Current project: Belle & Prince Adam

Fabric order mixups are always fun. As I’d mentioned in my last post, the fabric pictured came from OnlineFabricStore.net. I was quite happy with the quality of fabric I received, as well as the shipping time. The rest of my order I was waiting for was from Fabric.com. I’d had a great experience with them previously when ordering fabric to re-make decorative pillows for my couch; the fabric arrived via UPS within two days of my order. This time it was sent USPS, and on May 15th the tracking said it had left the US and was en route to Canada. It never showed. I spoke to customer service on Tuesday and they immediately sent a replacement order, no questions asked. It arrived yesterday at my office via UPS, and was exactly what I needed. If the missing order ever arrives, I’m also allowed to keep that fabric. Nice! 

Since the rest of the fabric has now arrived and I’m making far more progress, I figured it was time to share what I’m working on now.

My earliest memory of seeing a film in theatres was Beauty & The Beast. I was 5, and I quickly became obsessed. When I say obsessed, I MEAN obsessed. My mother, the amazing woman she is, put up with and encouraged my obsession. Half my clothes had Belle’s face on them, I specifically remember a sweatshirt with her face across the body and matching sweatpants that were pink and covered with roses. If I asked my mother, I’m fairly sure she could find a picture of it somewhere. One of my earliest Halloween costumes was Belle’s yellow ballgown; it was store bought but my awesome mother did some crazy stuffing thing with the skirt to make it poofy, which none of the other girls had and made my dress that much more awesome. (Hush, I was 6 and skirt poofiness was a big deal!!) I think it was the year later, but awesome mother also made me a Mrs. Potts costume from an old wedding dress. I think she still has some of the fabric paint from it in a craft drawer somewhere, I vaguely remember seeing it while home for Christmas and I suspect she’s keeping it for sentimental value. There’s also a previous post on here showing the short version of Belle’s ballgown I made for Halloween a few years back. Basically, I love Belle and she’s my favourite Disney princess. 

As if imprinting on the movie when I was a child wasn’t enough, I was lucky enough to see the original Canadian production of the musical in Toronto. It opened in 1995, so I would’ve been about 7 when I saw it. Only 7 years old, and yet here I am 19 years later and I can still remember Be Our Guest and the Beast’s transformation at the end. I’ve seen several productions of the show since, and none met the high standard that the original had set. 

Three weeks ago, the touring cast of Beauty and the Beast came to Vancouver Island, and my incredible husband bought tickets back in February so I could see it again. We were only a few rows from the stage, and it was amazing. It’s the only production yet that’s come close to the original for me. I lucked into meeting their head carpenter on the sidewalk outside the theatre the day before the show, and after I went complete fangirl on her about my love for Beauty & the Beast, she agreed to give the husband and I a backstage tour after the show. This was even more exciting, as it meant I got to be up close and personal with the costumes. I told her that I was planning to make Belle & Prince Adam’s costumes in the near future (I ordered the fabric a few days after the show), so she was kind enough to show off the costumes and help me see the details. I wasn’t allowed to touch but she was, so I’d ask to see specific parts and she was great about it. After seeing how their costumes held up I was even more sold on my original fabric choices. Prince Adam’s tailcoat was velvet with loads of muticolour metallic embroidery and cording, and Belle’s yellow gown was a mix of metallic upholstery fabric and gathered organza. The velvet held up well through multiple productions, but the organza was taking a beating.. so I went with taffeta for mine. 

Darick Pead as Beast and Hilary Maiberger as Belle. 

I loved the look of her skirt, even if the organza was in rough shape. Husband and I spent ages going through photos of costumes for inspiration; everything from cosplay photos to various Broadway productions and a massive archive of photos from the Disney parks and all their versions. We both wanted something true to the original movie with a twist; not too ornate, but with just enough detail to stand out.

The slight twist in mine is the bottom of the skirt, as well as a corset back. Nearly every version I’ve seen of Belle’s dress has ended up with a straight hem at the bottom below the gathers. I’m leaving it curved, so it shows off the white ruffle underneath a lot better. Twist for Prince Adam is some minor changes to the tailcoat; rather than yellow lapels and trim we’re doing navy blue lapels with taffeta trim. 

I’m about halfway through my gown, and plan to finish it over the weekend now that the rest of my fabric is here. The Prince Adam costume should be fairly easy as I’ve picked up a tailcoat pattern that needs a few adjustments, already have a dress pant pattern and can make a vest pattern off one of hubby’s three piece suit vests.

