M7218 Phoenix Costume structural details
In the last post I talked about how I adapted Yaya Han’s peacock costume pattern, M7218, to create my phoenix costume. That post covered my style changes, so today I’ll talk a little bit more about how I created the understructure for this costume.
As I mentioned in the last post, I knew the dupioni would need a supporting fabric since it’s delicate and shows strain easily. I lined the skirt with lightweight cotton twill to give it some structure and support, but if I was making it again I would probably underline it with another layer of cotton or even silk organza to take as much strain as possible off the dupioni.
The skirt was the first piece I did, and I knew the bodice would be under even more strain, so I planned ahead a little more. This corset isn’t meant for serious compression, but I did want a supportive fit with minimal stretch. I ended up using three layers of fabric: the dupioni fused to a soft, lightweight interfacing, a structural layer from heavy cotton herringbone twill that I found in the NYC garment district, and the same lightweight twill as the skirt for the lining.
The pattern calls for boning in the seam allowances, which are stitched into casings and pressed to the side. I wanted to trim my seam allowances to 1/4″ around the tightest curves, so I used 3/8″ twill tape sewn over the seams on the structural layer to create the channels for my version. I also added extra channels at the center front and diagonally across the side panels, and on each side of the grommets in the center back band to give them a little more support for lacing.
I chose spiral steel boning to use along the seams, and flat steel for the additional channels I added at the center back, front, and side. You may prefer something different depending on your particular project and resources.
The only major change I made to the jacket was to add shoulder darts, which helped it to curve it across my upper back. Since the jacket is so cropped, the shoulders and back are the only part you need to worry about for fit, but it’s worthwhile to spend a bit of time on this so it stays put while you’re wearing it.
The main structural challenge here was the collar, since it’s tall and needs to support the weight of the embellishment. I more or less followed the pattern directions to stiffen the collar itself, but I knew that the jacket body would also need some extra heft to prevent it from buckling under the collar’s weight. My solution was to interline with more of the heavy twill I used for the bodice, and I understitched the collar to the lining and interlining along the back neckline. Weighting the back hem of the jacket might also help it to sit nicely – I didn’t do it here, and it’s not bad as is, but I might try adding a chain to the lower inside edge before I wear this again.
The pattern also includes a hat, which I very cleverly forgot to bring on the day we took the rest of the photos. So here it is, just to prove I actually made it! The style is a little vintage-y, and you could have a lot of fun trimming and embellishing it. I couldn’t quite make up my mind how I wanted to place the feathers I’d planned, so for now I’ve left it plain and used the contrasting fabric to give it a little interest. I sewed a couple of hair clips to the inside to keep it in place while I wear it.
If you haven’t used boning before, we’ve got an introduction to the various types and how to work with them coming up next week. Let us know if you have questions you want answered, and if you have suggestions for other topics and tutorials you’d like to see us cover here!