This was a costume that I had dreamt about since 2000, but I never thought that I would actually make it. It would be too expensive, it would be too hard and so on. In 2011 I decided that it was time to make this dream costume though.be I also decided that I shouldn't be cheap or take short cuts, which explains why it took so long. This is my most expensive costume, and the one that I've worked the most with.
Most of the photos I used as reference photos for the project can be found here. They were taken when I saw this dress at Star Wars the Exhibition in London in 2007 and Örnsköldsvik 2008. All my progress photos were gathered in this photobucket album, and it also includes the failed first tries with the tiar.
The first thing was to find a suitable fabric, and that took me several months before I finally decided on a shade of purple. In fact I had it custom dyed, which means that I still have a lot of nice, purple silk velvet in my stash, since the minimum order was 10 meters. The skirt is a navy, brocade jersey. I wanted to have a fabric with a really nice structure, the jersey means that the skirt is quite heavy and doesn't "flow" though. All the other fabrics were different silks that I found on ebay, I bought a lot of swatches and chanced before finding fabrics that I was happy with. In fact I could make a full ball gown just out of the fabrics that I had ordered but never used for this project.
|First photo try to compare the fabrics with and without flash|
The first step in the construction was to have suitable undergarments Teenage Natalie Portman is a lot flatter than me, so I first made a pair of 18th century stays just to flatten and smooth out my upper body. This was my first try with making stays, and I tried to enlarge a pattern from marquise.de. Unfortunately I once again failed with this, so I got a pair of stays that were way too big in the front. Still they worked for this purpose of just providing a shape. Some kind of boned support undergarment is necessary to carry the weight of the skirts and the coat. I've tried to wear it once without the stays, since I was in a hurry to get dressed, and in the end my back hurt a lot. With boned stays it's the bones that carry the weight, and of course also gives you that regal posture that a queen should have.
Under the stays I'm wearing a linen chemise. It will never be possible to wash the velvet coat, that would ruin it, so the chemise is essential to make sure that sweat and dirt don't get to the coat. I used linen for comfort, there is a reason why that has been used for undergarments through all times. For the petticoat I used the bridal hoop skirt that I had bought for my 1860's ballgown. The pyramidal shape mimics the original quite well. Here it is also a question of proportions. My skirt is bigger than the original, but since I'm also wider than Natalie Portman I felt that a full hoop skirt gave me the best proportions. Over the hoopskirt is a flounced petticoat in cotton voile. The bottom ruffle was made out of the same fabric as the skirt, so that it wouldn't be visible if it peeked through. Unfortunately the heavy jersey in the skirt means that the hoops are visible when I walk, even through the petticoat, and the hoop skirt gets quite flattened.* It looks good when I'm standing though.
|pattern base for the coat|
Then I started to fiddle with the pattern, and a lot of old beds sheets. I sewed up the center front seam, so I had to remove excess fabric from the turned up collar. I had to change the seam at the shoulder and remove excess fabric, since I wasn't going to use shoulder pads. Then I had to make sure that the whole bodice fit tight, and not like a coat.
|first stage of the muslin|
|last stage of the muslin|
When I had gotten this far I was actually quite nervous to start cutting into my very expensive velvet. Instead I turned to making the beaded trim that criss-crosses around her "hairbags". I couldn't find any beaded trim, so I bought several rolls of velvet ribbon and then I sewed on a couple of thousand beads to them. Just this stage took me around 1,5 month to finish.
|beading, beading, beading|
|The colour is totally impossible to photograph correctly|
Then it was on to the sleeves. They consist of three layers. Two inner sleeves and the outer velvet
|one finished inner sleeve, the other without the tucks|
|big, puffy sleeve|
With the inner sleeves done it was only to start assemble the whole coat. The points of the coat and the big hanging parts of the sleeves where lined with faux leather. I know that the views on this are divided among us who have made the costume. I only say that the leather/faux leather makes the coat very heavy, but it helps a lot with keeping the shape of the points, especially in the front where the tip of the points are actually on the floor, in front of the gown itself. The faux leather was originally black, but I dusted it with a thin layer of gray/silver spray paint to give it a lighter and more shiny apperance.
At the front there is also a stomacher, which is basically a triangle that goes from the shoulders and end below the waist. I think that in the original it's fastened on, and then you have to closure of the gown under it. I sewed it on permanently though and have a zipper in the back to get in and out of the costume. The zipper can't be seen under the veil. From the shoulder seam and down the sleeves there are also a row of buttons, self covered in the same fabric as the coat. These buttons are the only thing keeping the sleeves shut, and still allowing the undersleeve to peek through. I have sewn everything though and just added the buttons as non-functioning decorations.
|finished skirt and coat|
Then the beaded ribbons were sewn on to the hair bags. If there is one thing I want to change with this costume it's the veil and the hair bags. I was in a bit of a hurry when I made them and there are are some issues with the hair bags. Also the original is made in a changeant chiffon, that I simply couldn't find. I have the right texture, with small ribs in the fabric, but I would love to get my hands on changeant chiffon for this.** Also the original has some kind of beaded decoration in the corners of the veil, and I haven't added that. The wonderful tiara was made by a friend of mine who gave it to me as 30th birthday gift.
* The problem I've mentioned at the top with the hoops of the hoopskirt being visible went away when I added another petticoat in 2013. I simply added one of my thin cotton voile petticoats from my 18th century wardrobe and that was enough. Since all the petticoats and the hoopskirt is tied with ribbons around the waist it gives a bit of bulk there, but it's hidden under the sleeves. In hindsight I would have made several thin petticoats rather than the quite bulky flounced one.
**When I was in London in December 2013 I got my hands on changeant chiffon so I'm hoping to have time to redo the veil and the hairbags some time during the year.
|Posing with another Amidala in Stockholm 2013|
|side back view|