Modern to Victorian


If we can have Christmas in July, why not Halloween in January?!? My way of saying once again a little late on this post… but better late than never 😛

A week before Halloween I finally buckled down to figure out what my costume was going to be for 2012.

Those that know me know that Halloween is by far my most favourite holiday so of course I have been thinking about it weeks prior… I had gone to the Spirit Halloween store several times, was on the website even more than I can count but still couldn’t find anything that jumped out at me.

Those of you that have also hunted for a pre-made costume know that it is extremely hard to find a non-skimpy version of anything these days. I find it almost comical how they can create even the most random costumes ‘sexy’.

My first purchase for Halloween this year was a pair of red contact lenses. I can’t even describe the excitement or anticipation I had waiting to wear them!



That was the start of my costume… I had decided to build a costume around red eyes. The best and most obvious choice was of course vampire.

Though a vampire is the most over used Halloween character, I figured I could still make it my own.

First I had to pick what ‘time’ I would be from. I could have simply chosen a the typical all black gear, but I wanted something a little more unique and challenging!

It started with tearing through my closet one day, I came across an old bridesmaid dress I still had and figured it would be a perfect start. My goal is to take a modern dress and turn it into a Victorian dress.

Now I have my theme I need to take a trip or two to fabricland and get some material to help this transition. I really should have had some sort of plan before hunting for fabric but of course I didn’t.

After a couple trips to the fabric store I had several miscellaneous meters of black fabric ranging from fabric with black spiders on it, sliver spiderweb fabric, black satin, few meters of black elastic, black tulle, black ribbon trim and some black netting.

But still no clue what I wanted to do with any of it. I had too many ideas running through my head at once to actually put together a single step. So I decided for once to sit down and try to illustrate what I saw in my mind, and this is what I came up with…


Ok now I have a plan, I think this could actually work!

Here is what I ended up doing and remember all ‘terms’ are not to be taken literally, a lot of the ‘names’ that I gave items here are probably completely made up 😛

Let’s begin!

Cut open top 2 layers of original dress to make it split on one side

Make ‘frill’ above left breast:
I cut a piece of the satin material 12” long by 3” tall. I hemmed the top and both sides. I cut a piece of elastic 6” long and while sewing it across the 12” length of the satin I pulled the elastic tight so that it would force the fabric to gather once the elastic went back to the 6” length.


My next step is to make the ‘puffs’ of the skirt. I measured from the waist of the dress to the floor and this was about 42”, knowing I wanted 4 puff layers I divided 42 by 4 and knew each layer needed to be 10.5” long – to make life easy for me I just made it 11”.

I wasn’t exactly sure how to make these ‘puffy’ so my plan was to make each layer double (so 22”) fold it in half and between the layer put stiff interfacing so that it would stay puffy. Below I have added step by step of this!

I am going to make these out of the spider material and spider web material (2 layers of each).

How I made each one:

I cut my material to be 36” wide and 22” tall. I have lined this will the black satin (so my satin piece was cut the same size). I then sewed these two pieces together. I only lined my material because the Halloween spider material was transparent. If I didn’t line it you would have seen the interfacing through the layers which wouldn’t have looked too pretty.


I cut a piece of interfacing 36” long by 4” tall and ironed that exactly in the middle of the fabric.



I then folded the fabric in half wrong sides together. You can see in the picture that where the fabric is folded it has a bit of a puff now from the interfacing.

I still don’t feel this is the effect I was looking for… so I thought I would try gathering…

my piece being 36” long I figured simple math is always the best and divided 36 by 4 and every 9 inches I gathered the fabric from the fold to the top where the raw edges meet.


Now that I have done 4 gathers in my layer I now had 4 pockets so I stuffed them with tulle and this gave a signifant puff on each layer! I proceeded to do this 3 more times for a total of 4 layers.



Due to gathering sections of each layer my length of the ‘puffs’ was shortened quite a bit, so I had to add a 5th layer which I didn’t gather and I didn’t stuff, this was just to provide the length that I required to hit the floor. I then hemmed that layer with just a normal hem.


Now that the base is done it is time to sew that in place! This might be more difficult than I thought as 1) I am sewing onto a finished garment, and 2) I have to sew underneath 2 other layers.

It was pretty difficult, the dress was becoming quite large and pretty heavy to maneuver through the machine!

Look how small my machine looks compared to the dress! I eventually ended up having to pull out my old Janome as my Brother could no longer handle sewing through all the layers! This was my first sewing machine given to me for my 15th birthday I believe from my Mom 🙂 It never fails me.


I used a pattern piece from a pattern I had here to make my sleeves. I could only use this pattern piece as a starting point.

I wanted to make my sleeves match my puffs so I used the black spider material and the silver web material lining them with the black and red satin. Using the pattern piece I folded in the parts I didn’t need (the shoulder) and then folded the pattern piece in half so I could cut 2 of each material so that when sewn together I will have each sleeve in both materials.


Once I finished the sleeves I trimmed all the raw edges of the dress with black lace, and other than minor adjustments my costume was finished!

I am happy to brag say that all my work paid off and I won best costume at work for 2012 🙂

Scary at work:


And dressed to party!!!



4 Comments Add yours

  1. Erin Warder says:

    I recognize this dress 🙂 good job as usual!

    1. I wondered if you would Erin!! Thanks so much!!!

  2. How fabulous. Never too late (or too early) for a little Halloween! 🙂

    1. I couldn’t agree more Eva! Thanks for stopping in 🙂

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