Hey everyone! SHE’S DONE! OMG SOUND THE AIRHORNS AND WIPE MY TEARS.
Even though she didn’t take 9 months like Queen Amidala, this whole build felt like it took forever. It’s interesting when it’s not just the outside gown that you are making, it’s all the undergarments, jewelry, and wig. I really dove head first into this build. So without further ado, let’s get into this build. First off, take a look at the final photos from the amazing Alexandra Lee Studios.
Damn, isn’t Alex COOL! She’s just so good, and this isn’t the one and only photoshoot we have planned for Anastasia. So many more are coming. Stay Tuned.
Go follow her Instagram.
I first want to mention that I did design this gown. It’s a blend of historical Russian court gowns, the end gown from the film, and Victorian dress shapes. I realize that this gown isn’t 100% historical accurate but I intended to try to be closer to historical accuracy than the one in the film.
I’m going to admit. I actually HATED the design and look of Anastasia’s final gown. For some reason, the gold, pink, yellow look just never clicked with me. Also those weird glitter circles just bothered me design wise. I always told myself if I would make another gown, it would be more of an original design from myself. So Anastasia was a perfect fit for this challenge. I realize that it’s not completely different than the final gown in the film but it’s still my design that I made. I changed the shape, embroidery, and over all detailing. I just punched it up, I feel at least. So now, let’s get into the build.
The first item I made for this outfit were my Victorian stays.
I used this pattern from Laughing moon, in their Silverado style. I LOVED this pattern and I can’t recommend it enough. If you need some stays for your undergarment collection. I recommend investing in this pattern. It wasn’t too tough to put together, but it does require a basic knowledge in corset making. I also used some fun Star Wars bedsheets for the lining. Have a little fun here and there. I used 100% white coutil for the main fabric. On to the elliptical cage crinoline!
Now this was the first time I’ve ever built a crinoline. It was interesting and kinda difficult but I worked through it. I used this pattern from Truly Victorian. Now the reason I chose to do a elliptical cage crinoline instead of a traditional circle hoop skirt was because the traditional look of russian court gown is flat in the front, party in the back. Plus I thought the shape was beautiful. Yes, 1865 is not the era of Anastasia, but screw it. I liked the shape! I used white coutil and white grosgrain ribbon. Steel boning is a must for this item because of the weight it must hold. The build took about a week and a half. I’m glad I made this and now have it in my closet for further costumes.
The third item to make was the petticoat. I did a lot of research for this because I couldn’t find the exact look that I wanted. So I actually browsed through blogs and pins with Cinderella (2015 film) builds. A lot of creators used the 1865 cage crinoline for the shape of Cinderella and I knew I needed A LOT of layers to fluff up the weight of Anastasia. Most of the Cinderella creators used between 7-9 layers of organza for her petticoat so that’s what I did. I alternated gold and yellow poly organza layers for the petticoat and seam bound the edges too. I’m not gonna lie, cutting out all the layers for the petticoat drove me insane. Trying to keep everything together and labeled properly was tough.
The pattern for
this petticoat was a combination of draping muslin over the crinoline and LOTS OF MATH. This build took a long time. I couldn’t tell you how much exactly but really a long time. Lots of serging and seaming. Repeat then layer, repeat then layer. I put a lot of time into this petticoat because I knew it would be piece that is worthy of competition. So its all hemmed right, every edge is serged, and fits great. The only thing I’m not happy with about it is that the top two layers (that I can go back and fix later) are too small in the hem so they don’t fall exactly where I want them. Honestly, I was so tired of working on this petticoat that I never adjusted my math and just didn’t think until it was all done. I was so pissed at
myself and really had a low point with this build. I know it doesn’t sound awful and a deal breaker but it was probably the first low point I hit with the gown. There will be more, trust me. Alas, I got through it and finished it. I was so happy despite the back issue with the two top layers. HAPPY to be done.
Petticoat is done, so officially the undergarments are done. I crafted a super quick, easy chemise (the muslin dress thing under my stays in the earlier photos) the day before my shoot to wear under my stays. You absolutely must wear a chemise when you have this many undergarments. You need a protection layer between the stays and your skin, plus it catches your sweat. That’s what the chemise does.
It’s ACTUAL GOWN CREATION time!! Now yes, I draped the design, then patterned out the bodice and skirt. Since the skirt has a 5 foot train, I knew that it needed to be draped by me, no store-bought patterns here. So because I’m already getting these questions. No, I won’t be selling Anastasia’s patterns, I can guide you make your own but I will not be releasing my patterns I’ve made. Sorry.
