Playing with Pleather – The Freedom in Costume Sewing
It’s time for Halloween sewing! Costume sewing is a perfect way to get out of your comfort zone because you can always fall back on “well, it’s just a costume” that will only be worn for a short time and probably not closely inspected. And, for costumes, hot-glue is totally fair game if you find yourself in over your head or need to fix any boo-boos!
My daughter and I got a jump on our costume sewing this year by sewing a cosplay outfit for our area’s semi-annual anime convention. I started by looking at images of the character she wanted to be. With the dress style identified as roughly “Lolita” I found Simplicity 8127 was close enough with puff sleeves, fitted waist, and layered circle skirt with room for a pettiskirt. Not exact, but I’d make some adjustments, and again – it’s just a costume.
I sketched my sewing plan as I always do, with notes on measurements, adjustments to be made, and materials I’d need. For this costume, our main fabrics would be black and hot pink satins, plum taffeta and faux leather for the corset belt. Cali Fabrics was a perfect place to shop with its huge selection of fabrics that work well for costumes and don’t break the bank for an outfit that will be worn once or twice.
Polyester charmeuse satin was perfect for this outfit’s many bows and the main part of the dress. It’s silky and luxurious with a characteristic sheen that makes it feel special! Cali has poly charmeuse satin in more than 20 colors.
For the skirt, we needed something with a little less drape and a little more crispness that would better hold shape over our (store-bought) pettiskirt, so we used this pretty plum taffeta. Cali carries taffeta in more than a dozen solids and some pretty prints as well. This plum has a beautiful sheen on both sides, but one side is even shinier than the other – almost like glass – which gives it such a rich look!
Pleather or faux leather is another textile that has a lot of uses in costume sewing. It can be on the pricier side, but it’s reasonable at Cali, and when used as a belt or accent, 56”–60″ wide goes a long way. Cali has a few pleather fabrics in stock, the black stretch vinyl Cali is carrying now has a shiny patent finish, while the one we used for our costume is more matte. Cali also has a leopard print and a reptile texture faux leather in stock! I self-drafted our corset belt based on the character photos, it’s really just a slightly shaped rectangle with some seaming and grommets added, fastened with a big pink satin bow in back!
This was my first time to sew pleather and first time to set grommets with my KAM pliers. Some things that helped sewing the pleather go smoothly were using wonder clips instead of pins, a 90/14 needle, lengthening my stitches, and using a walking foot when topstitching on the right side of the pleather to prevent sticking. If you don’t have a walking foot, you can use a teflon foot, or prevent sticking DIY-style with tissue paper between the foot and pleather. I used the dies made for grommet-setting in my KAM pliers to both punch the holes for the grommets and to set them.
They’re a little out of alignment, but no one’s going to be looking that closely, right?
Craft beads, 3D-printed and handpainted cat ears and heart charm, and a wig completed our look. I may or may not have used fashion tape to hold a a few things in place and no one may or may not have noticed. It’s a costume, it’s fun, and we love how it turned out!
I hope this encourages you to think big when you’re sewing costumes, get out of your comfort zone and experiment! We’d love to connect with you over on our Instagram at Tie Dye Diva Patterns.
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