Fancy Dress Costumes – Part One

I wanted to share a couple of costumes with you that I made for my children to wear for Carnival season. Firstly because I’m happy with how they turned out, but mainly because they were just so easy to make!

It was my first time to make anything like this but the good news is, you don’t need special patterns to make costumes, you can just adapt ones you already have in your stash. Also I made these costumes for my young daughters but they could also easily be adapted for adults too.

First up, here’s fancy dress costume Part One.

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My daughter wanted a native American costume and there are many fancy dress patterns available, Burda has a big selection of Carnival costumes for instance. I was after a more subtle look though, something that could be worn everyday if my daughter wished and not look too out-of-place.

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Instead, I chose to use the Citronille Patterns ‘Henriette’ model no.175 dress pattern from my stash as the basis of my design. The button placket gave me a chance to add detail to the front of the dress and showcase some of the striking ribbon and I felt the style of the dress was reminiscent of native American dresses.

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Also I wanted to use a simple shaped dress that wouldn’t compete for attention with the embellishments and really let the fringing, ribbon, buttons, and other details, shine.

The pattern was fairly straightforward to make although the instructions were in French so I had to rely on the illustrations for some of the explanation. It worked out ok though and there was always Google for the bits I just couldn’t get my head round.

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Carnival here is always in February or March when it’s usually still cold, so for practicality and warmth, I went with wool suiting fabric to make the main body of the dress.

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The headdress was a bit of a labour of love! The main part of it is a strip of wool felt cut to the length of my daughter’s head circumference plus about five centimetres extra on one end for the overlap where it closes with velcro.

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I hunted high and low to find the feather trim and I went to the extraordinary lengths of ordering proper hat bands from Japan to line the inside of the felt band to strengthen it! The hat band has made the headdress durable and stable though so I think it was worth it! (And thankfully the others I ordered have been used on other projects too!) I plaited wool for the fringing and sandwiched it all together with ribbon on the outside.

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I’m really pleased with how this outfit turned out and my daughter ended up wearing it to a ton of different events ranging from themed birthday parties, to Kindergarten parties and just general dress-up play at home. It’s been a really useful little outfit to have in her toddler’s wardrobe!

If you haven’t made a fancy dress costume before, I urge you to make one because it’s just so much fun! I loved picking out the trims and thinking up ways to make it look more authentic. However, I warn you, trims can be very expensive – for this dress and headdress, the trims cost double the price of the main dress fabric! As an alternative to buying them new, I suggest seeing what you can find in charity shops and flea markets to make some savings.

Have you made a fancy-dress costume? Did you use a pattern or just your imagination? Where did you find your materials? Spill the beans in the comments below.

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2 thoughts on “Fancy Dress Costumes – Part One

  1. This is so nicely made :) I’ve made a few costumes over the years and would put a lot of time into them. But the last two years have been rush jobs that involved stappling clothes together to make a minion costume !

    • Thanks so much Chris! I can understand about the staples, I very nearly reached that stage with the last thing I made for them – it was so rushed towards the end! It’s definitely nicer to make costumes when you have the luxury of a bit of time to be able to enjoy the process!

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