labeling system. It held up! So yeah, write notes onto your fabric. It’s super helpful, especially if you have a lot of pieces. My pants have a center front seam and with the way the pockets are constructed, it’s super easy to get the crotch piece and side pocket piece mixed up. One can never have too many notes and arrows.

This post is to show a pair of pants that I made modeled on the old ones, and to showcase how far you can go with the basics of an old garment that fits well. I was able to keep just about everything I liked about the fit while eliminating some of the weirder pockets, also eliminating the fly (partially because I actually wanted a crazy exposed zipper with the crazy fabric, but also partially because I only have a serger at the moment and flies are hard enough.)

Continue reading

Swords and sorcery!

Dragonscale belly dance skirt/bra project notes and tutorial…ish.

Two posts in a week? When it rains, it pours. And guess what? It’s another super wordy post! I love seeing myself type, I guess. As always, for the straight tutorial, skip down until you start seeing bold.

I made a swords-and-sorcery-inspired costume. For some reason, I enjoy the late ’70s and ’80s fantasy comic-book/video game aesthetic. It’s just so gloriously over the top. It’s not gritty or dark. It’s colorful and shamelessly self-indulgent. I wanted a costume for a party that would be utterly ridiculous, colorful and silly. Like something out of Elf, maybe, or early Thor comics. Or even Everquest, come to think of it.

Continue reading

Easy pants variation

I’m all over the place, aren’t I. I made some pants this week that I really enjoy, and I’d like to share how, since it’s really easy.


Draft a simple pair of knee-length elastic-or-drawstring-waist pants with side seams, adding about an inch to each side seam compared to what you’d normally wear. Or, use your favorite pattern, and add an inch or two extra at the side seams. (You could even do this with a non-elastic waist band with a fly, if you want. Just make sure there’s a waistband, or it’ll look really strange.)

Continue reading

This shot doesn't have the underskirt in it... I'll fix it later, but the underskirt picture turned out really badly.

A Wind Waker Halloween Costume Journal (Princess Zelda): Dress

Man, long absences all over the place. Well, my excuse this time is that I got married (I know I still need to do more posts about that…) and went to Burning Man and thought that we were moving, but we haven’t yet. Which means another Halloween with my friends! Yay. It’s not that long until Halloween, at least in the complicated costume-making realm, but a friend of mine said she was going to be pajama Link from Wind Waker. I jokingly said I’d be Zelda, when another friend piped up that she wanted to be Tingle. Yep. Tingle. Then we got a Ganon, and were good to go.

By the way, this is a long post. If you just want to look at the pictures… I try to caption them so they get the info across and you don’t have to slog through my incredibly wordy prose. So read on, skim on, however you choose to experience it.

Continue reading


Dragon Hoodie

I made this. No, there’s not really a tutorial, sorry, just wanted to share. Mostly I made a basic hoodie with extended, widened arm-gloves. Oh, and little ‘spikes’ inserted into the hood and arm seams. The rest of the ‘spikes’ are small triangles of fabric sewn together, stuffed, and attached by hand. The tail is quilted, and the scales are leather scraps glued and stitched down for extra security. That took freaking forever.

Obviously, my inspiration was Calgary Cosplay’s dragon hoodie. Well, mostly just the arms and scales. The head is constructed much differently because I wanted a different look. Also there’s no front zipper, mostly because I didn’t want to buy one.

I wanted to make my own so that it would fit me better than the Calgary ones, seeing as I have my own measurements. Also, it was a whole lot of fun to puzzle out and make. I really like the over-sized forearms!

Continue reading


Beaded costume/bellydance belt tutorial

Confession: This wasn’t meant to be a tutorial at first. Originally, the belt was supposed to be over a sheer paneled floaty skirt; the idea was that I’d make it, photograph it, and maybe try and sell it if it turned out especially amazing. But I just started hating that idea, until I decided to leave it as a belt. Then it just seemed a little too simple to keep to myself; it’s time consuming, but by no means a work of artistic genius. Finally, I kept changing my concept as I worked, which led to some severe uneven-ness in the beading, and some crazy wonky grommets.

