Dragonfly Designs by Alisa




Idris – Doctor Who

Gallifrey One 2012

For more pictures of me wearing this costume, please go to my Random Blog:

All Done!  2/9/12

And just in time for Gallifrey One!  Here are the pictures – I dared the rain to take these, so there are a lot of rain spots on the bows.

I also put together a matching purse, even though Idris doesn’t carry one in the episode.  I need something to carry my camera and cell phone in!

I used scraps of the dress fabric, and embroidered a quick little floral design on the front.

So that’s it for this one.  I’ll have pics of me wearing it after Gallifrey One!

Distressed Skirts – 12/29/11

I’ve been working on distressing the orange underskirt, and I think this skirt is now officially done!

Side view:

Front view:

Close up:

I also finished the velvet hip scarf, but I don’t have pictures yet.

Skirts – 12/12/11

I have been bad, and have not taken any in-progress shots of the skirts.  But here is where I right now.  Bear in mind that this is all “brand new” and needs a whole lotta aging, coloring, and distressing still.

The orange-y striped petticoat.  I found some striped orange fabric (there’s a link to it in an earlier post) and it was a very, VERY bright orange, but the stripes were basically perfect.  I test-dyed a bunch of swatches with various RIT dye baths to try to tone it done a bit.  What ended up working was a combination of tan and black – except that when I put the actual fabric in, I ended up with too much black, and the fabric was way too dark.  I ended up using bleach to leach some of the color out, and this worked brilliantly.  In the below pic, the one of the right is the too dark swatch; the one on the left is the original color.

Here’s a pic of the colored and then bleached fabric next to a photograph of the actual dress:  The dress in the pic is actually a bit brighter than it looks here, and the stripes are more obvious.

Here’s a pic of the finished skirt.  I just gathered the waistband, cut the hem of the skirt so that it is longer in back than in the front, and sewed on two bands of ruffles.  Like I said, this still needs major distressing!

And here’s the overskirt.  I had this dark grey silky fabric, so I used that as the base for the ruffles (doing another simple gathered waistband.)  The ruffles are silk taffeta, in two different shades of shot silk.  They are not a perfect match to Idris’ colors, but those colors are really hard to find…at least at a price I can afford.

The edges of the ruffles still need to be unraveled a bit more, so I have that teal blue fringe all the way around.

With bodice.  The lace sleeves have not been painted or distressed yet, so they are all new and clean…and not the right color!

The back…notice the bit of orange underskirt ruffle peeking out!


The front of the bodice.  Bows still not sewn on – or distressed.

After I took these pics, I worked on the lace overlay to the skirt.  I still need to put in some kind of waistband, but I had a lot of fun ripping the lace up and distressing it.  Distressing is FUN…once you get over the whole “oh no I’m destroying my fabric!” sensation.  I need to write up a tutorial on how to distress fabric, and make some videos about it.

Bodice  and Sleeves – 12/3/11

I decided to make the bodice in three sewn-together layers.  First, I made a lining out of super thin, stretchy fabric in grey:

It is inside out in the above pic, because of course the “finished” side lays against my skin.  Next I flat lined the bodice fabric with blue cotton duck.  It would have been better to use a grey duck, but I didn’t have any, and I was impatient to begin.  Here’s the back, with zipper partly installed, showing the three layers:

Since the grey stretchy sleeves were sewn to the lining, I sewed the lace over-sleeves between the layers of blue duck and bodice outer fabric.

I also the sewed the lace front between those same layers.  The front bows are just pinned there – the front isn’t finished yet.

On the shoulders, I cut an extra bit of lace, distressed the heck out of it and colored it with diluted brown fabric paint, and will sew them on like cap sleeves.  Haven’t done the sewing yet…the paint is still wet!  

I may well end up adding more paint to darken all of this.  I’ll do that last – it’s easier add paint then it is to try to lighten it!

What I still need to do on the bodice:

Add bows on the front and top of sleeves.  Bind the top and bottom edges (at least where it isn’t supposed to be all ragged.)   Sew the bottom edge of the innermost lining  into the bodice.

