It was a normal Saturday night, and my normal group of friends were gathered in the kitchen to play Tabletop Games. Daanon had just bought a new one called Evil Baby Orphanage. In the game, some of history’s most villainous individuals are pulled from the time stream, and each Time Nanny (player) must rehabilitate these babies by keeping them together in an orphanage. Babies in the game include Hitler, Genghis Khan, Elizabeth Bathory, Billy the Kid, and many more. The game refers to the players by the name “time nanny”, and at one point my friend Jill said “I keep getting this image in my head of Doctor Who meets Mary Poppins”. I loved the idea, so we immediately started planning her dress!
The following week I met Jill at Joann Fabrics and we picked out a pattern for what we would call the “Steampunk Time Lord Nanny” dress (Butterick B4954). Jill liked the wide skirt rather than the narrow mermaid style one. Living in AZ, though, she was nervous about a jacket. After some creative brainstorming, we decided to make the jacket out of navy blue lace, along with a separate pattern for a Corset-style top. We went to SAS, our local discount fabric store, and found some TARDIS Blue stretch taffeta for $3.99 a yard. We went back to Joann and found navy blue lace with a 40% off coupon.
Jill is a very crafty person. She hand sews Plushies (stuffed animals for you n00bs) and other items, many are featured here. However, she has never learned to sew with a sewing machine. That’s right, every impressive item she’s made was 100% hand sewn. Because of her background in sewing, she quickly learned how to read, lay out and cut out a pattern. The concept of the foot pedal is the same for both driving and sewing, so it is often easier for adults to learn than youth.
The seams on the skirt were mostly straight lines, and we got most of it done in one day. This made us falsely optimistic on how long the total project would take, and we set our deadline to have the sewing finished by on October 5. Each year, one chapter of the Firefly fan club the Browncoats hosts a Browncoats Ball. For 2013, the AZ Browncoats are hosting. Jill and I were quick to buy tickets!
The corset top, though, was a different story. All the womanly curves that make it so attractive meant more complicated sewing and lots of seam ripping… Jill decided that since she would be wearing it to conventions and events, she wanted to skip the boning. The solid color taffeta was pretty much reversible, so we had to be very careful about which piece was front or back, right or left. For some reason, I kept sewing the front center pieces wrong. The first time I sewed the front right to back left. After I ripped that seam, I sewed the front right piece backwards. To let out tension, at one point I shouted “I can’t get your boobs right!” After I sewed a section together, I would ask Jill to press the seam flat for me. At one point, Jill looked at me and announced “Am I your Iron Maiden now?”
The lace jacket was probably the most difficult part. Since the inside seems on a lace jacket with no lining are visible, we decided to take our stuff out to my friend’s house in Maricopa (a 35 minute drive) to use her serger. For those who don’t know, a serger automatically trims the edge of a garment as it sews, to avoid frayed and ugly ends common in homemade clothes. I generally cut out a pattern a size larger than necessary to leave room to take it in. This did not work for the jacket, so when Jill tried it on it was ridiculously large. We consulted my friend’s mom, who has a lot more experience than me, and the finished product will look much nicer than Jill or I could have done on our own! Alas though, we have not finished the lace jacket by our deadline. Jill will be wearing her Tardis Blue skirt & top to the ball, though, that’s an entry for another blog!