My Fair Lady Ballgown, Part XI: Supply List

Now that the outfit is done, I figured I could take some time to provide resources for any other would-be Eliza Doolittles!

I will note that I wasn’t able to make my dress exactly screen-accurate– I didn’t locate all of my reference images until I’d already done some of the work, and it wasn’t worth it to me to re-do things like the embroidery on the center skirt panel to get it exactly right. I did, however, try to reproduce the original as best I could under the circumstances. For what it’s worth, the dress has about 7,000 individually-applied sequins and rhinestones, so you’d better be up for a lot of handwork!

Here’s what I used to make the dress:

Materials:

Bias-cut ivory gown (purchased)

4 yards ivory English net, 56″ wide

3 yards clear beaded teardrop fringe

At least 8 yards of 1/2″ wide ivory floral trim

4 yards 1 1/2″ wide scalloped ivory trim

5 yards 1″ wide ivory trim

2 yards each of 2.9cm and 3.2cm round floral trim to make round appliques.

1440 ss10 rhinestones, 1440 ss20 rhinestones, 288 ss30 rhinestones, 144 ss50 rhinestones, all in clear flatback (no AB, no hot-fix) (I had a ton left over, especially of the ss30 and ss50 sizes, but these quantities were pretty inexpensive from this seller so it’s better to have too many than too few!)

4mm and 6mm round flat sequins in “moonshine”

4mm round flat sequins in silver

Gem-Tac adhesive (I only needed one large bottle, using syringes as applicators)

Invisible thread

So, final notes and tips:

  1. Definitely use blunt-needle syringes as applicators for the sequins and rhinestones. Once they’re full of glue you can store them point-down with the needle tips in a mug with about an inch or water in the bottom, and they’ll stay usable almost indefinitely. The water keeps the glue from drying inside the needle section, though Gem-Tac does occasionally get clumpy so I can’t promise you won’t need to occasionally swear a little as you un-clog the needle by soaking it in hot water. I worked with two syringes at once so I’d be sure to have a working one at all times.
  2. Toothpicks (the blunt ends) were perfectly good tools for picking up sequins and the tiny rhinestones. I wouldn’t bother with Q-tips or the special wax sticks you can find online.
  3. If you can’t find perfect appliques, don’t be afraid to cut apart/combine other appliques to get the effect you’re going for. Particularly since this gown has so much sparkle on it, no one will be looking closely enough at the precise type of lace you’re using to see if it matches everywhere.
  4. While it might seem easier to do the embellishment on the overgown before attaching it to the undergown, I think that it’s necessary to have the whole thing hanging on a dress form before you finalize the placement of the swags and appliques. Otherwise you might end up placing something incorrectly and not finding out until it’s too late to fix.
  5. Don’t finalize any embellishments at the hem until you’ve tried on the mostly-embellished gown and ensured that the net hasn’t stretched out. Don’t store the dress on a hanger or dress form– keep it flat to avoid further stretching. It may also be a good idea to leave the bottom few inches relatively plain in case you need to hem it again later and don’t want to lose detail.

And of course, if anyone needs help with laying out embellishments or figuring out how best to drape the dress, feel free to comment on this post and I’ll try to respond! Good luck!

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My Fair Lady Ballgown, Part XIII: Paillettes and Rhinestones

So, time for the finishing touches! You can see in the photo below that in the center panel there’s an arc of large silver sequins just above the floral appliqué around knee level.

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I bought 10mm silver paillettes to attach to the dress– I only needed 20 paillettes for that section, but then I realized for the first time that the dress actually had more paillettes around the hem! Good thing they came in a package of 200…

So, not only are there swags of embroidered trim near the hem, but there also appears to be a row of silver paillettes following the lines of that trim with short line segments connecting the two. It’s really only obvious in this one photo, so it’s no wonder I missed it on my initial viewing:

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See the little gray dots following the lines of white trim? Clearly paillettes. However, I can’t tell what the faint white lines are– it’s possible that, like the sleeve and neckline detail, they are embroidered lines of thread with clear sequin “leaves” on either side.

