Sunday, November 13, 2016

Random Beauxbaton Person

"And not Fleur Delacour," Jenna hastened to qualify whenever anyone asked her who she was for Halloween.

Jenna is so funny. And so particular about what she does and doesn't want. If you remember, she's been Queen Susan three years in a row for Halloween, but each year she wore a different outfit from the Narnia movies. And each year, of all my children, hers is the most elaborate and challenging costume to make, but I do it because her choices stretch me to places I haven't been before. This year was no exception.

When she'd finally decided to be a Beauxbaton (they're the visiting wizarding school-for-girls in Harry Potter & The Goblet of Fire), this is what I imagined:

And I thought, "Oh, that's easy. Satin and drapey and semi-circular and a back zipper and a little capelet over everything. I'd say 4 yards of satin should about cover it." 

So I went on pinterest and found loads of images of people cosplaying the Fleur-Delacour-Runway-Model-dress-look. Yessss. Inspiration. Solidarity. I can do this without losing my sanity, I thought. Maybe in time for Halloween, even!

Then Jenna disabused me of any hope. "No, not the dress. Who wants the dress? I want the uniform."

There's a uniform? I just bought FOUR yards of satin to make you that twirly, slinky, uberfeminine Barbie Doll frock! 

This uniform, apparently:

Shock! Horror! Fear! 

That is not a Halloween costume; it's a fitted THREE PIECE SUIT. With a fitted blazer with killer trim. And lining and interlining. And did I mention fitted?

"Don't forget the hat, Mom. That's the most important part."

Oh, right. The haaaaaat.


I've never made a fitted blazer before, incidentally. Never had the need to, and always figured that if I had to someday, I'd just figure it out. After all, it can't be that different from a regular button-down shirt - you just make fancier lapels and overlap the button stands more and introduce extra ease in the right places since it's going to be worn over other clothes. 


It amuses me how deluded I let myself get.

Want even more self-mockery? Here's a confession: you know how, in this post, I was all "you MUST measure accurately" and "good measurements contribute toward 2/3 of drafting success" and "if you measure badly, you might as well not bother to do the actual sewing because it would be a disaster"?

Well, guess what - I thought I could slack off on my own advice, and I paid dearly for it.

See, before I made Jenna's costume, I made Kate's (coming up in next post) . And, because it was "just" a dress (har har), I grabbed Kate, wrapped a measuring tape around her body and guesstimated her waist, the rough width of her shoulders, and random positions of where her armscye might or might not be.


You'd think that my accompanying commentary might have tipped me off: "Er . . . stop wriggling. Stand still. Where on earth is your waist? Is this your waist? Okay, let's just say your waist is here!" or "Well, whatever! 15 inches, 15-and-a half inches, 25 thousand inches, what's the difference?!"


And then further red flags: re-grabbing Kate a few more times to re-measure her because the first draft and muslin looked "a bit weird". Yep. Both. I was already suspicious of the draft and still turned it into a muslin. What was I possibly expecting - magic?

Well, serves me me right because I ended up having to shift the waistline and reposition the zipper and straps, and use up almost all my seam allowance to make the "just a dress" work.  

So, by the time I got to Jenna's blazer, I was much humbled. I decided there would be no shortcuts or perfunctory "good enough"s this time; no, for a fitted blazer, I'd pull out all the stops - neck chain and waist string and actual measuring list and everything.

Much better, I thought.

What an interesting experience, making my first blazer! I'd heard it would be challenging, which I specifically imagined in two ways: fit and interlining/underlining. 

Fit is always a thing for me (and other people who custom-draft), so I was prepared to spend time adjusting for this anyway. Interlining, though, was new to me because we'd never needed interlining (for insulation) in tropical Singapore. Fortunately, this year's Halloween forecast was gorgeous - 60s and windless - so I eventually decided on just underlining (i.e. a simple supporting layer behind the outer satin, without the need for warmth). For this underlining I used a heavy linen that I'd bought for myself years ago. Linen has a glorious weight and drape and was perfect to stabilize this flyaway satin.

Here are the elements of the suit -

We decided to omit the inner shirt (hurrah) and make just the hat, blazer and skirt.

The skirt was just a semicircular skirt with a fitted waistband. Note the back hem extending lower than the front. When drafting for children, we often have to accommodate for rounder bellies and similarly full contours that affect how and where the final garment sits. Comfort is paramount, and sometimes this means waistbands sitting below bellies instead of on. This was the case with Jenna's skirt - she liked having the front waistband ride below her abdomen while the back sat squarely at the natural waist position at the small of her back. The front hem was correspondingly raised to compensate for this.

Here's the back zipper. This skirt was not lined. 

Here's the blazer.

We modeled it after the movie stills. I was going to add the standard welt pockets with flaps but there were none in the movie photos. 

The back had two vertical waist darts - pretty standard.

Here's the inside - fully lined, with the button stand faced. Again, nothing exciting.

The trim took a bit of work,

because of how the corners met on the lapel. If I'd had more time, I'd have wanted to do this piecing-style instead of the fold-over-and-hand-hem method I used.

The sleeves were fun. There was a slit at the hem, repeated in the inner sleeve lining that peeks out about a half inch below that.  

The two layers are separate at the hem so there is no pulling or tension spots visible from the outside.

Finally, the hat -

This was a quick sew. Rather than wool felt, we went for the cheaper (and warmer) alternative - 300 polar fleece. I used my own winter hat pattern from this post and tweaked it to shape and to incorporate a brim and that little pointy tip. Looking at the finished product, I think I'd have hand-stitched the double layers together at the brim instead of the machine topstitching I chose. 

Jenna didn't care; she said it was her favorite part of the suit.

Here she is with Meira, winter warrior. 

Kate was not available for this photoshoot - it's the first year we don't have a photo of all three girls in their outfits. Sniff. 


  1. Thanks for the hat solution - I am definitely going to save that. Not really sure why since I am NEVER going to sew with satin again after two strapless wedding dresses. [My sister helped me and then told her two daughters that she would sew their wedding dresses someday - as long as they were not strapless] But your Beauxbaton uniform looks great.

  2. Again amazing work lier.
    Love how it all looks and thank you for sharing again.

  3. Beautiful work! 4yo Anna is sitting here on my lap begging for the skirt and the shirt. In her dreams...

  4. I love this! What a left-field costume request. Keeping things interesting, always.

    Although my primary thought was 'well what an impractical material for a uniform'. It must be magical! Is magical scotchguarding a thing?

    I'm so impressed by the detail you went to with the cuffs and the trim. Lovely touches. And the finished product looks so great on Jenna. I definitely believe she's from an elite french magic school!

    1. Kaviare, re: impractical material for a uniform. AGREE. And then there were those 4 yards of blue satin that I couldn't bear to waste. So shiny happy uniform it was, then.

  5. What lucky kids to have such a magical mother!

  6. My Daughter, 19 years old, said "la fille la plus heureuse du monde !". Thanks from France

  7. I did a full "THE PIXIE HAT" squeeeeeeee at first mention of this idea. Fleece hates topstitching, otherwise yours is perfect. I would never have noticed the cuff detail and it makes the blazer for me.

    thanks again for sharing your children with us. It's a gift I don't take lightly as a mom online.


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