Thursday, May 22, 2008

Steel Blue Nightgown

Padme's Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith (Episode 3) Steel Blue Silk Nightgown, also known as the Sleepless Nights gown.

I made this gown in January & February of 2006 when I was expecting my daughter, due in June. There was a large Rebel Legion/501st event in Columbus, Ohio to premiere a Star Wars exhibit and I very much wanted to be a part of it. The issue I had was with the two Star Wars costumes I had: a Jedi, and Beru Whitesun. Jedi do not marry and therefore wouldn't be pregnant and Beru I'm assuming couldn't have children since Luke was the only child she ended up raising with her husband Owen...aside from the fact that my costume of Beru was from before the two were married. No possibility of hiding an 8-month belly in either of those costumes! The only obviously pregnant Star Wars character is Padme from Episode 3. Therefore, I knew I had to create one of Padme's Episode 3 gowns if I would be able to participate in this event.

As has become my ritual, I turned to Padawan's Guide for advice, tips, pictures, everything I needed to help me make an Episode 3 gown. I didn't want to have to worry about something that was very elaborate because I had until mid-February to submit my costume for Rebel Legion approval since this was a canon formal event, sanctioned by Lucasfilm. This meant that everything had to be top of the line, best of the best. Everyone participating in this event had to have their costumes approved by a separate committee as well as the Rebel Legion. I decided that for simplicity's sake, I should choose something that utilized one of the blessings God has given me: my naturally curly hair. That meant that I should choose one of a few gowns where Padme wears her hair down in curls rather than up in an elaborate "do". I narrowed my choices down to two gowns (both of which were technically nightgowns). I eventually ended up choosing the Steel Blue Nightgown and set to work.

Here is my finished gown:

I have had several ladies curious as to how I did things, so I decided to put together a little "how to" about my gown.

The original gown had several panels that were attached to each other with an heirloom stitch. To keep the actress (Natalie Portman) from showing through the gaps between the panels, the gown was lined with a peach flesh fabric. There were a few "off the shelf" patterns that ladies had used to help them create this gown, but none of them suited me. None of the patterns had the panels like the original construction of the gown. So, I created my own pattern, creating panels that I would attach with heirloom stitches.

Once I had the pattern figured out, I cut out my fabric, and zig zagged the edges to prevent fraying. Then ironed the edges of the panels under about 1/4". Then, I would sit and stitch while my son napped or at night while I watched T.V. I used DMC thread to work the heirloom stitches. After I had all of the panels connected via the heirloom stitches, I sewed in the invisible zipper and adjusted the length. Then, I attached the straps and lined the gown with peach fabric. The peach fabric on my gown is only attached at the very top, the rest of it is allowed to flow freely under the blue gown.

When I first wore this gown for an event, of course, I was 8 months pregnant and did not have to fake the baby bump. However, since then I have needed to come up with something. I created a shaped "pillow" with tie-strings that tie at my side. I cover it with a spandex "thing" that is meant to suck everything in and give you a smooth appearance. The spandex helps to smooth the pillow and hold the stuffing together instead of being lumpy. It also gives a uniform look and fakes the appearance of a baby belly quite well.
Based on a description found on Padawan's guide, the Steel Blue Nightgown had a built in bra to which two of the gown's straps were attached in a criss-cross in the back. I purchased a cheap bra on clearance for $2 but I didn't sew it into the gown. I was able to find a bra that had removable straps, so I purchased swimsuit hooks from JoAnn's and used those to attach the gown's straps to my bra.

I attached the broach with snaps so that it could be removed to wash the gown without ruining the broach or the pearls (the pearls are attached to the broach in the front and with hooks in the back).

In the back of the gown, I followed the description and rough diagram found on Padawan's guide. In the picture, you can see the criss-crossing bra straps and the spot where my beads attach to the back of the dress "framework" with hooks (I used necklace clasps). The center fabric strap between the pearls is sewn on one end and attaches with hooks & eyes on the other end.
The waterfall drape in the back attaches to the band at the back of the neck with two snaps and two hooks & eyes.
Where the waterfall drape meets in the back in 3 places, I hand sewed a few stitches to keep everything where it should be. I made the waterfall drape decorations on clip-on earrings and used the natural "hook" of the earring, to hang the decoration onto the drape, right where I had hand-stitched it together.
I made the tiara out of Sculpey and painted it silver. Before baking the sculpy, I carved a Celtic design into the clay and pushed hook & eye eyes into the bottoms to help secure the tiara to my hair.

I printed out a life-sized picture of the broach and used it as a pattern to create my broach out of Sculpey. After the clay was baked, I sewed & glued in the pearls and then backed it with blue fabric, similar to the movie version. I attached cardboard with snaps that correlate to the snaps on the gown onto the back of the broach and I attached the pearls to the cardboard.

