June’s challenge for Project Run & Play is dress-up dresses, with an Elsa and Cinderella dress tutorial from Kiki & Company. My Disney heroine of choice would be Mulan, but given that S has recently forsaken her former name and started insisting that everyone (and I mean everyone) calls her Tinkerbell at all times (yes even at 5.45 in the morning), a costume for a tempestuous miniature fairy seemed to be a preordained choice. Disney’s version of Tinkerbell has a costume that’s great if you want to dress up like a 50’s pin-up but not so great for a 2 yr old, so with the more ethereal woodland pixie of the book in mind I drew inspiration from some wider sources – other illustrations of Tinkerbell, plus the flower fairy illustrations of Mabel Lucy Attwell.
I liked the layerable options of the original tutorial, as it’s something I always find works for costumes, allowing them to be mixed and matched and reinvented. With this in mind I decided to make a simple dress as the base layer, something that could be worn on its own as a simple costume or just for everyday. To create that woodland pixie feel I got H involved and we dip-dyed some cotton lawn (and some left over cotton embroidered tulle) with olive green hand dye. (We used the left over dye to experiment with tie dye using loom bands and old pyjama bottoms too). As I’d never tried dip-dyeing before I decided to dye the fabric before making the dress, rather than after, in case it all went horribly wrong. Once dry I used another pattern from my new favourite pattern book – Everyday Clothes for Girls, lengthening and adding extra volume to the front and back pieces of a tunic pattern with puffed sleeves. The pattern seemed a great choice as the design features a slightly elasticised neckline, removing the need for any closures and making it easy to take on and off.
The only other adaption I made to the design was to add belt loops half way down the side seams so the dress can also be worn with a waist tie for even more versatility. H enjoyed the dip-dyeing and is so envious of the final result that I’ve got a feeling will be repeating the process (but maybe in blue) very soon.
So, on it’s own a lovely summer dress, or teamed with some wings a simple Tinkerbell or flower fairy costume.
The next layer used the left over dip-dyed cotton, the dyed embroidered tulle and some small pieces of white and cream satin to create a leafy/petally overskirt.
I cut a series of petal shapes – the largest ones in white and cream reducing in size to the smallest ones in the darkest shade of the dyed cotton and finished the edges using the rolled hem function on the overlocker. Once completed I layered them up to mimic the ombre effect of the dress (or a flower)and sewed them into place on a strip of cotton double the width of S’s waist measurement. I then folded the strip of fabric over and gathered with elastic to form the waistband. With all the layers of petals/leaves the waistband turned out to be a little bulky, in retrospect in may have worked better to have attached some of the layers in the style of a tiered ruffle skirt.
The skirt can be worn over the dress, teamed with a t-shirt or even over the tulle skirt I made S for Christmas.
I also attached petals to the top of a bodice section which I made following this month’s tutorial. I had my reservations about using the suggested method with a woven fabric but really wanted it to match with everything else so pushed ahead and then struggled to make it work -perhaps partly because S is still more toddler shaped. Initially the bodice turned out too big to stay up, so I added a halterneck but it still hung awkwardly so I made it slightly narrower. It now fits snuggly but she complains it is too tight and refuses point blank to put it on. Luckily the underdress turned out so prettily there is really no need of it.
Next up, and my favourite bit ( if a little laborious) were the fairy wings. Pink (by request) but in an ombre way to match the rest of the costume. To make the wings I followed a brilliant tutorial by Martha Boers that I found on her site Antique Lilac. Finding her tutorial was one of those ‘why I love the internet’ affirmation moments – in the past I have only thought of stretching wings round a perimeter wire, but these wings are given structure by sewing wire on at the end as veins. The other great thing about the design is they are just made up of scraps of left over fabric and yarn so there is no need for any extra materials (well not when your craft cupboard is as full as mine anyway).
Again H was to keen to help so I got her assistance tracing my wing patterns, snipping up and laying out fabric scraps and with some of the initial stitching.
I drifted slightly from the tutorial in places adding a layer of fusible web – partly to help hold all the bits of fabric in place before sewing but mainly because as the fabrics were so sheer I wanted to add a bit more structure to help prevent my machine from eating rather than sewing. I also got a bit more heavy handed with the painting phase adding a thin wash all over and splashing with a grey wash.
I really like all the textures created by the scraps of fabric sandwich by tulle, the layers of stitching and the flecks of paint but my favourite bit is that because many of the fabrics are so sheer, the wings look completely different with the light behind them.
The wings were made in two parts, an upper and lower piece, bound together at the end with a strip of cream satin and made wearable with a couple of simple elastic shoulder loops.
Finally, to complete the flower fairy/Tinkerbell ensemble a made-up-as-I-went-along crocheted floral headband.