Princess Projects: Belle update

It has been a while since I’ve updated this project. It fell by the wayside because I just knew I wasn’t every going to wear it, and so everything else took priority. But now it will have a home, and so back to work I go. ūüôā

The skirt has come together. ¬†At first I didn’t give as much thought to the back as I should have, and when I twirled the dress form, it became a mess.

So I took it all apart to start over.  The new formation falls back into pretty folds.

Much better!  And the front?

It’s a full circle, and it twirls like crazy!

I’ve also been working on the bodice.

Yes, right now it looks very different than the finished bodice will look.

In addition to the boning and binding, the trim pieces still need to be applied, and those are still in the making. ¬†I need lots and lots of the pieces shown in this video. ¬†But it’s coming together. ūüôā

(I said chiffon, but meant organza. I was in a lot of pain, still am, after busting my foot. The pain is distracting.)


“New” photos of the Belle ballgown…with a twist

I recall when Disney came out with the 17″ live-action Belle doll, and something fans and others noticed right away, other than that horrid face (sorry, y’all, that face was so poorly done that I actually feel a bit bad for Emma Watson), was that the gown was different than in the movie. ¬†In some of the many, many Disney groups I’m in, people speculated that Disney was getting cheap with their doll ensembles and couldn’t be bothered to embroidery three layers (not that they bothered embroidering anything in the movie, but I digress…). ¬†Here is the limited edition Disney 17″ doll, and one of the Hasbro dolls.


There’ve been a few promotional photos floating around of Emma in a gown with a single embroidered layer, with them all being longer, but those have appeared to be digitally changed, and that gave pause to some, that perhaps some photos were changed to match the doll dress. ¬†I’d heard rumor that that was the first gown used, and that it wasn’t eye-catching enough when dancing, and that it was changed after the dolls had gone into production. ¬†Now, it is true that the lead time on dolls is easily a year. ¬†So this hypothesis was plausible. ¬†But where was that original gown? ¬†Well, I found a photo. ¬†It definitely exists. ¬†And it has the same number of layers as the Disney limited edition doll.

The theatre that displayed this gown quickly changed to the film version. ¬†Photos taken opening night of the gown on display were of the three-layered gown we all know. ¬†This gown must have been on display for the media. ¬† (apparently they host their images on WordPress, which is strange) and Getty are the only outlets I’ve found with any images of this version, and even then, the versions in their articles are of the three-layered gown.

I thought this was an interesting little thing to share.

Rashelle’s Princess and the Frog wedding gown

When I found out my daughter’s Teacher Rashelle was getting married, I had to make the dress for her, as a gift to her for all she has done for Charlotte. My family supports our educators wholeheartedly, and Rashelle is such a sweetheart and we all love her dearly! I was so thrilled when she said yes!! She wanted something that isn’t the typical poofy princess dress, but still beautiful princess and elegant. I suggested something based on Tiana’s wedding gown (not the green lily pad dress, but the one she wore for her church wedding), and Rashelle loved it! Instead of cream, in white satin, and on the cowl neckline, a rainbow of jewels. And a rainbow veil!! The film version has a higher hemline in the front, and was lower in the back. I left this one a bit longer than the film version, and raised the back a bit, but otherwise kept pretty faithful to the film. This dress closes on the left side with an invisible set zipper. The veil is a seven-colored rainbow. ūüôā

She’s still a part of our lives, and we are so lucky for that. ¬†She is the type of educator we really need more of. ¬†Support you educators!

And see more photos in this gown’s 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.

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.

Belle’s golden ballgown

This ballgown ended up needing almost 40 yards of fabric, which is what happens when you have fabric over fabric over more fabric over a massive hoop! ¬†But it’s alway fun to play with so much fabric. ¬†I was in the middle of packing to move while making this gown, so please pardon my neglect of pressing the skirt properly before taking pictures.

I decided to base this skirt on the Belle skirt that was used for the Cinderellabration festivities at Disney World in 2005, though with different fabrics, and the top layer is a bit longer, and the bottom layer scalloped. Still, that’s where the general idea comes from.

The undermost layer isn’t exciting. Simple six-steel-hooped cage (aka “hoop skirt”). The skirt on top of that is rather heavy. The satin I used is a heavier satin, and, rather than eliminate weight by goring the skirts, I pleated tons of yards of satin to the waistband. The swagged layer has a cut that’s not circle, not gored, not exactly pleated or gathered. It’s something I devised for this gown. The top layer is a few layers of fabric, topped with a swirly vine organza to keep with the rose motif in the story. The satin swags at the bottom are a slightly darker gold. If I were to cut a bunch of threads, this layer would hang evenly all the way around. And, as you can see, at the top of each swag point, I placed a red rose. Golden fabric-covered buttons just wasn’t doing it. The skirt closes with a hook and eye, and has a series of hooks to connect it to the bodice.

