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Elaborate Belle Gown – Be a Beauty, Sew Like a Beast

My submission is my gold ballgown inspired by Disney’s 1991 film “Beauty and the Beast”

As a child I always identified with Belle because she was the first princess with brown hair and she loved to read like I do. Wearing her dress for me was reaching into her soul and embodying the adventure that she takes and the acceptance that she learns about someone different. So as an adult since I had never had the chance to wear the dress I decided to try my hand at making it.

This was a journey and labour of love. It took me four and a half years to actually complete since it was my first time ever drafting a pattern of my own (I’ve never properly learned how, I just plunged right in!) and I wasn’t sure if I wanted the dress in one or two pieces. I found my perfect colour for the skirt at a fabric shop, bought 15 metres of satin fabric just to be safe and then let it sit in a cupboard for a year before being ready to touch it. I then kept my eyes open for a slightly darker shade of the same type of material for the bodice and skirt swags finally finding it in Florida a year after the first.

Then it was construction time: I made the base skirt first of 8 panels, pleating up the sides to give the right look to the skirt. Then it got packed away, next time it was brought out was to try mock ups of the bodice which I made with spiral steel bones just like a corset. Many mock ups later and it was time to be packed away again. Then it was on and off working on finding the best design but being scared to actually cut the fabric. Finally in the spring of 2014 I decided to actually finish it, so I set to work, pulling two panels off my skirt because it was just too much fabric, struggling to make just the right shape for the skirt swags, pricking my fingers many times stitching together the bodice (there is actual blood sewn in there!) and finally going on the search for the gems I desired to finish off the look. Well, I ended up having to make my own buttons, but it ended up perfectly! I am still astonished just how much of a princess I feel like wearing this dress.

I have worn this dress for two Halloweens now, and each time I have been treated like a fairy tale princess. It’s almost as though the skirt itself in a time machine as it transports not only me back in to another time, a place normally accessed through the imagination – but others too. The joy that I feel is un-bounding, but the best part is seeing the smiles on other people’s faces when they see how much I am enjoying every minute of being ‘Belle’.

Elaborate Belle Gown - Be a Beauty, Sew Like a Beast

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