Vanessa/Ursula Costume, Part VI: Damage Control

damage control

Now that I’m finished hyperventilating over the possibility that I’ve forever ruined this costume through my heedless hacking, I’ve started doing some damage control.

The first thing is to reattach as much fabric as possible to bring the dress back to a wearable state. I took the largest piece of the fabric I’d originally cut off the front that I could find, and sewed it as a front panel to the skirt. It has an ugly seam at the attachment point, but it can eventually be covered up with the draped layer. It’s a little shorter than I wanted, but again, the draped layer will take care of that. Then I used pieces of the cut-off train to make tapered panels on the sides, bringing the hem down to a respectable length. Just to be safe I’m not going to do any trimming of seam allowances or attaching of details (ruffles, sheers) until I’ve finished the tentacles and know for sure how long the dress needs to be.

I finally got past my trauma to take a picture of the post-cutting dress, to compare to the restored dress. The first picture doesn’t even come close to capturing the horror that it was in person.

ursula ragged

ursula damage control

It’s not perfect (though it’ll be better once I press all the seams and add the center panel to cover up a lot of the patchwork). Aside from the visible seams, the fabric doesn’t quite match up in color– the fabric for the side panels was stained enough that I had to hand-wash it, and the washing and drying made the smooth satiny parts of the brocade look a little dull. Also, the train must have faded a little differently than the rest of the dress, so you can definitely tell that the patching was done after the fact.

Whew! Let this be a lesson to everyone– don’t go hacking away at a perfectly nice dress without a specific plan, and possibly some taped-off cutting lines so you can really visualize the final product ahead of time.

Vanessa/Ursula Costume, Part V : Disaster!


You’d think that “rip the bottom part of a dress to shreds” would be a simple, straightforward thing to do for a costume, no? But no, it’s not that easy, because it has to be artistically ripped so it displays the optimal amount of tentacle (never thought I’d find myself saying those particular words), but still looks like a wedding dress. I thought I’d do a high-low hem, so it would show more tentacle in front and get longer in the back, kind of like a train. I took a deep breath, and started cutting, intending to make the edges jagged once I got the shape right.

So, you know how when you were a kid your mom would cut your bangs, and keep trying to get it even, trimming, trimming, and then when she finally let you look in the mirror, it would look awful because she never stepped back to see the big picture?

Yeah, that happened. I can’t even take pictures, I’m so depressed.

I have my high-low hem, but it just looks terrible– it doesn’t just reveal the tentacles, it looks unbalanced, awkward, nothing like what I’d envisioned. The sweeping lines of the skirt are completely gone, and the whole thing looks all squat and pudgy and unattractive. I just finished the dress– which could’ve been a really nice Vanessa costume in its own right– and now I’m feeling serious remorse for the butchery I’ve inflicted on it. What have I done?!?

I’ve spent this evening staring at the dress (avoiding looking at the photos of it in pristine condition from just this morning), trying desperately not to freak out, and pinning it in various configurations, hoping that I can make something of the fabric I didn’t cut off. I tried gathering the skirt about halfway up on each side, making kind of a pannier effect to hide the gaping holes in the fabric– it’s not hideous, but it’s not great either. I thought about shifting the high-low to one side, making a dramatic swath of fabric to make the most of the Frankendress look– nope, looks awful. I used painter’s tape to tape off a proposed ragged edge, hoping that it was just that I hadn’t committed fully enough to the original cutting– definitely a no-go. I used Photoshop to help visualize what I could do to the dress to make it look halfway decent (should’ve done that in the first place), and I think I may have come up with a temporary plan:

I’m going to re-attach some of the fabric I cut off in my original hack-job, to bring the dress back to its original state (as much as possible, anyway). Luckily I cut off a bunch of the train in a fairly large piece, so I can do this. Once it’s close to being back to normal I’ll re-evaluate. Clearly, the ripped effect at the bottom isn’t going to work. I need to figure out how to re-design the costume completely– I have some ideas, but this time around I’ll refrain from doing any actual cutting until I’ve considered all possibilities.

Keep your fingers crossed for me! If this doesn’t work out I may be put off costuming forever… Or at least for a few months.