Costume Notes: Belle’s Town Dress (Provincial Life)

Photographer Credits: Mehreen Rizvi

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Completed: April 2018

Hours Spent: 40-ish

Debuted: Dallas Fan Expo

Why This Costume: If it isn’t totally obvious yet, Belle has been my favorite Disney princess forever! As I went into this year, I knew that I needed a few simpler and, more importantly, comfortable costumes for chill con days as well as days when I judge costume contests.

I’ve wanted to remake my Provincial Town dress for years now that I have a better handle on sewing. My decision to re-maker her now was due in large part to timing: Paige O’Hara, the original VA for Belle, was announced as a guest for Fan Expo, and I was also invited to speak at the Texas Library Association Annual Conference on using Makerspaces for cosplay. My presentation for TLA was on the same day and in the same location as Fan Expo, so it was a match made in Nerd Heaven!

Purchased Pieces: 

Patterns Used: 

Fabrics Used: 

Super Helpful Tutorials: 

How I Made it: 

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Okay, she was bundled up because it was freakishly cold, but still adorable!

I took a lot of inspiration for this version of Belle from the Parks costumes I saw at Walt Disney World earlier this year. I loved the turquoise color of the parks dress, and it was a perfect match for the blue Victoria Bane used for her Sailor Mercury (which is from Mood Fabrics, btw).

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I think eventually I’m going to have to make my husband Prince Adam’s outfit. Because… reasons.

I started by making the dress first. I went with the bodice of Simplicity 1606, which I used as the base for my wedding dress. Since I’d recently made this bodice, I had my alterations ready to go, with the exception of squaring up the neckline (check out the Sewaholic Cambie link above for a quick and easy way to do this).

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Like my wedding dress, this is a very structured bodice: there’s an interfaced satin fashion layer, an interlining made from coutil with German plastic boning at each seam, and a lining layer made out of some fun Belle themed cotton from Jo-Ann’s (I picked it up on a whim several months ago). Once all the layers were assembled, I made some straps and stitched them in the bodice back between the fashion and lining layers, leaving gaps in the front of the bodice to slide the straps in and adjust the length before permanently stitching them down.

The skirt is a full circle skirt I drafted using Mood’s handy skirt calculator! I wanted something extra swishy and princess-y, and a full circle skirt was just the right solution. Since my skirt was so long, I had to cut it in two pieces, which gave me the perfect excuse to sew in in-seam pockets for my phone and other miscellaneous items I had on hand. Tip: make sure to press your pockets at every stage of construction or, quite frankly, they’ll look like ladies’ genitals. I finished my skirt with 1″ horsehair braid to give it a little extra body. I opted not to line the skirt since eventually I’ll get around to making a petticoat for this costume as well.

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When you’re too time-pressed to make a craft store run, you make due with invisible zippers on hand!

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The blouse is my go-to McCall’s pattern I’ve used for basically all my princess seam tops over the last year. I used white peachskin from Online Fabric Store, which is the same stuff I used for Mami last year. This fabric is pretty sheer, so I underlined all of my pieces with the exception of the sleeves. I made my standard length adjustments, and used the View A sleeve lengthened ever so slightly to accommodate a 3/8″ elastic casing. The sleeves are still a bit shorter than I’d like, so I’m going to add a longer elastic casing for a bit of extra length before I wear this again.

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To get an appropriate neckline, I drafted a shawl collar. I like this so much better than my last version of Belle! Attaching the neckline was a bit finnicky, so be sure to check out a few tutorials on this if shawl collars are new to you.

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For the apron, I made a lined rectangle made of the same peachskin I used for my blouse. After flipping it inside out and topstitching the edges, I butted the unfinished edge of the rectangle in an interfaced faux-belt and topstitched the edges. The belt closes with snaps, and I made a butt-bow using our Cosmic Coterie pattern and tutorial that also snaps onto the waistband. I recently had a client request a more canon set of Supers bow tails (i.e., without jabots), so I used the same tail pattern to create these for Belle. I might make the tails a bit shorter in the future. I haven’t decided if I like these or not.

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For the final touches, I made a bow using Cosmic Coterie’s Venus hair bow that snaps on a band around the ponytail.

While working on this, I also was mixing resin brooches for myself and Victoria Bane. I had a small jewelry mold, so I poured a few pieces to make some earrings for Belle. I also had a blue Beauty and the Beast book purse I picked up from Hot Topic for my WDW trip, so I used that as my prop in a few of the photos Mehreen took!

Final Thoughts: 

This was such a rewarding build, even if it was a speedy one (I knocked it out in about a week and a half). Meeting Paige O’Hara was a wonderful experience, and while I do have a few things I need to revisit with this costume, I’m so happy with how it turned out!

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Me and Victoria Bane meeting Paige O’Hara! ❤

Who’s your favorite Disney Princess? 

