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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Citronille patterns no. 181 ‘Susanne’

I mentioned the French pattern company Citronille in my last post and so I thought I’d add a quick review of their dress no. 181 ‘Susanne’.

I have this pattern in the children’s and adults version.  The children’s sizing ranges from two years to eight and the adults one in French sizes 36 to 46, although I’ve only made this up in children’s age two and four so far.

The pattern is really simple and easy to make and the instructions are available in French but they also have an English version.  I have the pattern in French and even though my French isn’t that good it doesn’t matter – you don’t need to be fluent in the language to be able to make sense of the patterns because the instructions are also illustrated for most of the steps.

I’ve made this dress several times mainly because it is so quick to make and easy for the kiddies to wear but I only have photos of one of them to share with you here.

Citronille pattern 'Susanne' Japanese double gauze cotton

I believe that the sizing is a tad on the small side because I think that this was the age four size and here it’s being modeled by my not-yet-two-and-a-half year old!  So the sizes run from age two then four, six then eight so I would suggest that if you are between sizes then it may be better to size up.  The only issue that we’ve experienced with this, is that the dress is just a little too wide across the shoulders and slips off a bit but she’ll grow into it soon, right!?

I made it up in this double gauze Japanese cotton designed by Kayo Horaguchi in the pink colour-way. I really love this interesting double border print with its crazy mix of giraffes and climbing foliage and leopards and think that it suits this dress design really well.  What do you think?

If you want to find out more about Citronille patterns, you can check out their online shop and also there is a blog for fans of their patterns – Citronille fanblog.  This is useful if you are thinking of purchasing these patterns because the blog is organised in such a way, that there is an easy reference column where you can see all of the different patterns available  – arranged by pattern number and in alphabetical order of the pattern names – and then you can click on each model and view all of the posts relating to that pattern and get an idea about what it is like when it is sewn up – as well as being able to get some design and customising ideas and tips from other makers of course!

The patterns cost around ten euros each and are available to ship internationally.

That’s all for the ‘Susanne’ dress.

I’ll be back soon with a bunch of jumpsuits to show you, of all things, that I’ve been busy making. In fact, I may need an intervention to stop me making these – I’ve made three so far and I’m day-dreaming of a fourth! Don’t ask me why, I just like them!