Tag Archives: shindig

Kaywinnet Lee Frye

Kaylee shindig dress

Kaylee shindig dress

Kaylee shindig dress

Kaylee shindig dress

Kaylee shindig dress

Kaylee shindig dress

Kaylee shindig dress

Kaylee shindig dress

Also known as a confection in nine layers.

You guys, I finally got to photograph this dress (read: I dragged Seester out of bed while she was trying to nap and made her take photos of me) and I’m so excited to finally share it! I’ve been planning this dress ever since the first time I watched Shindig and the tiniest flicker of “Ooh maybe I should make that someday!” crossed my mind back in 2006. Then there was that time in 2007 when idiot me decided to try to make it in what was essentially quilting cotton. That was actually quite comical. I think I got about two ruffles in when I tried the skirt on and realized it already weighed ten pounds. Yikes!

Anyway, it’s done! The nitpicky perfectionist in me is twitching slighting and wanting to trim 1.5″ off the peplum and add a ribbon trim but I’m trying to smother her with pillows and shut her in an attic closet somewhere.

Since there are so many parts to this dress I thought I’d briefly share how I did each section.


You’re going to laugh at me but remember in this post when I mentioned that to date I’d only made one successful By Hand London Elisalex? Well this was it. No joke. Obviously I altered the neckline a bit but that’s the pattern I started with. I raised the neckline significantly and then cut a slightly curvy V-shape. For the fabric I used some sheer white floral organza over a layer of white rayon challis, a layer of muslin for thickness, and then a layer of this crappy lining fabric that I sort of hate but was the right color. To get the ruffly/pleated look in the front, I basically used the same technique as with this dress to cut out the pattern piece, but then instead of tiny tucks, I just pinned down the pleats, ironed them in place, and then basted the sides down to the rayon challis and muslin and treated it all as one pattern piece.

I used pink organza ribbon (2-3 layers I think) for the pink stripe down the middle and then just sewed white buttons on top of them like a false button placket. The “belt” is also wider pink organza ribbon. There’s also some pink lace trim along the neckline that I hand-stitched in. The peplum was done the same way as the rest of the bodice and was self-drafted by cutting out two curved trapezoids, and then cutting the back in half to accommodate a zipper. I measured the width by making the top edge of each trapezoid two times wider than the lower bodice edge it would be attached to in order to account for gathering. The back of the bodice is just held together by an invisible zipper.


The sleeves were a bit tricky! First I kept drafting puffed sleeves that were too small. I still think they could be a touch more dramatic but whatever. Then I couldn’t get them the right color. I couldn’t find the sheer floral organza in the right shade of pink so I decided to dye them, which led to a wonderfully fun (and smelly) adventure of polyester fabric dye. It actually worked great except that the pink dye I bought turned out to be a more purply fuchsia that made the rest of the dress look orange. Ruh roh. So I tossed that idea, cut out new sleeves in white, and decided to sew a layer of the same pink chiffon used on the bottom tier of the skirt as an overlay over the white organza. You can still see the floral detail and they match the rest of the dress perfectly. I have no idea why I didn’t think of that first.

The chainette fringe thing was hilarious. I bought this fringe on ebay and then proceeded to watch all the youtube tutorials to knot it by hand. At one point I had it pinned to my pants and was trying to keep it even while knotting. In the end it was easiest to just pin it to the sleeve (which was at this point already attached to the bodice) and do it standing. The little tassels were harvested from a heinous upholstery trim that happened to have gold and pale ivory tassels. I had tossed the ivory ones in the pink polyester dye and luckily they didn’t turn out totally fuchsia. I sewed those on by hand, not terribly gracefully but I’m pretty happy with the effect.


This thing was straight up madness. I can’t even. I have a notebook somewhere with pages of scribbling as I struggled to do the math required to even figure out how many yards of each color I needed. I basically made a gigantic floor-length circle skirt out of a lightweight cotton, and then marked rows where each tier would go. Each tier consisted of sewing down a 7″ tall strip of hand-gathered tulle, then sewing down an 8″ strip of hand-gathered chiffon. I used poly chiffon so I just burned the edges to prevent fraying because the idea of anything else would’ve made me cry tears.

Once all the tiers were sewn down I put a zip in the back and we were good to go!


I read like ten tutorials on how to make a hoopskirt and sort of cobbled together my own method. I knew I didn’t want the hoops to be attached to another skirt because it was already going to be a lot of fabric so I opted for a hoop + strips of fabric method. I was originally going to make a tutorial on how to do it but honestly it turned out looking not so pretty so I’m pretty sure no one should use this method haha. I basically used this tutorial except I used thick twill tape instead of fabric and had no way of stabilizing each inserted hoop where it was supposed to go so the hoops kept sliding around and not staying put. You can kind of see what I’m talking about here and here.

I used about 10 yards of plastic tubing from Home Depot (the kind that was 5/8″ outer circumference and 1/4″ opening). So yeah, the intersections of where the hoop meets the fabric/twill tape need to either be drilled down in place or staple-gunned or something. The tubing itself was great though. It was strong enough to hold its shape as a hoop but super lightweight. Since I didn’t want to spend $5 per tube attacher-thingy, I just cut up two 2″ strips of plastic boning, inserted it into one end of the tube, attached the other end of the hoop, and then taped it closed. It worked surprisingly well! Boyfriend hardcore doubted me. To be fair, it looks quite janky but again, I don’t recommend following this tutorial unless like me, you were three days from needing this dress to be poufy and had no other options.

