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.