Saturday, January 19, 2019

The Sarah Masquerade Gown from Labyrinth - Photos!

A month after Costume College I did my hair and headed out to a river to take some pictures of my Sarah gown. We did a lot of movement photos as I think its more interesting to see the dress in action. To be honest I am not sure I will ever wear it again but has been such an adventure to get to the Costume College Gala and I am happy that I accomplished my dream dress.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

The Sarah Masquerade Gown from Labyrinth - Part Two

When I left off, I had mostly completed the gown. At this point, the skirts were almost done. The bodice was complete and the sleeve tops had been attached.  I then returned to the sleeves and did the bottom half. This was a bit odd schedule wise but it worked for me. I knew they wouldn't be terribly difficult and I wanted to see the dress on to get the right proportions. Having entire sleeve done beforehand would have just gotten in the way (again, this is my personal preference. You may be reading this saying you could never and that is fine too).

You may remember this from part one. The sleeves are on just floating around at the bottom.

I had made the tops of the sleeves out of a rectangle, gathering the tops and then hand sewing it to the bodice. You may recall that the sleeve was made of several layers. I refer to it as essentially having two. I had the top (that you see) with sheer white, then rainbow organza, then lace, then white cotton. and the second layer under that, the lining, which was broadcloth interlined with stiff netting. I took white tulle and shoved in between these two layers. I measured around my arms and cut out another rectangle. This one consisted of the sheer white, rainbow organza and white broadcloth. My lining was a silky polyester something (official name I just came up with) that felt comfortable against my skin.

I then attached the top sleeve to the bottom by way of tucking under the top edge and hand sewing to the lower sleeve bit. This was tedious and frustrating. Despite serging all edges the rainbow organza still tore. Thankfully the sleeve was enough layers that it stayed put. I sewed lace applique to the edge of the sleeve. It is worth noting that the sleeve ends in a v on the on hand. I did a shallow v because I thought it would be more aesthetically pleasing. The movie costume has random tulle sewn to the sleeves on ether side. They sort of trail out and create a little indentation.  I ended up ripping some white tulle and simply tacking in place, sewing through all the layers.

Due to how I attached the lace at edge the v got a bit lost. 

The tulle shreds ended up blending in with the gown!

The only thing left was the brooch that holds up the front skirt. Many times we have assumed this was a giant gem or cluster. It is not! Thanks to the dress being displayed we know that it is a gold net bag full of goblin gems. I took four pieces of gold tulle and wrapped up some sea glass and random rhinestones into a little bag. I then attached that to the front after securing the skirt first.

Gold net bag, check!

And then the fun accessory stuff! I started with my white satin shoes I had worn with my green robe a la francaise. I ripped off the purple bows, cut out more lace and applied it to the shoes with shoe goo. I  carefully added gemstones at random. I figured the goblins would have sprinkled gems in the same manner they did the bodice. It was actually very enjoyable to decorate the shoes and I would like to do more in the future. I also quickly threw together a satin bag with some lace applique and got a  sparkly silver fan (even a goblin princess gets hot).

I really do love how these shoes turned out!

Next was trying to replicate the hair. I have seen many variations of this and obviously all we can do is use movie stills. There are some pesky promo pictures that confuse things. Obviously I ignored those. 

The three main pictures I used

Promo picture. She is so very beautiful. And that hairpiece is so very different than in the movie.

Lets break this down the hairstyle. The dress had a fabulous 1980's poof in front that is almost half up half down. The poof is a bit high in the very front but then really extended out further down the head in the back. You can see in the picture above with Bowie that the hair really had a lot of volume that didn't start right at the top. Silver wire is woven through the hair, starting on either ear. The wire has leaves and small sparkly bits intertwined. There are iridescent ribbons tied to both Sarah's hair and the hairpiece. Note the hairpiece looks pliable. It is molded to gently rest on her teased hair. The hair itself is teased throughout with giant curls. 

I began with silver jewelry wire (Joanns had a sale and I was inspired). I grabbed two packs and then headed to Michaels, where I found silver leaves in the wedding department. I also found little clear gems on the tips of silver wire and grabbed a pack of those. The leaves are already attached to wire which is very handy! I then went home and my sister helped me devise a method to get the volume to my hair. We cut one donut in half (H&M sells them in two sizes) and left one small one whole. We teased my entire head of hair then gathered the front and secured with some bobby pins. We then fed some hair through a donut and secured the other right next to it. I then attached a hunk of false hair above that. We smoothed the entire thing up and out.

You can see some hair pulled through the donut and then a cut donut above that.