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My Fair Lady Ballgown, Part XI: More Appliqués

I know, you’re probably curious to know what happened with the sequins, but you’ll need to wait until later because I had to get the center panel’s appliqués done first. The larger floral appliqués I ordered were some of the last components to arrive, which is why I had to leave it for so long. I bought both venise and alencon lace appliqués because I wasn’t sure which would work better– neither were quite in the same style as the other trims, but I thought they’d work out all right.

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You can see in the reference images below that there are leafy floral motifs at the center front and sides of the center panel, and smallish motifs at the high points of the swags of trim around the hem.

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Mad Hatter Costume

Like I said, as part of our family costume my husband decided to be the Mad Hatter. Honestly, I mostly put his outfit together from pieces I bought– a velvet blazer, some plaid golf pants, a pair of argyle socks– but some items I just had to make myself.

First and foremost was the hat. You know me, I’m the queen of decorated top hats, so while I bought the base hat on Amazon I knew I’d be going to town on the embellishments.

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The hat itself is huge– not just tall (which it totally is, unlike many of the dinky little so-called “top hats” you find at the lower price points), but also big in circumference. My husband has a pretty big head, and this hat literally fall down past his ears, it was that big.

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Queen of Hearts Costume, Part V: Sleeves

Once the main dress was done, I made a set of detached sleeve-puff thingies to wear on my arms. I bought some black satin and stitched it in stripes with the extra red satin from the back side of the shawl. Once I had two long striped pieces, I cut out some equally long but much narrower pieces of red cotton and attached them to the striped sections as a lining.

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The inner layer being narrower than the outer layer allowed the striped layer to puff out a bit along the vertical axis. Then I sewed narrow channels into the top and bottom edges and ran elastic through them, which gathered the sleeves horizontally into nice puffs that would stay up on my arms. I did have to stuff the puffs with fabric scraps to give them body– otherwise they were a bit droopy. Next time I’ll take the time to find some netting to do the stuffing– it would hold its shape better.

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I finished off the costume with a tiara from eBay and a pair of black satin gloves. Hint: do not balance your tiara on your head just to see how it will look, then forget it’s not pinned on and bend over to look at something– it will fall off, clang on the floor, and lose half a dozen tiny rhinestones which you will then have to locate and glue back in. (sigh)

Stay tuned for pictures of the finished costume!

Queen of Hearts Costume, Part I: Design and Fabric

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For Halloween this year my daughter decided she wanted to be a kitty– not really a surprise, since she loves cats, but it was a bit more difficult to figure out what our family Halloween costume would have to be to coordinate with a cat. Could we all be cats? What about different animals? It all seemed kind of boring.

Then a friend suggested that she could be the Cheshire cat (pink and purple cat, talk about tailor-made for my kid’s preferences!) and my husband and I could do Alice in Wonderland-inspired costumes. It sounded like a great solution. My husband could be the Mad Hatter and would just need to add an outrageous top hat and maybe a cravat to a regular suit. As for me, since I’m not blonde and have no intention of wearing a wig, being Alice was out. But I do love fancy gowns (and have plenty of random accessories lying around), so I decided to be the Queen of Hearts. All I’d need would be a red dress to applique some hearts on, a crown, and maybe a plate of fake tarts to carry around, and I’d be all set! I even had my old high school prom dress, which was bright red satin with a full skirt. Perfect!

Right?

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Steampunk Mini Top Hats

Hello, all! So Halloween is approaching, and while I know I’ve already posted about the Great Hat Project, I thought I’d mention that there are a still few hats left for sale in my Etsy shop! (there are a even a few that aren’t listed, so if you’re interested just shoot me a message and I’ll find pictures of the unlisted ones for you). Here are some examples of what I’ve got in the shop!

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These are on major sale right now, because I’m looking to make space in my closet for more projects. Here’s hoping that someone out there can give them a good home!

And now back to your regularly scheduled programming…