Fancy Dress Costumes – Part Two – ‘Yes little Cinderella, you shall go to the ball!’

Fairy/princess type bits and pieces for my children!

P1300129_2This is the second installment of my Carnival makes for my children although this costume isn’t so much of an outfit, more a collection of accessories that can be worn together or played with separately.

P1300162 The main piece is this tulle skirt. I used the tutu pattern from Liesl Gibson’s book ‘Oliver and S Little Things to Sew’ to make this and followed the instructions pretty much word for word. Although I may have skipped a couple of steps such as finishing the ends of the ribbon because my little daughter was so desperate to wear it that she literally ripped it from the sewing machine mid-sew!

It was easy enough to make but it has five layers of tulle all folded double so ten layers effectively and one of my layers had a sparkly treatment to it which makes it a bit thicker than the other tulles and when layered up, this tulle put up the fight of its life to escape! I learnt that working with tulle requires the patience of a saint which evidently I don’t have!

P1300064 To accessorise the skirt, I made my daughters a crown each. As with the previous costume, I used wool felt for the band reinforced with a hat band inside and with an overlap and velcro fastening at the back. I used up trims from my stash to embellish them. This was the first time I’d sewn sequins but I found this YouTube video really helpful.

Sewing on sequins by hand is easy and surprisingly addictive! Sewing these led to this!

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Every fairy princess needs a wand so that was the final piece of this outfit. I used wooden sticks 6mm in diameter bought from my local DIY shop to make the main handle of the wand and two star shaped pieces of wool felt sandwiched together to make the wand tops.

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I sewed the sequins on before I sandwiched the pieces and sewed them by machine together and hand-sewed the bells on last. The wooden stick is encased in a grosgrain ribbon that was folded over and sewn together to make a tube which encases the stick.

I enjoyed making these pieces even though they took a fair bit of time and my little daughters were really happy to receive them. My little daughter was whizzing down a slide in her tulle skirt shortly after she first put it on – I’m learning that you can’t be too precious about things you make for children!

Ahh Carnival, we’re going to miss you – till next year!

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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.