The next dress to reach the chopping block was a blue sequinned tulle ballgown Prom dress that I picked up at a thrift store in the Halloween section. The top layer of tulle had a few rips in it, which is probably what accounted for the low price. However, there often seems to be no rhyme or reason for why things are priced the way they are, so, who knows?
The dress is between the sizes of my dress form, and my phone camera was acting up that day (I have ordered a new one . . .killed me since the phone part works just fine and it is the camera focus that has worn out, but, I finally caved). So, I apologize in advance that the pictures are not the best in this post, but, you will get the idea.
This project was done with no clear end vision in mind. I picked this dress to do because it is huge, heavy and was taking up a ton of space on my rack. Getting it done means I can take it to school and free up some space. Unfortunately, I didn’t have anything that really matched with it, so I just decided to start and see what happened.
This is the original dress:
The first thing I did was carefully cut the top layer of tulle off. I love the sequins, but they scream “Prom Dress” to me. The dress looked amazingly different with just this small change:
Early on in the idea process, I had decided that a certain amount of bling would be OK for these dresses. So many Prom, wedding and other formal dresses are dripping with glitter and jewels, and to try and eliminate it completely would be almost impossible. That isn’t to say I might not try to tone it down, or reshape it into a less modern look, but, glitter is good. And, after all, this IS a Fairytale, and what is more magical than a sparkly Ball?
That thought aside . . . what about an underskirt? I dug around and found an old dance outfit with wide silver legs. The fabric on its own is a bit much, however, I had a dress donated that has a sequin skirt that is covered with two layers of soft mesh tulle. I was amazed at how the layers of tulle dissipate the modern and somewhat harsh look of the sequins, yet still allowed the glitter to shine through. I decided to try something similar. This is a single pant leg pinned to the dress to check out the idea.
I thought it would work. I cut the pants off the top, and then opened them along the inseam. Then I did some cutting and splicing.
I reinforced the top with some bias tape:
And attached the “underskirt”.
I pulled the original skirt straight and pinned the underskirt to it in about four places and tacked it down just a little bit in those spots.
On to the sleeves: I thought about making silver sleeves, but that seemed a bit much. I decided to try and use the discarded tulle/sequin layer. I used twill tape for the base of the straps.
I covered the pieces with the remaining scraps from the dance outfit. I roughly measured the sleeve opening to begin the process.
I was having a bit of trouble coming up with a plan since I don’t have any fake arms, so my daughter obligingly played dress form for me.
We manipulated the tulle until we came up with a look we both liked. She is a good litmus test of teenage approval 🙂
I divided the skirt piece in half, and then cut off the ripped part, and adjusted the second one to match. I ran a gathering thread along the edge with the sparkles. The tulle is then poofed a bit, and pulled to the back, and tacked to the shoulder straps. The straps will be secured after a fitting is done. I opted to leave the corset-back in place. For this particular show, I believe there will be adequate time for the chorus members to change clothes without the corset closure being a time issue.
The tulle is sewn on to the far side of the strap to the strap is covered by the tulle. Again, this helps to tone down the shine. It is topstitched so that it doesn’t itch. Sewing on this confetti dot sequin stuff is a pain. If possible, try to avoid sewing the dots, and if you have to, watch your needle for build up of goo, otherwise your thread will break at inopportune times and/or you will start skipping stitches. If anyone has any tips for working with this miserable fabric, I’d love to hear them.
The finished dress:
(The dress is supported by the hanging loops in the back for display purposes.) We just opted to let the rest of the tulle hang down the back for a little touch of “drama”.
Overall I am happy with this dress. My daughter thinks it looks like a fancy version of a “Belle” dress.
Time: about 2.5 hours
Cost: Dress $10, dance outfit–donated, twill tape
8 thoughts on ““The Prince is Giving A Ball”: Dress #2 (Blue tulle)”
Alcohol on a cotton ball. Keep stopping and wiping down the needle. If the sequin fabric is colder the glue sticks a little less. I had better luck using my serger on this stuff. I don’t know why. I have made hundreds of dance costumes over the year and between price and bang for your buck it is worth the aggravation. I am loving the work on Cinderella.
Thanks for the tips. I will try the alcohol! It is great for the bling. We used some that had larger squares on it for the Beauty & the Beast costumes a few years back, and that glue has not held up at all and the squares are now flaking off all over. Not happy with that.
I just wish we had more second hand shops here! Only one Goodwill and the prices aren’t that good. I am doing better on Ebay for my Footloose adults since many sellers seem to be doing free shipping.
It is also too bad we don’t live near each other. I have so many crinolines that I have cut out of wedding gowns waiting to be turned into crinolines for gowns by adding an elastic waist. Most of my sewing is turning wedding gowns into Christening gowns and the first thing I do is cut out all the crinoline and being a sewer I can’t seem to get myself to throw them out. I would just pass them on to you. That and boning. I throw out more boning. I love the last two gowns that you did. Nancy
Thanks! I am glad you liked the dresses. Do you make the Angel gowns for NICU’s? Or are the Christening gowns for individuals? I can’t throw out crinolines either! I don’t have that many. Just have to save all that good stuff, lol. I need to get some made into practice petticoats for the dancers. A number of the thrift stores I shop at have really raised the prices of their formal gowns in the past 6 months. I am fortunate to have quite a few I can go to, and any number are on the way to other places so I can pop in just to check stuff out (of course, that is dangerous!)
I have done one or two but I am really not a fan of the wedding gowns into angel gowns. Silly I know, but the fabric is so not suited for a tiny tiny baby. What I do is mostly wedding gowns turned in to Christening gowns for babies or twins. It started out because someone knew I could sew because of the costume work and asked me to do it for her and it snowballed since then. Now I have a shop on Etsy and have more work than I could ever accept. Making Christening gowns isn’t all that removed from costume making and more like what you do than the from scratch stuff I did for most of my years. It is taking the fabric and having it echo the original gown but yet stand on its own. Well Blessed Baby is my Etsy shop and I have a Pinterest page with pictures of lots of the gowns with the same name. It is something you would probably be very, very good at doing at some point down the road. You have such a good vision for what can be possible.
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Oh my gosh! Your gowns are gorgeous! Thanks for sharing your shop. Those are AMAZING. I just did a brief look, but I will definitely be going back to admire some more. You really have a talent. I’ve been playing around with opening an Etsy shop for some costume-y stuff once I am “done” with the the majority of the volunteer stuff I have done with school. I may contact you to pick your brain in the future! Thanks again for sharing.
That is when I opened mine. I control what jobs I accept and I can put the shop on vacation when I need to take a break for vacations or family things. Then my daughter was made music director for her school and the costuming started again and now she is both the MD and the Director so costuming is continuing. Definitely pick my brain any time you want.
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