To search this blog, please see the categories and search feature in the footer of any page or in the sidebar to the right.  This blog does not contain everything I’ve made.  More can be found at my Aria Couture Facebook page.  As time allows, I will move some things from my defunct website here, as well as move creations from my Facebook page here.  I encourage you to follow both this website as well as my page!


If you’re here for my Beauty and the Beast costume studies:

To my surprise, tens of thousands of people are, and to make it easier, I’m going to post those here.

Emma’s (“Belle’s) yellow gown from Beauty and the Beast: A Costume Study
Beast’s Ball Ensemble:  Costume Study
Provincial Belle: A Costume Study
Gaston: A Costume Study
Pre-movie costuming thoughts about Beauty and the Beast
Post-Beauty and the Beast costuming thoughts

Phantom of the Opera “Think of Me” Gown

I admit I’m not a fan of the movie (Andrew Lloyd Weber called it the biggest mistake of his career), but the gowns are gorgeous! **This is the standard version of this gown. The deluxe would have more starbursts in tiny Swarovski crystals. The ultra-deluxe would be in all silk, including silk tulle, which would give the softer bustling effect in the back.**

Oodles of tulle and sparkle! Boned corset-bodice with pink tulle detailing, floofy skirt over a (client-provided) hooped petticoat. Starbursts on the skirt, and the silver-blue tails are easy to overlook… So much more work than it looks like it would be! About 2,000 rhinestones, over 50 yards of trims on those tails (since they’re layered over each other, some of the trims look like one trim), all sewn on.

More photos are in this Facebook album.

“Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off” Blue striped dress

This dress is made of a crisp, taffeta-like fabric. The vertical stripes are somewhat iridescent. The crystal buttons are decorative, and this dress closes with a side- zipper. Unfortunately this dress didn’t work for the actress, so wasn’t used. Still very pretty.

I managed to find a remnant of this fabric that I intend to turn into a corset at some point.  The colors are just so beautiful.  More photos are in this Facebook album.

“Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off” Finale dress

This dress came with a specific pattern request that I ended up not using, and it demonstrates why I hate using commercial patterns.  This one is clearly for completely-flat-chested ladies (I’m not kidding, completely flat-chested), and the designer has information on her website on how to make this pattern work if you actually have a chest. While patterns usually require a little tweaking, altering several pieces to accommodate even the slightest amount of bust that most women have shouldn’t be one of them.  Altering the pieces would have taken more time than drafting from scratch.  So in the end, I decided screw it, and did my own thing to get this one to work, including leaving out the boning so it can be altered.

Hannah was lovely. After it went to the theater, they decided to add some…I’m not sure what. Glitter dots? Rhinestones? I’m not sure, but for this gown, it works well. I did make a sash out of the contrast fabric, though the same silver ribbon for the blue swirly gown ended up being used instead.

More photos are in this Facebook album.

The Princesses Project

This year I will be doing what I’m calling The Princess Project. This project has two gowns, one that will be my own, and one that will be Shirley’s. A rule I have set for mine is that it can’t interfere with anything else I have to do. This is motivation to me to keep on schedule. I’m not a fan of the sun, and love the rain and snow, but how much of it we’ve had is dragging even me down.  So if my agenda for the day is to get X drafted and cut out and the shell assembled, Y’s skirt seams and hems, and Z’s buttons, all finished, I can only work on my own gown if those things are finished.

Shirley’s is pretty straight-forward. Hers will be made with over 10,000 Swarovski crystals on real silk crepeline and yumissima.  A lot of fabrics labeled as silk crepeline are not actually silk crepeline, which drives me up the wall.  This fabric is the finest silk fabric made.  It’s ridiculously and unnervingly sheer, and the yumissima is extremely expensive, and I have a bolt of it waiting to be dyed.  The underpinnings will be massively fluffy, and the bodice boned.  All the supplies are in my sewing store room, and as soon as my garage is cleared out and we are done finishing it (in the next few weeks), I will begin.  That gown will be too huge to fit into my sewing store room or my sewing room, and I won’t dare leave it in my sitting room where animals could get to it.

Now I think I’ve summed up why I don’t like the yellow dress Emma wore in Beauty and the Beast…or at least why I don’t like it for the role of Belle, and what I think should have been done differently to call it a ballgown of any sort. Since I like a good challenge, and sometimes like to put my feet where my mouth is (“if you don’t like it, let’s see you do better!”), I decided I would recreate this gown in the way I think it should have been done in the first place, at least within the design for the gown that was insisted upon. So I will stick with that design, but make it better, rather than recreating a properly historical ballgown that would have fit in better with the design aesthetic of the movie.

