Let’s talk about fabric choices, details, and why we pick the fabrics we do. I touched upon this briefly when I talked about making Arwen, but that was a project where I was working to achieve a close recreation of a particular look, while sourcing materials that didn’t break the bank.
This time around, let’s look at an original redesign of a character who has a rather basic costume: Eilonwy from the 1980’s Disney cult classic, The Black Cauldron. All the materials were gotten from two places: Fabric.com and Amazon. That’s it, no crazy sourcing from overseas!
First we look at the color blocking of the costume: blue bodice with red trim and white sleeves, double layer skirt in two shades of pink, petticoat, and a black circlet. Pretty darn simple to recreate for a screen accurate look, but what if we add to the design and elevate it to be more detailed while pulling in elements from the story and aging her up a bit? She is supposed to be 12 in this film, so as a 30-something, I’d like to not try to emulate a child.
Next up: Fabric choice. To answer that question we need to know where am I going to primarily wear this? Conventions? RenFest? Photoshoots? The answer is RenFest. With that in mind and knowing the summer heat, I want to make this out of linens and cottons, not polyester fabrics. While there is nothing wrong with polyester, it doesn’t breathe, absorb sweat, and keep you cool as well as natural fibers. Were this costume primarily for conventions, you bet it would be out of poly satin and taffeta.
So the fabrics I found are: Linen/cotton blend for the bodice (lined with light cotton denim and a poly/cotton broadcloth), white embroidered clip dot cotton voile for the sleeves, light pink linen with metallic threads for the underskirt, medium and dark pink quilting cottons for the overskirt. I already own a white cotton petticoat to go underneath.
Next up are the embellishments. I decided to start at the top and work my way down. The bodice. Oh that plain and kind of strange bodice. To start, we need a visually interesting red trim: I found a gimp metallic trim to go on the bodice – embellishment 1: check. Embellishment 2 was a bit different, I wanted something to attract the eye to the top portion of the bodice and still kind of blend in. I found small bodice mirror appliques (mirror is key here) in a tonally similar color so they add to the design rather than stand out. For the sleeves, I couldn’t just leave their connection points to the bodice plain, Eilonwy IS a princess after all. So at the suggestion of a dear friend, I found small AB crystal chandelier drops that will hang from the seam with 4mm pink and white pearls connecting them.
The skirts. I knew immediately that I wanted a contrast band on at the front and along the bottom to add visual interest and define the overskirt more. So I chose fabrics to do just that. But here’s where I was able to draw in some of the story: the bauble Eilonwy carries around! After searching and ruling out MANY ideas, I finally found and settled on this metallic gold medallion, I’ll top that with a bead in the center to add more texture. These will go down the front of the skirt and around the hem, giving interest not just in the front, but also continuing in the back. For the underskirt, I knew I needed something for the hem, though much of it is not seen, the front is very important and when in movement, the rest of the skirt hem could show up as well. I found this beautiful lace that will become a scallop hem for the underskirt. I also am going to bead the front and side panels of the underskirt with white 4mm pearls to add more texture and visual interest. Just because I can.
Finally, that black circlet. This is a princess, not a pauper. She get a crown!
That is how I decided to elevate Eilonwy’s look. I do hope you like her and I will be posting updates and tutorials of construction as I go along. If you’d like to see those posts, please join my Patreon for $1/month at www.patreon.com/jglinzak. Otherwise, just wait for the final project to be finished in a few months!