Dressing “Gabrielle” (Cinderella): Market Dress

After a little interruption writing the posts about the Transforming costumes, I want to turn back to Gabrielle.  As I described in my initial post, my perception of Gabrielle is that she is a bit “off”.  I chose not to dress my Stepsisters as the comic book, over-the-top stereotypes that they often are portrayed–complete with outlandish garb and garish makeup.  They are more a product of their upbringing and Charlotte is “more” and Gabrielle is “off”.  The cast member who played Gabrielle did a great job of creating a goofy yet endearing character, while believably delivering  all of her silly lines and awkward flirtations with Jean-Michael.

My director wanted the Step-family to be dressed in pinks.  Gabrielle’s color was bright/hot pink.  I struggled a bit as this really did not fit in with the color palette for Forest Colors that I had in mind for the Villagers.  However, my choices were limited by the dresses I could find for upcycling.  I believe by combining the pink with brown and cream it gave her the color pop she needed, and yet still allowed her to fit with the rest of the cast.  I also chose to use some floral patterns for Gabrielle.  She is the only one who wears this sort of pattern, which sets her apart in a subtle way.

We also wanted to play up the difference in height between the cast members playing Gabrielle and Charlotte.  Therefore, I was constantly looking for ways to play up vertical lines in Gabrielle’s costumes.

I started her costumes with a petticoat:

I had found a really nice linen-look round table cloth with a lace inset around the edge.  I wanted this petticoat to be level at the hem, so I carefully folded the tablecloth, and measured (!) to make sure the part I was cutting out was smooth and even.  My cast member is tall, so I wanted all the length I could get.  If I had someone shorter, I would measure my desired floor-to-waist length (including the hoop & bum pad, if used) and calculate what my finished length would be to determine where to cut out the corner of the tablecloth)

To make the petticoat longer I used the ruffle from a bedskirt and sewed it to the bottom of the tablecloth.

I ran out of bedskirt before I got all the way around (one problem with not measuring).  No worries . . I found a similar eyelet, and spliced in some fabric, and fudged in a section.  It is only a petticoat, after all.

splicing some eyelet to fill in the gap

I used some scrap fabric to make the waistband.  I cut a slit down one side of the tablecloth for an opening.  I did a tight line of zig-zag stitch along the cut edge to keep it from raveling.  You can also see that I extended the waistband beyond the opening on one side to make an overlap to attach some velcro.

slit for waistband

I like to make a waistband to  help decrease bulk around the waist.  However, I also like the flexibility of fit of a little elastic for a costume, so I use my waistband as a casing.  I made a slit in the waistband (visible to the left of the velcro end).  The elastic is threaded through the casing and sewed on either side (you can see it sticking out in the center.  The velcro is stitched right over it.

slit in waistband for elastic adjustment, velcro closuer

This way, I can pull the elastic through the slit to adjust the fit with a pin.  This is a compromise between a fitted waistband and and elastic casing, and I think it gives you the best of both worlds.  Flexibility is important to me since these will become stock costumes when this show is over.   Here the elastic is pulled to the outside for the picture, normally it would be tucked inside.

adjusting the waistband

And done:


For reference, I don’t know exactly what the circumference of the tablecloth was, but I used a twin size bedskirt and ran out of ruffle before I was all the way around.  This makes a nicely full petticoat.

For the Market Dress itself I began with a brown dress:

This dress was a lovely textured fabric with a subtle sheen.  It was strapless with a slight empire waist. The skirt was deeply pleated and deceptively full.  My cast member was a bit larger than my dress model, so I padded it a bit to help adjust the fit (which is the blue sticking out underneath).  The sash was just lightly tacked on, so I took that off and saved it for a different purpose.  I added some pieces of elastic for straps.  The dress mostly stayed up on it’s own, they were just for a little security.  The slightly raised waist was an added benefit to this dress as it made Gabrielle’s legs look longer.

I wanted a jacket that was similar to the one that Charlotte wore for her Market Dress.  I had this wonderful pink and gold brocade Scott McClintock suit I had purchased a few years ago.

The front of the jacket had an asymetrical closure.  The wiggle skirt had these wonderful pleats in the back.  I paired it with a dark pink satin dress as I began to put things together to get an inspiration and a vision for what the costume would become.

I apparently neglected to take pictures of the pink dress.  But, suffice it to say it was a strapless dress with a long A-line skirt and an empire waist.  Nothing too interesting, other than that it was the right color pink.

I began by deconstructing the pink dress.  I took the zipper out of the back, and then removed the skirt from the top.  I set it aside for the time being.

deconstructing the ink dress

To make the jacket I began by deciding how long I wanted the new jacket to be, and cutting off the bottom.  I also folded over the front lapel to give the jacket a different opening look.

front shortened jacket

I took the discarded bottom and cut a 4″ strip down the sides and across the bottom–using all of the finished edges.

cutting the peplum

I played with this strip until I liked the pleats, and then I stitched them in place.

I planned to use the skirt to make the back decorative part of the jacket.  I wanted the pleats to be on top since they are a nice bit of detailing.  I slit the skirt down the front, gathered the top of the skirt and fashioned a drape in the back.  At this point, the pink skirt was also pinned to the jacket as I figured out the next steps.

side view

I used the top of the pink dress to fill in the jacket neckline.  This is sewn in on one side, and secures with velcro on the other.  The jacket front also closes with velcro.

I ran a gathering/easing thread along the top of the pink skirt and then stitched it to the brocade jacket.

bodice insert

The skirts were stitched together  on the sides and edged with some gold metallic lace.

adding metallic lace

A discarded dress lining with attached petticoat net was gathered up, and then stitched to the inside of the draped part of the skirt to form a built in bum pad for the dress.  I probably should have had more stuffing, as the dress collapsed a bit as time went on.

After finishing the front bottom edge of the jacket and adding some lace ruffles to the bottom of the sleeves and the neckline, the costume was done.  We added a small feather hairpiece to complete the look.  She wore her hairpiece straight up for this scene which precluded an actual hat.

1n8a13161.jpgback of Gabrielles dress

A thought for planning purposes . . .Gabrielle changes into a simple dress to go with Jean-Micheal to the soup kitchen.  It would be reasonable to use the same underdress for both the Market scene and later in the show, and just change out the overdress.

I was happy with this costume, although I later wished that I had tried a mermaid shaped petticoat for Gabrielle.  I didn’t want her to have the same bell-shape as Charlotte, but a bit more poof to this dress at the bottom would not have been unwarranted.

Cost:  brown dress $10, suit $6, pink dress $6

Time:  I am guessing 4-5 hours.  This costume went together very quickly, in large part because I did not need to alter the base dress.

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