Steller’s Jay



Maggie Brito


(click images to to enlarge)

Other Credits

Photographer: Shyne Loper

Outline the story …

When the theme for this year was announced to be The Natural World, I knew immediately I wanted to choose the Steller’s Jay. The Steller’s Jay is a bird native to Western North America, part of the Corvidae family, and one I find both enthralling and gorgeous.

I had seen another costumer use the TV462 pattern and thought it would be the perfect bodice for the costume I had in mind. The tails of the bodice reminded me of a bird’s tail feathers, and that was a perfect starting point to adapt into the Steller’s Jay outfit; I only had to switch out the colors of the pleats to have the blue and black show through.

I originally wanted to have breeches for this, to give a better impression of bird legs, to more accurately represent the colors of the bird itself, and for the challenge of drafting historical breeches. Ultimately, the timing of everything dictated that I would have to go with a skirt to make sure everything was done to a similar quality and uniformity. I made the skirt knee length to keep the same color delineation that the breeches would have had.

The overall design of the individual pieces was decided from a personal desire to be able to wear these pieces outside of the contest, and my own love for older historical British clothing.

Outline the construction…

I drafted the skirt pattern using The “Keystone” Jacket and Dress Cutter By Chas Hecklinger. I used a blue cotton sateen for the body of the skirt and a woven cotton belting for the waistband. A simple double turn hem was used for the hem of the skirt.

For the bodice, I used a slightly altered version of the TV462 - 1883 Tail Bodice. I made use of black cotton sateen for the fashion layer, blue cotton sateen for the pleats, black cotton twill for the lining, twill tape to hold the pleats in place, and a separating zipper for the closure.

The two biggest challenges came from the need to alter the pattern to have different colored pleats and changing the closure. I made a mockup so that I would understand how the pleats were formed so that I would know where to take away and add fabric for the color change. The pattern originally calls for buttons down the center front, however, I felt that would disrupt the flow and therefore had to find a different solution. My first thought was an invisible zipper, but all the invisible zippers I found were non-separating. To keep the seamless front I was looking for, I put a separating zipper on the inside of the bodice to keep it from being seen from the outside.




  1. Constance MacKenzie Constance MacKenzie on May 10, 2023 at 8:27 am

    The pleated detail and use of the two colours looked so effective in your pictures of you sitting it really captures the bird like inspiration, well done.

  2. Avatar Steffi Wee on May 10, 2023 at 12:47 pm

    I had to pull up a photo of the bird, and wow – you really replicated its beautiful colours brilliantly! What a look

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