Though boning channels aren’t visible, the bodice is fully boned and tight-laces as much as a stand-alone corset. I drafted a Victorian corset pattern to start with, raised the top, then cut the bottom up until I was satisfied with it. Rather than drafting a shorter pattern to begin with, I drafted what I know works for the top of it, and cut right into my fabrics. So cutting up the bottom happened on the actual bodice itself. Each panel has six, SIX, layers. Two layers together of a light cotton twill to line it, and the two layers of the same as interlining (that’s how I hid the bones), and then the satin and organza. Not including the binding, modesty panel, or shoulders, there are sixty, that’s 60, as in six-zero, pieces on the bodice. I debated whether or not to add gold trim on the seams, but ultimately decided against it. Sewing the inside of the bindings was interesting since it was two layers together. As I was doing it, I found myself unable to see what I was going half the time. Hard to explain, but let us just say that many swear words were uttered. The modesty panel in the back is different than usual. Rather than being only as long as the back, it’s several inches longer¬†and is meant to of under the waist band. This gives a path of sorts for the bodice lacing to be fed down between the skirt and the hoops. And it’s all topped off with a bertha (the shoulder piece) made from the same swirled organza lined with golden plain organza, and another rose at the front.

More photos are available in this Facebook album.

Tiny Rapunzel

This is a semi-deluxe version of the gown, minus the embroidery. I had planned to do that by hand while my embroidery machine was in another state in storage, but never did.

This dress is three pieces (in the film, her gown would have been four pieces, a camisole that buttons up the back, the outer bodice that laces up the front, a lace-trimmed slip, and the skirt). I combined the camisole and bodice and made back-lacing with longer sleeves and skirt so that this dress can grow with her. The neckline, arms, waist, and solid fabric of the skirt, have pink satin cord. The wrists, neckline, and skirt hem have white lace, and the waist has pink lace. I couldn’t find suitable pink lace, so dyed some of the white.

The upper sleeves have six yards of ribbon between them. That took a surprisingly long time to do. The bodice and front skirt panel are a rose brocade, and the bodice inset, upper sleeves (under the ribbon), modesty panel, and rest of the skirt are matching solid bridal satins. The lower sleeves are doubled tulle. The bodice is entirely lined in light purple cotton except for the lower sleeves. As I said, this dress was made to grow with her. So the back laces over a modesty panel (so no skin will show) that matches the front inset. The skirt has a waistband that, at its smallest, is her current waist measurement. I inserted a godet where a zipper would usually go, and extended one side of the waist band a few inches. On the extended tab, I placed a few buttons so that it can be buttoned on the one most comfortable. The skirt and bodice have hooks and eyes to keep the bodice and skirt from separating when a little one decides to jump around and roll on the ground!

This gown was made for hard play, and so I took pictures nine months later to show how it wore with…well, if you’ve ever parented a child, then you know how much a child will wear their favorite thing. ¬†To the grocery store, the fabric store, the book store, her therapy appointments… ¬†She wore it everywhere. ¬†In¬†this gown’s Facebook album, you can see how well it held up.

Emma’s (“Belle’s) yellow gown from Beauty and the Beast: A Costume Study

If you’re here for the pre-release film caps, they’re near¬†the bottom.

I will also touch slightly on the wedding/”celebration” gown toward the end. ¬†You can now see Beast’s ball ensemble and Provincial Belle, and Gaston’s¬†wardrobe,¬†as well as¬†my post-seeing-the-movie costume thoughts. ¬†I’ll also post a bunch of extra photos to my Facebook page, specifically in this album, that didn’t make the cut for this post as I sift through them, as well as follow up on March 17th, after seeing the movie while keeping in mine that post-filming CGI can affect appearance. ¬†The week following the movie release, I will start detailing recreating this gown, but embroidered instead. ¬†Follow this blog (sign up at the bottom of any page) if you’d like to get notifications of those posts.

When four photos of the yellow gown from an exhibit in Los Angeles were¬†leaked, my earlier concerns were confirmed. It fails both at invoking another era, and at invoking Belle. This doesn’t mean it’s not a beautiful gown in its own right (keep in mind that my criticism aren’t about whether or not the gown is objectively pretty, since I think it very much is), but costumes have a job to do. They need to help transport us to the world and time of a movie. Cinderella’s ballgown in 2015¬†did this well. It helped take us to the ball with her, at an earlier era. The many colors in thr skirt moved like water and smoke, and the butterflies were little bits of magic about her breaking out of her cacoon.

(Editing to add: I recommend clicking my links to confirm my claims about this gown. ¬†In at least one location where this post has been shared, movie-fans are arguing that this gown can’t really be film-worn since surely they must have used embroidery. ¬†One of my links below confirms that they did indeed use…well, you can read what they used below, as well as the link to prove it. ¬†When the costumer says a certain method was used, and the photos of the film-worn gown on display back that, then it’s hard to insist that a different method was used.)

