Do you know that sense of excitement when you walk into a thrift store . . . and you see THE DRESS . . . hanging RIGHT THERE . . . and you sort of nonchalantly sidle over to it . . . not wanting to show too much interest in case some runs in front of you . . .and you take it down . . . glance warily at the price tag . . . and then you say “YES! SCORE! I WIN!”. Yep . . . that was exactly my experience with the base dress for the Baroness “Bombie Samba” gown. It was so perfect I could hardly conceal my glee. It’s probably a good thing I didn’t have any of my kids with me . . .because then I would have to express my excitement, and they would have had to figure out how to pretend they didn’t know me. I will say, the clerks at the store are always happy to hear my plans for things (or, at least they pretend . . .).
At any rate, here is the dress:
It is a 1980’s era drop waist red dress with a zip back. The shoulders are layers of fishing line-edged circle ruffled organza. The skirt is layers of ruffles of the same. It has a hi-low hem line, and a nice sweetheart neckline. I cannot remember if the bodice was boned. The sleeve puffs may have been mainly decorative.
The first thing I did was remove the zipper from the back. I found a piece of red fabric that almost matched the dress. I cut two rectangles out and stitched the zipper in the center. The panel was then pinned in the back.
The fashion fabric was topstitched in place, and the left-over fabric remains in side the dress. The great thing about this is that the dress can be altered with tucks in the back, or, the insert stitching can be removed, and it can be repinned and restitched for the next cast member. This is a super easy way to enlarge a zipper back dress. In most cases, even if the insert is really different (like non-sequin on a sequin dress) because of the nature of a show, the audience rarely sees the straight-on back of the cast member. The dress may need a little tweaking later on since the side seams and bust are shifted forward, but, it shouldn’t hopefully be too much.
I immediately knew that this dress needed to have black lace edging all the ruffles, and so I went to saleandbargain and bought a wholesale roll of 2″ black lace–I think it was 100 yds/$33, or something like that. I knew I would have a bunch left over, but, I can use it for other stuff. Once that arrived I had the tedious tasks of sewing lace on to all the edges of the ruffles. That took FOREVER. Then because I am stupid-like-that, I did it all again with gold string sequins. I tried doing both at the same time, but it was much faster doing it step-by-step. A roll of 100 yards of string sequins runs about $6, and they add a lot of bling. I prefer the flat sequins as I think they shine better (if you look at ready-to-wear, those are always flat, not cup sequins). It might have been better if I had gathered the lace just a touch as it does want to curl . . . but . . . it is good enough.
Next, because sewing sequins on is so much fun (!!???) I added two rows of black and two rows of gold on each sleeve. I chose that number because I was almost out of black sequins . . and finished 2″ short actually (this was actually a good thing, as I had time to order more before I worked on the other Bombie Samba costumes). (Again, I am not taking the time to trim strings because there are wonderful volunteers to do that . . .and picking threads is one of my least favorite things to do)
The front needed a little pizzaz, so I used a gold and black embroidered motif. I pinned it on while the dress was on the dress form to help with the bust shaping. After the embroidery was stitched down, I decorated it with lots of gems. I like the 20ss and 30ss size. I order gems through Aliexpress from “Rhinestone & Crystal Jewelry World“. My only comment would be that I haven’t been able to hot fix any of them (even when I thought I ordered that kind), however, I think gluing them is much faster, so I don’t care. These are not quite as nice as the expensive-name-brand ones, but, for the cost difference, they are awesome. My experience has been that clear rhinestones show up the best on stage. I have tried using colored gems (red, blue, etc) and usually end up going back and supplementing with clear ones. Here I used a combination of clear and pale yellow (jonquil) because I had them. My favorite glue is Jones Tones Bead Bond. I also use E6000, but I like the Jones Tones better, as it comes out of the bottle easier. I used it for the cheer costumes in “High School Musical” and they came through the wash fine. The Jones Tones glue does need to lay flat for at least 8 hours, and then wait 72 hours to wash.
And . . my dress was done:
I think this would look great with black character shoes and black fishnets (my daughter really likes the Capezio Professional Fishnet seamless tights). Black glitter character shoes would be awesome too. We purchased inexpensive ones for my daughter for “Cinderella”, and they lasted through the show (we found them on Ebay, but I’ve seen them other places online) The Baroness will need some sort of hairpiece, but I am leaving that for the local costumers as that will depend on what she is doing with her hair. I would envision some tall feathers with gems on them, a feathered headband, ala 20’s , or even something with red roses and black ribbons. . . again pending her hair situation.
Cost: dress: $15, black lace . . . who knows . . . I didn’t measure, but there is a lot left, floral motif $2-3, gems and sequins.
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