18th c Barn Owl Costume Madness : Progress at Last

Despite my unexpected interstate move from California to Nevada, I have managed to get a little work done on the barn owl costume that I am to wear in, oh, a week or so, to Halloween Gaskells in Oakland.

This is the “fun” part, which really means the most challenging and creative part: blending the golden goose feathers up into the pleats of the robe, and making it all somehow work.

I am happy to report the the back pleats, where the rooster feathers emerge, look fantastic, just as I had hoped. Now I am meticulously stitching in the goose feathers, which involves punching holes along the quill with a hammer and small nail, since they are so thick and tough that the needle doesn’t want to go through.

The goose feathers blending into the pleats. This is unfinished, but you get the idea.

The goose feathers curve one way or the other depending on which wing they came from. Luckily I have enough of both left-curving and right-curving to make it work on both sides of the robe. The effect will hopefully be something like wings swooping back over the hips and down the back of the gown (depending on how many feathers I have and how patient I am with sewing them on).

The effect of the gold “wings” emerging from the pleats. More will cascade down from nearer the cross piece at the bust.

While some problems have been fixed – shortening the brown taffeta hem guard to remove the train – other problems have cropped up, such as my forgetting in California the extra cream taffeta to make the cap sleeves from. The robe will have to be sleeveless. Not the end of the world, but not exactly as I’d wanted it. I must then finish the armholes with bias tape…at some point here in the next two weeks!


  • American Duchess

    October 17, 2009 at 12:46 AM

    I worked on it a bit more after this post. I've used some of the owl feathers you sent me, Dreamstress, and they really look GREAT. it's a lot of hand work, but I think I'll have it done in time, if I don't put it off until the last second. It looks a lot better on a body, too 🙂

  • Jenny

    October 17, 2009 at 8:19 AM

    Mercy, what a lovely costume this is going to be!(well, it already is, but you know what I mean) I am seriously impressed. 😀

  • Margravine Louisa

    October 18, 2009 at 2:37 AM

    that is really really unique!
    I have a question that is driving me nuts —- just finished a JP Ryan pattern bodice and am getting ready to attach skirt. However, pattern instructions simply state: sew skirt on to inside back of bodice and match to dots on front. then handsew front using invisible stitches. What? how are you supposed to put it on? where does the handsewing end at the front if you are going to lace up the bodice? how the heck do you get into the thing?????

  • American Duchess

    October 19, 2009 at 12:12 AM

    I am not sure which JP Ryan pattern you speak of, but is it a closed skirt all around? Could you link me to the pattern, and I'll take a look?


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