And then the biggest part of this costume will be done!  I also did complete most of the orange petticoat, but I don’t have pictures yet.

Let me tell you, this is one costume I will be glad to have DONE.   I have done more seam-ripping (nice that it’s supposed to look ragged!) and more pinning and unpinning and pinning again.  Some costumes go together perfectly and the process of making them is a joy, and sometimes they are just contrary from the beginning!

But at least I think it’s going to turn out well, so that’s good!  🙂   Also, that lace?  After buying many, many samples (and a few yards of sight-unseen yardage) seeking for something I could live with, I decided I couldn’t live with ANY of it.  Frustration mounting, I happened to remember this lacy stuff I’d bought eons ago and had stuffed away at the back of my closet.  It’s still not perfect, but once I dyed it grey, I was much happier with it than anything I’d found anywhere else.  How weird is that?  It doesn’t have a floral motif at all, but the floral design doesn’t really show in the sleeves and bodice anyway, so that’s okay.  For the skirt, I will use a different lace that does have a floral motif – the peach Thunderlily lace (link a couple of posts below this one.)

Painting the bodice fabric – 10/28/11

I finished the muslin for the bodice, so it was time to cut and sew.  Because the fabric is slippery and slightly stretchy, I lined it with a layer of duck to keep everything secure.  I won’t be boning it, because I will wear a corset under it.  One of the major problems with many of the Idris cosplayers I’ve seen is their lack of proper undergarments.  You simply cannot get the right fit and look without a corset, or alternately, boning the bodice as if it were a corset!  Anyway, after I had the front and front sides sewn together and lined, it was time to paint.

I used blue fabric paint mixed with white, and then thinned down with water until it was almost the consistency of water.  I used a sponge to brush the paint over the entire fabric like a stain of very pale blue.  I’m going for this brownish look, so I wanted only enough blue to match the ribbons on the chest and shoulders.

After the blue wash was applied, I thinned and diluted some brown fabric paint in the same way.  I applied this first in a straight line down the seams with a brush, then feathered it out with the sponge onto the rest of the fabric, following the wavy lines in the fabric.

In the picture, it looks a bit lighter than it actually is, but I may go over it again later and make it even darker.  The blue in particular is more evident in person.  Here’s a close up:

Dyeing the Bodice Fabric – 10/26/11

One of the costumers I’ve recently discovered is MacBeemer.  She’s made the best reproduction of the Idris dress I’ve seen to date. Click her name above to be taken to her pictures and a step-by-step of how she did it.  I’m getting so much inspiration and help from this!  One thing she doesn’t discuss in detail though, is how she dyed the bodice fabric.  Since I’m virtually certain she got some of the same Australian fabric I did, I messaged her with questions, and she was kind enough to answer.  Here’s her tips for dyeing this fabric:

“Okay, I know people are dye snobs and I’m going to get pooh-poohed for this, but I use RIT dye. I love RIT. I’ll use Jacquard for silk if I’m feeling hoity-toity, but for the most part, RIT serves me just fine. I used a combo of evening blue and pearl gray with some tan/taupe to dull it down a bit. Be careful with taupe, because it’ll take the dye bath green in a hurry if you use too much.

It was still SUPER pale after two or three immersions, so that’s when I decided to paint it to even out the swirl colors. If we do have the same fabric, it’ll go REALLY dark when it’s wet, and the light/dark difference in the weave will look even more pronounced, so don’t panic. Wet the fabric down before you paint it to assure an even tone, then just use some watered down fabric paint. I think I used Jacquard’s “Neopaque” paint line for my wash, and I mixed blue, white, black and two different browns until I came up with a color I liked.

I did cut a lot of swatches out to play around with before doing the big piece of fabric, and would dye a piece, dry it with the hairdryer, and then decide what I needed to do to get a better result. Lather, rinse, repeat!”

After steamcon, I finally have time to devote time to this, so I started my own dye tests, basing them around the colors she recommended.  Eighteen swatch tests later, close up study of every Idris photograph I have, and some experimentation with fabric paint, here’s what I’m going with: test swatch #5.

