I’m pretty much a cut and paste historical costumer. I mean, if I’m making a 1830 dress, then I stick to a late ’30s design. I don’t mesh styles. I don’t make a dress with a bustle and leg o’ mutton sleeves just because (As if! That’s saved for the Barbie outfits.)
So what in the world caused me to make such a weird outfit as this one?
The same thing that inspires anyone to step out of their comfort zone – for the fun of pure creativity. The chance to broaden their horizons. To further their skills.
I’ll admit I’m a huge Hunger Games fan. Yep. So while walking through Party City searching for pencils for my Edwardian corset class students, I found a cheesy headband with orange feathers. Good gosh! How did that ever attract my attention??
Well, somehow that turned into a thought of throwing my husband a Hunger Games party. (He’s turning 40 in September.) We could all dress up in Captiol costumes. How fun?!
That was in May. By June, I’d thrown out my vintage dress idea for the Costume College gala and decided to go full force into my own fantasy project – something I’ve never done.
So now I have the initial idea of it. Then I was walking through Michael’s a few days later and stopped at these gorgeous yellow hibiscus flowers that were calling my name from an end cap. Oh! Oh!! The ideas started flying! Fast & furious. Yellow flowers. A teal bodice. Ooh.. with orange hair. Ack!
Next up – to go through my library and find inspiration. I HAD to include my passion of Victorian dress into this wild get-up, of course. In Victorian Costume for Ladies: 1860-1900 (a book FULL of original photographs) I found it.
This lady is so beautiful! Look at that bodice! (I counted best I could and replicated those 52 buttons on my version.) I also decided to nix the high collar part and shorten the sleeves. The photo is dated 1891. But I really wanted a bustle effect too. hmm…
Searching the web for Hunger Games Capitol couture images doesn’t give you much. But I did know the film used lots of color blocking, basic skirt silhouettes with emphasis on sleeves and the head. So I studied Effie Trinket’s costumes a bit more and decided to keep the skirt simple in black and knee length.
The fabric is a polyester with cross hatches woven in. And I found it at my local JoAnn’s. Score! The gorgeous peacock blue silk taffeta came from the ever helpful Renaissance Fabrics (thanks Bridget!) while the orange shot yellow taffeta came from Pure Silks.
I took my 1883 red bodice pattern and tweaked the closure, all with studying the original photograph in detail. There are separate pieces for the lining left and right and fashion fabric left and right. I started to lose what side was which after a while!
The lining is closed at center front with hook & eye tape. Then I expanded the pattern for the right side gathering, tweaking it during my first fitting.
The sleeves were hand drafted from that 1883 sleeve. (Yes, I simply hand drew a new sleeve cap line.) I wanted to capture that early 1890s tall sleeve head while keeping the upper arm a relatively close fit.
I cut double strips of nylon netting and gathered them onto the sleeve lining. I set in two row and ended up trimming them both down a bit so they’d fit inside the silk sleeve. They work but make kind of a crunchy sound when I fluff them. ha!
The orange overskirt was created from the Truly Victorian Butterfly Train pattern shortened to match the skirt hem. I made that up then draped the front apron and tablier on my dressform.
Of course the look wouldn’t be complete without proper Capitol hair and makeup.
The wig is standard Cosplay. I got the 36″ long and tortured it into a pseudo-Victorian style. the center is in a loose bun with the long sides braided and wrapped around the bun. The flowers on top are sewn to a piece of buckram which I covered with orange silk and added two wig clips on the bottom for securing.
As for makeup: I found mineral powders on Etsy that I could get samples of in bright orange and teal (’cause I’m not one to just wear orange eye shadow any ol’ day). A set of generic fake lashes completed the look.
For the final touch I made a teal bead bracelet showing my allegiance with the mockingjay emblem.
I had such a fun time putting this fantasy costume together! It was truly an enjoyable experience. The whole thing brought a sense of freedom as I broke out of my 19th Century costuming mold.
I would highly recommend everyone try a fantasy costume once! It’ll empower you to try more advanced designs in your comfortable historical styles.