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Costume Notes: Belle’s Ballgown

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Photo by Gone Catawampus.

Completed: March 2015

Hours Spent: About 40 hours spread out over a month

Debuted: All-Con 2015

Why This Costume: Belle is one of my favorite Disney princesses. I made her village dress back in 2013, but her yellow dress has been one of my wish list costumes for a while. I ultimately decided to tackle this costume to practice making a corset prior to Lulu.

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Photo by Gone Catawampus.

How I Made It: So obviously, this isn’t an exact replica of the animated dress. I like the silhouette of the film version, but I looked to the Broadway version, her recent promotion art, and the park versions for inspiration. When I started this project, I knew right away that I wanted a mix of fabrics to give it some vibrancy and depth. I used the matte side of poly satin, rose print brocade, glitter tulle, and organdy.

I talked a bit about constructing the corset in my last post. It’s a 3 layer corset made using TV110. The fashion layer is interfaced poly satin with brocade on the center panels. I found some lovely gold venice lace on eBay and used it to trim the seams on the bust and at the back by the eyelets. The center panel is made from duck cloth, and the lining layer is made with Disney princess cotton. I trimmed the edges with bias tape made from scrap brocade.

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Photo by Gone Catawampus.

The skirt is self-drafted 6-panel skirt. To figure out the measurements, I took my hip measurement (since I was using an elastic waistband) and the circumference of the hoop skirt and divided them by six, adding in 1/2 on each side for seam allowance. I measured over the hoop skirt to the floor to figure out the length I needed. I multiplied that by 1.5 to get the length I needed for the top skirt.

Speaking of hoop skirts, you absolutely need on to make this skirt work. I opted for a 4-hoop skirt that I snagged off of eBay. I also used a petticoat, since the hoops show through the base skirt when I just use a hoop skirt.

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So much fluff in this skirt. Photo by Gone Catawampus.

The base skirt is made from the matte side of my poly satin and hemmed with a blind hem by machine. The top skirt is made from organdy underlined with glitter tulle. Like its cousin organza, organdy frays like a bitch, so as soon as I cut my pieces and basted them together, I ran all the edges through my serger. From there, I ran gather lines over each panel, stopping just above the bottom, then basted the top edge to my underskirt. I did a 3-thread rolled hem on the bottom of the organza, then gathered up each panel by hand, securing the basting with a zig-zag stitch. After playing with a few options, I opted for a cascading drape, with the highest gather line being in the front center.

I wanted to bling up the skirt a bit, so I found some lovely pale yellow faux roses at Hobby Lobby and used a spray glitter to give them a little gleam and added some gold glitter on top for some extra shine.

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With the lovely Ohheyabear Cosplay. Photo by Gone Catawampus.

The sleeves are made from the same combination of glitter tulle and organdy. They’re just rectangles that I finished with a French seam. I gathered them at slight angles at the center front and back of the corset. They attach with velcro, which is fused to the lining of the corset.

My wig is a Matilda from Arda in Spanish brown. It’s actually the same wig I used for my first Belle! I used this tutorial to get the bangs in order, then I used pre-styled bun from Arda. I covered the bun in a matching hair net to keep the fly aways in check. I also re-styled the curls. The yellow hair piece is a folded over rectangle made from scrap brocade. It connects with velcro.

No, Hades! Don't steal my soul! Photo by Gone Catawampus.
No, Hades! Don’t steal my soul! Photo by Gone Catawampus.

The shoes are dyeable bridal shoes I picked up from eBay. I dyed them a yellow-gold using iDye Poly in yellow (this tutorial is a great reference). To finish them off, I picked up some faux rose clips.

I picked up a few extra accessories for this costume off of Etsy, including a lovely faux pearl broach and some beautiful rose earrings. The gloves are from We Love Colors. I also made a quickie clutch from leftover fabric. The gorgeous mirror was made by Callula Cosplay.

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I love that the mirror lights up! Kudos to Callula Cosplay on this fantastic prop. Photo by Gone Catawampus.

Thoughts on this costume: I AM A PRETTY, PRETTY PRINCESS! But seriously, this costume was so much fun to wear. It was a blast getting to run around all day as a Disney princess. The kids especially loved it!

I’d like to tweak this costume a bit (mostly blinging it up a bit more with some crystals and rhinestones), but overall I’m pretty happy with it. Now to re-make her village dress! You know, once I get through Lulu. 😛

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The best part about dressing like a Disney princess? Seeing the kids’ reactions! Photo by Mutants, Maidens, and Munchkins.

Who’s your favorite Disney princess? 

Pattern Review: TV110

Happy Friday! I’m gearing up for All-Con this weekend, so today I thought I’d share my thoughts on TV110, which I used to make Belle’s top/corset.

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HRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR… It fits! The shoulder pieces attach to the lining with velcro. 

