Saturday, February 1, 2014

Project Summary: 1920s Poison Ivy

The first costume I want to talk about from our group of Batman villains is Poison Ivy.  This was by far my favorite character of all that I worked on.  I love this color and I love this character.  Poison Ivy is a villain who wields her sexuality as a weapon.  It was a super easy choice to assign that character to my bff, V, as it is my personal goal in this life to find her costumes that show off her super long legs.

The theme for our group was 1920s reinterpretations of the characters as they were presented in the Batman movies that came out while I was growing up.  Poison Ivy was featured in Batman and Robin (1997) and was played by Uma Thurman.  

Even though her cape here appears to be a burnout velvet, I really loved the light, fluttery hem of it.
It was this hemline that helped me chose how I wanted to realize this costume.

I loved how this character was done up in such a way as to take advantage of the long, lean lines.  She wasn't super busty or showing a lot of skin.  To capture her look, I went with a long, dropped waist dress with a handkerchief hem, which reminded me of the hemline on her cloak.  I started with the following pattern:

Folkwear #264: the Monte Carlo Dress

 For period inspiration, I found this little vintage number for sale on Etsy.

I used a silk chiffon, and flat lined the bodice with silk habotai, both of which were dyed emerald green.  The only adjustment to the pattern was to change the way the straps were put together.  The bodice is covered in tiny little o-shaped arrangements of gold seed beads and the neckline was outlined in alternating seed and bugle beads.  There is also one narrow sash of beading and embroidery that hangs down from the right hip.  I dyed up a scrap of silk velvet in a darker green, and used it to make ivy leaf appliques with couched gold silk beading thread for veins.  These were placed on the left shoulder and right hip.  The idea was to be balanced, without being symmetrical.  Litlle dangly bits of beading hang from the appliques on the shoulder.  

I also cut out an 8x80" strip of chiffon with angled ends for a scarf.  I didn't want to try to pair a lot of jewelry with this dress, as I thought the beading was rather taking care of the bling factor for us.  But her neck just looked too naked without something there.

For the hand bag, I just sketched out a rectangle on a piece of habotai that I dyed gold, then machine basted it to a piece of interfacing and stuck it in an embroidery hoop.  The pattern I just made up after looking at too many art deco designs.  I sketched on four horizontal lines and had V start beading them.  The rest just sort of developed as we went along.

The gloves were white nylon gloves bought from the party shop.  Everything on the internet said that nylon dyes up just like silk, and they were right!  We set V up in a pair of latex gloves to protect her skin, then put the nylon gloves over them and started painting.  The idea was to replicate the purple and red fingers on the characters leather gloves in the movie.

The shoes were simple enough.  A pre-owned and well worn pair of strappy heels were given a new life with a coat of gold leaf.  Simple, yet elegant.  Her hair pin was salvaged from this retro iron work peacock thing that my mom has hanging on her wall.  The thing had this blingy rhinestone bit stuck to the top of it's head, and she hated how out of place it looked.  It had obviously fallen off and been hot glue back on (poorly), so I spent a fair bit of time picking glue out of the settings before soaking it in vinegar and baking soda, then giving all of the metal parts a touch up with gold leaf, as well.

Woo, look at that hemline.  I think that's my single favorite part of this dress.
Eight sided skirt, with round about 8 yards of hem, all hand stitched rolled hem.

On stage, with the Joker.


  1. OHMYGOSH!!! You have such a great talent!!! To come up with the idea first if all...then all the detail that you put into it. I don't know exactly what your vision for this was, but this is beyond fabulous!!!!!

  2. And the gloves!!! And the ivy!!! And that hem!!! Serious talent!!