Blue Edwardian-inspired “Fun Fair” Costume: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

This project began with the need for a costume in a specific size.  I didn’t have anything good for a base dress in my stash, so I went on a quick thrift-store run.  I did not have anything specific in mind other than I thought I would like to start with a dress.  I found this 2 piece dress and jacket outfit:

Once I was home I spent some time searching for an inspiration and found this dress:


I do not own this dress or image

I liked the angled overskirt with the ruffles below.  It also has long sleeves and a high lace neck, although that sort of fades out in this picture.  I found a floral bedskirt that I thought would work with the dress and off I went.  (I had contacted my sister and asked for her input on the coordinating fabric–light, medium or dark, and she picked light).

The dress was made of a very soft rayon blend fabric.  I was afraid that if I cut the skirt off with a similar angle, that the fabric would stretch.  I tried opening the side seams and folding the skirt to make the shape, but that didn’t work and was really hard to do evenly.  In the end, I cut strips of iron-on interfacing and ironed them to the dress.  I trimmed the excess fabric and folded the edges up and created a new angled hem.  I finished the edge this way because it looked like it was done that way in the inspiration dress.

Next I attached the first row of the bedskirt.  I pinned the bedskirt to the backside of the dress, trying to keep it vertically straight with the ruffled edge.  The excess fabric was then trimmed away.

Backside--pinned to angle, slight gathers

The next layer was added on with some additional lace.  I thought the lace would help disguise the seam between the two layers.

The lower skirt:

I thought that was kind of plain, so I found some wide white lace to add.  I planned to applique it around the lower edge of the blue skirt.  Stupidly, I began in the center front, and, I cut the angle of the lace wrong (why did I cut it?  Who knows).  Other than my erroneous beginning, the process went smoothly.  I stitched the lace along one side, ending at the seam, then I trimmed the lace, and stitched down the opposite edge.  I positioned the lace for the next edge and repeated the process.

Here’s my “wrong” angle in the center front.

the angle of the first piece was mis-cut

That wasn’t really going to fly . . on the side or the back . . sure . . “good enough” . . center front??  So . . I dug around and found a piece of Dutch lace scraps (someone else cut out the medallions).  I cut out some motifs to use for decoration.  Ha!  Mistake is hidden!  (I also added a couple of rows of lace and some blue ribbon to the hem).

Next I moved on to the sleeves.  I cut the sleeves out of the jacket and ended up with this:

removed sleeve

Which . . .  is rather less than inspiring.  Moving on to Plan B:

I cut out a base lining and added a square of petticoat net to give it some stiffness (avoiding the shoulder seam to hopefully decrease itching, while giving the sleeve a little body),

I messed around with the sleeves, and eventually designed a pattern, which is all pinned on to the base lining, and then appliqued in place.

After a little more embellishing, the underarm seam was stitched, the sleeve was inserted into the armscye and the sleeves were done.

Next, using the neck measurement of the cast member, I made a collar strip and gathered a scrap piece of fabric to the neckband (shaped loosely on the neckline of a blouse pattern).  This was pinned in place–adjusting the gathers–and then topstitched to the neckline.  The back of the collar closes with some hook and loop tape.

hook and loop tape

And, the dress was done:

I really like how the skirt on this dress turned out.  I have mixed feelings about the upper sleeves when seen from a distance (when the dress is worn), but I think they will be fine when I’m not staring at them.  If I were going to do it again, I might switch the floral and blue on the upper arms.  That said, I literally had shreds of the floral left when I got done, so I didn’t have a whole lot of options!  I think I could have left off the lace between the bedskirt ruffles.  I thought the seam would bother me, but I don’t think it would have.  I am impressed how much the thin row of blue ribbon adds to the hem.  Some embellishments just disappear, and some look really good.

Cost:  dress and jacket:  $4, bedskirt $1, plus wide lace, pre-gathered lace, lace scraps, narrow lace, blue ribbon, interfacing, petticoat net, white sheet

I wish I could do a better job pricing trim to give a more realistic end price, but it mostly comes off of large rolls, or it comes in little baggies that I find at the thrift store.

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