Hannah Alexander Megara Cosplay Tutorial (Part 2 - Sewing and Fabric Painting)
In this tutorial, I will walk through how I made my Hannah Alexander design art nouveau Megara cosplay from Disney's Hercules. This is by no means the only way to make this garment, it is just how I created mine.
This is Part 2 of the tutorial. Make sure you read Part 1 to learn what fabric I used, how I ombré dyed the colors, and how I patterned my Hannah Alexander design Megara.
Sewing the Skirt
I began by sewing the skirt first.
I hemmed all the raw edges of the fabric except for the waist-line using my rolled hem presser foot. I had decided that my skirt would have an extreme slit up the side all the way to the waistband so, it was more like an open wrap skirt. You can see the intention for this extreme slit in my costume sketch above.
I gathered the waist using two different techniques. On one layer, I did double gathering stitches (the longest stitch on my machine) and gathered the fabric by pulling the bobbin thread. I was worried that the thread would break as I was gathering 120” of fabric down to about 30”. This way worked but, it took longer as I had to be very cautious of thread breakage as I was gathering. The second technique utilized a very thin cord and a zigzag stitch over the cord. Once the zigzag stitch was done, you just knot one end of the cord and push the fabric along the track until the fabric and the cord are the desired length. This method was much easier and ended up with more equally spaced gathers.
The photo above shows the two layers of the skirt, and the two gathering techniques. The top layer was gathered with the thin, white cord and the zig zag stitch. The bottom shows gathering via pulling on the bobbin thread.
I then sewed the two layers of the skirt together. I added iron-on interfacing to the waistband then sewed it to the waist of the skirt.
I sewed it to the inside of the skirt first, right sides together then folded it in half and sewed it to the front side of the skirt with topstitching.This sandwiched the raw edge of the gathered skirt into the waistband.
The skirt is held together with a hook and eye and a snap as it crosses over and wraps around my waist. And then the sewing of the skirt was done!
Painting the Skirt
I then moved on to painting the skirt before sewing the sash and sleeve.
I blew up an image of Hannah’s design to extreme pixelization and I tried to recreate the exact squiggles on the original artwork. I first sketched these out in my sketchbook, then I photographed them, traced them digitally, and printed them out.
This way I had a pattern to place under my fabric when I was fabric painting the bottom skirt squiggles. I “laminated” the pattern by covering it in strips of clear packing tape. I designed the pattern to be a repetitive one so once you get to the end of page 5 you can just start right back at page 0. With 120” of skirt width to paint, it took two full patterns, 3 bottles of metallic gold soft fabric paint, and about 15 hours total to paint.
Here you can see the printed pattern laid out, and the finished painted section. Though not included in the pattern, I added a 2" border on the bottom hem with the gold fabric paint while painting all the squiggles and swirls.
I will be making a page for downloading a PDF of my swirl pattern and explaining how to use it. It will be completely free (in exchange for the loss the sanity you will experience when you actually have to paint them ☺).
Once the painting was done, I began work on sewing the upper shoulder sash!
Sewing the Shoulder Sash and Sleeve
I started by pleating the top length of the sash, I condensed 45” into about 3” using 2” knife pleats which overlapped the previous pleat about 1 7/8”. (I hope that makes sense.)
You can see how thin the pleats look in the photo on the right. The remaining portion of the 2" pleat is hidden by the next knife pleat.
Once pinned in place, I placed the sash over my dress form and began gradually fanning out the pleats and pinning them in place to cover my bust and waist. Once all the pleats had been pinned, I took the sash off my dress form and hand stitched the pleats in place on the wrong side of the fabric, only catching a few threads on the front side of the fabric so, the stitching was invisible. I did a row of hand stitching about every 3” or so until the waistband; essentially where ever I deemed necessary.
In this photo, you can see better see the rows of hand stitching that keep the pleats from opening up. Sorry about the instagram story format; it was just the only photo I had that shows these hand stitches this well.
Then I placed the garment back on the dress form and marked where the arm hole stopped for the two sashes to connect on the left side.
