Hot! The “Pumpkin Queen says Happy Halloween!” outfit

The Facts
: Black cotton, black/orange polka dot cotton, orange/black polka dot cotton, orange/black harlequin cotton, black/orange striped cotton, I yard petticoat netting…all from stash!
Pattern: Self drafted skirts and corset, Style 2727 for blouse (except sleeves!)
Notions: 2 hooks-n-eyes, 24 black grommets, 22 bones, interfacing and SPOOLS of thread all from stash; 40+ yards of rick-rack
Year: Inspired by designs from La Moda Elegante 1870-1892
Time to complete: About 26 hours
First worn: October 2012
Wear again? Yes, October 31st!!

Total Cost: ~$21.00

The sketch to the right was something I drew one evening commute about 3 years ago. I had found the fabrics at Joann and bought them with nothing specific in mind so this quick sketch was my “specific”. And everything sat, in boxes, for almost three years. When I saw “Halloween” in the challenge list I figured this was a “now or never” kind of thing. So it’s “now” : )

I suppose if I were REALLY organized I *could* have started this a week or two or three ago…but I didn’t. I started last Sunday when I got home from a three year olds’ birthday party. I figured if I worked for 4 hours a night I’d be fine. It was close, there was sweat and more than a couple “What am I DOING?” moments. But I’m nothing if not tenacious and here we are.

The bustle periods are some of my favorite and one year for Christmas my dad gave me all four “La Moda Elegante” books. The one I found my inspiration in is called “Los Disfraces” which translates to ‘wear fancy dress’ or ‘to disguise oneself’. It is full of illustrations of what people wore to Costume Balls in the late 1800’s, or at least ideas of what people wore. This is what my Steampunk character, Miss Harriet M. Cochin, might wear to a Halloween Ball : )

It makes me feel a little sassy : )

There are MANY pieces that make up this outfit! You start with tights, add the shirt and then pull on the petticoat and bustle. I made my petticoat from an old bridal petticoat that I cut the top off of, making it knee length and then added a waistband. I kept the front of the petticoat flat and put the gathers around back, adding an extra ruffle of netting in back to keep the shape pronounced. The bustle is the pillow style only because I already had one. I forgot entirely to take pictures of the undergarments so if there is any interest I can do it on my blog (let me know!). Over that goes the underskirt, the one with all the ruffles, and the back over piece. The front “apron” is next and finally the waist cincher. Phew! Tired yet? Oh, and before you get the waist cincher on don’t forget your shoes….

The right side of the overskirt, or apron, drapes to show the lining. The left side is folded back. I’m a little sad that you can’t see the draping of the front very well but trust me when I say it’s there and quite pretty. The trim on the ruffles is actually bias cut striped fabric edged with orange rick-rack. Apparently the Western challenge switched something on in my brain thinks rick-rack is pretty cool.

You can see more of the back here. Again, that back piece is draped and pouffed and quite lovely.

I nicknamed the dress “The Pumpkin Queen” because of the sleeves. I did a version of “pumpkin pants” for the sleeves. They make me smile : ) Here is the full on Pumpkin Queen shot :

Amazingly, I didn’t get to put rick-rack everywhere I wanted to! I bought everything I could find this last week but still need a few more yards to go around the edge of the front apron. I’d really like to put the orange rick rack on the black and where it folds over showing the orange lining put black there.

My daughter found the most amazing mask in the donation pile at the last swap:

It’s rather *large* and not very wearable but it is SO COOL! How can you not have fun with stars and moons dangling from spider legs? We were having fun with the photos this afternoon….

The boots are from the eighties! Remember when Madonna burst onto the scene? We were all out looking for lace shirts and gloves, funky jackets and ankle boots. I saved mine : ) I used the paint left over from my Golden Gate bridge hat to paint these. My sister lent me an amazing orange stone ring that was PERFECT. Do you see it? No. I dropped it, thank goodness in the car, but we didn’t find it until we were done. My other favorite accessory – the hat! (Yes, I made it.)

The front…

and the back!

It really did take many, many hours to put this whole thing together. I was planning on wearing it to our Halloween party at work since the department goes all out and efforts at costuming are greatly appreciated. However, as I finish typing this post, our San Francisco Giants win the World Series!! And get this…the parade and general party San Francisco puts on is going to be on HALLOWEEN!!! The fact that the Giants colors are orange and black isn’t lost on me but it means that other than a skeleton crew, most of the 14,000 people on our campus will be downtown whoopping and hollering. BART will be a mess, the highways and bridges will be packed and while it will be very, very festive the Pumpkin Queen will be staying home : (

My kitties like to help. Stuart thought he was “helping” when I was trying to get all those ruffles cut out…

The “cat factor” always adds an hour or so onto my construction time but how can you argue with that face?