So instead, how’s about a tutorial so you can make your own? I might still offer a 2.0 version in an Etsy shop or something in the future, since they are super time consuming for such a small accessory, but it’s nice to share how to make things.

Continue reading


Simple body chain with cape tutorial schematic/notes

Pretty self-explanatory. Do you like body chains? With our without capes? Wanna see how I did mine?

Now, normally I’m not a fan of any sort of metal in my festival costumes, because I tend to not like to wear a lot of clothing, and skimpy armor is a BIG anti-feminist pet peeve of mine. But body chains don’t look like armor to me. I mean really, is anyone going to mistake this thing for protective shoulder gear? No.

I fully expect you to extrapolate your own from this, since it’s only a few notes about construction and a tiny schematic showing which chains are connected where. But I think and hope it’ll be helpful for someone who has chain but isn’t quite sure how to puzzle out the shapes in their head.

Continue reading

2014-04-30 15.58.57

Making a veil for my homemade wedding!

Veils are really expensive. Well, you can get a really cheap, fingertip-length piece of tulle with some beads glued on it. But if you want something nice, it costs a lot of money. Which it should, in the case of nice, handmade, high-quality veils! Those take a TON of time and effort. Of course, then there’s the ridiculously overpriced crap that people sell, banking on a bride’s liberal spending because it’s her wedding. Either way, you’re in for a big cash ding if you want something fancy without doing it yourself.

I decided on a long veil with a crown and scattered crystals, with lace trim at the bottom but not the sides. I don’t really like huge, poofy, dramatic wedding dresses (they’re gorgeous, just not on me), so I’m relying on the veil for the drama. Plus, in my heart of hearts, I’m still a little enamored with elves and fantasy creatures. I don’t want to do a costume or a theme wedding, but a simple wire-and-crystal circlet nods to my love of fantasy while not being silly about it. I hope.

Continue reading

Green eggs and… garlic.

Looking to get some more greens in your diet? Well, you should be. They’re super good for you, and anywhere you can sneak some in, you should do that. Plus, light cooking in olive oil can kick up the health factor by a few notches. (Nutrition. It’s weirdly interconnected.)

This is an awesome breakfast full of protein, healthy fats, and green goodness. Try it, Sam I Am!


  • 4 Organic Valley eggs*
  • 4-6 cups spinach, kale, chard, or greens of choice. (Iceberg lettuce not recommended, that stuff doesn’t heat well.) I used a salad mix and half a bunch of cilantro.
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 3 green onions
  • Salt, pepper to taste
  • Olive oil
  • Organic Valley mozzarella cheese* (optional)
  • Lemon juice (optional, but awesome)


Heat up your broiler. While it’s heating, put some olive oil in a skillet. Toss the garlic in there, and chop up a bunch of green onions. When your nose starts picking up that heavenly garlic-and-olive-oil fragrance, add the green onions. Then, add the greens. Toss as many of them in there as you can fit in the skillet. They’ll shrink down a fair amount. Stir the greens and the garlic and onions together.

Quickly (the greens cook pretty fast) crack 4 eggs into the skillet on top of the greens, and let them sit for a minute or so, until they start setting and turning white. In the meantime, season with salt and pepper, and grate some cheese if desired.

Move the whole skillet to the broiler and cook until your eggs are how you like them. For me, that takes ~2 minutes, but I like them fairly gooey.

Carefully split between two plates, and splash just a little bit of lemon juice over everything.

Serve with crusty toast and a little bit of balsamic vinegar if desired.

*Why am I specifying egg and cheese brand? Because independent, third-party research has shown that Organic Valley is really nice to its cows. And they have a really good (though not perfect, sadly…) track record for their chickens. Though they are a common “organic” brand, which may lead some to believe they’re just hopping on the organic bandwagon, they’re actually a collective of small farmers. Weird, huh? So many of these companies pitch “humane,” “cage-free,” “organic,” blah blah blah, when you’re actually paying them to lie to you. Organic Valley is decently affordable and delivers on their promises.