Unfortunately, this yellow gown is pretty modern. In fact, the skirt is unsettlingly similar to the Cinderella Ballgown skirt I made (mine had four layers, and lacked the mellow waterfall) that I joked a few times should be remade in yellow for the movie.  Eerie in a way.

This skirt is painted and glittered, which gives it the look of a glittered print, instead of embroidered. This works for a modern gown, but does it really work to take us back to the mid-18th century (1740, to be precise)? The closest any of this comes to historical is that there were full skirts like this in the middle of the Victorian era. But a full skirt itself does not historical make.

Notably, Emma Watson, according to the costumer in several interviews, was ultimately given creative control over this gown, and that she designed is a gown that is very Emma Watson, especially when considering the lack of gloves and the currently fashionable stick-straight hair. Emma was dressed for this scene. Belle was not.

The big difficulty I’m having here is that, while it’s a beautiful gown that I love in its own right, and it’s already in my schedule, it doesn’t do the job it’s supposed to do. If we were to see this dress on its own with no idea where the pictures were from, how many of us would think of Belle (unless you’re one of those who thinks of Belle every time you see a yellow dress) rather than a modern prom gown or modern yellow wedding gown? How many of us would get the feeling of mid-18th century France?

Let’s take a look at this gown. ¬†(Images will open larger.)

Without a doubt, as a gown on its own separate from the movie, it is lovely. ¬†I may be slightly partial due to the similarities to the skirt of my Cinderella gown (the photo to the right isn’t over the many petticoats it takes to support a 15-pound skirt). ¬†But aside from my gown, the yellow one is quite pretty. ¬†I’m a fan of that type of waterfall, so similar to one I did on my daughter’s Phantom of the Opera Wishing gown. ¬† I love big skirts. ¬†I like sparkly things.

But…I don’t see Belle. ¬†I see something very modern, something that, if it wasn’t in silk, really would be at home at a prom, complete with the skirt being glitter. ¬†I will come back to that.

Let’s take a close look at the bodice front and back.

Wait, I may have one better.

That’s better. ¬†I’m not sure, by this pic, if that’s tinsel under the fabric, which I’m presuming is silk organza, though it could be chiffon, or if the tinsel is part of the fabric. ¬†I seriously doubt it’s gold lam√© (unlike the fashion fabric sold in chain fabric stores, gold lam√© is strips of real gold woven into fabric), but I’m not quite sure what it is. ¬†Mylar, perhaps. ¬†Well, a photo farther down will answer this.

The edges of the organza/chiffon are not hemmed or bound in any way, and this is actually fine.  Sometimes the proper finish is pinking or scalloped, and that is scalloped.  The slight fraying is normal.

The sides and cap sleeves are applied over a sleeveless bodice, similar to…again something I’ve done…the Titanic tea gown, shown to the right. ¬†The yellow gown’s sleeves are narrower and has a different angle in the back, though the method is identical. ¬†When I replicate the ballgown, I will demonstrate how this is done.

This show if the back isn’t so clear, but that’s not so important here. We can see the angles, and know what to expect from the front. ¬†What this picture does show is that the opening is in the back middle, as evidenced by the break in the top edge, and that the edges meet instead of overlap. ¬†This indicates an invisible zipper. Also just visible is a tail of silk, which appears to be silk chiffon here. ¬†The flow says to me that this is silk chiffon.

Here we have a profile shot, and the skirt top layer clearly has a fold. ¬†Unlike the live-action Cinderella movie, this gown was meant to be more streamlined. ¬†Pleats are smoother than gathers. ¬†This angle also shows that there’s some mild boning in the bottom part of the basque to keep it flat, but not enough to smooth Emma’s small bust. ¬†It almost seems as if the goal is to make sure we can tell she’s not wearing a corset. ¬†I’m not sure if the appearance of a pseudo-bustle at the back was intentional, or if that’s just the way this displace was set up. ¬†Either way, it’s a reasonable way to work in extra fullness, and is really the way I usually prefer.

Onto the skirt. The three-layered skirt has been confirmed to be silk satin organza. ¬†Right off the bat, let me reiterate that I am irked beyond words that they used glitter and paint. They have access to industrial embroidery machines, and an embroidery file made for sheer or delicate fabrics won’t make it stiff. ¬†Take a look at this photo. ¬†You can see the glue on the underside. ¬†All that white is glue. ¬†This doesn’t look rich. ¬†It looks novice. ¬†Yes, sometimes glitter is used, but it definitely shouldn’t be when the underside will be visible.

