by michaela de bruce, September 8, 2014

I’ve had a few questions about patterns so I thought I’d do a quickie update 🙂

Dress exhibit notes:

The train has been totally removed and we cannot see the back, but this shows some great details that may help with decisions on what effects to choose and what to not.

The collar: you can clearly see the wired struts underneath. The edges are cut not stitched so I’m going a bit crazy trying to find the thinest russet I can to dye and polish. I have used russet before for(my Mass Effect Blood Dragon armour as well as my Shaak Ti apron.) The collars are quite flat, using the maleable nature of leather and the wires to hold the shape.

The sleeves: the sleeves are a front and back with a seam along the top (very narrow tucks that are more like easing than full pleats at about elbow) and narrow inserts on the inside panels only. The sleeve edges also look overlocked rather than seamed normally. I hand prickstitched my first gown to get this effect. It’s hard to see but you can see some classic fuzzing of the overlock threads- my skirt hem has this effect!) The sleeves are also sewn in to the side seams. The outer seam has a slight S shape with a good curve as expected but it curls back towards the hem rather than following the same arc.

The dress body: you can see the skirt side front and side seams. If you follow the hip decorations to hide the top seam you can get some good shaping and fit over the hips regardless of your proportions. There are no visible bust or underbust darts or seams. This is in part due to the use of the bias and the pleats to form to curves.

The fabric: it is an arashi shibori and a very soft and thin fabric.


Doll references/simpler pattern options:

I have the Disney exclusive doll and I think the pattern of her dress would scale up beautifully. If you can’t get hold of her (she is a bit pricey just for a pattern) then this page has a really good comparison with the Jakks and close up views of the dress:

The Jakks doll is another option for getting another more simplified style. The Disney exclusive is much much closer with the alternating bias of the train and even the unseen shaping (there is a triangle under arm piece from armscye to waist to allow for the dress to fit as a single piece rather than having the sleeve partially mounted to a shell lining like I did. This will require a bit more care in shaping but if you make a pattern from lining fabric with a similar stretch to the outer shell it is a really good option.

The only issue with the dolls really are the lack of a back of skirt, the train is a bit more complicated in the real dress in that it is partially inserted in/on a side back seam and there is a clear ground length skirt underneath. But this is a costume nerd factor and for not going sheer bloody crazy I’d go for the doll version which is essentially a godet or several godets inserted in to the centre back seam.

I can get some photos of the inside of the doll dress, I have already swapped Elsa and Maleficent and had them play dress ups with Zam and Eowyn. The doll dress is sewn a little far up so I had to unpick a few stitches to get it off the doll so she is not in mint condition anyway 🙂 And to see lots of Maleficents for Halloween would make little feery heart flutter 🙂

The doll also shows how you can reverse a fabric for effect- in this case a satin backed shantung so you don’t need to then try and wrangle leather or pleather!

And the Hot toys doll is just staggeringly beautiful. The bust shaping is something I’d recommend for the lining/support layer and to then smooth the shell fabric over.

The dart/seam under the bust merges in to the skirt seam really well so even if it is not visible in the original it is a really well scaled and nalanced alternative. The sleeves also taper and twist much like the original though perhaps a little more tapered. But it does show how much excess fabric you can eliminate (great for if you have smaller amounts of fabric.)

Fabric amounts:

I made my first gown from 10.4m (1m=40″) of 1.6m wide fabric and cut off a fair amount of excess fabric. I managed to beg a further 6.5m and 1.4m length of the same fabric which is being hoarded! With my blog getting so high in google searches I suspect there may be a bit of a run on the alternative heat set foil knit fabric. In Aus/NZ/Singapore it is still available at Spotlight in the 100% Dance section (black on black and gold on black is very readily available.) It is about $NZ25/m so I’d highly recommend at least 11m for the full train and gown. And I’d recommend a lining, either a stretch charmeuse or another slinky knit. You want stretch to only go in the same direction as across the fabric/perpendicular to the wrinkles/pleats so the fabrics hang on the bias well. I wouldn’t recommend a lining cut on the straight with the fabric on the bias due to the amount of stretch you get with a crinkled fabric.

I’d recommend a good 15m/yards for narrower fabric. It is a fiddly dress to pattern on the bias so it is easier to have extra- work areas need to be quite large to support the fabric and not cause over stretching of one layer or area.

Clip or cut off the selvages. Especially for a fabric like I used which had a very firm selvage. I lost a bit of width but it allowed the fabric to rest at a mid stretch when laid on the the floor.

i may have a few more notes to add to this, but I don’t want to make any definitive statements about the parts of the gown not clearly visible or open to interpretation.




    • September 9, 2014

    Wonderful! ive never noticed the wire in the collar until now! Makes total sense how it stands up now.

      • ADMIN


      • September 10, 2014

      I had spotted it on another image, but not the shorter ones at the front, I think they have memory so as to keep shape and not warp. The small collar on the velvet gown is made totally differently with the edges sewn and a thin layer of foam but I cn’t find a really clear view to see if the raised tuck is wired or just in the top layer or what. No idea where to get a super smooth leather like that too. And I need it asap! Actually.. I have some lime green shorts I cut up to use.. I think that has the same buttery surface and it should dye and polish well.. oooh. Yay! And I think the pleated collar can be made from my dark green leather again tinted and polished 🙂

    • GWIISH


    • September 25, 2014

    I love all these little notes! I’ve been researching for my own costume and finally settled on crushed taffeta for the outer, I’m just crossing my fingers that it will drape the way I want 🙂 I’m wondering if you estimate 11m each for the outer and lining or 11m of overall fabric? Sorry to be nosy, but your blog is pretty inspirational! <3

      • ADMIN


      • September 25, 2014

      Thank you 🙂 I think crushed taffeta is a lovely choice 🙂 Oh, the original dress has some top stitching holding the crinkles over the bust 🙂 The lines of stitches follow the creases and are used to shape the outer layer to fit over the bust 🙂 I put a list of references here to keep them all in one place, and I’ll add them to each of my costume pages here as I get to them 🙂 It’s about 11m for the lining and the shell fabric each sorry :/ It’s a bit of a monster in that regard! I mean I did chop off a fair bit but it was better than trying to add extra 🙂

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