Tuesday, April 29, 2008

AOTC Senator Amidala "Senate Address" Gown

My husband decided he wanted a Senate Guard costume (see my post on that costume) so I decided it would be good for me to have a costume that would look right along side of him at events. The Senate Guard version that my husband wants can be seen in Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace and also in Star Wars Episode 2: Attack Of The Clones. That meant I should choose a senator costume from either Episode 1: TPM or Episode 2: AOTC. Since Amidala has such lovely gowns, I decided to choose an Amidala gown.

I have been longing to create the Senate Address gown that Queen Amidala wears in TPM, however that one would be VERY expensive (I do plan on making it...someday, just not now!).

I ruled out any other TPM Queen Amidala gown as being too intricate and expensive as well, not to mention a bit uncomfortable especially since she wears white face paint (I don't even wear regular make-up, it drives my skin crazy).

So, I turned to AOTC for possible choices. I decided it really should be a gown where Padme Amidala appears "on duty" as a Senator. That left two choices, a purple devoré velvet heavily beaded gown with an African inspired headdress

or an Elizabethan inspired gown from a scene that was cut.

I really didn't like the idea of choosing a gown from a cut scene, however the scene has been included in the special features of the DVD release, so pretty much any Star Wars fan will have watched the scene even though it no longer exists in the actual film. To help me decide to go with the cut scene gown, I realized that a lot of women have already done the purple gown and I wanted to do one that not a lot of people have done. So, I chose the "Senate Address" gown (which would have been the 2nd Padme outfit seen in the movie had the scene not been cut).

(As always, my first source for excellent information on anything Padme is The Padawan's Guide. Thanks so much, Maggie!!)

As I researched this gown, I realized it too has a LOT of intricate beading at the neck and chest areas of the undergown bodice. However, from looking at the excellent high res images on Padawan's Guide, I have mapped out the designs and they are relatively simple once you realize what is involved. I noticed that the chest beading is actually two layers. One has a stylized "butterfly" motif and the other matches the neck beading.

For anyone wanting to re-create this gown, I found a possible source for beads here. I really like to see what I'm purchasing so I went to Hobby Lobby and found a bead that I think will work very well. It is called "Bead Treasures" they are Czech glass beads. Size 11/0 in Amethyst Iris. It comes in 18 gram tubes. I have no idea how many tubes it will take to bead this gown, but I plan to get them a little at a time so the price will be spread out over several weeks/months/etc...since our budget is pretty small at this point.

I also picked up some acrylic "Fashion Jewels" in a multi colored pack from Hobby Lobby that will work well for the "flower" beading.

It has been suggested that Simplicity 4156 would be an excellent base pattern to start from when creating this gown. I looked it up on Simplicity.com and they stated that 4156 is currently out of print though they had a few still left in stock. I checked on eBay and found one cheaper (with shipping) than what Simplicity themselves were asking. So, I bought mine from eBay.

The under dress is made of gold moire fabric. I was not able to find this at JoAnn's until one day I was combing over their Red Tag clearance section when they were having a 50% off sale on top of the red tag markdown. I found a drab yellow moire with an almost perfect pattern to the Senate gown! At the price they were asking, I just couldn't pass it by. I will try my hand at dying it as it is a cotton/acetate blend. But, it only cost about $4, so I couldn't let it go! (I have a picture of it, but my computer won't accept the card reader for my digital camera and I can't keep making my poor brother email all my digital pictures to me! I'll post the picture as soon as I get something figured out.)

I decided to make the front of the undergown out of moire and the rest of the undergown out of a cheaper cotton fabric as only the front is seen and I only have a remnant of the moire. I have started to alter the Simplicity pattern (which wasn't quite in my size, so I need to alter the size too, but the price was right!) and am almost ready to make a muslin mock-up of the undergown inset. Once I get the pattern for the inset figured out, I will cut it out of my moire, sew it together and then dye it. Once I get it dyed I can start working on beading it...which will take me quite a while!

I'll post my beading patterns once I get them scanned, but my computer doesn't accept the scanner we have either! (Time for a different computer...??)

Update: 5-2-08

I finished the muslin mock-up for the front inset of the bodice and skirt 5-1-08 and got my moire cut out and sewn together today. I then dyed it with my Dylon "sunflower" dye. The dye took well, but the process of prewashing the fabric (a cotton/acetate blend) somehow washed out most of the moire pattern!! So, I'm back to square one and need to find a new moire taffeta that will work better. 1 step forward and 2 back...but I'm not giving up!

Update: 5-13-08

I was able to find a place online that had a Bengaline moire taffeta, in Goldenrod that was the perfect color for this gown. I purchased 1½ yards and it came on Saturday May 10th. I cut out several swatches from extra fabric and tested washing it before I cut out my pattern pieces. Every test I did: machine wash/machine dry; hand wash/line dry; iron first then hand wash/line dry seemed to wash away at least part of the moire pattern. Apparently, this fabric can be washed, but at the cost of the "watermark" moire pattern. So, I am making sure to handle this fabric carefully and keep it out of my children's reach so that I won't have to wash it!

On Sunday May 11th, my mother's day treat to myself was to work on this instead of dishes! So, I got the pattern pieces laid out and cut. I cut out pre-washed and dyed muslin to use as interfacing (I thought it would hold up better with the beading) and got everything sewn together to the point I need it to be so I can start beading. Then, I got the first set of beads sewn to the bottom edge of the bodice inset! It will take me a long time to bead, but I'm not in a hurry so it works out perfectly.

Update: 5-15-08

I was able to take some pictures of my bodice insert with my beading progress. I started with the "V" shaped lines of beads and am working my way up from the bottom edge of the bodice insert to the chest and neck. I've already blocked out where the basic shapes of the chest beading and the Vs will be using yellow thread and large basting stitches (you can just make them out in the photos). I am using blue thread and a thin beading needle to bead with, making sure to double stitch every other set of beads to reinforce.

In this picture, you can see the collar. I haven't sewn the second layer onto the collar yet, to make beading it easier. When I am finished beading it, I will sew the second layer on, to encase the stitches on the inside, so they won't scratch my neck. If you look closely, you can see the hand-basted stitches to block out the basic shape of the bead design.

Here's a closer view of my beading. So far, I have made it to the 2nd "V", there are 3 on the bodice.

After this, I plan to put my updates in a new post, as this post is getting rather long. I'll be sure to put links to my updates here.

Update 6-2-08: Here