Saturday, December 31, 2011
Sunday, December 4, 2011
I've loved this gown for a long time, and like many of my costumes, I simply have to work up the nerve to get it started. Up until now, it seemed way out of my league. There is soooo much detail to consider, plus the fact that you're working with a lot of delicate materials. Then, there are those wings. Here is the basic run-down of how I created this costume. I hope someone finds it useful!
The Pattern: Simplicity #8735. It is out of print now, but you may be able to find it on ebay. This pattern served primarily as a base for the bodice. The rest was heavily modified. I didn't even use the sleeve pattern.
The Fabrics: For the underskirt and underlayer of the bodice, I went with the good old casa satin in white from Joanne fabrics. Like the rest of the fabric, I dyed this satin in pearl gray (very lightly) then gave it a tea bath. For the overskirt, I was actually able to find a gorgeous metallic crinkle silk in silver at GoldenSilks.com. It looks very much like the fabric in the film! For the alternating panels, I found some regular white chiffon that I dyed as I did my satin. Not totally accurate, but I could not find the appropriate silk for those panels, and even if I did, I probably would have blown my budget. I used dyed chantilly lace on the bodice, as it had the scallopped edge I needed.
The Trimmings: This is where it gets interesting. In the film version, there is a beautiful floral bullion trim edging out the overskirt and it is also found on the bodice. Try as I did, I could not find bullion trim that even came close. I assume that trim may have been made specifically for that gown and is not offered up to the masses. I found some florall bridal trim that sufficed (after trying about 4 or 5 other trim samples), but it was wayyy to wide, so I trimmed it up, dyed it, then beaded it with some seed beads. You'll find a variety of trims and laces on the bodice and sleeves as well, including metallic silver and gold ribbon, pearl trim, floral lace trim, and a beatiful lotus-shaped applique. I found an applique on ebay that's pretty close, then I made the beaded appliques that span outward from it.
Detail Work: I'd say I spent about 4 months on the skirt embellishment...the chiffon panels were embroidered by machine--it took FOREVER. I did it in sections--first, I'd cut a sheet of iron-on stabilizer and iron it to the chiffon. Second, I drew the pattern to be embroidered onto the stabilizer. Third, I used the tiniest of zig-zag stitches in silver metallic thread to embroider the pattern. It was a slow, grueling process that took about 1.5 hours per section. There were 5-7 sections per panel (the panels in back are longer). After a panel was complete, I'd sew on the little pearls. I used the tiny plastic pearls you buy by the bagful at Joanne's. I ended up having to buy a second bag. Honestly, I lost count of how many pearls had to be sewn on by hand (close to 2000?). I reallylike the way it turned out, though. When fabric can't be bought, sometimes you make it yourself!
The Shoes: I shopped around for some shoes that were similar to the ones worn in the film and found some beautiful Indian bridals, but I had a budget to consider. Luckily, I found a pair of clear Sam and Libby heels at a friend's garage sale for 50 cents. There was only the clear band across the top of the foot and a really nice lucite heel whose shape is close to that of the film shoe. So I set out the create the uppers with layers of duck canvas and satin. I beaded the uppers and attached them to the shoe with E-6000 glue. Lots of it. I trimmed out the ugly edges with a tiny silver metallic rope trim which looked close to the screen worn version. For the heel, I attached 2 filgrees and several Swarovski rhinestones. They aren't 100% accurate, but they are pretty comfy and very sparkly!
The Wings: I started by drawing a template onto paper, then using some all-purpose wire I bought at Lowe's, cut and bent the wire into shape (not easily done...sore fingers!). Copper tape held the pieces together until they were spot-welded together. After welding, they were sprayed with silver chrome paint, and the outer edge painted gold. I used light silver tulle to fill it all in...sewn to the wire with metallic silver thread. That was a total exercise in patience. When transporting them, I had to be very careful...the netting would rip or the thread would snap if you just looked at it funny.
I wanted them to look close to the film version, so I made an undercorset to act as a sort of harness to keep the wings steady. It was a basic corset pattern, but heavily boned in the back around channels that had been sewn in...the wing attachments would slide down into the channels...they stayed pretty well and weren't a huge pain!
I've only worn this gown one time-for the DragonCon Costume Contest. I received lots of nice feedback on its construction and detail, which was great. Brian was so sweet to act as my 'wingman,' carrying my wings to and fro and making sure they were secure. Hopefully, I'll be able to wear it again, even though it is tough walking in any crowded areas with those wings!
I could not have made this dress without the awesome reference pics on Maggie's site EverAfterCostumes.com. Many thanks!!