I know, I know. This is supposed to be a blog devoted entirely to writing. That’s what it started as at least, but I spent a lot of my time NOT writing and finding ways to procrastinate, so why not document those projects too? They’re a part of who I am.
The latest project is cosplay for MCM comic con in November. Last year I dressed as Hatter from Syfy’s Alice and met the amazing Andrew Lee Potts dressed as his character.
But that cosplay required very little skill beyond that of trawling through eBay to purchase the items. This year, I want to sew.
Now I want to start by saying that I can sew. My Nan was a talented seamstress and could whip up an outfit in a day back in her heyday, and my Mom used to make all our Halloween outfits from scratch and they were always amazing. So I’ve grown up around sewing machines and sewing. BUT, I am a total novice when it comes to this project. My experience doesn’t range beyond a couple of circle skirts and a nightie that my Mom refers to as my “shroud”. But I’m determined to do this and do it properly.
My obsession this year has been Outlander. For those of you who don’t know (and you seriously should because it’s amazing), Outlander is about a war nurse, Claire Randall from 1940s England on her honeymoon in Scotland who is transported through mystical stones back to Eighteenth Century Highland Scotland. Things are very different here but thanks to her keen interest in botany and medicine, she becomes a healer at Castle Leoch with the Clan Mackenzie where she ultimately falls for unfairly-gorgeous redhead, Jamie Fraser. I mean look at that face. Add to that a seductive Scottish accent, a kilt, and the fact that he spends most of the series semi-nude, who wouldn’t fall for him?
My cosplay…target? Victim? is Claire, which means a historically accurate Eighteenth Century woman’s outfit. I have to admit, I have a weak-spot for the Eighteenth Century.
I also have a weak spot for Claire. I find her such a strong character and extremely modern for a woman of the 1940s, let alone to stay strong to her beliefs in the 1700s. I also love that she loves botany, a recent interest of mine too, so I knew as soon as the idea entered my head that I wouldn’t be able to cosplay as anyone else.
That being said, it’ll be no easy task. Like I said before, Claire’s costume (and all the costumes on the show) are historically accurate. The costume designer, Terry Dresbach, and her team actually made all the fabrics used in the show themselves. They are of course machine made rather than hand-sewn though, because, lets be real, ain’t nobody got time for that.
I however, do not have a team of art students or fancy-smancey fabric-weaving machines, so I’ll have to make do with the best that the rag market and internet can provide, but I’m determined to keep it as close to the actual clothes as I can. Including all of the layers that Claire wears.
Like I said, I have a soft spot for the Eighteenth Century and I’m determined to do this right. I started my research with this video here. It’s from National Museums Liverpool and shows all the aspects involved in a lady of this time getting dressed. Her outfit is far more decorative and fancy for what I needed for Claire, but it gave me my first glance at my new favourite things: Pocket bags!
Pocket bags are a precursor to pockets as we know them today. They’re little satchel-type things with slits in the sides that tie around a woman’s waist on a string, and the gown and petticoats all have slits in them at the side to allow access to them. They’re not actually attached to the skirts meaning that they could be interchangeable with different outfits.
But this was just part one of my research. I then found this deleted scene on Youtube from Outlander of Claire getting dressed for the first time in the Eighteenth Century. I was thankful that a lot of the elements were the same, and so I put together my list of items, splitting them into sections and assigning each section to a month between now and November.
July is foundation undergarments: >Shift >Stays >Pocket bags
August is underclothes: >Bum roll >Petticoat
September is overclothes: >Skirt >Jacket >Stomacha
October is finishing touches: >Knitted arm warmers >Basket and herbal props
And then hopefully it’s all done so that the first weeks of November I don’t have to do anything.
I’ll try to update this series with each element that I make and how difficult I find it all (which will probably be immensely).