My husband's little brother actually suggested we do this costume duo and I thought, why not! I’m progressively loosing weight so I didn’t want a chance to miss out on tackling this wonderful character by being (accurately) over weight.
However, the last ball gown type dress that I made was when I was younger was an utter disaster, so I knew planning was going to be key!
I read a LOT about the undergarments needed to keep a giant dress like this in shape. From petticoats, to under skirts, to hoop skirts, to crinolines. I decided that the most cost efficient way for this costume to get it’s volume would be to make a hoop cage, then petticoat, then a Frankenstein skirt on top of it.
I decided to make my hoop skirt instead of buying it so that it would have the volume that I wanted it to have (aka, giant space woman). To make the hoop skirt/hoop cage, I bought 100’ of 1” irrigation piping from Home Depot for approx. $15. My original calculations were off and I didn’t need anywhere close to 100’, buuuttt, hey. For $15 it’s not a huge waste and I can make another hoop skirt with it for a historical project I may tackle later this year.
WARNING: Figure out where you’re going to store your hoop skirt before you get it all together. Storing this tubing FLAT and not vertical/hanging is key to it keeping it’s shape and not warping. If it does warp, heat up the section with a heat gun and reshape as best you can. My skirt was intentionally huge and because of that I ran into problems with storing it flat. If you don’t have cats who want to murder the magical cage that Mom is working on, you may think of storing it under your bed.
So time for some math. My skirt was 38” long, in theory I needed 8 sets of ribbons and a drawstring waistband. So a logical person would think: Jess you only need to make like 17 yards of ribbons, why did you make like 30!? Beacuse I know for a fact that I'm terrible at math and approximating things, so I just decided SCREW IT. WE'RE MAKING EXTRA. It’s not like these ribbon just have to hang to the length of the skirt, they need to encompass the tubing’s outside surface area so I wanted PLENTY of room to just do what I needed to do without doing math.
So, I took 2.5 yds of rose patterned fabric (because undergarments deserve to be pretty too) and cut them into roughly 3” wide strips. I then ran all those through my serger to create 2” wide ribbons. I evenly spaced them throughout the waist band and sewed them in.
With the magical tentacle looking skirt sewing together.... I laid out approximately how big I wanted my skirt to be. In retrospect I probably would say to make it slightly smaller than you want it, because petticoats are a thing, but hey, not bad for my first project.
From there, I laid out the rest of my hoops. I knew I had enough tubing that if I didn’t like the shape of them I could re-cut it when I had a second pair of hands handy to help me eyeball the shape. (Spoiler: this happened.) I then heated the ends of each tube and put a 5/8” connector in and closed it up. Test your connector in store to be sure it fits. I’ve also done that before.
THINGS I DID WRONG: Don’t close your damn hoops yet. Lay them out, pin them into your strips, and use electrical tape or gaffer’s tape to close them so that you can do a test run and swirl around and feel pretty. THEN TAKE THE HOOPS OUT, LEAVE THE PINS IN, and sew on a sewing machine like a civilized person. I was dumb and didn’t think ahead (shocking, I know) so when I closed my hoops, I spaced them out along my ribbon in the shape I wanted and pinned them in. I realized I had no way of getting the hoops out and leaving the pins in. Marking the fabric was an option, but again, I was worried that by some miscalculation of mine, they wouldn’t fit back in correctly. Soooo I had to hand sew across the width of the ribbon .... 80 damn times.
Once all of the hoops were the shape I wanted and the ribbons stitched, I went ahead and fixed the “tentacles” of the ribbon so they were all evenly distributed. Then I secured them with a piece of bias tape that had some grip to it. People recommended to tie the cording in an “x” pattern over the ribbon, but I found that still let the ribbon slip out of place, so instead I just tied one diagonal strip REALLY TIGHTLY over the hoop.
I originally bought 5.5 yds of organza to make a petticoat out of. I had some left over from a past project in the form of a circle skirt, as well as some crinoline of the same circle skirt. I thought I should have enough fabric between the three cuts. NOPE. No where near enough fabric.
As I calculated the length for each of the 5 tiers of the floor length petticoat, I realized that the bottom tier would take up all 5.5 yards of my 58” wide fabric and that I would need to buy more. THINGS I DID WRONG: I didn’t do math before shopping.
I used my ruffler foot for preserving my own sanity. You can gather your fabric by hand or machine as well. I figured out my settings so that I would have a 2:1 ratio on my fabric length (So if I start with 12” of fabric, after it goes through this foot, it will be 6”
So in the end this actually ended up turning out okay when layered over the hoop skirt, even though it was slightly shorter than I wanted it to be. I ended up adding a stiffer tulle layer at the bottom because I was worried that the weight of the skirt would show the hoops too easily.
SKIRT & DRESS
So, stupidly, I didn't have any in progress pictures of the skirt or dress really because it was getting down to crunch time. I also didn't save the .psd I was working on to draft up my plans for this costume, so I only have this image on Instagram to reference.
I divided this into two different sections. A bottom skirt that was 3 tiers of the pink sections, as well as a top strapless dress that had the top white skirt on it. The tiers pleated with a ruffler foot and were attached to a base circle skirt. You can see how I did this in this Instagram video where the skirt slides all over and reveals my shame.
For the white top dress, I'm seriously considering remaking it with a different pattern. I drafted my own corset pattern, but I regret not drafting actual bra cups into into it because my shape totally vanishes.
Other than that I just appliqued a nude colored fabric on there and used half of a plastic Dollar Store light up ball for my gem!