Build Report: Padme's Blue Poncho
I just finished this beauty:
And I am so proud of it! The garments themselves were simple, but the embroidery was my most ambitious embroidery project to date.
Before we go too deep into this, I should acknowledge the obvious: This is not 100% screen accurate. Padme’s top was much longer and baggier, and probably a woven fabric, like maybe linen. At the client’s request this piece was made shorter and, while still oversized, less baggy than Padme’s. It was also made of a really nice, soft, cozy sweater knit. It’s a more casual Padme. A Padme you could wear with jeans!
This outfit was worn in Attack of the Clones, on Tatooine. Padme hung out at the Lars farm while Anakin went off to find Shmi. Padme was wearing this outfit when Anakin came back from his Tusken killing spree.
(Going forward I’m going to refer to the top as a “sweater”. It is generally referred to as a “poncho” but it’s not; it has well-defined sleeves. It’s more of an overdress than anything, but that’s all beside the point. Mine is made of cozy sweater knit, so I’ve been calling it a sweater since I started working on it. )
The sweater is a simple garment- a boxy top, hi-low hem, drop shoulders, and bell sleeves. To pattern it I used a combination of Naergi's Padme build notes, Sew Over It’s kimono, and a whole lot of making shit up as I went along. I made a muslin, drew out the general locations of the embroidery, and went to work digitizing.
For the embroidery digitizing I leaned pretty heavily on Naergi’s build notes, since she did so much machine embroidery on her version. She painted her sleeve triangles but I chose to embroider mine. All in all I spent about a week digitizing and test-stitching all of the sweater’s embroidery.
In the end I used 19 hoops, an entire spool of yellow thread, and I can’t even count how many hours of stitching! Ok maybe I can count- average 45 minutes per big hoop times 12 big hoops = 9 hours. Plus let’s say 20 minutes for the smaller hoops times 7 hoops = 2 hours 20 minutes. So it’s safe to say I spent about 11.5 hours on the embroidery. Not counting all the test stitches and the sleeve I messed up halfway through. But, worth it!!!
The sweater assembly was pretty easy once the embroidery was done. And then I had several more hours of hand embroidery for the white triangles around the neckline and sleeve cuff. I shared this picture and tip on my social media, I’ll share it here as well: in order to keep my stitch lengths consistent, and to avoid having to constantly check the ruler, I drew all my measurements out on my thumb! I was able to use those marks as reference the whole time, and my stitches came out really nice and even!
Once the sweater was done all that was left was the underdress. This was also a super simple garment. I went with a basic 1920s one-hour dress pattern, but with gathers at the shoulders and neckline, and the neckline and sleeves bound with bias tape. I hemmed it with my 4mm rolled hem foot, which I just don’t get to use often enough!
The dress is super crinkled, so I went with a crinkled rayon and then further crinkled it broomstick-skirt style. I made the dress with the full width of the fabric, so I had to put a lot of effort into the crinkles! I’ve never actually crinkled fabric before so I used a combination of techniques. And I think if I were to do it again I’d still use a combination. No one technique seemed better or more all-purpose effective than the other.
Technique #1: I fed a piece of pvc through the sleeves and then clamped that pvc to my ironing board. I twisted the dress as tight as I could, until it was in a little twisted ball. I stuffed that into a pair of fishnet tights and threw the whole thing in the dryer for half an hour.
Technique #2: I used the pvc to twist the dress again, but this time I twisted it into a rope and ran my iron up and down the surface. I untwisted and re-twisted and ironed a few more times, trying to make the crinkles nice and random
Technique #3: I used this to hit the spots that the first two techniques missed, or I felt needed an extra crinkle. I laid the dress flat, bunched it up side to side, and lightly pressed the bunched up spot. I did a variation of this when the dress was on my dress form, too. I just grabbed handfuls of skirt and pressed the bunch.
Padme’s dress looks like it was pleated at one point, and then maybe broomstick’d after pleating. My dress didn’t have that base of precise pleats, but I’m still happy with the results.
Overall I am very happy with this costume! And I am extra happy with how the embroidery turned out. I’ve only been embroidering for about a year, so I’m still very much learning as I go along, and I am super proud of my results!
My next embroidery project is going to be SO EASY by comparison! 🤣