“The Prince is Giving A Ball” Beige Tulle Halter-top dress

This next dress is  another one I found on a Buy/Sell/Trade site.  The Dad selling them told me that his daughter is 27, so I guess this dress is between 9-11 years old.  It is a beige tulle halter top ball-gown style dress.  It has a lot of very nice beading and sequins on the bodice and on the skirt.


original front

It also has a VERY deep neckline with a sheer modesty panel.  The underskirt is also very full with lots of petticoat net.  I am showing it over a hoop.  The back has a short zipper and a half corset back.  It does not have a modesty panel for under the corset section.

I have been removing petticoat net from under these dresses for several reasons.  The first is that we have about 40 girls in the show.  There is only so much room onstage and so the dresses can’t be too massive.  The second is that when we trialed having cast members dance in the Cinderella waltz wearing dresses and hoops, the volume of the dresses was intimidating.   Initially I was cutting the entire inner lining out (and I will make some of these into practice dance skirts), but, as time has gone on, I have changed to cutting the petticoat net off the lining.

This dress had massive amounts of petticoat net.  This picture shows the full volume.  And, remember that this dress had been squished in a cleaning bag, so, given some time it would grow even more.

huge built in petticoat

The dress also had a lining of petticoat net under the tulle layers.  You can see it folded up.  You can also see how full the underskirt is.  Often the underskirt is a place the manufacturer can cut some costs, and so it is nicely flared, but not as full as this one is.

top fully lined with petticoat net; very full underskirt

My pile of leftovers:

massive quantity of petticoat net

I don’t have a single method for deciding which layers of net to cut out.  I sort of look at it, look to see where the fullness is, and take out one row at a time.  Then I will look at it with the skirt down and decide if more needs to come out or not.  Here is my “trimmed” dress.  Another advantage to cutting out a lot of the underskirt is that the dress is lighter, AND, it takes up a lot less space on the hanging rack, which is a consideration not only for dressing room space, but also for storage of these dresses after the show.  Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the original massiveness and it would be great fun to fill the stage with that over-the-topness, but, I think this is better.

front after net is trimmed

This dress has sequins on the top layer of tulle.  In the initial upcycle I did of a tulle Prom dress I cut that top layer off as I thought it would be too “modern”.  When I had the girls trial dresses on stage, from the distance, the impression I got from the bling was enhancement of the Fairytal look, and not glaring modernness.  That changed my thoughts somewhat on the whole sequinned skirt issue.

The first thing I needed to address was the halter neck line.  I changed the straps to just going over the shoulders, and that seemed like it would work.  I cut some length off the corset tie and used that to lengthen the straps.  The next step was to consider sleeves.

I found this 40″ round gold thing.  I cut it in half, and planned to use each half for a sleeve.  I considered putting elastic around the bottom, but, due to the shape of the arm opening, and to reflect the drapey sleeves I had used on a previous costume, I opted to gather the piece along the top straight edge, and add some lace to the curved edge and make a loose “sleeve”.

40" round cloth for sleeves

Lace trim:

gold lace edging

“Sleeve” pinned in place:

shoulder pinned

Careful, slow stitching over the beads:

stitching the shoulder

One of my favorite tools that I keep by my sewing machine is a set of hemostats (or forceps, depending upon your source).  I use these for pulling pins out when I can’t reach them with my fingers.  I also use them for grabbing elastic if it sneaks down a casing, holding elastic in place until I can get it stitched down, and a variety of other things.  The nurse in me LOVES hemostats for all manner of tasks.

hemostats to pull pins

Next up was the modesty panel.  It was very sheer, which didn’t quite suit my purpose.  However, it did work well as a base.  I stitched on some gold metallic ribbon on the lower section.  Then I stacked white lace with gold trim (supported by a scrap of petticoat net) on top.  Some of the original snaps are still in place, and then I am securing the top with small safety pins.

embellished modesty panel


And here is the finished dress:

This dress ended up going together much easier than I thought it would.  I had some reservations about the halter top.  Prior to beginning I had been trying to figure out how to make a bodice, and how to cut the beading and where.  I may end up backing the white lace insert with the darker metallic ribbon, but I will wait and see how it looks onstage, and if it even is noticeable.  It may need a few small tucks on the sides of the bust if it bows out a little too much, but I am not going to worry about that until I actually see it on the cast member.

Cost:  dress $20, gold circle:  50 cents, lace & ribbon donated.

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