Projects on My Plate

  • Veda's Birthday Party
  • Sienna's Birthday Party
  • Sienna's Pencil Skirt
  • Pencil Skirt
  • Wardrobe re-do
  • Floral Skirt for Mommy
  • Breck's Bedding
  • Sienna and Veda's Bedding
  • Apron

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Belle Costume - Only One Year Late...

So now that we're all healthy again, I decided to write up (finally) a tutorial for the dress I made for Sienna for Halloween last year. Unfortunately, I did not take any pictures of the process, so all my pictures are computer illustrations. Let me tell ya, I think I really missed my calling in computer animation. I'm simply amazing. I'm pretty sure Pixar is going to call me up if they ever see this post and offer me a job.

Okay, enough sarcasm. But hopefully the pictures will at least illustrate well enough the process to make this dress. Click on the pictures to enlarge them if it makes it easier to read the text.

In case you missed it, which, you most likely did since at least 100 of the followers of this blog are new, here is the little dress I made my Sienna last year for Halloween. She was two.

There are a few preparatory things you need to do before you get started on this project.

-Get all the measurements of the little girl you are making this for. You will need the length from shoulders to waist, the length from waist to feet (or where you want the dress to hit), her waist measurement, and her chest .

-Based on measurements, compile two different fabrics. One for the main dress, and the other for embellishments. Sienna was two when she wore this, but was the size of a three year old. (At least) We used about 2 to 2/12 yards for the dress, and about 1/2 for the embellishments.

-Get some jewels, covered buttons, rossettes, etc. for further embellishment.

Now onto the instructions...

Lay out your fabric, and cut it as pictured. Your edge peices will not count as pieces, they have to all be the same and regular trapezoids. You will need 8 pieces in total. The length of the pieces should be at least double the length you measured from the waist to floor, depending on how big of a ruffle you want. I'm pretty sure mine was double.

Gather each long side of each trapezoid. You can do this easily by adjusting the thread tension and the stitch
length to the highest setting. Then measure to see how long it is, and if you need to gather it more to make it equal to the waiste-floor measurement, then gather it by pulling on the top thread, while guiding the fabric up the thread to create a bigger rufle.

Repeat the last step for the rest of the 7 pieces, then sew them all together, with, of course, the raw edges on the inside. Serge or zig-zag stitch each hem, so that it is reinforced as a gathered hem, not just the individual hems.

Once your skirt is in skirt shape, make a V in the front to allow the V shaped bodice to easily attach. The V should be about 2 inches in depth, starting from the sseam that will lay on the hip, to the other hip, as pictured below.

Sew a line around the top of the skirt using the same technique for a gathered seam. Then, pull threads again to match up with the waiste measurement you took.

Next, we're going to add the embelleshment to the bottom. You're going to need a very long strip. How long, is dependent on what size of dress you are making. In the picture it says it's equal to the width of the skirt at the portion it will be placed on, times 1.5, since it needs to drape a little. This is approximate, of course, so make sure you double measure. Measure around the portion of the dress that the embellishment will go on (around 8-16 inches off floor, depending on size of dress), then add a few inches as needed to get the total length of this strip. The idea is that this strips drapes 2-3 inches per section. The height will be around 5 inches.

Next, you will fold the strip in half, with wrong sides out, sew down the edges, and pull inside out to reveal the right sides. The height should then be about 2 - 2 1/2 inches, depending how big your hem was. Reinforce hems as necessary.

Next, you are going to gather the strip. Lay it against the dress, and make sure it drapes a little per section. Place a pin on the strip where each section of the skirt meet. Then gather where those pins are as illustrated. 

Attach to skirt. Make sure gathers correlate with the seams on the skirt.

Next, we move to the top. Find an article of clothing that your little girl fits well into. As a tip: if you are using fabric that stretches, use a shirt that stretches, like a knit. If your fabric is not stretchy (like mine), use a shirt that fits well, but does not stretch. I have a tank top shown, but you can use any shirt. It's really just to illustrate what portion of the shirt we are using.

Trace the outline of the shirt onto the fabric. Don't forget to include the hems in your tracing, because you will be hemming as well! You will need 2 pieces for the front. One will be one inch wider than the shirt outline you trace. I'll explain that in a bit. Just add the extra inch to the middle.

You will use one back piece, and you will add 3 inches to the width to allow for buttons.

Remember to make sure the length of the top is the same as the measurement you took from shoulder to waiste.

On the front pieces, make sure you extend the bottom down a little to make a V like we did with the skirt, as illustrated.

