Thursday, 14 October 2010

Belle's Blue Dress in Detail

I’ve had a few people asking me how I constructed Belle’s blue provincial dress, so I thought I’d make a post on it. It’s not that difficult, actually.

First the blouse: any pattern could do as a base. Make the sleeves a little shorter than to the wrists, and cuff them. As you can see I haven’t even hemmed the bottom edge yet, but since it won't show…

The most important thing on the blouse is the characteristic collar, which should be folded down in back, and taper into nothing at centre front. This is how it looks, with the centre back folded. It’s sewn in two layers. There’re probably better ways to do the collar, but I was short on time when I made it. Next time I make this costume I'll experiment a little more with it.

The bodice could be made using any tight-fitting dress pattern, just making the neckline square. If you want to drape your own, this is how I did it. My bodice is made up from four pieces; two in front and two in back.

The rough shape of them were cut out in a cheap leftover fabric, and then tried on, pinned and re-pinned until they fit like I wanted them to. All the shaping is in the front-, back-, and side seams, no darts. As most people’s bodies have different shapes, the pattern pieces will probably turn out looking different from mine.

Make sure not to do the neck and arm openings to big at first – just make them big enough to go over your head and to put your arms through, and then draw them on the fabric while wearing it. Don’t make the bodice too long, or it will wrinkle and look untidy. When you are satisfied with the fit you can use this mock up as the lining for the bodice, or save it as a pattern for later use.

I put self fabric piping in all the bodice seams, because it gives a nice finishing touch, and also makes the seams stronger – they also give a slight supporting effect, and prevent some wrinkling.

When sewing the bodice together, I had first basted the fashion fabric and lining together, and sewed them as one layer. With the piping, it made six layers of fabric in each seam (hence the light boning effect). I trimmed down the seam allowenses on the fashion fabric and lining, split and sewed down the piping fabric, to make the piping sit straight, and not "tip" to the sides.

I put piping at the neck, sleeve and waist as well, again for a nice finishing touch. My dress closes by hooks and eyes at centre back, but an invisible zipper could be used as well – I’d put it in a side seam, or it will not be invisible.

The skirt is made as any half circle skirt, lightly gathered and reaching to lower calf - simple as could be. Since the bodice is slightly pointed in front, I had to cut away a corresponding amount of fabric at the centre front of the waist of the skirt.

That’s it, a rough guide on how to make this costume. The apron is simple, a rectangle (straight, gathered or pleated) sewn to a waistband. And don’t forget to wear at least one petticoat. If not, the skirt will look skimpy, and will cling to your legs, which isn’t the right look for this dress. Oh, and a note on fabric choise: avoid anything shiny, polyesterish! It will look cheap and amateur-ish. If you're on a budget (like I was), better use a low price, plain cotton, as that will look so much better.

Hope this helped, and good luck!


Miss Mia said...

I really like this dress! A very nice colour choice, I must say that it suits you!

Atlanta said...

This is so cute! I was just watching B&B last night! Great reproduction!

Hannah H. said...

Thanks for posting this ! I've been wanting to get a closer look at it for quite some time. Beautiful dress and lovely blog !
Hannah (from the sewing academy)

Melissa said...

Thank you so much!

Mama Rachel said...

Oh, wow, Sarah! You do beautiful work! And you look so lovely in it, too. :-)

By the way, I am really enjoying your blog!


Sarah Jane said...

Thank you so much for this detailed look at Belle's dress. I have loved this costume of yours since you posted about a while ago, when I first started reading your blog. The dress portion looks especially lovely. I think an outfit like this could be very nice even as modern wear; a nice alternative to the sometimes dowdy jumper and blouse combo. This is very pretty. Thank you so much for explaining how you made it!

malin said...

vilken fin blus och klänning. din blogg är fantastisk!

Anonymous said...

Wow I really need that but do you know where I can get that kind of cloth and how can you make the apron

Sarah A said...

Thank you all who commented!

Anonymous: I take it that your question regarding cloth refers to "low price, plain cotton". The fabric I used was the same kind as is used in sheets, so it really is the most simple you could find. Any fabric store should have it (if they have it in the right colour or not is another issue).

The apron is so simple to do, but since it'd take me to long to explain it now, and it would be silly to reinvent the wheel, I suggest you look at this description by Elisabeth Stewart Clark:

Good luck!

Jackie said...

Thank you so much for posting this!! My question is regards to the petticoat. Did you buy it or make and and what type of material did you use for the petticoat and how did you make it? Again thank you very much :)

Sarah A said...

Actually, I have so many different petticoats lying around (both for modern and period wear), that I pretty much took a couple of the ones that worked best... Since the skirt of the dress is much slimmer at the waist than the hem, the petticoats should be as well. This can be done by making them half circle, same as the dress skirt, or by making them tiered - I believe that's how mine were made. Most of the petticoats I use for "modern" wear (which is what I wore with this outfit) are made from different weight cottons or cotton blends. Some of them are made from old curtains, which already have pretty flounces or similar :)

Anonymous said...

Would you be interested in getting paid to make one of these for a teenage girl size 6-7? I am willing to pay well.

Sarah A said...

The problem with making a dress that's supposed to fit snugly is that it is nearly impossible to make it fit well unless you can fit it directly on the person... It most likely won't look very well. That aside, I'm expecting my first child in less than two months and is quite tired at the moment and hardly have energy for the sewing I *must* do. Still, thank you for considering me :)

Julia said...

Thank you SO much for posting this. I've been trying to find a pattern that is really close to the one in the film. And this is perfect! While I don't sew, my friend does and she said she'll make it for me. Thank you so much from one Belle to another! :)