So within that parameter, I am using silk satin organza, as was used in the movie, that I dyed to a yellow shade more suited for me, and am using gold embroidery and Swarovski crystals. My bodice will be boned, and I will be wearing a corset. The underpinnings will include both a small hoop as well as organza petticoats. Another change is that the bottom layer will be on a separate waist band so that I can wear a shorter layer that’s the same length as the middle layer. I haven’t decided yet if I’ll embroider all of that, or just part. But either way, that will make this gown easier to wear in real-life situations, such as to the ballet, or Disneyland, where full ballgowns and costumes aren’t allowed (a tea-length version without tons of petticoats should be acceptable on a redhead in late September).

Last Wednesday, I started the embroidery:

And as of today, the top layer’s embroidery is finished. The edges are not, and the crystals haven’t arrived.

I’m not usually one to toot my own horn too much, but this just might be a project worth subscribing to my blog for.  The Disney Cosplay for Adults group get first peeks, but photos of progress on both gowns will be posted here soon after, as well as some bonuses on my Aria Couture Facebook page in this Belle album, and the one for Cinderella will be posted here once it’s started.

“Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off” wrap dress

This dress is one of five I made on very little time (one week). Since this dress is for theater, the seams are raw to make it easy to alter. Unlike the famed wrap-away dress (highly popular pattern in the 1950’s, known for needing only a couple yards of fabric and being easy enough to make that you’d cut it out in the morning and walk away with a new dress for lunch) that uses very little fabric, this one ate it up. The walk-away dress also had the outer layer close in the front. This dress is pretty simple in construction. As I said, it eats fabric like there’s no tomorrow, but it’s pretty twirly. The layer that wraps first is the back part. It closes in front under the bust. For this one, I used a piece of elastic to make that easier to adjust. The top layer is the front, which closes with ribbon. This is hard to describe. Hopefully the pictures are clearer.

More photos are in this Facebook album.

Nursery gown

For my daughter’s last day of school before winter break back when she was four, I made this nightgown and robe. It was pajama day, so of course…. Every year for her birthday I make her a nightgown anyway, and decided to make a robe to go with it this time.

The gown is a sweet bunny print flannel with elastic at the neck, waist, and sleeves, and a strip of lavender at the bottom as well as neck, waist, and bottom of the sleeves. The back has buttons, but they are only decorative. I did fold the fabric in back to mimic a button closure.

The robe is her favorite part of this. It’s shorter in the front than the nightgown, and sweeps into a slight train. It’s edged entirely in lavender floral Venice lace (this trim was somewhat pricy at $22 for how much was needed), and closes in the front with a big decorative hook. I also made the hair clips she’s wearing over each pig tail.

Little girl nightgowns are the best bang for the buck. These gowns will last through years of washing and wearing. All seams are at least double-sewn (I do NOT use a double needle, which would use the same thread for both rows on the bottom, and just isn’t as secure as separately sewing each), and some triple. A day gown wouldn’t look so nice with so much stitching, but night things are different, and night things get worn more often than a day dress.  She’s seven now, and though this robe is snug and short, she still wears it sometimes.

Several more pictures of this robe and gown are on this Facebook page, including without the robe and some detail shots.

Silk Taffeta Van Dyke Gown

This gown is entirely hand-sewn, every last stitch! I made this gown out of silk taffeta. While my mock-up was closer to the original gown, I wanted this one to appear slimmer from the front and to have a more fitted bodice.

The original is in the Greene Collection at the Genesee Country Village & Museum. Known information is that the skirt has three panels with slight gathering on the front and pleating in the back. The sleeves and bodice top each have two tucks. The wonderful pointed cap sleeves have what would have been white silk ribbon bows. The sleeves are long enough that they would have to be pushed up on the arms to use the hands. I’m not sure what’s going on on the bottom, if that’s trim or discoloration, but I made tucks, and closed this gown with buttons. Buttons weren’t common, but I used them anyway.

The VanDyke points around the neckline have been used a lot on old quilts. It’s the same technique, and it’s lovely. I’ve matched these details in this replica. This gown has the same tucks on the sleeves and neck, the same number of Van Dyke points across the front, and four tucks on the bottom. The long under-sleeves are detachable so this can be worn as a ball gown!