Once the hair was smoothed out we took the wire and simply scrunched and carefully pinned to the hair. On one side I created a loop and attached some ribbon and leaves to it. My sister carefully bent and twirled the wire around my hair. She then went back and twisted the leaves and gems in. Overall I was happy with the result, though we both agreed I needed more volume and less wire on the very back. The false hair was also slightly too dark so I ordered some more to better match my own hair.

The make up was fairly simple. Jennifer Connelly has green eyes. I obviously do not so my make up was a little different to accommodate. The eyebrows were brushed up and some pencil added. I then applied some light purple and silver to my entire eyelid and a dark brown only to the half the eyelid. Some eyeliner on top and bottom of the eye, again starting halfway. Light blush and light pink lipstick completes the look. 

If you squint and use some goblin magic it looks like Sarah is in my guest bathroom

It was time to pack up for Costume College! The bodice went in a big box and I hung the skirts on hangers. The grand pannier thankfully flattens into a big circle, which is very helpful,

The bodice resting in the hotel room. It was so unwieldy I had nowhere else to put it!

Sat afternoon I did my hair by myself. I forgot to bring a hand mirror so I was reliant on my phone and the bathroom mirror. I couldn't see the back of my head. Thankfully I think it worked out. In went the wire and the gems. My friend made me the most beautiful Sarah necklace and I wore my earrings that my niece had gifted me for my birthday. I felt pretty great! 

In the hotel room right before I got dressed

On the way down to the red carpet I discovered my tulle layer was a little bit too long. I ended up tripping on it repeatedly. Right before I walked the red carpet I reached down and simply tore a huge chunk of it off. I then had to lift my skirts to move fast.  I managed to sit in my giant grand pannier.  I did take some pictures but not many as it was such a busy night. On my way however I managed to get some window photos, where you can see how big the skirts were! I attended the gala dinner, got to talk to so many wonderful people and danced in the ballroom afterwards. The whole evening was a bit of a blur. Everyone looked absolutely lovely. And then just like that, it was time to take off Sarah and leave the Goblin world behind.

Don't let that camera angle fool you, my skirts were HUGE!

I apparently took quite a few of these

Photo by Debbie Boyd

Thursday, January 3, 2019

The Sarah Masquerade gown from Labyrinth -Part One

The first movie scene that had an impact on me was the beautiful Sarah Williams lost in a daydream ballroom, dancing with the Goblin King in Labyrinth. Her dress was the stuff of 1980's legend - giant iridescent sleeves, beading on the bodice, and a skirt so big it couldn't fit in the camera shot. Although the dress loomed large in my mind, I always assumed I couldn't make it. It looked too complex, too much work and too BIG.

Those sleeves! That Skirt! THAT HAIR!

I didn't think much about making it until a friend called to tell me the dress was on display at a museum. I started to really ponder when I signed up for my first Costume College. I knew it could only be Sarah for the big gala red carpet. I started to look up movie stills, photos and movie information.  A friend graciously took photos at the museum when she was visiting Seattle. And then I sat down and started to dissect the gown.

Nothing about this gown looks simple

There are two main components to the Sarah gown - structure and embellishment. Structure was simple to deduce. A grand pannier (a la 18th century fashion), two skirts and a boned bodice. The low neckline, off the shoulder giant sleeves and small waist all pointed to a vague 1830's look. The embellishments on closer inspection were not that difficult - lots of lace, scattered random sea glass and beads, and a LOT of shimmery fragile rainbow lamé organza.

I began with Truly Victorian's 1830 dress pattern. To make matters easier, I had already used this pattern not long before to make my Taglioni sylph. No mock up was really needed. I did some modifications to get the shape I wanted. I extended the dart busts into princess seams for that 1980's look. I also moved the back side seams closer to the front. I let out the seams at the waist a bit and extended the v so that it was more pronounced. Really, the bodice flares over the hips however I changed this part to better suit my body type. It is a change I am ok with this as I prefer how the overall lines of the gown looked in the end.

Classic 1830's dress pattern illustration from Truly Victorian

I had less luck with the grand pannier. Simplicity makes one but it is only on demand. Time was not on my side and I didn't want to wait for them to assemble and mail. However, I reached out in my local costume guild and found someone nice enough to let me borrow it! 

I now had my basic idea formalized and knew how to actually construct the dress. Huzzah! At this point I was a Sarah at the beginning of the labyrinth, gleefully skipping through. "I got this! Its more simple than it looks!" This was however about to be shattered when I watched the actual dance scene again and studied the fabric and beads. Watch the scene here.