I created the japor snippet from Sculpey as well and then painted it to give it a weathered look.

If you have any other questions, feel free to email me.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


For her 2nd birthday party, I am making my daughter a Cinderella gown. The theme of her party is going to guessed it: Cinderella!I'm using some satin fabric my Mom gave me from my aunt. I guess my aunt was going to make a dress for my cousin years ago but for one reason or another it never got made. There were about 6½ yards of beautiful blue/aqua satin fabric and several yards of matching blue/aqua lace with scalloped edges.

Our daughter is going to be so cute in this little dress! I can't wait to have it done and put her in it for her birthday party in June. I am using Simplicty 4949 for the pattern:

Though, to make it more like the movie dress, I am leaving off the yoke & collar and the lace at the hem. I am making the sleeves and peplums out of the matching blue/aqua lace, for a cute girly effect even though those dress elements weren't made of lace in the movie version.

Update 6-2-08:

I worked on Anna's Cinderella gown last week for a couple of days. I have it finished except for the zipper, which I haven't purchased yet. Here it is, without the zipper.

I'm sure it will look better when it is being worn. I haven't tried it on her yet, because it still doesn't have the zipper. I made the size 2 for her.

See the dress on our daughter here


Who ya gonna call...?

Yeah, I know, between the commissions I have on my list and the Senator Amidala costume I'm working on, the last thing I need is another costume let alone set of costumes to make, right?!

Well, every year my husband & I, sister & brother-in-law, and brother & sister-in-law all have a Halloween party. My husband & I were watching Ghostbusters the other day and it made me think how cool it would be if my husband, brother, and brother-in-law were Ghostbusters for the party!

Left to right: Ray (my husband), Egon (my brother), and Peter (my brother-in-law)

(Many thanks to Ghostbusters Fans for the images)

To go along with the men dressed as Ghostbusters, my sister will be Dana, my sister-in-law will probably be Janine the secretary, and I will be a lady ghost similar to this:
Our kids (10 in all come Halloween time) will all be ghosts. My husband & I have two kids, a boy (3 yrs) and a girl (2 yrs by Halloween).

Someone on Ghostbusters Fans community board had posted a link to a place that sells coveralls very similar to the ones used in the movie at a great price: Army Surplus My brother found a place on eBay that sells A.L.I.C.E. frames that were used to secure the proton packs to the backs of the Ghostbusters. While we wait for the coveralls and frames to come, my brother has been working on figuring out the details for the proton packs.

I am turning my focus on figuring out how to create a lady ghost and cute child ghost costumes. I have a large piece of satin blue/aqua fabric my mom had given me that my aunt didn't want. I am going to use it to make a Cinderella gown for my daughter's birthday party but I still have about 5 yards left. So, I began thinking about how I could use it as the under gown for my lady ghost costume. Yet, all the while, the Star Wars costuming freak in me kept nagging at the back of my head how wonderful it would be as the undergown to Padme's Episode 3 "Aqua Georgette" gown.

Now, the wheels in my head are spinning wondering how I can make both! I am wondering if I make the basic form for the Padme gown and then make a sheer white jacket or overdress that would go over the gown, probably with jagged hems to look more ghostlike. That way, after Halloween, I can remove the sheer overdress/jacket, add the arm gauntlets, headband, and back waterfall drape and I'll be Padme. I know I'd get more use out of the gown if it was a Padme gown, but our budget is pretty tight...making just the lady ghost would be easier and cheaper. But, how many times would I use it???

*Goes off to ponder some more*

Update: 6-4-08

I've contemplated this some more, and come to the conclusion that a duel purpose gown would be awesome, as well as more practical use-wise, so I have set about making the Padme gown with the idea of adding a tulle overgown sort of thing to it to make it a lady ghost. JoAnn's had a sale for Memorial day and their tulle was 50 cents a yard plus 10% off of that, so I got my tulle then! I was also able to find the perfect georgette fabric for the Padme aqua georgette gown at Field's fabric on sale, so now it is just a matter of getting the pattern figured out. I've started a pattern for the yoke out of paper and I've modified it several times. I think I may have finally tweeked my pattern to the final version now. I just need to try on the mock-up and see how it fits.

For my husband's Ghostbuster costume, the flightsuit came as well as the A.L.I.C.E. pack! My brother got the motherboard (i.e. the base) for the Proton Packs cut out yesterday, so we are well on our way!

This flightsuit will be the basis for my husband's Ray Stantz costume.

The A.L.I.C.E. frame (found used, on eBay, by my brother) will be the framework that holds the Proton Pack to my husband's back. It will need to have all the straps and kidney pad removed to be spray painted black and then the straps & pad can be reattached (after washing everything up really nice).

Now, back to work!

For an update to the Lady Ghost gown, see my posts: Lady Ghost and Aqua Georgette.