Sunday 19 May 2013

The Cinderella Dress

I was a little girl when I first saw Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella from 1965, starring Lesley Ann Warren. I fell in love with it completely and wholeheartedly, and no other version can so far compete with it in my eyes. Certainly, the set is a bit too stylized for my taste, and the costumes are not period – but then, it is a Hollywood interpretation of the Middle Ages from the 60’s, so not much should be expected. Some of the costumes are charming nonetheless. The cast and characters however are just what I think they should be: Cinderella is beautiful, meek and scared of confrontation as she should (if she weren’t she’d not got herself in that serving position to start with); the Prince has a charming personality, and is so sweet when left by the mysterious girl; the King and Queen a fine, properly regal couple; Cinderella’s stepfamily a fun mix of meanness and comical relief. Unfortunately it’s no longer available on DVD. If it’s ever released again I’ll be one of the first to buy it.

As you might guess, little B was  
coming to me when this picture was taken.

I imagine more than one little girl wanted Cinderella’s ball gown, and it is beautiful, though I’d have liked it better with sleeves; it would have fitted in better with the medieval-ish theme. However, being a bit of a Plain Jane I always loved Cinderella’s simple work dress better. The same kind of dresses can be seen on some of the extras. I love how they all have not only blouses, but whole dresses under those sleeveless ones.   

I’ve had an olive-greenish cotton twill fabric in my stash since I was in my late teens, and never could quite decide what to make from it. Recently I decided I wanted a plain Cinderella dress, and this fabric would be perfect for it. 

I did not want to make a reproduction; I just wanted the same feeling, so my dress in constructed in a different way than the movie costume. The bodice is made from four panels, based on my old blue Belle dress, and all fitting is in those four seams, so no darts. I like the clean look it gives. The cotton lining and fashion fabric are treated as one, and all bodice seams are piped, as are the neckline, sleeve holes and the waist seam. 

It closes in the back with hooks and eyes. The bodice is hand sewn, as I am not best friends with my sewing machine, and piping turns out much nicer if I do it by hand. 

It took me a bit of thinking to figure out how to do the skirt. I wanted a ¾ circle skirt, but I couldn’t fit all three panels and still get the length I wanted. After a while I realized I could piece the skirt at the hem in the back. Duh. Had this been a period dress it would have taken no thinking at all to figure that out – with historic clothing piecing is a matter of cause. Excuse the wrinkles: the picture were taken after wearing the dress for a few hours. 

The skirt has pleats at the waist at the front, back and sides, and sewn in smooth in between, and the hem is hand stitched. As with the mid 1800’s common dress, I lost weight between cutting out the bodice and finishing it, so after the dress was done I had to take it in five centimetres, which is about two inches.  I can’t understand that it was so much too large, as I don’t think I’ve lost that much weight, but I don’t think the fabric has stretched either. Now it fits well again; almost too well, just in case I'll loose some more weight.

I really like this dress style, and will very likely make more. I wore the dress for church today, but worn with tricot tops, or coloured, more sturdy blouses it could easily work for everyday. I have a nice denim-look fabric that could work well....


  1. Gorgeous of course! You have a gift!

  2. That dress is gorgeous, and it looks so comfortable! The ballgowns are pretty and all that, but more often than not a nice plain commoners dress is infinitely easier to wear than a fussy fancy frock. I'm just beginning to realize the beauty in practicality, and this is a perfect example, bravo!

  3. Looks comfy. It has something of a 1950's feel to it too.

  4. This has always been my favorite version of Cinderella..and I even had a Cinderella blanket in this version!

    This dress is very pretty in it's simplicity, and it looks great on you. And it's perfect for just about anything. I'm so dismayed with today's styles and I wish the classics would come back. More people like you will help make it happen!

  5. I love this dress so much! What a lovely, feminine, yet practical style. It looks wonderful on you! I may have to make a similar style for myself. . .so very pretty. I like the fitted bodice and the full skirts a lot, and the dainty blouse is perfect underneath the more sturdy fabric of the dress!

    I have never seen that version of Cinderella. I might have to see if my library can get it for me! It has always been my favorite fairy-tale and as a little girl I watched the Disney version every day. One of my favorite birthdays was my 5th (I think?) when my parents and grandparents bought me a beautiful cake with a miniature pumpkin-coach (with doors that really opened and shut!) and a beautiful figurine of Cinderella on top.

    Congrats on the weight loss! I still have some baby weight to loose but I don't think it will come off til Anne decides to wean, which, apparently, is not anytime soon. : /

  6. Thank you all! I love the dress, and have been wearing it over a coloured dress today - looked pretty, and very functional for everyday. It is a pleasure to feel pretty even when doing dull things like the never ending dishes ;)


I love to hear from you - please comment!

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.