As blogging has been so tough for me, I decided the easiest way to get back on track was to start with something that makes me feel excited. Even though the making of this skirt took place more than three and a half years ago, still looking at its ruffly fullness gives me positive chills. I made this Cinderella skirt in uni for an anniversary celebration of my department’s student union. The style was so popular in 2016 that there were at least three girls at the party with more or less full versions of Cinderella’s dress! The bodice I wore to the celebration dinner was a black silk corset, for I felt little uncomfortable to go so clearly in a ‘costume’ and also I didn’t have time to sew the according bodice even if I had wanted to.
Categorizing this post was hard, but I decided to go for Notes on completed projects because
I had somehow lost the few pics I had of its making so the photos seen below have been taken this year. Full dress tutorial will have wait until the bodice will be done.. The Cinderella 2015 bodice is still in the making after these three years, but when that is ready and edited it will be sorted into the more proper cosplay section and of course linked to this one.
To me it seems like every cosplayer there is was awed by Cinderella’s ballgown in the live action remake, and I’m definitely one of those people. I’ve seen many self-made replicas online with the focus on sheerness, glimmering and layering of organza on the skirt, which makes me think those were the main reasons people loved the gown so much. However, no matter how many shades of blue the ballgown had, the thing which struck a chord with me was the weight of the hem. (At this point I feel appropriate to ask, have you seen the way it moves? If you’ve forgotten, here’s the perfect spot to google and refresh your memory).
As I said I’ve found many awesome DIY sewing tutorials on the subject, so at first I was hesitant to write my own version because the screen accuracy is not as high as in some. The reason why I chose to start writing this text in the first place was the extremely low budget I used for the project. I feel like sharing my hints on how to add fullness with minimal material could help some fellow seamstresses out there.
Because I was working on a low budget, it was clear from the start that the layering of organza was out of question. The gown has many different shades of color depending on the lighting, so anything could have been possible from silvery grey to bright turquoise to purplish blue for a self-made replica. My choice was lavender, partly because of available fabric choices and partly for the song in the movie (“Lavender green, lavender blue”). Also, lavender blue suits me, which was an important factor as well to consider.
I was lucky to find the correct shade of lavender blue mix fabric at my local market at the time. For economical reasons it was unimportant what material the fabric would be, it only needed to drape well and be as lightweight and as cheap as possible. At the market there were four pieces of 3 meters à 1,5 m of fabric there, for 3 euros each in discount. So the main fabric for the skirt cost whooping 12 euros in total! (Here where I live one seldom makes deals like this for fabric purchases.) In addition to that I had to buy few meters of poly-satin for the ruffles, zip ties for the hoops and a zipper for closure. Rest of the fabric materials where light curtain scrap pieces, thread and hooks I already owned, so they were free. I think the total cost of the skirt was around 35-45 euros, which was not too bad, and surprisingly the large zip ties ate a fair amount of the budget.
Before I dive into details on its making, here is the skirt as it nowadays looks. It has been washed at least once and the zip tie hoops have been distorted because of being tucked away in closet, but otherwise it looks as pretty as it did.
And the back. The silhouette looks flatter than it used to, but I’m planning on replacing the zip ties somewhere in the future. Next time I’m wiser and will remove the hoops for storage.
The skirt closes with zipper and two hooks inserted on the center back. The hooks are obviously sewn on the inside of the waistband whereas the zipper ends ruffly at the seam. I couldn’t find a matching zipper so I decided to pick a color near the shade of the ruffles.
Speaking of which, taking care of the weight and the movement of the hem, underneath the overlay there are five tiers of ruffles at the hem. The satin for the ruffles is light blue in color, so they give a little contrast to the lavender, but in my opinion in a lovely way.
The ruffles are plenty: I counted that I had to hem over 40 meters of satin strips for them. I remember having just two meters of the satin originally; the ruffles are only 6 centimeters in height to minimize material requirements. Surprisingly, no scraps were left after cutting the strips.
As for the actual making process, I didn’t have any pattern for the skirt. It’s just a big bunch of rectangles that make up four layers of increasingly ruffly tiers for fullness and a circle skirt overlay.
I planned the cutting so that the scrap material would be minimal like I always do: two pieces of the lavender mix were dedicated for the circle skirt (half a circle per piece; the scraps of these will have to suffice for the bodice) and the remaining two for the rectangles on the layers that go underneath it. Extra scraps of light curtains and tulle were also included for them. With the plentiful lavender mix I started the cutting with the widest and the narrowest rectangles, and always cut as long a strip as the fabric permitted. The method is actually very versatile: cutting the material this way enables to use any kind of (minimal) fabric amount for any kind of body measurements for large ruffly skirts; the only thing that changes is how densely gathered the tiers will be. I discussed the method in greater detail in my old tutorial on a petticoat which also included a graphic on a similar cutting plan.