First off, here’s the fabric as-is, before dyeing:

I used 1/2 RIT Tan and 1/2 RIT Pearl Grey in a small tub of hot water.  Just out of the dye and still wet, it looks like this:

This obviously too dark, but as MacBeemer warns, when dye it is much lighter.  I ironed one part of the fabric and draped it across the wet so you can see the contrast. The true color is the darker shade to the left of the photo – light was reflecting off the right side and making it seem lighter than it is!

MacBeemer went for a blue color in her dyeing, but after studying the pictures, I decided to go for the brownish-tan look.  Next, I will stain the lighter swirls a very pale blue with diluted fabric paint – this also alters the darker swirls to more of a blue.   Finally, I will paint more brown onto the edges/seams of the bodice as texture (as MacBeemer did).  Fingers crossed that it works in the real fabric as well as it did in the swatches!

Tomorrow, I’m working on the bodice muslin.  Once I have that finalized, I’ll cut out the real fabric pieces, sew them together and then start painting!

I also ordered my lace from ThunderLily.  They are an online fabric store I just discovered, but they have quick service and FREE swatches!  This lace is actually peach in color, but I experimented with my swatch and discovered if I dye it grey and then antique it a bit with brown paint, it looks quite well.  Better than any of my other possibles!

So pretty much I have all the fabric I need to do this outfit now.  I just need a good wig…

Bodice Fabric   7/25/11

I love my fellow costumers!  Thanks to the dedication and generosity of a woman who I’ve met only through this website and my facebook page, I now have a nearly *exact* match to that frustratingly impossible to find bodice fabric!

It’s quite the story, too.  The wonderful Laura P. contacted me because she’d found a costumer in Australia who had blogged about finding this perfect fabric in some small store in Sidney without an online presence.  Laura ended up making a deal with the Australian to buy two additional meters of the fabric, and mail it to her home in Florida.  I paid half the Australia to U.S. postage (which sadly ended up being more than the price of the fabric!), and when it arrived in FL, Laura divided it up, and sent my half on to me.  I got it this morning, and it’s gorgeous!  I am so happy.  I only wish Laura and I were going to the same event, so we could admire each other’s Idris costumes in person!

I also wish I could pass on what exactly this fabric is, so that any of you other Idris costumers could be helped, but the Australian said the fabric was unmarked, and she bought the last of the bolt.  Here it is:

The color is wrong, being a tan/cream, but the Australian dyed it without difficulty, so I’ll be running some dye tests soon.

New Picture

The dress is on display at the Doctor Who Experience, and so far, I’ve found this pic. It shows Idris’s dress from a new angle.


Boots – 5/21/11

I’ve bought boots I think will work very well, and at $30, they are cheap for boots.  And I’ll happily wear these in real life, so all-in-all, this is a very practical purchase!  😀

1912 Reproduction Gown

Costume Con 30

I love this dress.  I really, really LOVE this dress.  It’s so lovely to wear.  I felt just so regal and pretty in it!

I did have a slight wardrobe malfunction though.  I own two pairs of cream t-strap shoes, and when I was packing for this con, I accidentally packed two right shoes…one from each pair.  And I did not discover this until I was trying to put them on my feet.  GAH.  Luckily, I had my cream Tenth Doctor boots with me, so I wore those instead, and since the skirt was so long, they didn’t show…much.

And now, a video of the dress in motion:

Sigh.  I just want to wear this dress again.  For a first foray into Edwardian dress-making, I think it could hardly have gone any better.  Usually I’m at least a little unhappy with *something* about a costume I’ve made (I can always see room for improvement) but this one…this one feels just right.  And that makes me happy!

Hair 5/10/12

I have short hair, generally, and when I do have long hair, I’m not one of those girls who can do fabulous updo styles.  I’m all thumbs when it comes to hair.  So I always use wigs for costumes, whenever possible.

