Let me preface this post with a story which I think encapsulates the entire project.
Last Monday, I asked one of my students what they planned to be for Hallowen. “A nerd,” they replied happily, “what about you?” I thought for a moment… How to explain to this child that I was taking my Outlander fandom to new levels of devotion? So I responded with the simplest answer I could think of: “the same”.
Yes, dear readers, I have become a full-fledged, card-carrying nerd. As if anyone was in any doubt of my nerdiness before this moment. Whatever. As I
justified my mania explained to Erick, I am not some basic girl who puts on a bodysuit and a pair of ears and calls it a mouse costume. If I am going to make a costume, I will make a Costume. There will be intricate historical detail. There will be at least six separate pieces and it will take a minimum of 30 minutes to get into. Oh, and in this case, there will be tears and not a little frustration, all resulting in immense amounts of AWESOME!
My inspiration was Claire Fraser’s overall look: laced bodice, full skirt, muted tones, with a variety of textures.
Pictures courtesy of Pinterest
I had a lot of help on this project from my mom, Linda. Once a good teacher, always a good teacher: she had me sewing with so much more confidence by the end of this project! We started working on it over the Thanksgiving weekend, when we made the skirt. This was my first time making something other than curtains or pillow covers (read: something without totally straight lines). I learned things such as 1) make sure you double check that your tartan is ACTUALLY lined up or it won’t match when you sew the panels together 2) it doesn’t matter THAT much if you mis-calculate the pattern because the skirt will be gathered anyway 3) gathered skirts are sent directly from God to beginner sewers.
My mother learned things such as 1) try to include your subject’s head in the photo. 😉 Sorry for the cheek, mom.
We also cut out the pieces for the bodice that weekend, so that when we got together again a few weekends later, we were ready to begin assembling it.
We used the view E from McCall’s pattern M4107 (which is, unfortunately, out of print) and the 3/4 sleeve from view E of McCall’s pattern M4696 (again, out of print). I know, I know! It’s super risky to try to match the bodice of one pattern with the sleeve of another. BUT, we took a good look at the patterns and realized that they would probably fit well together. There was a tense moment when the bodice was finally assembled and we went to pin on the sleeve, but it all worked out pretty happily!
One construction issue we ran into was when we set the loops for the lacing of the bodice. We had to go back after the lining was in and re-enforce them, because they kept pulling apart when we pulled the lacing tight. Major bummer. Thank God for my mother because I probably would have broken down at that point. You would have found me in a fetal position, rocking back and forth in the corner…
So we fixed it, and pinned the sleeves and… Halleluja! It all fit together! Mom had some awesome remnants of braid and lace left over from other costumes, so we used that on the sleeve and stomacher (which you will bear witness to shortly).
There were some adjustments to make, and we had to set the sleeve, but things rolled along pretty well from this point. I made a return trip to Fabricville for some voile to make a fichu. What is a fichu, you ask? A fichu was a piece of thin, usually semi-transparent cloth ladies used to cover up their more womanly bits during daylight hours. Behold:
Pictures courtesy of Pinterest
The fichu was pretty easy to make, as I decided to keep things simple and go with a rectangular shape. The one Claire wears in the first of those two photos would be triangular, but I didn’t want mine to cover up the bodice so there was no need for tapered ends. I got the information for how to make the fichu from this website.
Along the way, I fell completely in love with Claire’s little knit capelet. I was thrilled when one of my lovely choristers, Kim, offered to make one for me! We chose a beautiful cream wool/acrylic blend and it knitted up beautifully. I plan to wear it on a regular basis… Maybe every day… Or at least until my students start noticing. 🙂
Some added touches of outlandish authenticity were my grandmother’s freshwater pearls and a silver celtic knot ring. Ok, annoyed reader/viewer rant here: the string of pearls used in the show is WRONG. In the book, Jamie’s mother’s pearls are small freshwater pearls with little gold roundels in between. Also, in the wedding ceremony, Jamie uses his father’s cabochon ruby ring – not some silly re-vamped key. He later gives her a beautiful silver ring with celtic knot work. Other than that, I love what they’ve done with the show. Ok, rant over.
Which brings me to the BIG reveal!
I still need to sew a ribbon onto the capelet, but since I want to wear it in the everyday world as well (as opposed to the slightly crazed fandom world), I haven’t quite decided what colour to use. Maybe a brown velvet? Navy blue? I wear a lot of those tones… Hm.
There are a few adjustments to make to the bodice still, but I’m really, really pleased with how it turned out! I love the play of the silk stomacher with the matte finish of the bodice fabric. I wish every day was costume day.
I want to say a huge and very public thank you to my mom and to Kim for helping me to create this costume. You are both the best
enablers partners in crime a girl could ask for!
So what about you? Have you ever dressed up in honour of your favourite fandom? Surely I’m not the only one out there! Leave me a comment – I love hearing from you!
P.S. You can read my other Outlander-inspired blog post here!