Padmé Costume: Blouse Construction

(Previous Posts: Headband and Hairnets, Blouse and Skirt Part 1)

After I dyed and embroidered my fabric, I got started making the blouse! It might have been a good idea for me to use a pattern, but I didn’t for three reasons. 1. Budget. 2. I’m a control freak. 3. I’m good at math. So, I started with very basic shapes- mainly rectangles- and sort of sculpted them into a blouse.

For the sleeves, I knew from having already made a very similar blouse previously that the sleeves would need to be very long. This is because of the pleats at the shoulder (you can see them in this research photo from Padawan’s Guide) and the overall poofiness of the sleeves. (Pleats are basically folds or gathers.) I think I made two rectangles that were 36″ long and 14 inches wide. (Which really wasn’t wide enough. But the silk shrunk so I did not have very much to work with.) First, I cut them into these pieces:


Sleeve pieces (left) and blouse front and back

And then I did the pleats the way Padawan’s Guide said to. First I made four horizontal pleats and basted them together.


Horizontal pleats with basting stitches

What is basting, you may ask? A life-saving trick, that’s what. It’s when you loosely stitch it together with a contrast color thread so that when you take out your pins when machine stitching it, it doesn’t all fall apart. My basting thread above is that nasty blue stuff. And then, I stitched the horizontal pleats, made the single vertical pleat and basted that.


Vertical pleat

I noticed from looking at the reference photos that there seems to be pleats on the underside of the sleeve, near the armpit, because the folds at that top part look very defined. Surprisingly, Padawan’s Guide had nothing to say about this. But I went ahead and made those pleats anyway.


The pleats I added even though no one said anything about them.

The blouse front and back pieces were wider than they were long, but I don’t remember what the exact measurements were. And with this blouse, the bottom is wider than the top so I ended up cutting off the top corners on both sides. but before I did that, I pinned where I wanted the sleeve piece to meet the front piece.


Then I made the two pins touch each other and took the pins out and stitched along that line.


And I did the same thing with the sleeve and the back panel- and then stitched the front and back together. At this point, on the inside the seams made a sort of Y shape. I drew a line that emphasizes this.

So, I did this on the other side and there was my blouse! I understand that most normal people would not really be able to follow that explanation of what I did. I myself don’t really know HOW I knew to do that…. lots of experimenting, and a bit of intuition and a good sense of geometry I guess. If you’re making the costume yourself and are totally confused by my explanation, you would probably do well to see what Padawan’s Guide recommends for patterns! Me, I was just cheap and lazy and good at math.

Anyway, I still had all these raw edges (ugly, frayed, unfinished edges) to fix. So instead of just turning it over and stitching it, I made bias tape out of some of my scraps. And what is bias tape? They’re strips of fabric cut out along the diagonal of a fabric and you can use them to hem things. What I mean by “along the diagonal” is, fabric has a grain or pattern. This is easy to see in my crinkled silk chiffon- you can see all the little lines running up and down. The diagonal of a fabric is 45 degrees away from the little lines. Apparently fabric is strongest that way, because it might shift and wiggle and stretch if you just cut it horizontally or vertically. This is best shown by a picture.


So, I cut out strips long enough to go all the way around the neckline, which was very wide, since it sits off the shoulders. I also did the same for the sleeve cuffs. Then I pinned the strips so that the “right sides” were facing each other, and machine stitched it.


And then came the tricky part. I had to turn the bias tape up and over and stitch it to the inside… without letting the stitches show outside! What did I do? I learned how to do the extremely useful Invisible Stitch. There are lots of good videos on YouTube that explain how to do this. It took me all of the first Thor movie and a little more to do that since I had to do it by hand, but the result was so beautiful!


Look at the top, the neckline edge. See that nice, clean, professional finished edge? It was so worth it!

I left the casing open at the sleeve cuffs so I could put elastic through. This is NOT how it actually was in the real costume… the real costume used pleats and a little slit and button at the sleeve cuff. See Padawan’s Guide for more on that. But I didn’t really feel like doing that more complicated way, so I didn’t.

This post was pretty technical, and I’m sorry if those of you who don’t sew got confused or bored here! It’s kind of hard to explain how it all works. But that’s what the Internet is for. Lots of people are a lot better at explaining things than we are.

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