Happy Halloween everyone !!!!

(Can you believe we only have eight challenges left??)



Loran is a Bay Area designer, stitcher and suburban farm girl. Having done theater for years she's finally taking on her most demanding client (herself!) and fashioning a wardrobe from her huge stock of vintage patterns and fabrics, all while writing her daily tablesetting blog. Let's see if she can keep up with both : )


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  1. Wow! Your skill is amazing! Truly impressive!

  2. I am in awe. That is a fantastic sewing job!

  3. This is amazing Loran!!! You are a wonderful seamstress!! Great job on the costume/dress!!

  4. Wow Loran this is gorgeous! Bravo!

  5. WOW – simply stunning.

  6. Wow Loran! It is so amazing. I wouldn’t have any idea how to start sewing that! It is beyond words!

  7. This is a super fine piece of work, the best I have seen in a long time!!

  8. That is so amazing, Loran. I can’t believe all the pieces that you are wearing. The color scheme is so Halloween and so Giants! It’s really spectacular. I read your blog description twice to really catch all the details and then I examined all the pictures thoroughly. I am interested in seeing how this all goes together, so I hope you do post it on your blog. Since it’s probably raining, I can understand why you won’t be attending the SF parade. But I hope you get to wear it to some other festive occasion. I think this might be one of my favorites!

  9. My gosh fancy lady pants, you my dear are a serious talent, I hope you wore it sitting at home on Halloween? There is always next year. What an amazingly awesome costume the way you planned out the lines and fabric and what to use where is what I’m loving. You ARE the business Loran Happy Halloweenie Pumpkin Queenie. 8 to go! Woohoo!

  10. I agree with everyone. I am so impressed and so proud to know you. I think it is the most beautiful thing I have seen in a long time. I love the dress and the hat and the necklace. Please put more pictures up-I want to see all of it-it needs to be appreciated.

    If you ever made it here to teach us how to make sweater dresses you’d have to throw in a class on bustles and hats and “pumpkin sleeves”.

    I love it!!

  11. WOW… STUNNING!!! Lots of work involved.. So sorry they canceled your work party.. That dress need to be showed off… Happy sewing.

  12. OMG, Loran, what an amazing outfit. I am completely speechless. And you made all this within a week? And self-drafted…and even with a matching hat. Wow. (The “wow” should be bold and underlined.) I will need to show this to my little son when he comes home from preschool. He’s going to love seeing the real Pumpkin Queen.
    PS: Love the cat factor. My cats used to help me with my sewing, too.
    PPS: These shoes are to die for. I’d instantly buy them if I saw them in a store.

  13. I really enjoy seeing your fabulous creations and I agree with Djamila about the shoes! I think you belong in a film or something …

  14. I hardly even know what to say about this, except impressive! I too would love to see some more details on your blog (Whenever you have time. Maybe after all the challenges of this year are over?) I’d like to see each piece separately so I can work out the construction you came up with. You’ve blown us away again, but this is one of the things that I love about TSW: there are construction experts like you who show us what is possible, mingled with over-committed moms like me who try to squeeze and hour or two every week to make something basic, but we’re all having fun.

  15. You’ve outdone yourself. This is amazing. I want to wear it!

  16. Wow!! Amazing job, Loran! Love how this turned out – from idea to reality. Lovely.

  17. Gorgeous! I wish I had your millinery skills. You always have the best accessories! You look so fabulous!!

  18. SO amazing! Is it comfortable? I would want to wear it everyday, or maybe the different items on different days!

  19. Bloody hell! How cool to see your sketch transformed into such a happy reality. Just amazing, I’m so proud the SW brought this out of you!

  20. Oh my goodness! That is amazing!!!!

  21. This is FANTASTIC!!! I love it Loran, one of the best outfits/posts on here.

  22. I bow before the Pumpkin Queen! That is amazing, and you have put us all to shame! Pity that you don’t have anywhere awesome to wear it too. What about the Bal des VamPEERS. I think that is this weekend, and there might still be tickets, and the world needs to see this awesomeness!