Illustration by Elin Kero, 2012
I made this illustration back in 2012 and I remember everything I felt in that moment. That dress was a dream, something unachievable. I never thought I could make something like that and I’ve never had the money to buy me a dress that someone else had created.
So I really wanted to wear princess dresses, but I only did it in my drawings.
– That was before I met my fairy tale sisters…
In the following one and a half year something changed. From that ”it’s never going to happen, but at least I can dream…”-feeling to ”I’m going to create a masterpiece!” just out of nowhere.
It started lightly with me trying to find the most fantasy looking clothes in my closet:
This is me wearing a modern white tunic, with metallic buttons (I bought it in a common Scandinavian store, called ‘B Young’ many, many years ago) and my favourite ”Peter Pan” boots (from a Swedish store called ”Din Sko”). Then a pair of stockings (I still use stockings for my archery outfit, because I’m to lazy to sew matching pants haha) and Lovisa’s cloak. At the time Lovisa was the only one owning some fantasy clothing (she did larp when she was younger, so maybe that’s why) and I think she really inspired me to later start making my own clothes.
Use muggle clothes and make them ‘fantasy’
It can be hard to go for the big and eye catching dresses the first thing you do. It can make anyone feel really uncomfortable and most people don’t like the feeling of being so dressed up. You have to get used to it – slowly.
It’s easier to start with regular clothes, with a more vintage or romantic touch and then build up. You can use whatever top/tunic you like, as long as it covers your bum. Then put on a leather belt and a pair of boots and you’re ready!
I really think the most inportant piece in your fantasy wardrobe is the cloak. If you want to invest in one first accurate fantasy piece, this should be it. A cloak makes all your muggle clothing seem more fantasy and it’s a piece you can wear to almost everything even in the future (when you own like twenty different costumes hehe). My mother bought a cloak on a medieval market almost ten years ago, then I stole it from her when I started this thing with Sagosystrar and she will never get it back… haha!
Sewing is easier than it looks
…but like everything that’s new to you, you have to have patience and do the wrong things in order to learn the right ones.
When I made my very first dress, my only experince was the sewing classes in 4-6 grade and then a patchwork in Swedish high school. So I knew the basics, like how to use a sewing machine (even though it was quite tough the first time I wanted to put in the thread – I did forget a few steps, which made the machine refuse working with me) and a few other things like how to work with patterns and sew the different pieces together. But that was it.
I would lie if I said everything whent fine. The first dress was a nightmare, but it was also a journey. I learned so many things in a short amount of time and the struggle made every following project an ease.
Use easy patterns
The first thing I learnt was to start with an easy pattern. The pattern I used for my very first dress had like 20 different pieces and that was acctually the thing that made this dress a real nightmare. First of all it was a real struggle only to keep track of all the paper pattern pieces and then all the fabric pieces I’d cut out. I will never use that pattern again. Over all it only made things harder.
If I only could tell you one single thing about sewing, I would say: The fewer parts, the better. Now I mostly use the same 4-part pattern and then modify it during the making, to make my costumes look different. Much easier.
Do the thinking before the sewing
An other very important thing is to really think about what you’re doing. Sewing is a lot about math. If you count right, and take your time, you get the right result. I’ve rushed so many times and it always ends up with me being angry, ripping up the stitches I just sew.
So this is how it looked when I made my first dress! To make things easier for me I bought a really inexpensive wedding dress on Etsy and then sew a second dress to have on top.
I bought the golden green fabric in a fabric store in Sweden and the pattern I found on Etsy. It was such a thrilling feeling to see the dress grow underneath my hands. I don’t know how many times I tried it on during the process – but I simply couldn’t get enough of that princess feeling that slowly grew stronger.
I will probably never use this dress again (main reason: It doesn’t fit anymore) because it’s so poorly made and will break so easily. Such a pity. But at least I really treasured it when I’d just finnished it. Can’t explain that feeling when I put on the final dress for the first time. I was a real princess at last!
If you want to start your own project…
Aim high whith your plans, end up somewhere in the middle of basic and masterpiece and then try again. Aim even higher. Challenge yourself. Do it because you really want to be that princess or prince (or troll lol), even though it’s really hard sometimes and even though you want to give up. Hard work pay of, as you’ve heard so many times. The feeling you get when you finally wear that finnished costume is worth eeeeverything. You totally forget about all the times you had to ripp the whole thing appart to start over. You forget how boring it was in the beginning, before you could see some results. The only thing that matters is the feeling of excitement when you realize YOU can create MAGIC! ✨
Good luck everyone!