Making a Cinderella Inspired Dress, Part One

If the title sounds familiar it’s because i’ve used it before! This is the second dress in my Cinderella dress series, and part one about making it. The posts about making my previous Cinderella dress and the petticoat that goes with it can be found here. This dress is based off of the ball gown from the live action film, with a few major changes – like the length, and the fact that i’m adding short sleeves.

I’ve run into a few problems (okay, a lot of problems) throughout making this costume and to be honest, it hasn’t been fun. So if that frustration seeps through into this post then I apologize! If you would like to see the process of me making it, without the complaining, I’ve made a video of the process – it’s posted here!

Step one was draping the bodice. I draped it as two pieces, but planned on the bodice being five pieces in total.

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I traced the draped muslin onto paper, which gave me a pattern. I added seam allowances between the pieces, but not around the neckline and waistline. This was because i’m too lazy to fold the edges over on my mock ups (they get thrown out anyway! I just can’t be bothered…)

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Here is the mock up. I altered the neckline a bit, but I was pretty pleased with it! I’m basing the shape more off of ball gowns from the 1860s, instead of the dress from the film. So it stops at the natural waist instead of curving over the hips.

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I made a new pattern, this time with all the proper seam allowances and boning channels. I also took the pattern it a little, since I am adding boning and wanted a bit of waist reduction.

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Then I cut out the first layer of fabric. This bodice has three main layers – the top layer (the one you’ll see, made from pretty fabric), the base layer (from a heavier fabric that supports the boning channels), and the lining.

This is the top layer. It’s made from chiffon which I fused interfacing onto so it isn’t floppy.

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Obviously the color and texture isn’t a great match, which is why I placed a layer of iridescent lamé overtop. I basted this layer down by machine.

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I still wasn’t super happy with the texture, so I added another overlay. This time it consisted of two layers of matte tulle, which diffused the lamé nicely. Below you can see one piece with tulle (left) and one without (right).

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I basted this on by hand since my machine doesn’t like tulle very much, and it often stretches or warps it, which isn’t good!

Here are all the panels covered with both overlays.

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Then it got sewn together! Unfortunately my iron wasn’t working very well at this point (my laptop was at a higher resting temperature than it, which was a bad sign…) so these seams didn’t get pressed as flat as they should.

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Then I switched to focusing on the base layer. I used a medium weight starched cotton for this. After cutting out the pattern I trimmed all the edges by a half inch, this will remove bulk from the edges later on.

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I used a colored pencil to mark out all the boning channels.

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And turned the edges of one inch wide strips of fabric over to create boning channels. These got pinned between the lines I marked earlier.

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Then the channels were sewn down and the pieces were stitched together!

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I cut out all my boning and tipped the ends with tape.

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All the boning got inserted and the base layer was complete! The only thing left to add were lacing panels. The bodice will zip closed up the back, but to get the reduction I wanted I really needed a hidden lacing panel.

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I made the lacing panels out of more of the same fabric, with a layer of quilted fabric inside to add structure.

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With the grommets added.

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And after being attached to the base layer!

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I wrapped the edges of the top layer around the base and sewed them down.

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I cut out and assembled the lining from a lightweight cotton.

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The edges got folded over and pinned in place.

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Then whip stitched down.

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Here is what the front looked like.

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I had a bodice, it was great! Sure the seams aren’t pressed as well as they should be, but that isn’t a huge deal.

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It was less great when I tried it on because THIS happened…

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Okay, this sucked. I know how to put grommets in, I don’t need advice on that. I should have used an awl to make the holes, not a punch, and braced both sides with boning instead of just one. But i’ve had issues with metal grommets in the past and I figured this was some type of karma for being to lazy to hand sew them (what I usually do). So I remade the lacing panels and spent four hours sewing pretty little eyelets.

Tried the bodice on, and you’ll never guess what happened…

 I think the major issue was the fabric, it was a medium weight cotton which was strong in theory but pretty prone to tearing (which I didn’t realize at the time, otherwise I wouldn’t have used it). I know I could have done a better job supporting the eyelets but honestly i’ve never had this happen. My flower dresses have embroidered eyelets up the back which are set into organza and chiffon, the most delicate tear prone fabrics ever and they are fine!

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The third time around I embroidered the eyelets again but used two interfaced layers of cotton sateen with a quilted canvas strip running through it. So these things better not budge. Luckily they stuck, but the problems didn’t end here.

When I finally got it laced up I realized zipping it closed would be a problem. I can lace it tighter than what you see below, and get the fabric panels to touch, but it isn’t a pretty site. It involves a lot of spilling out at the armholes and an ugly crease of back fat. It also creates a conical silhouette which I wasn’t going for.

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So I made a modesty panel, addition, thing. Which gives me one inch of room at the waist and three inches at the upper back. I inserted the zipper into this and though it isn’t pretty, it’s prettier than heaps of back cleavage.

(Not to say there is anything wrong with that, it just wasn’t something I wanted to have while wearing this dress)

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Here it is sewn onto the bodice. That back it such a mess, ugh…

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And the front is rippled too, which is frustrating. I honestly wish I could remake it but at this point i’ve had so many troubles that I just want to get it done and never see it again…which isn’t a very nice mindset to be in when trying to make something!

Photo on 6-30-15 at 11.16 AM

Part two will be about the skirt, collar, and sleeves – and hopefully it will be a bit more positive!

Thank you for reading!

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6 thoughts on “Making a Cinderella Inspired Dress, Part One

  1. Jane Jefferies says:

    Dear Angela.
    What a very talented young lady you are…I love the garments that you make and the fabrics that you use.
    I have been sewing for many years .I started when I was a little girl…Now I embroider and make quilts..hand applique is my favourite .I love the 1800’s reproduction fabrics…
    For some one so young and only started sewing 3 years ago.You have achieved a great deal…
    When your passionate about something ,its full steam ahead isn’t it..I am also self tought..I prefer it this way…
    Continue to be independant. Go your own way with your sewing..I have a feeling the world will be hearing alot more of Angela Clayton..
    All the best…
    Jane Jefferies..

  2. Melinda says:

    Such determination,I’m afraid I would have RIPPED the whole thing apart and gone for chocolate!!
    Can’t wait to see the finished project.

  3. HandPArtistry says:

    I have been there, but I love the fact that you are honest about the trials and tribulations of the work. Knowing that sometimes things just do not work the way you want and that you have to get creative with solutions shows that you not only have a wonderfully creative mind but also you love the work. Thanks for sharing.

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