I want to start out by talking about the fabric choices for this gown. I used these 4 fabrics for the build and really nothing else. 3 out of 4 fabrics are from Silk Baron. I just want to shout out Silk Baron right now. DEAR LORD THEY ARE GREAT. Yup, yup, triple yup. They offer wonderful color selections in multiple fabric choices. I am building a swatch book with all their fabrics. It’s becoming an addiction.
OK SO (amanda move along plz) 🙃
The pink, blue, and cream fabrics are from Silk Baron. The cream and pink are 100% silk duiponi and the blue is silk taffeta. Below are the exact names of fabrics. Plus the descriptions are just the cutest.
The gold brocade is special. Special because I had a two uber amazing Atlanta fabric buyers snatch it up for me, and there is no more left to buy (insert evil laugh here). It is upholstery fabric that I fabric-softened the hell out of and just worked perfectly. Shoutout to Casey and Sarah (Casey Renee Cosplay and Lunar Rose Costuming), hop over to their instagrams and follow their amazing creations, tell them I sent you.
Lunar Rose Costuming’s Instagram
I bought lots of muslin and grabbed all my pins then started draping. I’m not going to go into great detail here on how to drape ballgowns. That’s a whole other blog post. So I’m going to just say that draping is great but take patience. I took great attention mostly in draping the train correctly which was also tough because the entire width of the gown takes up my whole sewing area. I was tripping over the dress consistently. So irritating, it felt like the “Attack of the 50 foot Woman!” (click that link for that epic cheesy trailer).
I draped the entire skirt first. The underskirt (pink layer) then the overskirt (gold layer).
The skirt was tough, it’s a lot of fabric. The whole gown uses 7-10 (can’t remember) yards of this gold brocade and the brocade is very heavy. Tough mental bit to get through here. I really did sweat when working on this gown. Once the skirt was “woman-handled” down into submission, I moved to the bodice. A MUCH smaller piece to work on.
If you are ever interested in practicing your draping skills, I would advise you to drape bodices just like this then learn how to pattern from draping. I will be doing videos and blog posts eventually on draping to pattern. But for now, check out Nick Verreo’s Youtube channel to learn how to drape and pattern.
It’s kind of tough to explain each step I did here till I get the embroidery and detailing. I sewed just a ton. I would try on and pin, sew the alteration, then try it on again. And so on, and so on. 😒 This was a pretty boring part to document but crucial. At this point in a build, you really want to nail the fit. Because once you start adding embroidery, rhinestones, beading, and etc, it’s tough to go backwards and refit. You don’t want to cover up all the time you spent on tiny detailing work.
After the tenth bodice fitting with the skirt, now I’m at a spot to start patterning the border panels that will take me months, hours, and many broken needles to make. I struggled (for the third time) through this point because my original design never really had any clear ideas on detail. I have some ideas in my mind and sketches drawn out. But I pretty much thought that I could just make it up as I go (which is ultimately what I did). But it’s not a good idea. Figure out this stuff early in your builds so you won’t come to this spot and be like.
The photos above is my brain trying to figure out what trims fit and how I will like the look. Ultimately I do decide after weeks of Joanns trips and A LOT of
trim swatches cut, it’s time to dye them. The dying process took a hot minute too, I’m not the biggest fan of dying fabric, see last blog post about my Rey build to feel my pain. UGH, so while I work on the trim dying, I’m tackling my next big aspect of the gown, the custom embroidery. Like I stated above, I HATED the weird glitter circles on her gown. I wanted something a little more refined. For the past two competition pieces that I’ve worked on, I have made, in Adobe Illustrator, designs for Mary Poppins, Yang Xiao Long, and Queen Amidala. They all have custom embroidery work. SWEET RIGHT? Oh ya, I do love designing at it’s heart.
This round was different though. My Janome Memory Craft 350E Embroidery Machine is GREAT, don’t get me wrong, but her center point isn’t exactly center
(my fault), and her hoops are just too small for bring projects like this. So to be able to embroider on my border panels with exact precision, I decided to make fusible patches. Which in hind sight was a great idea, until Heat&Bond fusible fun crap decided not to work with me. Not sure why it decided not to stick and do it’s job. But I came up with a better creative way to get those patches to adhere. COUCHING!
Wikipedia explains definitions better than I can. But basically, lay a thing down and stitch over it. Easy right? Yes! Yup yup yuuuupp. It’s such a fun little touch to costumes. Couching down the patches was cathartic for me. Very zen, very mellow. Which was good at this point, Anastasia gown was nearing 3/4 done.
