by michaela de bruce, September 23, 2014

Bluray is out here on Oct 1. Sigh. So my bodysuit and sculpts are on hold until then. I think I do have the seams worked out for the bodysuit and the base shapes of the hip and spine pieces, just not the textures or details.

The hip shapes look smooth in the various captures and VFX, but I don’t fully trust what I have seen before I can watch the scenes in super slow mo at the highest resolution I can.

But I did draw lines and fit a basic bodysuit (precut, hooray! I may do a few more of these!) so I can at least pretty well just go for it.

I also patterned the boot covers.

And found the lime green soft soft soft lederhosen (not kidding, they are leather shorts!) I cut apart years ago. These will be soft enough for the collar but may also be perfect for the headdress. So I cleaned my head cast.

Dribs and drabs, bits and pieces. Trying very hard to not overdo things as my wrists are definitely hot, squishy and painful (do not touch! Yes they are sore to the touch not “just” with movement.) And I did sleep in til midday today and spent nearly all of yesterday and the day before asleep. Fatigue is definitely not relenting, I’m just coralling it in to a different pattern.



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 🙂

ooooh, feather production soon!

ooooh, feather production soon!

So far I have just tested unaltered glue, unaltered blade, and half altered spine. So right now it’s a feather if you squint at it and look sideways.

Once I start on bulk blade processing and finding some sort of press (okay all my art books wrapped in plastic to protect them) I’ll be able to get assembly going.


My horns are very close fitting- which is great but it shows how uneven a skull is- I have to line up the hairline then swing the sides down from the top of my head. If I try to line up sides first it won’t work. They need to be sanded back ready for the final thin layer of soft texture too. I may or may not be able to cut a tool to shape…. I’d like to but the putty needs to be sticky to hold in place, so then I’ll need to use some sort of release agent on the tool and that will then build up in the resin.


I also have a new set of lenses. Currently sterilising them, then will soak them for a day in my own solution (and will buy some of the newly recommended stuff as my eyes are drier than they used to be. But they can be a good back up for pretty much all the lenses I want for costumes, so long as my eyes are happy.


No photos as I’m about to have a catch up nap- and I need to evade the fumes 😉


What else.. oh I forgot to make resin samples. Will have to catch up on that later.

a few maleficent photos

Photo by Tania, shared by Freddy Corrotea

by michaela de bruce, May 26, 2014



    • REPLY

    • May 26, 2014

    You ROCK! As always.

      • ADMIN


      • June 26, 2014

      Thank you 🙂



    • June 4, 2014

    This is hands down the best maleficent costume I’ve seen! Wonderful job. I want one 🙂

      • ADMIN


      • June 11, 2014

      Thank you 🙂 Super fun to wear, a total pain to make but worthwhile 🙂



    • June 25, 2014

    I love this!!!! Is the headpiece available for purchase?

      • ADMIN


      • June 26, 2014

      Thank you 🙂 I still have my molds and am thinking of doing a number of casts while I have the product (finally got a large amount of aerosil/cabosil which makes it lay up easily in a curved mold and not run out everywhere!

I may have overestimated..

I may have overestimated..

The train may be about a foot too long. But I’m not sure how to take that in without seriously affecting the rest of the gown.. though…. possibly by unpicking the seams I will be able to angle in and stretch the pieces to shape. I think everything else is fine as it is. The sleeves are a little big as well. Basically I left a hem a good 10cm too long so it threw everything off scale 🙂

Meanwhile I am wearing stretchy jeans and am actually happy with them 🙂 Had to lower the seat so I could hitch the waistband over my hips (I hate feeling like they are falling off.)

Photos are processing. Horns worked this time but there is a bump that won’t come out. Even with heating so I will have to wedge a solid shape in there. Pity I hacked apart some styrofoam that would have been great.

Maleficent fibreglassing

Maleficent fibreglassing

Sooo, the duo tone blue green doesn’t show up in the photo but it does in reality and I’ll just mix some and coat it tomorrow.

