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Inspiration

@SerebladeCreations | Sewing Influencer

Meet Sarah Magnuson from Tucson, Arizona, also known as @SerebladeCreations. We’ve been a fan of her cosplay work for a while. She has done some amazing (and amazingly nerdy) projects over the years. If I were forced to pick just one, I think I would pick her Gryffindor dress, but that may be a bias toward the Hogwarts house rather than the work itself!


How did you learn your craft?

I initially started learning to sew when my mom started teaching me as a child. I sometimes didn’t wait for her to show me how to do the next step which sometimes led to entertaining results! I picked sewing back up in undergrad and grad school but then really got into it about eight years ago when I got into cosplay. Since then I have been focusing on improving my existing skills and learning new ones to improve my workmanship. I spent a lot of time researching how to tackle different challenges, how different techniques work, how different fabrics behave and all sorts of things. I also ask a lot of questions. There are so many people in the sewing world who are more experienced than I am and I’m incredibly grateful to have found some who are willing to answer my (at times endless) questions.

Photo: Maia Sipos

What is your favorite project you’ve made?

Oh, that is a very good question. I love different things about so many of my projects! As far as my big projects I’d have to say my favorite would either be my Solar Flare gown that’s based on Captain Marvel in flight, or my remake of the live action Cinderella dress that I turned into a gown that’s based on Smaug from The Hobbit, complete with articulating 12-foot wings.

The Smaug gown came to be partially because of my love of the live action Cinderella dress and also my love for The Hobbit since it was the first fantasy book I’d ever read. I fell in love with the live action Cinderella dress as soon as I saw it, but have never really felt a connection to Cinderella, so I decided to make my own dragon version! I went back to the description of Smaug in the book and included as many details as I could, from his iron scales, jeweled belly, and bare patch on the left side of his chest, to a hem that was done with a lighter so it looks singed. I love getting to wear it and run around in a giant ballgown complete with articulating wings, even if getting through doors can get a bit interesting!

My other favorite big project is Solar Flare, my Captain Marvel gown. This project was one of my first attempts at drafting my own pattern from scratch and really trying to incorporate a lot of couture sewing techniques into my work. The train was a particular challenge to work on as I wanted it to move in a particular way so I ended up making each tier two layers, the bottom of which was hemmed with horsehair braid and then I used a hot knife to hem the top layer of the tier so I could have it be as light as possible so it would move easily. The color gradient of the blue fading into the white of the top layer of the train was also tricky. I initially tried using an airbrush for it as I couldn’t dip dye it due the different lengths in the front and back of the skirt, but that didn’t work so I ended up painting the top several layers so I could get the right color density. One of my favorite “hidden surprises” that I included in this dress is that there are LED twinkle lights hidden on the base of the skirt that I can turn on to make the train light up. I always feel so elegant when I get to wear Solar Flare and seeing the way the train moves just brings me so much joy.

Photo: Everadventuress

From a sheer entertainment/being ridiculous standpoint my favorite project is the dress I made earlier this year for National Hospital Week. Each department was given a hospital gown that we could modify however we wanted to turn it into our version of “hospital couture”, and my department let me run with it! I turned the dress into a fitted off the shoulder cocktail dress with a skirt overlay made from isolation gowns, and raided the supply closet for materials to make the most ridiculous fascinator I could come up with. It made me laugh so much. It was so much fun coming up with the idea as well as seeing what everyone else came up with!

Photo: Everadventuress

How do you handle mistakes or setbacks when working on a project?

A lot of how I handle mistakes or setbacks during a project depends on what the mistake is, how visible it will be/how much it will affect the integrity of the project, and how much time I have to fix it. I try to do as much troubleshooting as I can during the mockup/design phase so I can figure out solutions to problems while I’m working with cheap materials instead of with materials that are harder to replace, and that really helps cut down on the number of setbacks I have once I start working on the final version of the project. I also try to practice new skills on smaller projects before I try to apply them to a big project so that if I mess up it’s not a big deal.

 

A lot of times if I realize I’m making a lot of mistakes, especially if they’re silly ones like sewing something upside down/in the wrong order, or backwards I will take a break from sewing, or go to bed for the night as I end up doing a lot of sewing late at night. I’ll also do that if something just isn’t working and if I’m getting really frustrated. I’ve found that if I keep trying to force something to work it usually doesn’t end up working well. If I’m under a tight deadline and I can’t necessarily completely step away from the project I’ll see if I can work on a different part of it so I can still make progress while taking a break from the part that isn’t working well. There have also been times where I’ve realized that I’m just not going to get the project I was working on done in time and so I’ll find another way around it. That actually happened not too long ago where I sewed a skirt together incorrectly twice in a row and I had three hours to try to sleep and finish a hat I was working on. So I ended up raiding my closet for a skirt and focusing on getting the hat done. There have also been times where I’ve realized I have completely messed up something, to the point that I can’t salvage it, and have had to just start over again. It’s always frustrating when that happens, and thankfully it doesn’t happen super frequently, but it does still happen. I’ve also had projects where I accidentally cut through some fabric that I wasn’t supposed to (why I now no longer cut or try to serge fabric late at night) but thankfully it was in a spot that I could patch the hole and then cover it up with the upper layers of the skirt.

Sometimes if I’m trying to do something I haven’t done before and am having trouble getting it to work I’ll ask other sewists if they’ve dealt with a similar issue, and I go back to doing research to see if there’s a different way to tackle the problem. Sometimes I end up coming up with an off-the-wall solution that works, and sometimes I realize I’m totally overthinking things and have missed an incredibly easy solution.

What are you currently making?

I’m currently working on a couple different projects. I’m working on finishing the dragon pirate costume I started last year, that grew out of the silly idea of imagining what a human-like dragon would look like if they were a pirate. I have the corset already done and most of the embroidery for the skirts, I just need to put them together then make them look beat up. The part of that project that will be the most complicated will be the jacket, which will be a cropped pirate jacket with dragon scale embroidery that’s inspired by some of the embroidery from the costuming on Game of Thrones. It’s going to take forever but it’ll be worth it once it’s done.

The other project I’m working on is a “Swamp Witch of Vengeance” costume. I kept having issues with my pool this summer and a friend made a joke about me needing to be a swamp witch of vengeance to get the pool to cooperate and I just decided to run with the idea, especially since I’ll be going to an event next spring that has the theme of “Heroes and Villains”. For that one I’m planning on making a purple and green corset that has hand applied lace and netting sewn on, plus beadwork to give it extra texture. Then I found some fabric that matches the silk for the corset almost perfectly, which shifts between green and purple. I’m planning to use it for a dramatic skirt I can make billow behind me as I’m walking.

Both of these projects grew from silly ideas that I decided to just run with, but I’ll probably end up incorporating a lot of couture techniques into different parts of them and doing a lot of hand embellishment. My friends have said it before and it’s absolutely true … I seem to be incapable of doing a simple project. The dragon pirate was never going to be simple but the Swamp Witch project was initially just supposed to be a simple corset for a corsetry class I was a teaching assistant for, and then I had way too much fun planning different potential ideas.

If you could have anything in the world to support your craft, what would it be?

Unlimited fabric, to be able to learn from sewing experts around the world, and most of all, more time to sew! I work full time in a hospital so I often don’t have nearly as much time to sew as I would like. I have so many more ideas for projects I want to make than I will realistically have time for. My “To Sew” list is incredibly long!

 


For more of the most followed and admired sewers on Instagram, check out the Threads Sewing Influencers collection.

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