The “swoop” of the lower half of the sash was one of the hardest things to figure out for me. There is most likely a professional way to achieve this look but, I just pinched fabric and pulled it to the side seam. This process ended up with a lot of bulk on the wrong side of the fabric and some fabric that ended up longer than the sash. The bulk had to stay or else the draping effect would fall apart but, I just cut off the excess length from the first couple pinches and pulls.
In all I believe I did 4 or 5 pinches and pulls. As I moved further down the sash, the further into the center of the fabric I started with the pinch. (This entire process had to be done twice, once for the front sash and once for the back sash.)
This photo best shows the bulk I was referring to at the bottom of the side sash and the layering of the pinching and pulling. I wish I knew if there was an official name for this technique so I could better explain what I did.
I then sewed the side seams with all the gathered/pinched fabric together and sewed the shoulder square to the front and back sashes, making it all one piece at this point. Then I sewed a dyed purple Greek key patterned ribbon from the back waistband around the shoulder to the front waistband, and an orange ribbon (to be painted gold later) of the same size from the waistbands down and around the gathered section, bordering the inner raw edge of sash.
You can see the placement of the two ribbons more clearly in this photo on the right. Also, It probably would have been easier to just buy gold ribbon but, I decided to work with what I had on hand.
I then finished all the raw edges of the sleeve pattern using my rolled hem foot, except for the top width. The top edge of the sleeve was then gathered and attached to the open hole on the sash side seam for the arm, sewing right side of sash to right side of sleeve.
(Looking back at these pictures, I apparently forgot I sewed the sleeve to the shoulder before draping and sewing the side seam of the sash. I did this because I was super nervous about the draping and kept procrastinating but, I was confident I knew how to gather and sew a rectangular sleeve. Don't do what I did. How I outlined it here in the tutorial is the easiest way. To do it my stupid way, I sewed the side seam from the underarm to the waist, sewed the sleeve on, then did all the draping and pinching and pulling, to finally sew the side seam again. It was extra stupid steps that I don't recommend. Do what I say, kids, not as I do.)
The sash is also a wrap around design that snaps to the waistband in two different points, leaving about a 3” gap on the right waist open. This was a design choice as I liked the sash silhouette to be more open than when I tested it connected and closed around the waist.
It was also at this time that I added the purple Greek key ribbon to the waistband of the skirt as well so the key design could connect from the sash to the skirt.
Applique and Rhinestones
Next, I began placing the purple embroidered floral trim around the neckline of the sash, while the sash was on the dress form. The trim originally came in a V shape that I had to cut up and strategically place and pin. I got two of these V shaped appliqués from Ebay.com for like $15 total.
When placing, I knew I wanted more full flowers and volume towards the top of the shoulder and more of the thinner smaller leaves and vines as you go down to the waist. Once the embroidery was pinned on, I kept it on the dress form and handstitched the trim in place.
Then we went back to fabric painting. I covered the orange ribbon with gold metallic soft fabric paint and painted a small border stripe on the hem of the sleeve.
At this point, all machine and hand sewing for this costume was done!
However, I still was quite unhappy with my messed up ombre gradient in the skirt so, I made another dark purple cranberry dye bath and dyed the bottom of the skirt (first testing to make sure it wouldn’t remove my 15 hours of hard work painting gold squiggles).
This re-dye actually made me very happy! The bottom color of the skirt was darker, it was redder toned of a purple instead of pure purple, and it made the pure gold squiggles turn into a dark rose gold, which I really liked. It didn’t fix the bad ombré that I mentioned before because I didn’t allow the dye to get high enough into the skirt but honestly at this point, I had 2 weeks before con and needed to finish.
Below, you can see a before image (with my cat) and an after image showing the color variation in the bottom 1/3 of the skirt especially. This re-dye was a 30min thing that made so much difference to me and my view of the costume.
Lastly, I added gold and light purple hot fix rhinestones sporadically around the lower hem of the skirt, light purple rhinestones around the neckline and embroidery, and a gradient of gold rhinestones along the hem of the sleeve.
And finally, the fabric portion of this costume build was complete!
Next is wig and worbla time! Keep reading to Part 3 to see how I styled the wig and how my first attempt at working with worbla went!