Friday, November 2, 2012

lost boys, fairies, pirates and a hurricane! – Halloween part II

It was a crazy lead up to Halloween this year. Not only did I have four costumes to make, but our car died right before the hurricane hit and we weren’t able to get it fixed until Halloween morning. So I wasn’t able to run out over the weekend for the last of my costume supplies and Jake and Peter had to go without boots. But I think buckets full of candy softened the blow.  On the other hand, despite a dreadful cold, I managed to finish Tinkerbell. I went way OTT with this, I admit, but I’m so pleased with it I just don’t mind. 
Our theme was my oldest son’s idea. You remember the Jake vest from C’s birthday? He loved it and wanted to wear it for Halloween too.  So P decided to be Peter Pan. Once he told K she should be Tinkerbell, she wouldn’t hear of any other idea.  I suggested a few easier things, like a beautiful butterfly, but she shook her little head and said with careful emphasis, “no. Ink-er-bel.”
Of course, Tinkerbell’s outfit is way slutty, so we needed something Tinkerbell-ish. Instead of going the Disney ballerina fairy route, I thought about what Tink may have worn as a little girl. The sweet tulip sleeves of the new Oliver and S Fairy Tale dress spoke to me.  Aren’t they exactly the sort of thing a little fairy would wear? I think poofy sleeves are great for a princess, but these petal shapes are right for a fairy. The fitted bodice worked with my vision too, but I drafted a different skirt.
I searched high and low for the right green fabric. It’s not easy to find nice greens out there! When a swatch of this heavenly emerald satin arrived in the mail from Hart’s, I simply couldn’t resist even if silk for a child’s costume is a bit splurgy. At least I only needed a small amount. It's hard to photograph a lusterous fabric, but this detail above with her monogram is a good representation.
If a silk dress with self lining wasn’t over the top enough, I added a hand picked zipper and sewed much of the lining by hand. It’s nearly a couture garment we’re looking at here.  That may seem like a lot of work, it really isn’t. Invisible zippers can be fussy and it’s easy for them to go badly wrong.  How many times have you ripped it out?  A hand picked zip doesn’t actually take any longer and it’s much easier to make sure that your waist seams line up perfectly.  There is no fear of ruining a beautiful garment because you have such control when you do things by hand.  I learned how from Susan Khalje’s Craftsy course and I now think they are a lovely touch on a special garment.
The lining was hand finished because of a few construction decisions I made.  Rather than line the sleeves, I finished the edge with a tiny baby hem before assembling the sleeve and inserting it. I pressed the seam allowance into the dress and hand stitched the lining over it.
To finish the pointy skirt hem, I doubled the skirt and stitched the triangles. I clipped and turned and really needed to treat the two layers as one to attach. I have pictures of that process I can share if there’s interest.  So I had to hand stitch the bodice lining in place too.
The overskirt is a separate piece. The leaves are cut from this amazing emerald silk gazar woven with gold metallic threads. I wanted to preserve the ethereal quality of this special fabric by using a single layer, so I sealed the edges with fray check. It doesn’t show unless you look very closely. I gathered the leaves just a tiny bit to add some body and attached them to some petersham ribbon following the tutu method from Little Things to Sew. 
The wings. Oh, the wings! This is my first go at wings, so I well, winged it. I wanted them to actually look like Tink’s, not dinky like the ones in commercial patterns. So hubby helped me draft them nice and tall. Which made it a little hard for them to stand up. So we added stronger wire. Which made it tricky to attach nicely to her dress. I wasn’t going to ruin a couture silk dress with Velcro!  I wished I had some Mummer costume experience. (If you’re not from Philly and have no clue what a Mummer is, you should visit us for New Year’s. Meanwhile, here’s a link.) In the end, I stitched a few shell buttons to the back of the dress, with a square of sew in interfacing behind, and made buttonholes in the organza.  They got awfully bent in the crush of children, but they help up and the dress didn’t get ripped. Many little girls gazed longingly at those enourmous wings!
For the shoe covers, I draped some muslin over one of her shoes and traced with a Sharpie to make a pattern. They weren’t mean to last past Halloween, so if she loves it, I may make her a pair of proper slippers to wear at home for dress up.
Shots of my whole group on the day of are here and my review of the Fiary Tale Dress on Sewing Pattern Review has some other details. I’ve entered it in the costume contest. There are quite a few amazing costumes in the gallery there, so I would appreciate your vote.


  1. Beautiful!! Everything about it is fantastic. And I agree, those tulip sleeves couldn't be more perfect for a wee fairy. Much more suitable than the strapless number Tink wears. Absolutely gorgeous work. This is one for the hope chest for sure.

  2. Thank you so much! Yes, it will be saved.

  3. Thanks, Liesl! I'm so pleased you liked it.

  4. This is gorgeous. And I thought I went above and beyond by putting french seams in my daughter's halloween costume! Your details are amazing and it looks as if you're daughter loved it.

  5. Thank you, Nicola! It was definiately over the top. :) I am vowing not to go overboard next year, but time will tell if I still to that resolution!

  6. I love this!

    I just finished my first rendition of the fairy tale dress for my niece and I was thinking of doing another. I know she would love a "inkerbell" dress, if you get a chance I would love to learn more about how you did the skirt.


  7. The skirt of the dress? I used the width of my fabric by twice the length I wanted plus seam allowances. I folded it in half, right sides together and measured the pointy shapes with a quilting ruler and chalk liner. Then I stitched them together, trimmed seam allowances and clipped into all the points - be careful to trim the correct side of your stitching! - and turned it rightside out. Press well. If you can press some of those seams open, they will come out better but they're hard to reach. I also use a metal knitting needle to coax out the points. HTH!

  8. Thanks so much for this, I ended up making very similar dresses for my nieces!