If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll have noticed I’ve posted a few photos of my most recent cosplay: Cinderella!
A ballgown for my fourth independent cosplay project was probably ambitious. However, I liked that Cinderella’s dress is so iconic, and that there was a lot of room for interpretation. It also helped that I already had the fabric. I knew at some point I would want to sew a Cinderella dress, and the discounts during the Hancock Fabric closing sale last year were too good to pass up.
When I started looking for inspiration, I was really drawn to this Emma Swan ballgown from Once Upon a Time. I liked the color, and the details along the neckline. New Disney artwork for Cinderella, as well as all merchandise, has Cinderella wearing blue. I never loved this decision, because in the original movie her dress is clearly white/ silver/ grey. Taking the dress away from white makes some sense, as it makes it look less like a wedding dress, but silver is pretty! My plan was to stick closer to a silver/ grey color, but the fabric I chose ended up reading much more blue in some lights than I expected. Not as blue as Disney has gone with Cinderella’s dress recently, but bluer than I planned.
For fabric I had a grey blue satin, a sparkly silver netting, and a softer pale blue netting. The trim came from a thrift store jacket my mum and I spotted last spring. The jacket was only a few dollars so we bought it for the trim, and then donated the jacket back to the thrift store. We didn’t have a plan for the trim at the time, but once I started planning for Cinderella I knew I wanted to use it.
I didn’t use a pattern for the skirt, and also neglected to take any pictures of the making of process. It was pretty straight forward though. I cut a strip to use as the waistband and then ironed in interfacing. The base of the skirt was made from a big rectangle of the satin that I fitted over the hoop skirt I planned to use. Then I cut a long rectangle from my sparkly grey netting. I gathered both of these and pinned them to the dummy so I could experiment with making Cinderella’s hip poofs. The fabric I had wasn’t working the way I wanted, so I rummaged through our fabric stash and found some fabric leftover from my mum’s fairy godmother costume. I cut two rectangles and then gathered them both along three edges by hand. When I gathered this tightly, it created the circular fabric swag shape I wanted.
After all this, I pinned everything in place and carefully sewed it to the waistband. I hand stitched the backside of the waistband down to create a smoother line, and added two large hooks to the back to fasten it.
The bodice pattern I used was a custom one my mum drafted for me last year. I cut out the lining and boned it to check for fit before I cut the satin. Then, feeling overly confident, I decided to speed through sewing the bodice and bodice lining together. My lack of patience was obvious in the finished product. I was left with a wrinkled and poorly pieced together bodice.
Feeling properly chastised by karma for rushing, I went back and took the whole bodice apart. I ironed interfacing onto the satin pieces and then stitched each piece to it’s lining. Interfacing would help stiffen the fabric, and I hoped that by flat lining the bodice I might be able to avoid some of the wrinkles that occurred. First impressions were promising – the bodice definitely looked less wrinkly.
When you flatline a garment, you have to flip the edge over and stitch it to the lining to create a hem. I struggled to do this, because it just seemed like I couldn’t get the fabric to lie the way I needed it to.
Finally, I asked my mum for advice. That’s when I was introduced to the magic of bias tape. IT IS MAGICAL. My hems were smooth and gorgeous. Mostly.
I was left with some lasting damage from my first, rushed attempt at putting the bodice together. I had clipped the seams around curves. When resewing, I had to be very careful to sew these clipped edges into the seam so I didn’t end up with little cut marks showing. In particular, I had trimmed the fabric on the point of the bodice way too short to use bias tape on. I had to work very hard to hem the point, and in the end it was a little uneven. It’s not very obvious when worn because of the fluffiness of the skirt, but it bothers me. Maybe one day I’ll remake it.
For the trim, I just pinned it in place and stitched it on with some invisible thread. For the sleeves I cut two rectangles from my pale blue netting and gathered the ends. Then I put my bodice on the dummy and just played with the sleeves until they looked the way I wanted them to. I stitched them into the lining and trimmed the excess fabric.
Frustratingly, even after all that work the bodice fabric doesn’t lie flat. It’s definitely better than the first attempt by far, but guess I would need to stiffen the fabric even more to get it perfect. I also realized that part of the problem is that I forgot to take into account the bulk of the skirt near my hips. There isn’t enough fabric in the hips of the bodice to fit over the skirt and so it wrinkles up. I’ll need to keep this in mind when I sew things in the future – leave room for the skirt!
The gloves I paired with the costume were a vintage pair from my mum’s collection. My glass slippers were the glittery character shoes I wore with my 2015 Cinderella dress. Neither my mum nor I have any idea where the black choker came from. I was musing that I needed one as we cleaned the craft studio post Ariel and Ursula, and suddenly there it was. We can only guess that it was a freebie that came with some component we ordered for those cosplays, but we don’t really know. Maybe it was a gift from the magic gremlin that lives in the craft studio.
The lace front wig was also from my 2015 Cinderella cosplay. I didn’t take any pictures of styling the wig, because, to me, it was a ten minute bun just so I would have nice-ish hair for some pictures. On Instagram people have been really taken with the way the wig looks, so I figured I’d detail the process here anyway. I took out the twisted hair pieces from the top and reparted the hair to the side. I pulled aside from hair on both side of the front, then twisted the hair in the back into a really basic, low bun that I held in place with butterfly clips. For the headband I used a scrap of the silver netting that I just pinned into place. Leaving tendrils, I pulled back the front hair I’d left loose to disguise the ends of the “headband”.
That’s that! I’m glad to be done with this costume – by the end I was really ready to move on to the next project. Overall though, I’m pleased with the final product, but there are definitely plenty of things I’d fix if I ever decided to wear this anywhere. I’ll include some more final photos in my next post.
Thanks for reading!