Miscellaneous, Sewing Projects

Once Upon a Time Costume Replicas

I’m afraid I’m long overdue in updating this blog; there’s been so many changes in my life lately and it’s been a challenge finding time to sit down and actually post! Back in August I resigned from my 9-5 office job with the intent of pursuing my costume design career while also offering princess parties and appearances.. and then along came Sephora. Many years ago I freelanced as a makeup artist (and continue to do so when possible) and had an opportunity to join as a seasonal cast member, so I figured why not? I had the intent of balancing both sewing and makeup, but as often happens with life plans reality came along and pretty much laughed in my face. I had no idea just how busy the holiday season can be for a store like that and now that I’ve experienced it I realize that trying to pull off both had landed me in the same boat as I was in while at the office; trying to balance a regular job, freelance job, and still having some semblance of a life.

With that said I’ve loved the ~3 months I’ve spent at Sephora; it was a great opportunity to work with some lovely people and learn new things. It’ll all be coming to an end shortly, and in preparation for that I’m in the process of getting back to all things costume related including party appearances as Elsa. I’ve re-opened the Etsy shop, updated social media accounts and am now working on the blog!

The project I’ve most been waiting to post about is my masquerade group from this year that I mentioned a few months ago. We ended up with 7 total characters from Once Upon a Time: Killian Jones/Captain Hook, Emma Swan, Snow White, Prince Charming, Queen Regina, Queen Cora and Belle. It took 7 weeks of insanity (while balancing Sephora and trying to sew!) with plenty of bedazzling assistance from J & D, but together we pulled it off. In the interest of not writing 7 individual posts I’m just going to include some photos and explain a bit about each costume; should anyone be intending on replicating these feel free to ask for further detail and I’d be happy to explain.

Killian Jones was my best fabric find; after some serious online research I tracked down one of the fabric sources that Once Upon a Time uses and managed to acquire the exact same fabric (even the exact same bolt it came from) that the show used for Killian’s jacket from S03E22, Snow Drifts/There’s No Place Like Home. It’s a gorgeous embossed silk and was surprisingly easy to work with, just a challenge to press and steam without wrecking the pattern! My lovely husband was pleased to wear this outfit. The jacket was lined with a soft taupe cotton and French microtwill black facing and accents, with black grosgrain ribbon and more buttons than I ever again want to buy from Fabricland. I also whipped up a bright white sateen cotton shirt and coordinating French microtwill black vest as well; because I am determined, the vest itself was made entirely the morning of the masquerade. I am so beyond proud of his ensemble, the jacket is a particular point of pride for me partly due to fabric source and partly due to how it looks on the husband!


Since he’s in the above photo as well, we also had Prince Charming. I’m responsible for his shirt and tunic, the pants and boots were his own (and he insisted on cowboy boots to make it more ‘him’). His shirt was the same as Killian Jones’, but in a soft ivory cotton instead. The collar was a particular pain in the butt, as Charming’s is quite frayed. I sat with it for hours with a pin gradually unraveling the edges to keep it frayed without letting it fall apart. The tunic is a beautiful black faux leather with a natural grain, lined in red Kona cotton and trimmed with chocolate brown microsuede. The real tunic has perforated leather sleeves, which was a fabric I couldn’t find, so we went with a diamond quilted pattern instead.

DSC2689The boys’ costumes were actually the easiest ones to put together, the ladies are the ones with all the insane amounts of detail. Regina nearly killed me; K chose her dress from S03E02, Lost Girl, and of course it was plastered in rhinestones, hand painted lace and feathers. I found the original fabric for this one as well, but at $30/yard with a 10 yard minimum order it was just way too pricey, especially when we only needed 7 yards. Instead I opted for a satin charmeuse that came in a black/fuschia print, which was then dyed piece by piece with iDye Poly in Crimson. There’s roughly 600 black rooster feathers and 2000+ rhinestones on this one (all individually attached), but it was a labour of love even though it took the longest. It’s two separate pieces, a big skirt with pockets and then the bodice, worn over a bum roll and a triple hoopskirt.

