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.