Halloween Part I: Not that Kind of Princess

November 2, 2013 - 11:14am -- swingbug

At some point plowing through the fabric store a year ago or so on some specific and urgent mission, I came across a pattern for this dress on a $1.99 sale rack and was taken with it. Even though I had no earthy purpose for it, I threw it in my basket. Turns out it's a rip-off of some costume that the chick from Twilight wore in a horrible Snow White movie. (Cheryl and I later rented it; it really was horrible, but not quite horrible enough to be funny.)

But the dress, I liked. And I set about attempting to make something that might actually pass for a Useful Princess dress. I attempted to pick fabrics that spoke of royal origins with good sturdy outer layers nonetheless. Warrior-princess-types in short skirts and low neck lines in movies and whatnot have always pissed me off. Like that's practical for a battle? Not that having a warrior princess dress is practical for me, but what the hell?


With little else to do with it, I entered it in the county fair this year and took second place overall in the sewn articles division. And it served me well for Halloween this year. Despite my gripes about the pattern (you paid less than two bucks for it, swingbug; what were you expecting really?) I'm pleased with the finished product (I particularly love the sleeves) and it's good fun to wear.

Modifications, Hacks, and Saves:

The pattern was about as flawed as the movie. If you have this one in your sewing chest (because you picked it up on the same $1.99 sale as I did) and you ever plan to take it on, do yourself a favor a make a muslin like a good little seamstress. Despite fresh measurements and careful cutting, I ended up taking six inches out of the circumference of the bodice. (Six!) And another four out of the underdress. The lacing mechanism on the outer dress as written in the pattern was completely substandard for any kind of weight bearing load. I had to hack together a new method for the front closure after the fact, though I'm pretty pleased with the outcome there. Of course I replaced the rigilene boning materials recommended (because we all know how I feel about that) with some heavy cording and then proper steel stays for either side of the front clousre. And the pattern had a completely inappropriate usage of snaps. 


Were I to do this again, I take some fullness out of the skirt on the underdress. My muslin was made of, well, muslin (go figure), so while the exaggerated a-line caught my attention when cutting the pattern pieces, it hung on the mock-up well enough. The pin-tucked taffeta of the final product was another matter though. It's fine--not worth altering--but I think I'd prefer it a touch less full. Since these photos were taken, I acquired a pair of brown leggings to go with it, which for some reason make the cut of the skirt less troublesome to me.

Also, it drags off the shoulders easily, so I'd rework the neckline a bit. When I look at the other variations that the pattern was trying to cover with the same pieces, I can see why this would be. There is an off-the-shoulder version of the dress and an on-the-shoulder version. It appears that rather than actually drafting different pieces for the variations, they made an single version that is uncomfortable no matter how you choose to wear it. I tugged it up a bit in the drafting process but should have gone a step further.


My awesome husband gifted me with a nice little short sword for Christmas last year, and in honor of this costume, I found this nice little baldric to suit it at Ravenswood Leather. The folks were nice, the product was worth the expense, and it arrived promptly. I recommend them.

Also, in casting about for a headpiece that wasn't a tiara, I found Zwisted on Etsy. Again, nice folks, pleasing product, and it arrived in a nice little box for easy and attractive storage. Huzzah for cool and crafty people on the internet.

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Submitted by Katy on

I do like practical princess costumes. Sometimes it makes you wonder how amateur stitchers are meant to have the will to carry on when all the patterns are so bodged.

I may have to manufacture a need for a wire headpiece...

Submitted by swingbug on

Agreed. I bet there's a whole bunch of people out there who think they can't sew, and really the only mistake they're making is following poor instructions.