Photo courtesy of Morgan Turner PhotographyIn keeping with the evil queens we also had Cora, Regina’s mother. Our Cora was less of an exact replica and more of an ‘inspired by’ type of deal. It’s actually what prompted the whole group masquerade idea; husband’s and my original plan was Red Death Phantom of the Opera and Christine (her movie masquerade gown) but the fabric I ordered did not look anything like it had on the website. In the hopes of actually getting some use out of it I suggested J join us for the masquerade, which led to an interpretation of Cora’s wedding gown from S02E18, The Miller’s Daughter. This is a duochrome taffeta and tulle mix with beaded bridal lace and more rhinestones than I really want to count. Tulle is an awful skirt choice when done in single layer, by the way.. especially when you’ll be walking around outside, hence the uneven hem as this was towards the end of the night when it got caught on stuff. The top is a proper steel boned corset (also worn over a much heavier steel undergarment corset) and the skirt is a gathered poofy concoction worn over a triple hoopskirt, also with pockets. I really like ballgowns with pockets. Our Cora is also best friend J who is usually behind the scenes manning my Nikon to take photos of Elsa and Anna!

Photo courtesy of Morgan Turner PhotographyAnd now the non-evil ladies! Belle was the original OUAT take on Belle’s classic yellow gown, the one she was seen in through seasons 1-3. My version was done with yellow satin and dyed brown satin, as well as brown beaded and heavily rhinestoned lace. The top was a proper steel boned corset as well, with the pleated skirt and pockets. Worn over a single hoop skirt and a small bum roll. Unfortunately Belle’s gown best shows how much my garment steamer failed me the day of the masquerade; while I’d pressed my seams during construction I didn’t iron the entire thing in the process as I’d planned to put the men to work steaming while us ladies handled the makeup and hair. Sadly the Rowenta upright steamer I’d purchased just for this occasion decided to spit water instead, and of course I was informed of this when I was in the process of dressing everyone and it was too late to bust out the ironing board. Therefore, please pardon the creases in the fabric. 😦

Snow White is the purple gown she’s most often pictured in (the one worn to Cinderella’s ball) from S01E04, The Price of Gold. It’s a beautiful lilac shantung two piece (sensing a theme here?) with a proper steel boned corset as the bodice, covered in hand painted lace and plenty of rhinestones. The skirt was pleated and also had pockets, and was worn with a bum roll over a triple hoopskirt. She didn’t take a single photo, but I do have one of her with Charming!

DSC2678And last but not least, my own gown. This is Emma Swan’s fairytale princess dress from S03E21 & S03E22, Snow Drifts/There’s No Place Like Home. I hate to point this out, but in the rush to get everyone laced into their dresses and to the masquerade I forgot to throw my bum roll over my petticoat, so I won’t be posting photos of me standing. I do, however, have a lovely photo that one of the photographers suggested that is my favourite! My dress was 10 yards of satin, with a steel boned bodice worn over a fully steel boned undergarment corset, and a massive pleated skirt with pockets over a triple hoopskirt (and designed for the bum roll I forgot to put on!). The original dress from the show had  bit of embellishment along the neckline but that was it; as anyone reading this blog knows I’m a huge fan of all things sparkly so of course I had to add more. The lace around the neckline was rhinestoned, but the hem is where it really stood out. It’s 9.7 yards around, and had scalloped lace sewn on the whole way. I then hand beaded that lace with Swarovski bicone beads and seed beads, and attached quite a few clear Swarovski crystals along with an insane amount of red crystals.


All 7 of these costumes were a TON of work, but they were an absolute pleasure to do and one hell of an experience. We had a lovely night at the masquerade, and we all looked amazing! Hopefully we’ll be able to visit the mainland in the spring to do a photoshoot in Steveston, where Once Upon a Time films their Storybrooke scenes.


Costuming, Disney Princess Series

Cinderella – Disney Princess Series Part 2 (With bonus Prince Charming!)