The Basics: 

Pattern: Truly Victorian 110

Total Hours: Around 20

Fabric: A little less than 1 yd. of poly satin (matte side), 1/4 yd of rose print brocade (center piece), 1 yd of duck cloth, 1 yd of Disney printed cotton.

Alterations: Removed the busk and tweaked the fit over the bust.

Notions: Thread, eyelets (and all necessary tools), ribbon (for waist stay and lacing), self-made bias tape, German plastic and flat steel boning, boning casing, lace trim

Did it look like the pattern illustration?: Yup!

Were the instructions easy to follow?: To be honest, I barely looked at them, other than to evaluate fitting and troubleshoot a few things.

Make it again?: Definitely.

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Main issue with a 3 layer corset: SO MANY PIECES. 36 panels total.

Other thoughts: My initial plan with this project was to go with Simplicity 5006 since I had it in my stash. However, after some digging in the corset community, I ultimately landed on TV110. It’s pretty well regarded as a solid beginner pattern, it has pieces for different cup sizes, and it’s actually meant to be made and worn as a corset. Big 4 patterns add lots of ease to their patterns, which doesn’t work for corsets if you intend to do any waist reduction (corsets are one of those garments that should have negative ease when finished to accommodate lacing and waist reduction). Everything I read on Simplicity’s corset patterns advised cutting at least 2 sizes smaller than your actual measurements. I didn’t want to deal with that kind of headache with my first corset, so TV110 was the winner (plus it’s a good shape for Lulu, so there ya go).

I opted to go with somewhat inexpensive hardware on this project since it was my first go. I opted to use duck cloth for my strength layer rather than coutil. The idea of messing up fabric that runs at $30-40/yd was terrifying. I also used German plastic boning for the majority of the corset. This boning is stronger than standard Rigeline/fabric coated stuff you can get at fabric stores (supposedly it’s as strong as spiral steel boning), but still cheaper than steel boning. Plus, it doesn’t require fancy tools to cut.

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A closer look at the interior hardware on the strength layer. The center bones are 1/2″ steel boning for support, and the rest are 1/4″ German plastic boning.

It’s really important in the early stages of planning a corset to decide *how* you are going to construct it. I knew going in that I wanted the shell to have an appearance more like a bodice than a corset, which mean that I didn’t want my boning channels to show through. For me, that meant a 3 layer corset with a floating strength layer. I used Sidney Eileen‘s fantastic post on the topic as a guide.

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All 3 layers ready for assembly. The fashion layer has welted seams for a pretty finish, while the lining does not. The strength layer does all the heavy lifting, so there’s no need to do extra reinforcement unless you want to.

There were only a few areas where I scratched my head and wondered what the heck to do, and they mostly revolved around the eyelets/grommets in the back. First off, if you go with the floating layer approach, you have to trim off the seam allowance of the strength layer so that it can slide in the middle. Kind of a “no duh” moment, but it’s not explicitly written.

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Also, I think I mucked up the boning placement in the back. Bones should be placed on both sides of your grommets in order to reduce pressure on the grommets. Either my bones (1/2″ steel) were too wide or I fudged the placement a bit. The 1/2″ bone I originally placed on the outside of the grommet channel pretty much overlapped the plastic bone I used on the seam, so I swapped it out for another plastic bone. I didn’t find much help in the instructions or the tutorials I was referring to, so I’ll need to investigate this more when I work on Lulu.

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Self-drafted floating modesty panel. I added tabs at the top and bottom that the ribbon threads through to keep it in place.

All in all, this is a very well-drafted pattern, and I’d highly recommend it for any novice corset-makers. I’m really looking forward to improving my approach to it when I get started on Lulu!

tumblr_nkrr2mDwAg1sxq29yo1_500Have you made this pattern before? What did you think of it?

WIP: February 2015

Another month of 2015 is nearly over! As I write this, North Texas is in the midst of a last-minute winter freak out. There’s almost 3 inches of snow covering my yard and it’s supposed to continue throughout the day. That’s as good of an excuse as any for a craft weekend/binge session of Arrow!

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My half-finished wig. Not pictured: the odango-style bun that will replace that poof in the back.

Speaking of crafting, I only focused on one project this month (well, aside from last-minute touch-ups on Captain Marvel): my spin on Belle’s yellow ball gown from Beauty and the Beast. It’s been really nice to just focus on one project this month. I have a lot of commissions scheduled for the next 3-4 months, so being able to take my time on a single costume just for me has been a very pleasant experience. I’m planning to debut this costume at All-Con in two weeks, and I’m currently at about 70% completion. I was hoping to knock out the last bits of her corset this weekend, but I’m currently waiting on steel boning to arrive in order to finish.

