The musical of “Cinderella” (Broadway version) ends with a grand wedding. The Broadway production has a wonderful finale full of pomp & circumstance, and the entire cast is dressed in their wedding finest. These costumes are in shades of whites & soft neutrals.
Obviously, we have neither the funds, the time nor the logistics to change the entire cast of 60 into wedding wear, but, my Director wanted the main characters, and a small select group of singers to present the wedding “look” either as guests or attendants. The rest of the cast will then fill in as attending Villagers and the show will come to a joyous close.
So . . . wedding wear. It is relatively easy to find wedding gowns at reasonably low prices. You DO have to know your thrift stores. We have some in our area that routinely price all of their weddings gowns in the close to $100 and up range. You can often find them in the $40-50 range at others, and then, I have picked them up for $5-10. It is really hard to pass up a massive dress, full of quality fabric, beading and trim when it is that cheap. Unfortunately, they are kind of big. And kind of white. And polyester. But they are so PRETTY!
Our Ella is wearing a 1980’s wedding gown that actually belonged to her mother. It is white but not BRIGHT white. It is full, but not excessively so. I want the other cast members to have fun costumes, but, I want them to all mesh together.
So, the problem was, I wanted to to utilize wedding dresses to create some of these costumes, but, I didn’t want them to look like wedding dresses. This has been a harder task than I thought. There is something about wedding dresses that just screams “WEDDING DRESS”, especially if they are bright white. I did have success tea staining this dress, but I was highly unsuccessful attempting to dye another on with various things that (typically) stain. One of my volunteers was also unsuccessful dying some fabric even using polyester dye, and boiling it. Therefore, I was hesitant to try anything that would require dying, especially as I am short on time. With my options limited, I decided to focus on off-white dresses, and avoid anything too embellished (aka 1980’s dresses).
The dress that I am writing about today was about a 2 hour project. Since these dresses will be worn a VERY short period of time, I am not willing to invest too much time and effort into them. I am also making them much simpler than the ball gowns, and not using the bum-pad silhouette. This IS Fairytale land, so I can make up my own fashion trends.
This dress started with a 1970’s wedding dress that looked very similar to this:
This dress was donated (and there is a lovely story behind it, so my volunteers really wanted to use it). One of the volunteers removed the sleeves and most of the sheer overskirt to make a flowy cape for the Fairy Godmother to wear with her white dress for the wedding. The volunteer sent the dress carcass back to me.
The night I was doing this I began with this dress:
This dress was a very heavy matte satin. It had a scoop back neck, an A-line skirt that was moderately gored, and a mock-button closure in the back. I was digging around in my pile of lace curtains and tablecloths and came upon the dress carcass.
Using a pinking shears, I trimmed around the outer edge of all the embellishments. I pinned them on securely, and machine stitched it in place. This dress had quite a full skirt with a train. I split the back down part way to accommodate the underdress. I liked the yellowing of the lace appliques and pearls.
I messed around with the skirt, and considered slitting it up the front. In the end I pulled the front underneath the two hanging appliques. I then pulled it up on the sides on the back until I was happy with the draping and look. I stitched these pull-ups in place. I edged the bottom of the skirt with a narrow gold cord.
I wanted the dress to have a little more gold to reflect the cord, and so I utilized a curtain panel. I used about half of it for an underskirt, and cut sleeves from the other half. I used the rod casing to make bands for the puff sleeves. I added a bit of gold cord to the neckline.
And the dress was done:
I didn’t do quite as good a job centering the appliques as I could have–this was a rush job.
I do like how the dress turned out. I feel like you could enjoy a trip on the “Titanic”. It would make a good Ancestor costume for “Addams Family”. I could also see it in “Music Man”, and with a little black added could probably pull off a trip to the “Ascot” race. Pulling the skirt up in two spots on the front changed the look quite a bit. I did play around with putting a pad of petticoat net under the drapes in the back, and it looks quite nice–gives it more of a bustle appearance. I can also pull the center drape up to the level of the waist to eliminate the train, and, again, give it a different feel.
The dress needs a good steam. The lining (now the overskirt) is pretty wrinkled from being washed.
The cast member who is wearing this dress was absolutely thrilled. It was fun because she was touched a the story of how the wedding dress came to be donated, and enjoyed finding out she was wearing (basically) leftover trash and a curtain.
Cost: $6 for the base dress, 50 cents for the curtain, wedding dress: donated
Time: About 2 hours
Addendum: This dress did not hold up well to the rigors of rehearsals and the show. The lining used for the skirt proved to be fairly fragile and prone to tearing if pulled. The small train proved problematic as the cast was initially oblivious to the need to 1) pick up skirts when walking 2) not following so closely you stepped on people. I had to repair this dress multiple times. Eventually, I pulled up the skirt in more places and then sewed the bottom of the overskirt to the underskirt (it formed a little “bubble” in some places) just to keep it from being stepped on.