More photos are in this Facebook album.

Belle’s Blue Provincial Gown

I made this gown for an Indiana stage production of Beauty and the Beast.  This gown managed to steal my heart as I made it. The ric-rac around the bottom was a design suggestion my daughter made, and Sheree liked it. And sew…it was sew. *ducks from the tomatoes*

I used a mottled blue instead of a solid blue. Something about a solid looks like a costume. Perhaps that’s because a young lady living her life in that time in France wouldn’t stay so spotless. Of course animating smudges isn’t feasible for a hand-drawn film, but on a real person, it needs some variation for this type of dress to not look like a costume meant to represent a rich young lady. This gorgeous blue, which at first seemed an iffy choice, was perfect!

The overgown is two pieces for–what else?–versatility. The bodice is boned and closes in the back with a zipper (lacing is also possible, but zipping is faster for stage).  This bodice can definitely be worn on its own with a pair of jeans or something else. The skirt closes with a large hook and eye. Between a couple rows of ric-rac on the skirt, in a thread color meant to be invisible from a distance, is a message from Beast to his Beauty. It’s embroidered upside down to someone looking straight on, but it’s not meant for you. It’s meant for Belle to see when she sits and looks at her skirt, and this was a surprise this Beauty didn’t know about. Sometimes a lady needs to be reminded that, no matter what anyone mean says, she it beautiful.

The skirt can be worn over or under the bodice, and the skirt can go over the bodice while the skirt is under, under the bodice, etc.

The blouse has dolman sleeves, buttons up the front, and to make it easier to pull on and off quickly, is both blousy (the blue shell controls that, and the sleeve cuffs have elastic (can be made with a standard cuff instead). The skirt is something I love, and I don’t know why, since it’s so simple. Two layers of white cotton, royal blue ric-rac, ribbon waist band. The skirt can be worn over or under the blue bodice, and the skirt can be worn over or under as well, with or without the skirt. The hair bow is on a clip, and included.


More photos and variations on how this ensemble can be worn is available in this Facebook album.

Petite Belle

As a surprise for my daughter, her father, grandmother, and I planned a trip to Disneyland. She knew nothing. She had no idea we were getting on a plane until we were at the airport, and we managed to conceal the reason for our trip until we were at the hotel (literally just across the street from the park) until we were in the room and I had her surprise gowns laid out.  All five made in two weeks: Aurora, Ariel, Snow White, Belle, and Cinderella.

Here is a video of her finding everything out:

So on our fourth day, she was Belle! By a miracle, I managed to find nearly the same brocade as used on another Belle gown I made, and at the last moment, I found more of that bronze-gold organza, which works better than the yellow-gold I had bought when the bronze-gold was nowhere to be found. This one nearly goes without saying. I added straps of light gold to help the gown stay up. The skirt is tacked to the bodice, and so the weight needs more than the bodice boning on a child. The back laces, and the skirt is a full circle.

Despite the weight of the heavy brocade and crepe satin, the gown was cool to wear. The hoop under it helped with air circulation, and the bodice is, of course, sleeveless.

More photos are in this Facebook album.

Post-Beauty and the Beast costuming thoughts

Hands down, the background characters’ costumes are stunning, as are the servants’ human costumes.  Madame Garderobe’s blue gown even has scallop-pinked trimming!  So much silk and damask and happy-sigh-worthy perfection.

Beast and Gaston... Until I get my hands on some photos of the opening scene to better analyze the prince’s costume (the ladies are pure rococo), I can’t say much on that, but otherwise, everything I said still stands with nothing else needing to be added aside from some speculation about Gaston.  Gaston was called Captain, and he was a war veteran.  This detail is actually put into his chamois leather coat.  Chamois leather was used primarily for hunting and military.  So this could potentially be a military coat.

Let’s see if we can figure out which war he fought in without giving away a plot point. The men’s costumes are very, very 1750-1760, though this movie couldn’t have taken place that late.  (I’m not going to nitpick being a couple decades off though, especially if the exact year wasn’t specified to the costumer and Emma, who wouldn’t have cared anyway.) We have a better indication of the era though, and that indication comes from the movie by a specific event that really happened.