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ALL THE CORSET LAYERS! I wanted this corset to resemble a bodice more than a corset, so I opted for the floating layers approach described in Sidney Eileen’s blog. My fashion layer is made of satin and brocade, the strength layer is duck cloth, and the lining is a fun Disney princess cotton I found at Jo-Ann’s.

Aside from being one of my dream cosplays, this costume has given me an excuse to make a corset, which is something I wanted to practice before tackling Lulu. I’ve put off corset-making for quite a while since it seemed so intimidating and I didn’t feel like my skills were up to par. But honestly, it’s not that bad! Definitely time consuming (I think I’ve put about 8 hours into it so far, and I still need to bone, bind, grommet, and lace it), but now I get why people say that if you can sew a straight line you can sew a corset. I’ll go into more detail on this when I do my costume write-up on Belle.

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Floofy skirt is floofy. There’s about 20 yards of fabric in this skirt. The base skirt is a self-drafted 6-panel skirt made of satin, and another longer 6-panel skirt made of glitter tulle and organdy. The waistband is elastic, because who’s going to see that nonsense under the corset?

My hope for this snowy weekend is to add the final details to my corset fashion layer, cut and file the plastic boning, finish the wig, take up the skirt hem another inch or so, and make the shoulder pieces. If time allows, I’d love to also make Lulu’s “fur” stole and do a non-cosplay thing. I’ve sorely neglected my garment and other non-cosplay projects so far this year :(. The rest of my supplies should make their way here next week, so hopefully I can wrap everything up soon!

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The modesty panel for the back of the corset. I opted to make it out of the same brocade as the front of the corset since it’s just so pretty. This panel will have loops that the lacing will go through to keep it in place.

What’s on your craft table right now?  

Belle’s Village Dress (Beauty and the Beast)

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Completed: November 2013

Hours Spent: 17ish (including seam ripping hell)

Worn at: Austin Comic Con

Why This Costume: I love Belle’s nerdiness. She’s one of my favorite Disney princesses. Beauty and the Beast was constantly on in my household as a child, beat out only by The Little Mermaid. Shortly after making my Star Wars Cambie dress, I decided I wanted to make the straight neckline version, and I thought Belle would be a perfect fit!

How I made it: The dress itself is the Cambie, view B frankenstein-ed with a Simplicity bodice back and a self-made strap. I made a few minor alterations in addition to the straight neckline. I cut the front of the bodice in two to get that really noticeable center seam and I added 3” to the skirt length. I also nixed the skirt lining since I only plan to wear this dress with a petticoat (and didn’t have enough lining fabric to accommodate a full gathered skirt). The top is a Jasmine from Colette. I altered the collar and added 4” to the sleeves, though I should have added 6″. The shoes I already had in my closet. Everything else was made from scraps.

The wig is a lace-front Matilda from Arda in Spanish Brown. Man, the wig was a challenge. There are a lot of tutorials for styling Belle’s hair in her gold ballgown and most of her village dress hair tutorials used human hair. My hair is currently purple ombre, so no dice. I went through four stylings to get the final result, and I’m still not happy with it. I originally styled it on the Matilda because I liked the length, but I couldn’t get the bangs to poof enough. I tried again on my Jasmine from Arda, but it didn’t want to stay on without extra clips. I also had issues with my hairline showing at the bangs. I finally got it to work on my Matilda, using a combination of Arda’s gravity defying bangs tutorial and this tutorial for Belle’s hair. I’ll probably wash the wig and restyle it before wearing it to Ikkicon, if I don’t decide to make something else before then :P.

Also, I made a hollowed out book to use as a purse. If you attempt this, allow plenty of evenings for trying (3 for me), don’t add too much glue (clumps), and take your time with corners! Mine didn’t turn out as neat as I’d hoped, but it works and still looks cool in pictures. I added magnetic strips that I got at Wal-Mart for $.99 to make sure it wouldn’t fall open on accident.

Thoughts on this costume: I’m so happy I could be a Disney princess! That’s been on my cosplay wish list for a while. This is also a very comfortable costume. So comfortable, in fact, that I think I’m going to make a couple more costume Cambies. Fluttershy and Wonder Woman for sure, but I may have to also throw in a Harley Quinn (I really want to play with two-tone coloring. Maybe a Harley fan would want one as a gift?).

This costume did remind me to take my time with projects, though. Initially, I tried to rush through it in one day, and wound up mucking up measurements, which lead me to think I would have to scrap the project. Fortunately, I found extra yardage of my dress fabric while on a notion run! You can read about the craziness here, here, and here. I’d definitely like to fix some things when I have time, like the collar of the shirt and restyle the wig, but I’m pleased with it.

Overall, I had a lot of fun with this costume at Austin Comic Con. So many little kids (and adults) wanted hugs and pictures. I was really happy about the reception! I’ll post more pics when I get them.

Also, I entered into a costume contest. Head over to this link and “like” my picture if you like my costume!