Ilona Wawrzeń-Jędrzejewska

Outline the story …

In the middle of October 2020 I was gifted a device that I was craving to have throughout the entire year of watching costube - a sewing machine. It was an old one, but I got her for free from a fellow member of a zero-waste themed facebook group I quickly got her up and running and checked if there was a theme for competition published already. It was, and it was appealing to my greenhorn self.
A month prior I had styled myself as a Slavic demonette for an event and I liked the look, so I've decided to take it to the next level. I've chosen a suitable character and it is a nymph from a ballad by a fantastic Polish poet, Adam Mickiewicz. The ballad is called 'Świtezianka' or ' The Nymph of Lake Switez', as I have found for the English version, and I have some lovely memories related to this piece, so double the fun.

The ballad tells a love story between a young lad and a fair maiden, who have been meeting by the lake throughout the entire summer. At the beginning of autumn, the man sort of proposed to her, but she was unsure of his intentions, so he swore to never betray her. Later that evening, he has encountered a stunning nymph of the lake, who tried to lure him into following her into the water. The nymph is a character that I've attempted to convey in my costume. (full ballad:

Outline the construction…

Since my experience with machine sewing was non-existent, I've decided to start learning by making a corset and chemise a la reine inspired dress. I felt like I've watched enough costube to attempt that task and, you know, if there is a big chance of failure, better make it an epic one :D I intended for flowy, fog-like, water-related results while working with thrifted materials only.

For the corset, I somehow found the archival version of FR article on how to draft a basic pattern. It felt illegal to use it, not gonna lie, but I went with it since it was my best shot for a nice fit. Construction-wise I pad-stitched fashion and lining fabrics together, stitched them with raw edges to the inside, and then used seam allowances as boning channels on both sides of each seam. For both the corset and the dress I used strips of fabric cut on bias as a binding. Front closure is just a zipper, but the back is laced with a string that I made myself. For the flossing, I wanted something extra to contradict white on white, so I did my best to backstitch a wave pattern.
I needed to drape the dress, so I took bodice and skirt patterns from my clothes and created a fitted underdress. It needed some MacGyvering in order to fit properly, draping over it was a pain, and the sleeves are definitely held in place by magic, but we're here, so yay :D




  1. Avatar Madelief on March 11, 2021 at 7:33 pm

    Super combination of sheer fabric and sleeve style. Definitely achieved that flowy, fog-like look!

  2. Avatar TERRI BLEN PARKER on March 11, 2021 at 9:01 pm

    Really amazing results for a “first try at sewing!” Appreciate that you utilized thrifted materials, my favorite when working with my ELNA-CARINA machine. Your work deserves at the very least a SPECIAL MENTION in my book! Can’t wait to see what you might design/create next.

  3. Avatar Laura Boyles on March 11, 2021 at 11:13 pm

    Your first leap for epic definitely worked out. It flows, it’s evocative. It’s lovely. Best of luck x

  4. Avatar Divya RV on March 12, 2021 at 6:39 am

    Looks amazing. So dreamy, simple and beautiful. Good job!

  5. Avatar Andrea Olinte on March 12, 2021 at 3:13 pm

    Love the embroided waves on the corset.

  6. Avatar Carolien van Alphen on March 12, 2021 at 6:58 pm

    Very lovely. It has a very mysterious, almost etherial, look. Very fitting for the story. The embroidery is a lovely touch 🙂

  7. Avatar Regina Finan on March 12, 2021 at 11:16 pm

    Wow! Absolutely beautiful. The sleeves are so lovely and I adore the pretty blue embroidery.

  8. Avatar Natalia V. on March 13, 2021 at 9:15 pm

    Beautiful work!

  9. Avatar Camille on March 14, 2021 at 11:23 am

    The photos are great, the corset seems neat and I really like the delicate embroidery on the corset 😀

  10. Avatar Marie on March 16, 2021 at 9:28 am

    I love the contrast between the sheer dress and the structure of the corset. Beautifully done!

  11. Avatar Valerie on March 17, 2021 at 2:19 am

    Absolutely magical!

  12. Avatar Stephanie Tietze on March 22, 2021 at 5:34 am

    This was your first sewing project? I am impressed. An ethereal fae woman on an icy lake…

  13. Avatar AnnaCatherine Sendgikoski on March 23, 2021 at 3:12 am

    Wow, very nice! I really like this! That’s a beautiful corset and that embroidery is…extra! Thank you!

  14. Avatar Stephanie Murison on March 23, 2021 at 3:09 pm

    Beautiful! The corset came out wonderfully, I can’t believe this was your first attempt! The blue lacing and matching wave design just make it extra special, and the draping, flowing sleeves are perfect for that ethereal, mystical look! Well done!

  15. Avatar Elowen Blackthorn on March 26, 2021 at 7:43 am

    Very aethereal, good job!

  16. Avatar Benigna on March 26, 2021 at 10:37 am

    This is wonderful! And it looks very much like a nymph.

  17. Avatar Ilona on March 29, 2021 at 10:06 am

    Oh my God, I haven’t checked on my entry since it went live and I just read all the comments – thank you, lovely people, for your kind words and support <3 <3 <3

  18. Avatar Lizzie Blake on April 1, 2021 at 5:29 pm

    Simple, but elegant outfit. It’s gorgeous! I love your corset especially – the contrasting details on the white really stand out

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