I used no patterns....that's right, I had to start from scratch for this one. The 'base' is the bodysuit, which I made using a textured spandex (more April Johnston fabric---I love it!). It's basically a sleeveless pull-on bodysuit with elastic around the legs to prevent ride-up. I had to take it in across the shoulders, as it wanted to pucker and not rest across the back. This part has to be pretty stable, as everything attaches to it.
Watching the movie, you never get a terribly fantastic view of the dress. I watched it on the dark dancer, and took many screengrabs. I did the same when Lilly wore it, and it seems the shoulders have a different silhouette. Maybe there were 2 dresses made, with little differences. Who knows? So I went with the silhouette on the dancer.
The shoulderpads are made from 2 layers of thick fun foam sandwiching a stem of steel hoop boning that I cut off to about 14". It is bent so that it curves upward off the shoulder. To attach them to the bodysuit, I used wide industrial strength black velcro.Then, to keep them from working off the shoulders (they can be heavy), I strung thin black elastic between them in the back (the elastic criss-crosses across my back just below the neck, and isn't noticable once the collar is on). That did the trick.
The collar is 2 layers of thick funfoam reinforced with wooden dowels. I covered it all in a shimmer black chiffon, then trimmed it out in sequin trim. A lond wooden dowel runs down the center and extends about 8 inches down the back, keeping it stable. The front of the collar is part of it, and attaches to the neckline of the bodysuit with the same elastic. This keeps the neckline very sturdy (I used garment tape anyway, of course, to prevent wardrobe malfunctions).
The drapes and skirt are made from an assortment of black silk charmeuse (dyed), black lace, black chiffon, and black sequined chiffon. It is distressed at the edges, and I even burned holes in the chiffon to create a creepy vibe (I did this very carefully!). The skirt is gored and quite full, with a drape added which attaches to my arm with a clear elastic band that is sewn in. The wing-drapes, which fall off the shoulder structure is distressed in the same manner, and attaches to my fingers in the same way the skirt attaches to my arms. Movement in the dress, then, tends to look elegant and flowy, as it does in the film.
The jeweled sash looks quite beautiful in the film, and is the only part of my version I would like to re-do. I made mine with silver spandex (dancewear) and covered it in acrylic gems of various shapes. The top is a ruffled rosette made of the same fabric, and I strung rhinestone strands from it.
I actually used chicken wire to make the headpiece, shaping it the way I needed in order for it to wear well and look reasonably accurate.
This gown was not terribly uncomfortable to wear, but did chafe my neck a little. I was very cautious of the neckline, but it all held together well. I actually edited it a bit, as it should plunge a bit lower. I also made the collar a little smaller so that I could get through doors and elevators with no problem.
photos by David Skirmont
Created: Summer of '12
Events: Dragon*Con '12
Awards: Runner-Up: Craftsmanship, Dragon After Dark
Finalist for Best in Show, Dragon After Dark