FUN TIP: I used old Christmas gold ribbon around the bottom border patches and couched them down with my new Bernina sewing machine I received for Christmas. Thanks Santa 🎅.
Once all the patches were down and secured, I attached the border panels to the edges of the skirt. Then stitched down the rope trim, pearl trim, and gold piping (which I also did). Who else hates making piping? 🙌
Good LORDT, we are at the rhinestone stage. We still have the crown, wig, and jewelry to talk about. I suggest an intermission, go grab a bourbon.
The gown is put together, borders are added, trims are attached, closures are in. Now it’s time to decorate. The point I was honestly looking the most forward to. I actually used to “bedazzle” professionally. Seriously! Back in 2009, I worked for my Aunt Dawn, who creates horsemanship jackets for competitive quarterhorse riders. It’s a crazy gig, but she’s literally the Coco Chanel of the Quarterhouse fashion sect. Basically these horseowners would shell out tons of funds for these jackets. She would design and sew, then I would bedazzle with Swarovski crystals within her designs. So I was familiar with the skill. However, guess what was going dry? ▶️ Yup, my wallet. I actually budgeted quite well for this project. However, the rhinestones were WAY more than I thought. I decided to push my Ko-Fi (click the link to learn more) funding a little more with the added bonus that each Ko-Fi donator will get their name in my gown somehow. If you don’t know was Ko-Fi is, it’s basically a quick crowd funding site where people buy you metaphorical “coffees”, starting at $3 and up. I then pushed it around on my social media and suddenly people starting funding! I had my goal set at $200 for Anastasia’a rhinestones and within 24 hours, my goal was funded! COMPLETELY! I cried and couldn’t believe it. I have the best following in the world. Because of you all, the gown is now a disco ball, in a good way.
With funds in my pocket, I order lots of Precoisa crystals (slightly cheaper than Swarovski, could make the money stretch further without loosing the bling quality).
Which comes to the point I am now with the dress, done and I’mstill adding rhinestones. Let’s talks about the Crown. 👑
The crown actually wasn’t as tough to put together as I thought. At the beginning I was planning a whole custom LED circuit via Kamui Cosplay style. I’ve never worked with electronics before and I knew I needed a new skill to bring to the table to compete with. I researched endlessly, so much freaking research. It came down between two methods.
Adafruit neopixel strips with mother boards and wires and lights (AHH! screams inside) or cheaper fairy lights from Amazon and battery packs. I chose the latter, and it worked perfectly. Plus it’s remote controllable. I chose over 50 LEDs lights in cool white and pinned them like a peg board. The materials I used were: white worbla, 2mm foam, chicken wire, hot glue, 2 packs of LEDs with batteries, chandelier crystals, and left over pearl trim with gold piping.
Not too bad, right? It’s kinda heavy but I’m used to heavy headwear. Then I covered the exposed worbla with leftover cream silk duiponi from the dress. Attached it a thing wire headband that is the color of my wig hair and BOOM, done! It stays on my head quite well with one big snap clip at the top. On stage, it will have the same sparkle effect that Anastasia had with her crown in the film. SPARKLEY!
After the crown was complete. I quickly moved to making some jewelry. I was coming close to my deadline. The jewelry was the easiest thing I made during the build. I put the pieces together in one evening. Used some “stretch magic” string to thread the pieces together. All the pieces were bought at Joanns on a super sale if I might add. Then used basic lobster clasps and jump rings for the closures. Easy!
Ok, FINALLY WE ARE ALMOST DONE! Let’s chat the wig. I don’t want to go into a gigantic tutorial on how I created this wig. It’s A LOT of information. For people that don’t know. I currently work for Custom Wig Company as a wig maker. This was a collaboration between me and the company. I built this wig for their portfolio and for me to wear with my costume. It’s an amazing job that pays me to create custom hand-dyed wigs for many clients. It’s an intense creation process with a beautiful payout. The whole wig was built upside down because it will always be an updo. NEAT! The whole build took me 4 days to make. Take a look at my process pics below.
DONE. Done. We are done. I believed I’ve covered everything I can talk about with this build. I started on Anastasia in September of 2017 and finished her in February in 2018. This was a refreshing and toiling build for me. From designing the gown to styling the hair. I’m pretty sure I hit all the high and low points with her that my brain can create.
I will be competing with Anastasia at various cons through this year. I really hope to do well her at the cons and I also hope I get to meet all the followers than were with me during the process of this build. The online love Anastasia has received is just blowing me away, seriously. I want to hug you all.
Thank you for reading, thank you for donating, and thank you for listening to all my tweets, posts, and venting sessions. I love you all!