That photo also answers what was on the bodice. ¬†Click that photo to enlarge it, and you can see the tails from the bodice flowing down, and that it’s rows of gold paint. ¬†Painting fabric isn’t new, but was done here because…I don’t know. ¬†I seriously can’t figure out why they painted and glittered this skirt. ¬†Embroidery would give it more dimension.

Your eyes aren’t deceiving you. ¬†The glitter is deposited in stripes.

And that segment of the skirt isn’t glittered at all aside from some dots. ¬†It does, however, show that the layers are sewn using a decorative edge. ¬†The bottom later is narrow-hemmed, as seen in this next photo.

Want to see closer photos of the glitter?

I just can’t get over the glitter, nor how modern this gown is for a historical piece. ¬†I can suspend disbelief and era-bending, as for Cinderella, but there has to be a purpose for blatant¬†era-bend. ¬†The gowns of Lady Tremaine and her daughters highlighted their eccentricity and made them seem out of place in such a genteel world. ¬†Moreover, their aesthetic was consistent. ¬†Belle is supposed to be a part of her own world. ¬†She is supposed to exist in it, and find her place in it with a man who learned a very vital lesson about not looking for beauty on the outside, but rather on the inside.

As for how this looks on screen? ¬†It’s not substantial enough. ¬†As embroidery, even standing at the top of the stairs in her reveal, we’d see something more than a mass of yellow.







This gown is one that is meant to take our breaths away with how it twirls, which it does nicely, but that’s not enough. ¬†Cinderella’s blue gown has enough color variation in it to add enough interest (though, I openly admit, I think that gown needed more detailing as well), but the “impress us by spinning” was already done. ¬†The game needed to be stepped up a notch, to both take us back to mid-18th-century France, to take us to the castle, to match the opulence of that amazing ballroom and Beast’s ensemble, and really WOW us with something we haven’t seen before. ¬†In its general simplicity, this gown is too similar to Cinderella’s, and yet manages to be plainer, and by being so inconsistent with the aesthetics of the movie, and the incredible job at historical accuracy for other ensembles, this one doesn’t work in any way for Belle.

So, while I do love this gown aside from that glitter and paint, the modernity of it prevents me¬†from seeing this as a Belle gown. ¬†It doesn’t transport me to her world, or invoke her time. ¬†It succeeds in being a nice dress for a prom (the glitter…), but just plain fails as a gown for Belle. ¬†I will enjoy it for what it ultimately really is, but can not call it Belle’s gold ballgown.



Now I also said I’d touch on the wedding/”celebration” gown. ¬†Publications from Harper’s Bazaar to Refinery have called this both her wedding gown, and a “celebration” gown, which seems a rather generic term for it. ¬†The Disney Store calls it a “celebration” gown.

This also appears to be a lovely gown, but when I first saw this photo, I thought it was a 1940’s-1950’s-inspired glamor shot of Emma Watson in a trendy wedding gown. ¬†In fact, it bears a resemblance to…

Sheer sleeves, floral decoration, similar seaming… ¬†It’s very much like the wedding gown at the end of Cinderella in some key ways(this is another gown I love, but that is troublingly modern without any good reason to be, whereas the Tremaines’ gowns had a reason).

At first, I didn’t believe it was from the movie, at least not until I saw this on the Disney Store’s website.


Confirmation that this gown that would be in place at a trendy wedding in 2017 is indeed from the movie. ¬†The child-version would be sweet for a flower girl dress, or Easter, and I admit I’m tempted to get it as an Easter dress for my daughter if the fabric I ordered to make her the young Cinderella dress from, yes, the live-action Cinderella, doesn’t show up.

I’m guessing we’ll see this one available from Alfred Angelo the way we saw¬†the Cinderella wedding gown¬†available very soon afterward.

There’s not too much else to say about this gown yet aside from it being another currently-fashionable style that says “Belle” even less than the yellow, and that, despite that looks beautiful in its own right.

Peter Pan and Wendy

More photos are in my Facebook album for these ensembles.

Cotton Wendy dress with felt Peter Pan tunic and hat for a mother and son. Based on the Disney version.

The tunic was made with proper seaming (felt shouldn’t mean a glue gun) and a ace back to accommodate a growing boy. ¬†This little tunic probably wouldn’t last for years upon years, but it’s a const-efficient way to let a boy dream about never growing up.

The Wendy gown is made from cotton that I custom-dyed, and laces in the back. This easy-care gown is machine-washable, and suitable for wearing out to events or for sleeping. ¬†After all, it was Wendy’s nightgown!

Said the mom: What a very special gown, for a very special day; Peter Pan themed party for my son’s birthday. So in love with this dress. Aria is very easy to work with, and the dress looks amazing on, and so incredibly comfy. The workmanship on the dress is impeccable. I wish I had several more in other colors. Thank you, sincerely Thank your Aria for this special dress.