Belle was such a huge hit at my last two volunteer events that I decided to make more Disney Princess dresses. I thought it would be loads of fun for volunteering, and I can also branch out into birthday parties once I have the full line up. I spent hours poring over fabric websites and ordered fabric for both Cinderella and Jasmine, and then spent a weekend in Vancouver where I got to FINALLY visit Dressew. I ended up coming home with fabric for Ariel (mermaid version as I’ve already started her pink dinner gown), Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Rapunzel, and some amazing fabric to make a cloak for Merida. I lucked into the perfect fabric for her at Fabricland, and the dress is already finished. Just waiting for the wig to arrive so I can post about it! 

I also recently upgraded my sewing machine from an almost 10 year old Janome CT2480LX to a Husqvarna Viking Tribute 140C. This new machine is beyond incredbile, and Cinderella is my first major completed gown that I’ve made with it.

The design for this dress was a combination of a few different incarnations. I kept the original light blue and white from the animated movie, took the longer overskirt of the recent princess re-design, and the sleeves from the Disney Parks new costume.

My fabric arrived on June 28th, and I finished the dress on the morning of July 6th. 

I started by drafting a corset pattern that was a combination of a few different corset styles I’ve used before. I hadn’t decided if I wanted to have straps for the poof sleeves or just the organza like on the recent re-design of Cinderella, so I drafted with straps just in case. 

Pardon the duct tape arms; I’ve needed arms on the dress form for a few recent projects but finding ones that will fit mine is nearly impossible. Husband and I used some duct tape and an old shirt of mine to make arms that would make things much easier.

The lining is two layers of cotton broadcloth, one white and one blue. The boning channels are made with extra wide bias tape, as I use thick cable ties for boning. The two seams on either side of the center are boned with spiral steel, and bra cups were added.

Once I’d sewn the charmeuse for the outside of the corset, I knew I wanted to embellish it. I just had to decide how. I pinned a strand of beads on the center seam to see how it looked, and after hand beading the center seam I decided to do the two on either side as well.

Here I’d sewn together the skirt panels; there are 5 for a total hem width of about 6.5 metres. The waistband was gathered and pinned onto the lining so I could figure out how I wanted the white skirt poofs to sit.

At this point I stopped taking photos; I was incredibly pressed for time and got caught up in my work. I finished all the major sewing on the dress by 2am on July 6th, and when I woke up I finished the last few hand-sewing things. That was sewing the lining of the corset into the waist of the skirt, and adding hooks and eyes above the skirt zipper and at the back of the hip poofs.

The white overskirt was two ovals cut on a fold, and one layer of organza on top of it. I kept them folded but with the right side out, and basted across the curved side. I then hand gathered the curved side and stitched it into the seam of the blue skirt, which left the straight edge as the one along the bottom. It added a bit of extra volume this way and it looked lovely.

The back of the corset is laced with grommets. I usually do loops and lacing like on a wedding gown but with the time crunch, grommets would be faster. I’m not entirely happy with the cord I used as it’s slippery, but it was the only one in the right colour that I could get on short notice. I’ll be getting different cord later. Once the grommets were in all I had to do was stitch the corset and skirt together, and then hem. I put my shoes on and had best friend K check the various lengths, and then put the dress back on the dress form to trim the skirt, serge it and blind stitch it with the machine.

It turned out absolutely amazing, and I am so thrilled with it! I conveniently already had a blonde wig with bangs that I wasn’t using, so it was fairly easy to style it into an up-do and pin it to my own hair beneath the wig for stability. The gloves were purchased, the choker is black velvet ribbon with a snap, and the headband was purchased white and covered with the blue charmeuse. 

Husband was coming with me to volunteer on Saturday, and while he already had the white jacket from his last deployment, it needed some accessorizing. I picked up some dark gold satin, fringe and braided cord and turned it into shoulderboards and braids. It took about an hour and I did it just before we left on Saturday. 

Without further waiting, the pictures!