Vanessa/Ursula Costume, Part II: Circular Ruffles

There are two issues to tackle when it comes to the ruffles on the wedding dress: the color and the shape.

The problem with the color is that due to the changing sunset lighting in the relevant movie scene, the ruffles actually change color as time goes on. They start off looking almost like a rum pink/beige color, but then fade into a purplish-gray as the sun sets.

ursula movie pink Ursula movie purple

Given that the lighting starts off rather orange to begin with, it’s tough to tell what the original color was supposed to be. I guessed lavender of some kind, to go with Ursula’s original purple skin and tentacle undersides, but I can’t be sure. Unfortunately, dusty rose/lavender with gray undertones isn’t one of the “standard” colors you find fabric in, and it couldn’t be too shiny or too thin or it would clash with the matte brocade of the dress.

The second issue is construction. Clearly, it would be easiest to just gather long strips of fabric or ribbon, but it seems clear from the movie that these are circular ruffles, which drape nicely but take up a lot more fabric and are seriously annoying to hem due to the curved edge. I thought about using purchased trim, but perhaps unsurprisingly I couldn’t find any wide purplish-pinkish-gray ruffled trim anywhere (or even any white ruffled trim of the correct width that I could dye). So, handmade it is.

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Vanessa/Ursula Costume, Part I: The Idea and the Gown

Ursula movie evil

It’s no secret that I love costumes, and not just at Halloween. Besides, you can never get really elaborate at Halloween because Halloween parties are always badly lit, full of drunk people, and extremely crowded (with the aforementioned drunk people). Who would bother with a fabulous costume, and more importantly, who would risk getting it ruined?

I learned this lesson back in grad school, when I wore a beautiful Regency-style ballgown to a Halloween party and promptly got white wine spilled on it (probably the least harmful thing that could’ve happened, but still not great). And I learned it again (guess I didn’t learn it all that well the first time) when I slaved for weeks on a fantastic Ursula costume, only to have it largely ignored or misunderstood at the party I went to that year. Seriously, someone asked me if I was supposed to be Marie Antoinette. MARIE ANTOINETTE.

Just for review, this is me as Ursula, the evil sea witch from The Little Mermaid:

halloween tanya

And this is Marie Antoinette:

marie_antoinette_after_elis

And while I don’t deny that we are both wearing white wigs and full-length skirts (and I guess hers could look slightly tentacle-y if you squinted really hard), it defies understanding to believe that the two costumes are in any other way similar. Seriously? Marie Antoinette? I mean, did the tentacles and giant shell necklace mean nothing? I just don’t get it…

Anyway, that aside, I really did love the costume, which i’d built on a black strapless bridesmaid’s dress and stuffed with styrofoam packing peanuts. And I didn’t have the heart to throw it away once the holiday was over, so I un-stuffed it and packed it away in a garment bag. Until I had the idea to do this*:

ursula still 1ursula still 2

ursula still 3ursula still 4

(well, maybe not that last stage). All I would need was a wedding gown to wear over the tentacles– if I cut the hem short, the tentacles would show underneath and I could be Vanessa just as she’s turning back into Ursula. Plus, I wouldn’t get a headache from wearing the white wig. So I started keeping an eye out for an appropriate dress (realizing, of course, that it would be a lot cheaper and easier to find an old wedding dress than to make one from scratch).

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