The event that we see Maurice fleeing with Baby Belle took place in 1720-1722 (this event is a running theme through the movie). The traumatized captain hopefully wasn’t a captain in any war around 1720, but Emma appears to be about 25. So this movie is in the area of 1740. War of the Polish Succession happened in 1733-1738. War of the Austrian Succession was 1740-1748. He wouldn’t have been to that one and back unless Emma is supposed to be playing a 30-year-old-or-older Belle. The Quadruple Alliance ended in 1720.  So I suppose he was a veteran of the Polish Succession.

Emma’s costumes…

What I thought was one of her provincial ensembles wasn’t something that appeared together on screen.  She wore the white floral apron at the castle, but not with the pockets or that particular bodice.  She wore a blue and blue cross-over with that skirt and apron.  There’s a peek of the rest just visible in this.  So this display had some mixed up pieces.  Despite the inaccuracies, both of these ensembles still work well for invoking the era.

The yellow gown has the same problems I noted on its study page, with one new one.

There’s nothing transformative. Her makeup looks the same, her hair is down, but not different otherwise. She looks like she tossed on a yellow dress, and that’s it. A garment can change how a person carries themselves.  She looks like, “Here I am, in a long dress.”  She doesn’t elevate the dress, and the dress doesn’t elevate her.  Something I’ve observed in my own daughter is when she’s in one of her ultra-fancy dresses, her carriage changes, as does her demeanor.  Many people have noticed this.  She’s not even aware she does it, but she goes from running around like a loon to holding her head higher and acting regal.  That’s what a truly regal gown can do.  It can affect how you feel about yourself, and that will show.  
That yellow gown didn’t have that affect.  It’s Emma in a yellow dress.  Meanwhile, in the animated version, our hot-headed, yet introverted Belle who sometimes doubted herself on screen transformed into this giddy young woman in her gown. She fluffed up the skirt to show herself off, preened a bit, and she displayed an increase in confidence and joy.  That Belle absolutely blossomed in that moment.  Our rose had fully bloomed.  We saw nothing of the sort with Emma’s version.

Now, it can be argued that the glitter is okay because the pattern was lifted from the floor and ceiling, as I’ve seen a few people mention, except for a couple things.

First, the floor and ceiling weren’t glitter.  In reality, the gold would have been gold leafing, which is thin sheets of real gold.  In that era, and for a couple centuries afterward, fine strands of precious metals were woven into fabrics, and embroidered into fabrics.  (Until just a handful of decades ago, lamé was made from thin ribbons of real gold or silver, and would tarnish.)  It would have made more sense to have that gold leafing weave/embroider itself into the fabric. As it stand, as I said in my earlier post, the paint and glitter isn’t substantial enough, as embroidery would have been.  This is actually from the movie:

Second, this gown’s “wow” factor is entirely in it’s spin-factor.

That can only last for so long though.  We saw this gown for a remarkably short period of time during this scene.  The cameras kept panning to the sets.  The animated film did this too, but a a chance to show off some of the brand-new CGI abilities they were able to use in animating the ballroom.  Watching a gown spin will only stay interesting for so long, especially when it lacks sparkle.  Despite the glitter, this gown really didn’t sparkle much.  It had some shine at times, but it lacked depth and substance.

It pains me to pick apart this gown when the overall design of it is my personal style (remember, I made myself a gown using almost the exact same skirt styling, just with four layers and without the waterfall effect in the back, which I joked should be made in yellow for Belle), but that doesn’t change my mind about the glitter and paint in place of embroidery (no, embroidery wouldn’t be too heavy as heavier embroidery didn’t, in any way, affect the floppiness and lightness of my “Emma” gown).  It’s just does not have enough substance, and makes the gown look plainer and flatter than it should.

I’m not sure why the “celebration” gown was made to be 21st century modern when we really didn’t see that much of it.  What we did still looks to be modern garden party.  Shorten it to tea length, and it would be a perfect version of a 50’s-style dress to wear to a garden party or for Easter today.  Again, it’s a dress I personally love, but, again, it just doesn’t fit the character or the time, and if Jacqueline Durran thinks that the yellow dress “works against [being a modern, strong Belle] in a sense of being a pretty, princess-y kind of dress,” then I’m not sure how a pretty, peachy pink flowery princess-y kind of dress is more feminist (though I’m not sure at all how a dress can be called feminist or not if a person gets to freely choose their own personal clothing).

I’m going to close this post with a couple photos of my daughter in gowns I made her inspired by parts of the rococo era, as Tiny Marie Antoinette when she was three years old (later 18th century), and as Rococo Cinderella when she was four years old (more fantasy-based mid 18th century)…