In this case, I couldn’t find a wig pre-styled in anything that looked 1912-ish.  So I was forced to get a long haired wig, and style my own.  I looked at a ton of youtube videos, until I finally found one that seemed easy enough for me, and period-appropriate.  This:

I left hair hanging around the face, because I think it will be easier to pin those sections up into place when I’m actually wearing the wig.  And I also tied a bit of gold netting around to simulate the Edwardian penchant for headbands. 

Side view:

Now if it will just survive in my luggage!  Costume Con in Tempe, here I come!

Finished! 4/5/12

Well, almost finished.  I still need to sew the snaps into the back, and I’m thinking about doing a beaded fringe/tassel on the ends of the hanging trim. 

I’m quite pleased with it.  I don’t have the proper undergarments (and no time to make them right now) so I’m just wearing it with my regular Victorian corset.  And since I didn’t have time for a lovely princess slip, I just lined it with satin.  So, not entirely correct in its undermost layers!  This has definitely whetted my appetite for the Edwardian period – I want to make lots more of their gorgeous clothing!

I’ll be wearing this to Costume Con in May.  Then I’ll have pics of me inside it.  🙂

Progress 3/29/12

I’m ALMOST done!  Today I got the skirts hemmed, and one half of the chiffon sleeve mostly done…plus some more of the trim hand-sewn down.  This is proving to be a more time consuming project than I anticipated…simple because I’m doing a LOT of hand sewing.  I like hand sewing, so that’s okay…but I do need to get this finished.  I need this one done and one other finished before Costume Con in May.

Pictures!  It has been a monsoon outside today, so I couldn’t pose my dummy outside in the good light and get decent pics for you.  Instead, here’s a few peeks at what I’ve done:

The chiffon has been dyed, as you can see, and attached.  I ended up going lighter in shade than the inspiration dress, because (while I used the thinnest silk chiffon I could find) it’s still obviously heavier than the chiffon the inspiration dress used.  In the darker shade, you couldn’t see any hint of the cream silk underneath – and I like the semi-transparent look.  It’s more delicate.  I used RIT dye, one teaspoon Fuschia to one fourth teaspoon Tangerine in barely enough water to cover the fabric for the darker shade.  For this pale color, I left the fabric in the dye maybe two minutes, and added more water to the container.

The back and train (pre-hem.)  I just love how delicate and ethereal it looks!

And a sneak peek at the chiffon sleeve:

You can’t tell in the pic, because of the lighting, but the sleeve is a darker shade of chiffon.  Not quite as dark as the inspiration dress, but close.  It gives a lovely effect when the two colors mingle together in the train!

A day or so of work, and this will be done!  I just need to finish the sleeves, sew down a bit more trim, add beaded dangles to the long hanging trim panels, and install the buttons and hooks to the back of the dress.

Bodice and trim 3/18/12

Here’s a pic of the bodice, with front lace insert:

It’s lined with a faux shantung, with a faux silk outer – the outer silk is overlaid with gold netting.

Bodice with the trim (mostly) attached.  I’ve been sick with the latest Library Cold the last few days, so it’s good I have some hand sewing that needed to be done.  I don’t have enough energy to tackle the sewing machine….

I’m also working on the long panels of trim that hang down the front and back of the gown.  I sewed gold net over more of the faux silk, then hand-sewed the trim down its length.  I have the two back panels done; still have to sew together the front ones.

Closeup of the trim with silk and net underlay:

I have about 1/2 of the silk chiffon dyed (enough for the skirt, I still have to dye the sleeve panels a darker rose) and the skirt panels cut and ready to sew.  The rest of this gown should go together pretty quickly…if I ever feel up to tackling it!  Curse you, workplace germs!!!!

Inspiration pictures

This is an extant dress, from 1912.  I’m not going to re-make it *exactly* – for one thing, I’m not doing the embroidery like that – but my dress is going to be very close.

I have the materials, but I need to dye the silk chiffon.

I have been completely obsessed by the story of the Titanic ever since I was a teenager and first heard of it.  This is going to be my 100th Anniversary dress.

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