So I put the horns and head in the sink and used hot water to soften them enough to remove from forms.

E voila! Head support, untrimmed horns and staff all ready for the next stage of sticking together and sanding.

See the thin layer on the horns? It’s a bit tricky to do and I’ll probably not do that again. These will get a layer of black latex for the show so I don’t need to try and make some latex sheeting. It’ll stay well until I need to remove it 🙂

So how to stick the horns to the support? No idea just yet! They’ll be trimmed before anything else. And I’ll try and get some foam inside. Still not sure how one of the horns got warped but it must have been during curing as it won’t heat shape out.

Maleficent pleather wrangling

Maleficent pleather wrangling

So it’s a total pain to try and sew as it sticks to everything. To tidy the front edges I needed to top stitch a narrow facing. And I stumbled across this nifty little method to avoid puckering!

A button hole foot! Yep, this sticks to the pleather and you can then sew the full length and then lift the foot and slide forward again as you need.


For those of us with some fancy feet but not all.

For the hem I used a really sloppy running stitch with a very few back stitches, then clipped the hem off.

Once the hem was reshaped I then zipped it under the overlocker using the hand basting as a guide. I don’t fancy hand sewing all this. So I may wind up doing a “rolled” hem that the machine does. It’s a silly name as there is no rolling, just a very tidy encasing in thread effect.


I busted my horns

I busted my horns

On the plus side I rescued my mold 🙂 On the down side I am running out of resin and ability to use it :/

And I probably should have grabbed a zip today when I had the chance.. so today will be a day of mostly rest while my fingernails reform (hot water to soften molds also softened finger nails) and taking all the rest of the antihistamines.

Three kinds. Three kinds of antihistamines.  And I can’t just take one. oh no. All three.

I may also be redoing the collar in leather.

Maleficent has a huge hoop. Bugger.

Maleficent has a huge hoop. Bugger.

I had suspected but a few images put together really do reveal this quite clearly.

If you watch the Awkward Situation clip you can see how the train skims the ground without folding or dragging. If you watch the edge of the train as she goes up the steps it even catches and springs just like a hooped skirt. If you have ever worn hoops or a cage crinoline with flat steels/plastic it wibbles a bit like a jellyfish.



Note how the front edge of the train stops, it doesn’t just pull like fabric under tension it moves like there is a wired edge. And in movement the edge then springs forward once released from that first step.


Here the train is caught on the last step but this is mainly to show the front of the gown is not also stifened. It does have a fairly deep hem which does has some sort of facing but it still flows. It also looks like Angelina is wearing platforms to add to her height- note how the toes push the fabric out above hem line.

You can also see the wired edge also extends in to the seam where the train is sewn to the gown. This makes sense to help support the full train. Having now made mine it is very heavy indeed.

This then explains why that seam appear to be top stitched or otherwise additionally reinforced in other images.

So I had a look at stills again and they do also support the idea of a supported train. In the still below (screengrab) you can see how the train edge is under a lot of tension, but also there is a mystery “bump” near the join between the leather and shell fabric- it does not correspond with the step or any fabric componant of the gown. This is most likely due to a support underneath lifting off the ground- as she is turning this makes sense.

And in this still you can see a ridge that follows the main curve of the leather. And even where the layers are caught to the support hoop in the 2nd to left panel.

So a U shaped hoop on the bottom of the train and two gently flared strips inside the front edge of the train. Imagine a curvy scoop. To make mine I’ll be making a tube of fabric to tack to the underside of my train. And a wrapped facing on the front edge. Then wrap three layers of plumbers coil with sports tape to insert just before putting the entire piece on. I will have to use temporary fastenings to hold the ends in place so as to be able to remove them for convention safety!

I have also just overdyed a huge metal zip (possibly for a sleeping bag) so I will have a super mega firm fastening that will survive the pull and drag of this train. Then I can cover it with a spine.

And now to resize my collars 🙂