Thursday, June 18, 2015

Agent Peggy Carter: Part 2, The Suit

Peggy's suit is definitely one of the most distinctive pieces, and no, it isn't just a blue suit off the rack, sadly. It is clearly modeled on 1940s styled suits, with a longer length to the jacket and the A-line skirt.
Photo by George Germaine
Finding a reasonable pattern for this turned out to be quite easy. I used the Simplicity 3688 pattern as a base as it was already 40's in style. Although the piecing of the jacket was wrong, it gave me a good basis to start from. Don't get me wrong, if you're looking for a reasonable pattern this is actually quite a good basis to start from, but the suit I wore is certainly not a direct copy from the Simplicity 3688 pattern. The silhouette lines are right, and the pattern is easy to follow and if there's a better one out there to base a 40's outfit on that isn't from the time period, I haven't found it. But there were things that just weren't quite identical to Peggy.

One of the more difficult parts to get right for Peggy's suit is that it is not just one colour. A lot of cosplays out there just use a blue suit, and that's fine, but wasn't fine enough for me. You can see the different colours in the photos, and the designer talks about it in an interview, so I knew I wanted to make sure to have that detail in there. I had found a perfect blue rayon crepe for the suit/skirt, but finding additional blues that worked turned out to be a huge hassle (see previous posts on how dire Dublin's fabric selection is), so I settled on dying for my extra color.

Dye job!
To get the three colours in the jacket, I first had to find a polyester dye as none of the local shops had any. I did both colours in the same dye bath, just leaving half the fabric in twice as long as the other. The difference between the two secondary colours is not drastic, but I was happy it worked out at all. They probably used different fabrics in the show, but that just wasn't happening for me, so dye it was. Actually, I'm pretty happy with these results and it meant I had the same hand in the fabric, so it all came together nicely.

The jacket needed a lot more alterations than the skirt. The piecing had to be changed, the flare of the collar was wrong and needed broadening, and I had to get in the spaces for the three different colours.

Jacket bodice from patterning to lined.
Queue a lot of me cutting, sewing, drawing lines on myself, re-patterning, and repeat.

I made the mockup, changed the lines, made a new mockup, change the lines again, and eventually got a pattern. I think I ended up sewing the jacket together 5 times in various versions of mockups before I was happy with the seam lines, collar, and silhouette. Fortunately, I didn't do this in the fashion fabric until I had the pattern right or else there would have been tears.

Various process shots working towards the underlining.
Then it was mostly a matter of construction. I also went to the trouble of underlining the jacket. This gives the jacket a lot more structure than if I'd just used the fashion fabric. It ended up being a lot of painstaking hand sewing, but it was definitely worth it when you feel the heft and weight of the jacket. It also sits better with the extra fabrics in it and I could attach the interfacing to the underlining instead of the crepe, which meant it kept its beautiful look.

All the underlining ever....
The skirt pattern was close enough that I just went with it. In theory, the top of the skirt could be altered a bit to be more accurate, but its not going to be seen much, if any, so I left it. I did change it from the pattern in that I used an invisible zip instead of a normal zip plus button. As far as I can tell, the invisible zip is what's used in the original.
Adding horsehair braid to the skirt.
I chose not to underline the skirt, as I loved the hand of the fabric and wanted its swish, but I did give it a lining so there was no chance of it being see-through. The one thing I did do differently was add in horsehair braid on the lining of the skirt. I thought about putting it on the fashion fabric and decided against it, which I think was the right call. This way the lining acts as a mini-petticoat and gave the skirt a much fuller and poofier end than otherwise.

Button holes!
In the end I made a shirt for Peggy as well. I'm really glad I did as the store-bought shirt I had for her just didn't have the same lines and wouldn't have looked nearly as amazing. I did end up using the Simplicity 3688 pattern shirt sleeves, which are perfect for that 40's look, but I free-handed the rest of the pattern to try to get something approximating what you see in the shot. The shirt still needs some work, but it worked for the day.

I might have been a tad excited putting it on. Excuse the mess.
Overall, I am so happy with how the suit/shirt combo came out. The silhouette that came out is just about perfect, especially with the flare the horsehair braid gave to the skirt which I really had put in as an afterthought. It balanced out the heavy shoulders with the bottom of the skirt and really gave it that vintage 40's vibe.

Photo by George Germaine
Wearing Peggy was great. Like I said, she's amazing and kickass, and I couldn't help but walk with my head up and full of confidence. You can't really pull that hat off without it. I can't wait to wear her again, as she was just so much fun to run around it- and comfortable to boot!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Agent Peggy Carter: Part 1

This costume wasn't originally planned. Some times, you just have to go where the will takes you, and this cosplay is certainly one of those.
Agent Peggy Carter Reference Pic
I've had a thing for a while about the 1940s and its fashion, which was thoroughly reignited when I saw Marvel's Agent Carter TV show that came out this year. With every episode I saw I just knew that I had to become Peggy Carter. She's everything I strive to be- smart, witty, pretty, competent, and kickass while still being very feminine. After about 2-3 episodes I was completely obsessed. I'm quite pleased that I managed to pull this all together in the time I did as my timelines usually are significantly longer than this, but really the fact she's finished was definitely a case of mind over body as my fibromyalgia has been acting up again the last few weeks. June... blergh.

There were a bunch of things I simply bought- shoes, earrings, tights, Walther PPK, handbag. Peggy's actress, Hayley Atwell, has been kind enough to tweet out details like her lipstick and nail polish, so I have those too. I did take some liberties with her handbag as I wanted one that I would use outside of the costume, but it still had a vintage vibe to it and the colour worked really nicely with the hat.

I'm one of those people, you know. One of those who can't be happy just with things being close enough to correct. It has to be right. The suit and the hat are things that I feel have to be *just right* as they are basically the whole of the outfit, but I'll leave the suit until next week.

The hat as it arrived.

Her hat was not as easy as it might seem. I can't afford a Stetson Stratoliner, and most generic red fedoras either had too floppy brims, stood too tall on the head, or had the wrong look on the top of the hat.
Fixing the hat's proportions and silhouette
I fixed this with serious amounts of spray starch and a lot of futzing and fiddling to get the curves in the right place. I also cut the hat and removed about an inch of height to make it look more like I wanted it too. This worked out well, but ended up meaning I couldn't push it too far down my head so the wind plus hat was interesting.
Ribbon WIPs

The last of the hat was the ribbon and I tried desperately hard to find ribbon that I wouldn't have to make, to no avail. Everywhere wants to sell you red, white and blue ribbon (colours in that order) rather than any other combination. In the end I took three different colours of satin ribbon and sewed them together, folding the white in half to give it the right proportions.

I first tried hand sewing the ribbon (as I was feeling pressed for time and had a long bus journey within which to do it) but I didn't like how the ribbon reacted to the stitching, becoming a bit wavy. In the end I stuck it on the machine. It was easier than I thought it would be, and ended up looking well.

I tacked down the ribbon around the hat, added a button that looks vaguely like the one on Peggy's hat and called it done. I rather enjoyed making this. It was fun, and didn't take a dreadful amount of time.