RSS Feed

Monthly Archives: September 2015

Costume Analysis: Lady Tremaine (Cinderella’s Stepmother)

My next big project is making one of Lady Tremaine’s outfits from the live action Cinderella movie. I love the dress she wears when she first arrives. Isn’t it fabulous? I have been spending many hours to trying to figure out the details and source the materials.

Lady_Tremaine_with_her_daughtersHere’s a movie clip. Don’t you love the way the dress flows?

Her outfit consists of 3 main parts: the chartreuse green/black bodice, the black underskirt, and the green and black overskirt. The underskirt is easy enough to figure out; from the video and promotional photos you can see it is a tight black velvet column skirt with a slit in the back. The bodice and overskirt took a lot more research (aka Googling photos, rewatching the Youtube clip over and over, and buying a doll).

The narrow underskirt with a full skirt and tight bodice is a silhouette that appears in many of her outfits, such as this one, this one, this one, and this one. (The last shows that the overskirt is pleated).

The bodice looks yellow in some photos, and even some websites refer to it as yellow. However, Sandy Powell’s sketch is green, and the official doll has a green bodice.

960x540IMG_5657In the end I decided the bodice is a chartreuse that looks yellow in certain light. I found a lovely high-res still here, which made me realize that the bodice isn’t just sparkly, it is sequined! (I highly encourage you to see the full-sized photo to appreciate the details). The sequined fabric is then covered with black velvety flowers. I quickly realized that finding a flocked sequined fabric is very, very hard, unless you like cheetah print. I briefly considered using a flocked damask, but that is not at all like Lady Tremaine’s fabric. That means I have to make my own by applying appliques to sequined fabric.

The sequins are also arranged in neat rows, and each one is quite small and flat. It is easy to find the large, randomly arranged beveled sequins when shopping for sequined fabric, but maddeningly difficult to find something that doesn’t look like a Vegas showgirl costume.  Many times I would find the right color, but not the right size sequin, or the right arrangement, but not the right color. I finally had to make a special request of a shop located in India to get something close.

Cate Blanchett is the Stepmother in Disney's live-action feature CINDERELLA, directed by Kennth Branagh.

The overskirt consists of multiple layers. There is a green base fabric (which could be silk satin or taffeta) that is covered by a layer of black organza, which is decorated with beautiful chartreuse flowers. (It reminds me of a gorgeous chartreuse gaufraged velvet I found years ago at a store that is now out of business, but alas it was $100/yard). There is a black border across the bottom that I think is just the organza folded over and appearing darker, and it appears that the organza and green fabric are flat-lined together.  I can see a glimpse of some green fabric at her hem so there is possibly a green skirt beneath the green/black floral skirt, or perhaps the organza and green base fabric aren’t flat-lined together after all.

IMG_5644Since buying the perfect flocked organza or velvet burnout fabric is impossible, I will have to cut and apply the appliques myself. Madness!

I do not know what the inside of the overskirt looks like, but based on the hint of green seen in the hem I think that the inside is also green, instead of being lined with black organza. Given the yardage required, double-faced silk satin is a little out of my budget, so I am going to use 2 layers of regular satin.

The way the doll’s clothing is constructed might give some clues. There is only one layer of green satin, a layer of organza with velvet flowers, then a final layer of organza on top of that.

IMG_5658Obviously, some sacrifices in the construction had to be made for the doll, but I found it interesting that there is a top layer of organza over the flocked layer, whereas I can’t see one in the film. (Perhaps I might end up using 2 layers of organza anyway if one layer doesn’t look dark enough over the green but I’m not sure about covering the appliques unless they turn out too brightly neon).

This picture taken by Maison Mouse shows that the skirt is cut so full it wraps around the front a bit, even though the pleating or gathering ends at the sides of the hips.


In this screenshot I took of the film clip you can see the silhouette from the side. I’m not sure how much of it is due to the fullness caused by the pleating in the back, or if that is a small bum pad under the skirts, but that is something I will have to experiment with as well.

Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 9.06.11 PMLady Tremaine’s accessories can be seen clearly in the high-res photo linked earlier: she wears a pair of black suede gloves; a black velvet scarf; gold and citrine brooch, earrings, and bracelet; a veil; black and green high-heeled boots; and a dramatic hat. The hat is semi-transparent and decorated with birds and flowers. The hat that came with the doll is a nice reproduction!

IMG_5654Getting 100% screen accurate will be impossible, especially because of the appliques and exquisite details, but I am aiming to get a costume that is recognizable, even if I have to take some small shortcuts. This project is going to be a lot of work, but it will be a great learning experience. So far I have 22 yards of fabric, and I am not done buying!


I have found more photos of the bodice seams, courtesy of the Hollywood Movie Costume Blog!

Please see my new post to see details about the back and interesting elbow seam:

A preview here:

Cinderella lady tremaine costume

Photo courtesy of Jason Morgan of the Hollywood Movie Costume Blog.



Retrimming an 18th Century Bergere Hat

This weekend I am going to a fancy tea party, so I decided to retrim a small straw bergere hat I have. I was originally going to use silk ribbon and make little puffs, but realized I didn’t have enough to trim the hat and also have matching ribbon ties. Instead I used the leftover ribbons and ribbon roses from a dress I made. My other idea was the cover the hat completely in silk, but I decided to skip that for now.

IMG_5412IMG_5414 IMG_5405 IMG_5410

Previously, the hat was trimmed to match another outfit that consisted of a navy blue skirt and red and blue jacket. This is what the hat looked like before:


I am considering trimming a pair of gloves to match, but that may be a little too over the top. =)

Embroidered 50s Dress, Vintage Jewelry, and Other Finds

I’ve been doing a lot of small tasks lately, like mending, replacing buttons, adding trim, cleaning jewelry, etc. so I don’t have a big sewing project to share. Instead, I am showing you some beautiful vintage items I have recently found.

First is this really cute embroidered 50’s dress!

IMG_5387 IMG_5389 IMG_5391 IMG_5392Unfortunately it needs a lot of love and attention. It has many stains and damaged areas, although the embroidery is in good shape. The zipper has some rust, and the bodice lining and outer nylon layer has some holes and tears. There are some tears at the top of the dress so I can’t hang it up until I sew in some hanging loops. The dress fits me perfectly though, so I hope I can rescue it!

I finally got around to cleaning the jewelry I bought at Costume College, either from the bargain bazaar or a vendor, and here are the pieces.

First is an adorable dress clip with a happy couple. I’m not sure what to wear with it yet, but I’ll figure it out. Next is a brooch featuring carved coral tulips and green stone leaves. I have some other vintage coral tulip jewelry, although not in such a deep pink color.IMG_5378

This heart-shaped pin features a little ivory flower. I am in love with this tiny millefiori pin!IMG_5380You can see how tiny it is compared to this other millefiori pin I bought years ago from the Alameda Antiques Fair.


Next are these two little pins that are probably not vintage, but cute anyway. I am going to put some green thread on the artists’ palette to fill in the missing part. Isn’t the little dangling button on the needle just perfect?


The enamel pin is missing its center stone. I’m not sure what it was originally, but I am adding in a faux pearl. The shiny brooch on the right is a piece of modern costume jewelry, but I liked the fun colors, even if it’s missing a few stones. I can repair it, but until then, I don’t think it’s very noticeable if worn at night!IMG_5383Lastly is this pair of hand-embroidered pillowcases. I have a friend who loves to embroider, so I am going to pass these onto her, since I know she will give them a good home.