Heyo! You're the one with the hella rad Rayna cosplay in the works, yes? I'm gonna need for us to become friends so I can absorb all your sewing knowledge, because that dress is fabulous and I /know/ there's not a pattern for it out there. Did you modify a similar pattern, or make it from scratch? And for either: How? I've been making my own Starfleet uniforms, but I don't have enough experience to really deviate from a pattern yet, and I'd like to learn.
Okay, so I’m convinced that the only reason that dress turned out so well is because I did not have a pattern. Literally it turned out because I just thought about it in my head like a puzzle and sewed shit together and crossed my fingers and hoped it turned out okay. I don’t really understand how patterns work very well because I don’t understand a lot of sewing terminology, although I think with studying and practice I could figure it out.
My very basic sewing knowledge comes from doing some backstage work in high school theatre, so I at least knew how things are supposed to be sewn together and hemmed without looking awful. But that, paired with some reading and one rudimentary hand-sewn cosplay last year, is basically it, so that’s where I was starting from. For this project I knew I had to use a sewing machine, and this was the first time I’ve done that in about six years, but luckily I have a pretty user-friendly sewing machine with an intensive and thorough guide available online.
The actual dress portion was based on a simple long dress pattern my mom had laying around in the closet. For some reason it was giant and way too long though, so I had to deviate from that a bit to fit my tiny tiny body. The strap was my own addition, but that was a pretty basic one.
However, as you guessed, no pattern exists for that cloak. I tried searching for one, but there’s absolutely nothing similar. The part that made it difficult to even adapt another pattern is that the sleeves are actually attached to the cloak itself, and no pattern that I found has anything like that. I thought about buying an Anna (from Frozen) pattern and adapting the cloak from hers, but really it wasn’t that similar and I figured it would be more trouble than it’s worth. In the end, I decided to just wing it.
So, the first step in deciding to make something with no pattern is to stare at the source material and absorb the original costume into your soul. Seriously, I must have watched “Requiem for Methuselah” dozens of times and just stared at pictures like this for hours.
Really thinking about the costume like a puzzle is very important in this process. As I stared at Rayna I would think, “Okay, the collar attaches to the middle of the cloak which then gets attached to the sleeves, and it’s all connected by these triangle-shaped pieces of fabric. Those triangle pieces and the collar are pretty sturdy, and the fabric I have is stretchy. I’ll need some stiff fabric to put in there to keep them in shape. There will have to be a zipper in back to get it over my head, it will have to go through the collar and the back part of the cape…..” etc. Thinking very deeply about how everything fits together and how you’re going to do it before you start to cut or sew anything is vital (this is also how I made my Rand wig with zero wig experience!)
Then, once you have a game plan, you kind of just have to start and hope for the best. Being able to try things on and seeing how they look is sooooo important as a beginner; I can’t imagine sewing for someone else without a pattern. Usually, I would wrap pieces of uncut fabric around myself and see what shapes I would need to cut from it to make it do what I wanted it to do (the sleeves were made this way, and luckily I sort of knew the shape sleeves usually are in sewing patterns, which helped). A lot of modifications were even done after I had sewn things and tried them on, by pinning them how I wanted on my body and getting poked by pins a lot. Just take it slow, always shape things around your own body before cutting or sewing, and really put a lot of care into it! I find that people often think they aren’t good at things, but the truth is that they just don’t do things with care and patience. You’re probably going to be extremely frustrated throughout the process (I know I was!) and mess things up occasionally (I know I did!) but you just have to be patient and roll with the punches.
I think my Rayna turned out great and it looks beautiful on camera, but if you get really close to some of the stitches, it’s clearly not made with any expertise. That’s another thing you have to accept in this process. Example, the sleeves/fabric triangles in the front were a huge pain in the ass and although I did my best, when I lift my arms they kind of ride up and don’t lay flat, obvious in the following pictures:
However, in most pictures where my arms are down they look how they are supposed to, so I try not to beat myself up about it:
God, sorry this post ended up being so long and ranty!!! I hope it helped!!! If you have any more questions feel free to message me further!