Pattern: For the halter-style underdress, I started with McCalls #3222. It had to be heavily modified to accomodate the demi-train, neckline, and total backless-awesomeness. But it served as a base.
Fabrics: For the underdress, I originally used a heavy satin from Joannes. It took the dyes reasonably well, and was nice and sturdy. BUT for Celebration IV, I wanter more accuracy, so I made a v.2 underdress out of sanded silk charmeuse. This was much nicer---took the dye beautifully, had a great soft sheen, and flowed nicely. Definitely worth the upgrade! The drape/train I kept from the first version--it's poly chiffon, which I'll admit was a monster to dye, but it drapes perfectly and doesn't wrinkle. The edges are white satin blanket binding, which had to be dyed seperately. Lots of adjusting, cutting, and re-adjusting, but eventually the drapes were the length I wanted so I was able to finally sew them to the gown and sleeves (which were simply spandex tubes I sewed to fit my arms).
Dyes: I just used good old RIT: Pink, Golden Yellow, Blue, Purple. It took me and my husband working together to dye the train--some parts just have to be manipulated and held above the tub, and, well...it's awkward.
Hair: I painted all the headbands (white satin bridal headbands from the craft store) and sewed little pearls on by hand. Then I made a 'cage' of sorts with heavy black jewelry wire so that the bands would stay put and not creep around. I took several black hairnets and attached them to the inside of the headbands to hold in the synthetic hair. This was important: I glued a wire headband--one with hair grippers--to the first headband. This kept the entire headpiece from sliding off the back of my head! After traveling with it twice, I had to go back and re-apply the hairnets and smooth out the synthetic hair. Painful to wear after about an hour, but the things we do for accuracy...
Jewelry: The necklace was a pain. I tried sintra, sculpy, you name it. Finally, on a whim, I started tinkering with craft foam sheets (yeah, the 99 cent sheets from Wal Mart) and voila! I was able to stagger all the layers, apply several coats of paint and gold leaf (with a leafing pen), and it shined when I was finished and didn't look to boxy or bulky. The front and back beaded bits were made from mother of pearl discs and lots and lots of iridescent seed beads.
Events: DragonCon '06, Star Wars Celebration IV (Los Angeles)
Honors: 3rd place-Celebration IV Costuming Contest
This was a pretty intense dress to wear. Garment tape is a must, undergarments can be tricky, and that headpiece left little bruises on my temples. But it's the kind of dress that makes you feel like royalty, and I'm so glad I made it.
photos courtesy of D. Skirmont