Kaylee shindig dress

So anyway, WAHHH it’s done!! I can’t wait to wear this while I watch Shindig. I’m not remotely joking.

Sidenote: It just occurred to me that the hands-outstretched-with-fruit is highly reminiscent of the covers of a certain sparkly-undead-teenage-abusive-relationship story that will remain unnamed and now I can’t unsee it. GAH. I just needed to incorporate strawberries somehow and a banquet hall buffet table seemed unreasonable. How will we know unless we question it!


Kaylee progress

Kaylee progress

Kaylee progress

Not gonna lie guys, I’m freaking out a tiny bit. PAX is in two days and while I’m very close to finally being done with this dress, I’m not quite close enough to total done-ness that panic isn’t starting to crawl up my butt a little bit.

Things I still need to do:
-Back zips on both the top and bottom
-Peplum, plus peplum ribbon trim
-Ribbon waistbandy thing
-Neckline lace
-Finish the sleeve trims and iron the sleeve hems without burning said sleeve trims
-Figure out how to seam the back of the skirt
-Figure out how see-through the skirt is and whether I need another petticoat


The good news though, as some of you may have seen on my Instagram, is that I managed to cobble together a decent looking hoopskirt! I was thinking of posting a tutorial but mine came out kind of derpy so it’s going to hide under that giant gorgeous fluffy mess in shame. I’m happy to post links to the many many existing (and much better made) tutorials I referenced though, if anyone’s interested. If anyone’s interested in learning how to make a derptastic hoopskirt I’m happy to post about that too.

Speaking of hoopskirts, now that the cape is back, can be make hoopskirts be next. They score basically a zero in terms of practicality but omgsomuchfun.

Anyway, I promise I’ll post a more detailed post with more explanation and detail shots (and maybe even some of me in it!) when it’s done.

In the meantime, check out the awesome giveaway one post back.


Now I’m craving a cupcake

Kaylee layer cake dress

I’ve taken a bit of a break from my Layer Cake dress but with only 90-something days to PAX, it’s probably time to dive back in. Although the skirt was pretty simple (just a bunch of math and ruffles), I was a bit terrified of starting the bodice since I have yet to run into a pattern that would work for it, which means self-drafting.

Kaylee layer cake dress

I was able to visit The Black Hole of Endless Fabrics, also known as Fabrics ‘R Us while I was at home and found this lovely organza (or is it organdy? I feel like I should know the difference) that is pretty similar to the original pattern. I needed it in white for the bodice and pink for the sleeves, and I’m assuming this stuff is polyester so I bought some iDye on Amazon.

Kaylee layer cake dress

I also picked up some pink ribbon to make a ribbony hair clip and half a yard of a tassel trim. I wish I had taken a picture of the look on the lady’s face when I told her I wanted half a yard of the trim. She was very skeptical and kept holding it up and double-checking that I, in fact, only wanted a measly 18″ of the stuff. I tried to explain that it was for a sleeve trim but I don’t think it helped.

Kaylee layer cake dress

Anyway, I had kind of given up on finding a trim with the right sized tassels but then I came across this one! It has both pale cream tassels and slightly olivey gold ones. I’m thinking of dipping the cream ones in the iDye as well to make them a little pinker. I have 33 tassels and I’m thinking I’ll put 16 on each sleeve puff with one spare. Perfect!

Ok, enough stalling. I’m going to start the bodice today. I swear.

Things I still need:
-Hoop skirt stuff
-Organza(dy) ribbon for bodice seams
-Pink lace for neckline (or ribbon?)
-Chainette fringe (tutorial here)
-Satin covered buttons

We’re getting there!!

Layer cake

I’ve been a little absent lately, as I’ve spent the past week being distracted by this gorgeous monstrosity (which you may have already seen if you follow me on Instagram).

Those of you who have seen Firefly will recognize Kaylee’s layer cake dress from the episode Shindig. This dress has been on my to-do list for absolutely AGES (according to my sketchbook swatches, since 2007 at least!) and it feels amazing to finally be doing it. I’m planning to wear it to PAX East in April, which gives me a good six months to figure out that damn mandarin collar.

For those of you who’ve not had the immense pleasure of watching this show, go do it now. And this is what the dress looks like.


Yes, it’s massive. Eight layers of fluff on the skirt plus a peplum on the top. And puffed sleeves!

I’ve started with the skirt, since it’s a lot of work but actually really easy other than the math. It’s been my break from the traumatizing experience of learning to match plaids. More on that later.

I bought 45″ poly chiffon in pink (5 yards), peachy pink (4 yards), and super pale pink (2 yards). I think technically it’s supposed to be white but it just looks too contrasty so I’m going with a pale pink. I also got 7 yards of tulle and 4 yards of some kind of super lightweight cotton/poly blend for the skirt base. Most people’s versions that I’ve seen have made an entirely separate ruffled skirt to wear under the chiffon skirt, but realistically, I don’t see wearing two ruffle skirts plus a hoopskirt being all that much fun so I’m going to see if I can get away with just the one skirt, hence the tulle.

The base skirt is made up of five panels, 36″ wide at the bottom and 45″ long, French seamed. Currently, I’ve sewn down the three layers of pink and one of the peachy ruffles, as well as the four layers of tulle that go under them. Four more to go, and then onto the top!

And yes, I’m definitely bringing a little bag of strawberries with me to PAX as a prop.