The first thing I did for my costume was a rough styling of the wig. I used the same long brown one I had for the TARDIS gown, and bought a ponytail extender on eBay to make the bun. I also got a little bun donut thing like for making sock buns, and am using that for shape underneath the ponytail extender. The wig already had a side part so I just worked with that, but may switch it to the center part later. The yellow hairpiece is also just cut out of a fabric swatch, it’s not the one I’m actually wearing. Just wanted an idea of how it’d look and it’ll help to figure out size for making it later.

Amusingly enough, the ponytail extender from China arrived before anything else I’d ordered. I also ordered spiral steel boning and a hoopskirt from the US. I’m on a bit of a deadline with this project; husband and I are volunteering with the Vancouver Island Children’s Health Foundation to do costumed volunteering greeting kids. They asked if we could attend a fundraising event they’re holding on June 2, so to make sure that we could make it I decided to skip making the petticoat/hoopskirt and just bought one.

The fabric that just arrived yesterday was for the outer corset, skirt sash and sleeves (as well as the Prince Adam pants), so I had to start with the inside. The lining is a layer of yellow habutae and white broadcloth basted together and then sewn as one piece of fabric. Each seam is individually serged and pressed flat, and then yellow bias tape was added to create a channel for the spiral steel boning. The top of the corset is a bit higher than I plan to sew the seam, and will be serged off later. It’ll be more in line with where the bra cups are resting, I just wanted the extra fabric to work with while I’m attaching the sleeves later.

In the first night I worked on it, I did the entire corset lining with boning channels, spiral steel boning, and then skirt pattern drafting. Best friend K was over, so having the extra pair of hands to hold down my craft paper while drafting was incredibly helpful. She also helped hold the taffeta steady while I pinned and cut all the skirt panels. We got it all drafted and cut in one night, and I stayed up til 2:30am sewing the first three skirt panels together.

I was exhausted at this point, but thrilled with how it was coming along. Each seam is hand gathered and then machine stitched and serged to keep it in place. The end of the seam is a couple inches off the floor, so once I hem the whole thing the hoopskirt underneath will show a bit. I plan to add a big white ruffle to it so it looks more like a petticoat.

I spent the rest of the weekend finishing the skirt panels, and fell more in love with it as I worked.

These photos were taken with flash, hence the extra shiny. It also highlights how I haven’t steamed the fabric yet; there’s still folds in the middle of each skirt panel. It’ll happen, I just want to get everything put together first!

When the fabric arrived for the corset yesterday, I figured it was time to do something about gloves. I’ve spent the last week scouring southern Vancouver Island in the hopes of finding a pair of yellow elbow/opera gloves, but nothing. Fortunately one of the art stores downtown carries fabric dye that works on synthetic fabrics, so I grabbed a packet of that in yellow and some white ruched gloves from Claire’s. Removed the elastic that created the ruching and re-did the seam, and then dyed them. They came out wonderfully! In this photo they are still wet; they were dry this morning and match the taffeta wonderfully.

While these dried I started working on the outer corset. It’s taffeta and yellow broadcloth. It’s nearly the exact same shade of taffeta as the skirt, but it has a slightly different texture. It was just enough of a difference without being heavily contrasted. I’ve seen many Belle dresses where the darker bodice/skirt sash and much lighter sleeves/skirt has been done, and while it’s pretty it’s too different for me. Many of the Disney parks dresses are much closer shades of yellow, so I went with similar shade and different texture. I finished the outer corset last night, and hope to get the rest done over the weekend. 

Yes, I was watching The Emperor’s New Groove.

There’s still so much to finish, but I’m confident I can get it done in time. The organizer for the fundraiser agreed that Belle is more recognizable than Prince Adam, so I should get mine done first. Husband doesn’t mind, he wouldn’t want to be dressed as Prince Adam without Belle anyway. 

I still have loops & lacing to do for the back of the corset, an invisible zipper to put into the back of the skirt, hemming, the white ruffle on the petticoat, the sleeves (which will be taffeta with organza) and skirt sash.. and loads of buttons. Yep, buttons. I bought shiny gold buttons and will be covering them with taffeta so they match the skirt, and then sewing them onto where the sash will be held as well as the center of the corset. 

I know what I’ll be doing all weekend!

3 thoughts on “Current project: Belle & Prince Adam”

  1. I use some commercial patterns, draft some of my own and wing it with the rest. Sometimes I'll use leftover or scrap fabric to drape with first, it all depends on the project. Thank you!! 🙂

  2. may i ask which patterns you used for inspiration?Im trying to learn how to sew and I just like gathering stuff haha and hope one day I can make something thats not a pillow case 😀

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