Cut a line down the middle of the bigger of your front pieces. This will be that seam that most Disney princesses have down the front of their dresses. Put right sides together, and sew a 1/2 inch hem. Reinforce hem.

Now we want to attach our front pieces. Put right sides together, with the hem from the top piece facing outward, as pictured below. Then sew together where the picture show a red line.

Then flip inside out so the right sides are facing out. Sew along the entire outise, including going over (as close to the edge as possible) the seams we just made that are now on the inside.

For the back, Cut a line down the center. Then hem up the sleeves as shown.

Do a zig-zag stitch, or serge the edge of each side that you just cut. The x2 means do it for each side.

Fold and iron down 1 1/2 inches from the edge, over to the backside, as pictured. Then hem the neckline over top. Do this for both sides.

Make a pencil marking (or mental note) of 1 inch from the edge on each side. This is where your buttons will be. Make sure you measure again and again where your buttons will be to make sure they are even. You'll want to be sure there are at least 1 1/2 to 2 inches between buttons, so we can add embellishment later. Since all sewing machines are different, I will assume you know how to use yours to make a button hole. Most sewing machines have a stitch option for this. Consult your owners manual to learn how to use it, if you don't already know.

Then, attach the back of the top to the front of the top. Reinforce hems as necessary. Measure the width to make sure it correlates with the waiste circumfrance and the chest circumfrance.

Attach Top to Bottom. The buttons should be buttoned up to ensure that the sides are sewn to the bottom correctly.

You can add any sort of embellishment you want at seams. I did rhinestones. You can also do covered buttons, rosettes, etc.

Now for the Top embellishment.

Cut a strip of fabric (the same fabric as the embellishment for the bottom) that will fit around the top of your little girl's arms right at the shoulder. It needs to be long enough to wrap around the back inside panels about 1/2 to 3/4 an inch. It also needs to be about 6-8 inches in height, depending on the size of dress you are making.

Next, fold that piece in half length wise, and sew along raw edges as shown. Sew along the red line.

Sew along the red lines and gather. The raw edges on the very end need to be serged or zig zagged, or even heat sealed, if the fabric is some sort of synthetic fabric.

Attach it to the top in the places indicated in the picture below. See Purple picture below this one for a more clear visual on attaching it to the back. It can be attached with a sturdy hand stitch on the front and on the sleeves.

I then added another rhinestone embellishment to the center of the fron. You can add covered buttons, rosettes, etc.

And Guess what???? You're DONE!!!


Bonnie said...

I am so grateful you posted instructions for this dress!! We are kind of strapped, but my beautiful 16yr old daughter, whose name is Sarah as well, deperately desires to dress as Belle for the Jazz Choir's Halloween Tour to Elem. Schools. I didn't know how I was going to scrape up enough for such a fancy dress, and frankly, the searches I did were fruitless as far as an authentic looking replication! You are too wonderful. . .Now I can MAKE her one, thanks to this ingenious pattern. The curves on a 16 yr old ARE different than a little girl, but I think with some velcro and a ribbon tie, we might be able to swing it. (I can do zippers, barely, but ONLY for something that will be worn several times!!) Thank you, Sarah. You were an answer to a prayer.

Bonnie said...

Here is my email if you like!

The Cornett Family said...

Bonnie, thank you so much for your kind words! I'm so glad you will be able to use this tutorial. I hope your daughter loves the dress! I was just thinking though, that since 16 year-olds do have different curves, like you said, what if you made the material on top stretchy (like a knit, or that swimsuit-like material) in the same color as the bottom, then it would fit perfectly to her shape. Just a thought I had when you brought that up. Anyway, thanks again, I'm so happy this tutorial is going to be useful to you! Good luck!!

Priscila said...

Oh my goodness! This is beautiful!!! Wish I could sew more than a straight line haha

Priscila @

sushistamper said...

Thank you for posting this wonderful tutorial!!

I am wondering if you would mind sharing how you calculated the size of your trapezoid shapes for the skirt? Did you use some sort of formula like waist measurement x8 + seam allowance x8? And how much wider at the bottom than the top?

Thanks so much!

The Cornett Family said...

The bottom of each trapezoid is about double the length of the top of the trapezoid. I got the the sizes by first figuring out in total, how big I wanted the circumference of the bottom of the skirt. I divided that by 8 and added 1/4 to 1/2 inch seam allowance on each trapezoid. I hope that helps! Great question!

Becky said...

Thanks for this tutorial! Just used it to make my daughter her Halloween costume.

Unknown said...

When did you hem the bottom of the dress? Would it be easier to hem the bottom of each trapezoid before connecting them?? My daughter is so excited for her Belle dress!!!

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