Written by The Geeky Seamstress
Hi everyone, today we’re sharing details on our Holiday Senshi build, which we debuted at our Winter Retreat in December 2018. We toyed with the idea of making this build for several years, but we always put it off due to holiday scheduling. Life gets pretty crazy for all of us once November hits!
That said, last year we planned a big weekend retreat with one of our favorite photographers: Ash Snap’Em. We had a couple of group builds we wanted to shoot and decided that a big weekend to knock them out was the easiest way to get everything together! We ultimately settled on having our retreat in Grapevine, which claims the title of Christmas Capital of Texas! We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take pictures with all the gorgeous Christmas decor, especially at the Gaylord, which finally gave us the incentive to dive into these builds.
Main References and Initial Planning
Anyone who’s done planning for group builds knows that even simple builds require time for coordination, especially if you want to look cohesive and uniform! I started sourcing materials and doing research on these builds in late 2016, which helped jumpstart this process.
We knew we needed to keep things simple, partly as a matter of time (we had about two weeks to make these), and partly to make sure we were adhering to the silhouettes of the Petite Chara figures — our main reference for these builds.
The figures also dictated our fabric choice. These designs use very bright colors, which we loved, but we also didn’t want to use velvet in borderline neon colors. Instead, we opted to use neoprene, which holds its shape super well without additional notions and is also warm enough to brave winter weather (plus, it was under $10/yd compared to pricing for nice velvet).
Several lucky finds added to this build, including the faux fur we located at Jo-Ann’s! Koholint stumbled across silver-tinsel faux fur on Jo-Ann’s website, which was PERFECT for the look we had in mind. Whenever I went to the store to start grabbing fabric for the group, I spotted gold as well as silver, and we ultimately went with gold to tie all of our materials in together.
I experimented with a couple of my favorite knit dress patterns for this build to see what would work best for us. Initially, I planned on using the bodice of the Lady Skater dress, but the neckline was too low to work with this outfit once the bows and capelet were added.
After a bit of experimentation, we settled on using the Davie dress from Sewaholic – another one of my tried-and-true knit patterns. For these outfits, we lopped the dress off at the high hip and went with the sleeveless view. We removed the seam allowance from the front and back pieces and cut them on the fold of the fabric to eliminate the center seam.
While you technically could get away with leaving the neck and arms undone since they’re not seen with these builds, we opted to finish them off with bias tape (as the pattern recommends) to help stabilize the neckline and keep it from stretching out over time. We also used clear elastic to stabilize the shoulder seams.
We drafted full circle skirts for these dresses for that super magical girl look. Skirts were sewn directly to the bodice and finished at the hem with the faux fur. We all used big petticoats for lots of fluff!
We used a “wrap-around” approach for the faux fur to make it look extra fluffy. This process requires a bit of math to ensure that you get the most out of your faux fur and how fluffy you want your fur to look. In the case of the skirt, we decided that we wanted 2.5” of faux fur visible. This meant that we needed strips around 6.5-7” wide:
(2.5” on the visible side + ½” seam allowance on the right side of the skirt + 2.5” on the wrong side of the skirt + ½”-1” extra on the wrong side to accomodate for turn of cloth and catch for the top stitching).
Once the faux fur was cut, we attached it to the skirt using the following method:
- Stitch the fur with right sides together to the hem of the dress. This requires some precision, pinning, and marking. Since we wanted 2.5” of faux fur visible, we measured up 2”, then pinned the faux fur strips in place. You may also want to mark your stitch line on the reverse side of the faux fur to ensure accurate stitching. Clip the seam allowance as necessary to prevent fabric buckling.
- Fold the wrong side down and wrapped it under the wrong side of the skirt.
- Pin the remaining portion of the fur on the wrong side of the skirt.
- Top-stitched the faux fur from the right side of the skirt. We essentially used a “stitch in the ditch” approach, holding the faux fur taut and stitching right where the fur turns. When the dress is worn, this stitch is nearly invisible.
There are lots of great capelet patterns available out there (many for free!), but we chose to go with McCall’s 3033 since that’s what I had on hand. We made sure that the final length of the capelet on each person hit around the bottom of the bust to make sure we were all proportionate. The only real modification we made to this base pattern was opening the capelet up a bit at the center front so that it formed roughly a 45 degree angle. This was necessary so that the chest bow would be visible.
The bottom of the capelet was finished in exactly the same way as the skirt, but it was just a touch smaller in terms of width.
For the collar pieces, we drafted them from a single layer of faux fur since the curve of the neckline was much more extreme than the hems of the skirt and capelet. To draft a collar for a neckline, check out this tutorial from Colette Patterns.
Once we drafted our collars, we stitched them directly to the neckline on the right side of the fabric.The inside of the neckline was then finished it off with bias tape facing for a clean finish. After the bias tape was in place, we carefully zig-zag stitched around the bottom of the collar, pushing the pile out of the way while sewing. Once finished, you can hide the stitches by brushing the pile out of the stitches and smoothing it down.
The capelet attaches to the base dress with snaps at the neckline.
The hat required a surprising amount of trial and error to get proportions right. Ultimately, we settled on cutting two triangles with dimensions of 6.5” at the base and 8.5” tall and stitching them together with a ¼” seam allowance. We made bands out of faux fur that were 2.5” wide so that 1” of the fur would be visible once it was attached to the hat.
To keep the hats in place, we cut circles from Peltex and stitched them to the base of the hat, adding clips to the wig. We also tacked the hats so that they’d hold their fold.
The Petit Chara holiday outfits don’t have gloves, which seemed a little out of place to us. The Sailor Moon Drops designs does, which are very similar, but they’re white, which again seemed a little odd to us, so we took some artistic liberties. We decided to purchase wrist gloves in our characters’ respective colors from We Love Colors and add some detail for the cuffs for a little added touch.
The cuffs were a very quick piece: we just cut bands the length of our wrists plus a small fold-over for snaps. We covered top in gold bias tape. Koholint and AdventTraitor found some adorable bells, bows, and gold star buttons at their local Jo-Ann’s, so we added these for extra cute details.
Accessories and Details
One of the reasons we knew we could tackle these builds in such a short amount of time was due to the other accessories we had on hand! We re-used basic jewelry and accessories from our respective senshi, along with the bows, shoes, and tiaras (made by PockyPants).
Again, we had a couple of lucky finds when it came to the details. Koholint and AdventTraitor found a few adorable packs of holiday themed earrings. We also met up to go shopping at our local craft stores pick up holiday-themed props for our shoot.
All of the poms on these outfits were made from scrap pieces of fur. We cut small circles of fur out, then hand basted and gathered them around puff balls. The finished poms were attached to the hats and bodices.
These builds were so much fun to make and wear! We wound up doing a shoot with these costumes at midnight at the Gaylord, and it was an absolute blast (though we might have been delirious at that point. Who knows lol). Since the Gaylord was basically empty, we had our run of all the gorgeous decorations and shoot locations, though we still got stopped several times for photos! Hopefully we’ll have a chance to wear these again in 2019!
Be sure to check out our Builds page for more photos from this set!