The first layer in this skirt is obviously the simplest. It had to be made of the lavender fabric because it had to support the hoops (rest of the material were too thinly woven). I chose not to do any separate petticoat, because that would have required much more tulle and much more sewing. The lowest tier in this layer has very decent amount of gathering, but anyhow still a light blue ruffle. I can’t remember the exact size of the hoops, but I was very careful not to make the smaller at the level of my knees too big; too steep angle would have looked unnatural and ridiculous. The bigger one at the bottom of the lower tier is in turn generously larger for beautiful bell shape. The hoops (made from 1 cm wide and 37 cm long zip ties taped together) have channels for them sewn on the tiers with bias tape.
The second layer has more densely gathered tiers than the precious one. The lower tier in this layer is longer in height than the lower tier in the first layer so that the seams won’t align, and this was repeated on the layers to come. The end result is smoother this way as you probably guessed. The gathering was done by shoving under the presser foot à la Angela Clayton as usual.
The third layer has three tiers instead of two. The ruffliness began to be quite abundant here.
The fourth and the last under layer was made completely from lavender mix, in case it would be seen. Apropos, every layer is by the way a little longer than the last to make the hem even.
This last layer actually doubles in the hem: as you can see I sewed another ruffly strip to it. I used this same method for maximizing fullness with minimal material back in the petticoat tutorial linked a few paragraphs back.
The overlay is a full circle skirt as I already stated. If I had had more experience with circle skirts back then, I would have cut the inner circle larger and gathered it down. The gathering would have added to the illusion of a petite waist, but the way I made it doesn’t look that bad either.
In length the skirt is exactly from my hips to a few centimeters of the floor when I’m wearing heels. My mannequin Lola is shorter than I am, so she stood on a pile of books to help me vision the right appearance when I was pinning everything together.
The skirt in itself is quite heavy, so the waistband had to be durable enough to carry it. For the waistband I used a scrap piece of my heaviest upholstery fabric for the interior and strengthened it with fusible interfacing (also the heaviest I had). Even tough the skirt weighs full 2 kilos, it stays on really nice because I cut the waistband to be five centimeters smaller than my waist is. The waistband has two lines of top stitching to keep everything in place.
The four under layers were made from rectangles, so their tops had be pleated down to fit the waistband. To reduce bulk I sewed the last of the layers to the third one maybe four centimeters below the top before the assembly. This also helped to prevent fourth layer from being to short!
The picture below has a better look at the pleats. The majority of them focus on the center front and back (with one big box pleat in the middle and smaller knife pleats towards the center). I can’t remember the logic behind it, since looking back at it, it would have made a lot more sense to emphasize the hips by placing the folds there. I guess I thought the hem would be elliptical to sides this way?
I was also so lazy (or in busy) that I didn’t finish any of the gaps at the back with anything but zigzag as the zipper covers everything.
But however, I did take to the time to get the hand-sewn hem stitching on the circle skirt piece look the best I could. I’m almost blind when it comes to these blind stitches (pun intended).
As a conclusion, I’m still very happy and proud of the skirt on the whole. I think it came together really nice. To this day, I still haven’t danced in it, but instead attended a full formal dinner which should tell something about its comfort when worn. One could think that a skirt as big as this is a little inconvenient, but in reality the zip tie hoops are so flexible that it’s easy to sit down on a table even when there’s little room.
Lastly, after those fifteen pictures and way too many words as usual, I’d like to discuss the subject on a deeper level still. I’m happy to have finally got the notes on this amazing skirt out there, for it has been on my to-do blogging list for quite some time. In addition to that, I have a dream that one day this post links to a matching bodice tutorial at Dust and fabrics and then I’ll have a full Cinderella 2015 DIY sewing post set available for anyone to read. Having posted this I’m already half way there! I think I’ve never mentioned this before, but reading different blogs with adult-size Disney dress tutorials via Happily grim was one of the main reasons I decided to start my own blog in 2016.
Getting back on track to blogging with something exciting helped me somewhat, because I’ve already begun writing on my DIY Tangle slime earrings, which should come up next. Stay tuned (=return in November probably) for that if you’re interested!
Thank you for reading!