Thursday, November 17, 2011

A project totally out of left field...

... and totally not from the 1950s, but its still sewing, and exciting, so I thought I'd talk about it here.

This coming weekend Steve and I have been invited to a fancy dress cocktail party with a moulin rouge theme. We won't know ANYONE at this party (long story) so I thought I would go all out with my outfit... like I wouldn't have gone all out anyway!

So, I have this corset that I wore at Miss Pinup Australia NSW Finals last week:

(I had no idea they were taking this photo by the way)

I thought the custom made corset by Jill's Corsets would be a great foundation for a moulin rouge inspired cancan outfit. To that I imagined adding a cancan skirt, and a big feathered head piece. Due to the NSW Finals of Miss Pinup Australia being the weekend before, I really wasn't going to have a lot of time to make this all happen. I looked around at buying a skirt and I couldnt get anything in the colours I wanted, or the look I wanted. The head piece was much easier - Feathers custom make showgirl head pieces in whatever colours you want! Done!!

Back to the skirt - I realised I was going to have to make it, so I started looking around for a pattern, and of course I couldnt find what I wanted. I did find this which gave me a huge hint on ruffles, but more on that later.

So, for the first time, I was going to have to make it up as I was going along!!!! This might scare a lot of people, but not me - chuck me in at the deep end and watch me swim!

I started with the outer skirt, which after a bit of draping and pining, looks like this:

Remind me not to attempt to put zippers in satin again - it wasn't fun, but I will live with the fact that its not perfect because it will be hiding under my corset.

Next step was to make the inner skirt (from bemsilk lining). Its the exact same size as the long bits of the outer skirt. The inner skirt is the bit I was going to attach all the ruffles to.

To make the ruffles, I cut 10 strips of fabric (more bemsilk lining) from selvedge to selvedge, then overlocked the selvedge edges together to make one LOOOONG strip, then I overlocked down both sides of the strip to stop it from fraying. Here is where the ruffling hint comes in.

Did you know that if you make your stitch length and tension maximum on your machine (and maybe give the top thread a bit of a hand by holding it tighter) your sewing machine will create gathers for you!!!!!!!

I didnt!

It goes in like this:

and comes out like this:

And at 1am I also discovered that your overlocker can do exactly the same thing!!!! Its amazing how brave and creative you can be at 1 o'clock in the morning!

So then I stitched the ruffles on in alternate colours. This took a while...

Once all the ruffles were on, I stitched the inner skirt into the outer skirt. This was when something happened that I hadn't anticipated. Even thought the inner skirt and the outer skirt were exactly the same size, the inner skirt hung lower because it had extra weight on it from all the ruffles. This meant that I had to break out the overlocker again and make a satin ruffle to sew to the bottom hem of the outer skirt to make it longer. Phew - almost there! By this point Stella was looking at me wondering if we were ever going to go to bed. She had given up sleeping on my petticoats and had decided to just stare at me instead. Yes Stella, Mummy is mad.

So I sewed the satin ruffle on and VOILA!!!!! THE CAN CAN SKIRT WAS FINISHED!!!!!

Looks pretty doesn't it? You will have to use your imagination and put the whole outfit together because by the time I finished (1.30am) I did not feel like parading around the house in the outfit just to see what it looked like. I'm sure you will understand.

I found this project a wonderful creative outlet and a good test of my sewing skills and ingenuity. Now I need someone else to have a moulin rouge themed fancy dress party so I can bring the whole ensemble out again, as I'm sure it will be a hit on Saturday night!

Thanks for reading.



  1. Oh my goodness! GREAT JOB! i would have had no idea where on earth to start lol. in fact i didnt even realize the ruffles were on the inside and not outside of a cancan skirt. oops lol! Going to go look to later posts to see if you managed to get pics up.

    1. If you think about it, when the girls lift up their skirts you see the ruffles, so that makes them on the inside! But yep, a lot of the costume patterns I saw had them on the outside... so I think its a common misconception :) And If you didnt find any, have a look on my facebook page because I'm pretty sure they are there :)