The ballroom scene is documented in the making of video that you can find when purchasing the dvd of the movie (or watch it on youtube here). They show that it was shot through a giant crystal half sphere, so that it felt like a hazy dream for Sarah. The lighting is muted and Sarah pushes her way through crowds, so that your views of the dress are limited. We see her dance, the panniers sweeping around in a waltz. What is very apparent is that nothing is clear at all! The gown exists within a made up world, shot through a special lense to create a certain mood. And this is where my conflict arose.

Wake up Sarah! Its not real!

The actual dress,which is making its away across the country, first in Seattle, then Los Angeles and currently on its way to a new city, showcases a very different idea. First of all, the costume designer used some very unconventional materials. Paper, rough glass, newspaper. Fine for a movie but not for me. I love that it is so creative and unconventional however I did not want to worry about bits falling when I was at the gala. There is a great interview with Ellis Flyte, the costume designer,(read here) that goes into a bit of detail. Broken down fabric! Rainbow paper! Oh my. 

The dress on display

Add to that the fact that the gown on display does not accurately portray how it was worn in the film. They have placed the gown high up on the shoulders, creating a very different look and making it difficult for me to figure out how it looked in the movie. The fit of the bodice at waist and the support structure look slightly different than on the actress Jennifer Connelly. The lighting is so subdued it completely changed the color. I was back to my original problem that I had with the Sylph. How do I accurately recreate the dress? Do I recreate as it appears in the movie? Do I faithfully copy the actual dress in the museum? What in the world am I doing? 

In the end, I decided to go with the movie. I had sought out to do an EXACT replica but I think that was overly ambitious for a first time cosplayer. Something had to give. The actual lace used doesn't  even exist anymore! I found the rainbow lamé organza for quite a deal and ordered 20 yards. I found beautiful silver lace on and got two bolts of white tulle. In addition, I purchased white twill for interlining, 10 yards of white silk taffeta, 12 yards of sheer white organza, 8 yards of stiff white netting and 10 yards of basic white cotton broadcloth.

Shimmery rainbow lame and silver lace ready to go!

I began with the grand pannier. The simplicity pattern is straightfoward. I didn't even look at the directions because the shape was simple. I left a slit on either side so I could access a pocket tied to my waist (just like a proper 18th century woman). To be honest, I found the whole thing boring and tedious. It wasn't even that complicated but I did not enjoy the process. 

Don't be fooled by that smile, I whined the entire time

When it came time for boning I had a hard time. American Duchess wrote a blogpost where she used very long zip ties. I tried this but I didn't try hard enough to secure the zip ties to each other and it was a fail. I also watched the Angela Clayton youtube video in which she was not happy with the hoop wire she ordered. In the end I went to my cheap amazon hoop skirt, took out the wire and used that!  American Duchess noted that she added a boning channel to the bottom of the pannier so I decided to copy this idea so I would have more structure. 

All done yaaaaaaay

Then it was time for the bodice. I first sewed up the lining bodice in white broadcloth, lowered the neckline and quickly tried it on for fit. I interlined the rainbow organza with white satin (leftover from the Sylph) and white twill and sewed the bodice up on my trusty 401a.

Easy peasy. HAHAHA yeah right. The organza kept tearing despite me serging all the edges. I would be covering it with lace so I didn't stress too much.

There are no pictures for proof, but I added boning channels to all the seams on the lining, plus four more channels to the back including at center back. I opted for a sturdy separating zipper closure. Next I took my lovely silver lace and carefully cut it out, creating appliques. I hand sewed the lace to the bodice, which ended up taking around 12 hours (thanks to Poldark for keeping me occupied while I did this). The lace is slightly raised, which ended up creating such a beautiful effect. I spent so much time stressing over the lace and finding the perfect one. In the end, I am so happy with how it looks. 

Zipper is in, I carefully hand sewed pieces of lace all over of the bodice.

Front bodice with lace placed to see how it looks

The sleeves were constructed in three parts. First I took sheer white organza, then the rainbow organza and placed it over the lace. I then put silk taffeta under that as an underlining. I used the white broadcloth and two layers of stiff netting cut as a second sleeve. I sewed the seams up separately then attached to the armhole. In between the two layers I stuffed white soft tulle. The sleeves didn't need much thanks to the taffeta and the stiff netting!

Playing around with the the sleeve treatments. In one I used just plain white organza. In the other I did a layer of sheer organza, then rainbow organza and finally the lace. I opted for the second to create a more dreamy look and to contrast more with the bodice.

Giant sleeve! This was before I even added the tulle stuffing!

The top of the sleeves were gathered and I handsewed them to the bodice as it was a bit bulky. I reinforced by serging all around (which was not easy). I then inserted zip tie boning to either side of the zipper so that the back would lay flat. I opted not to wear a corset. The bodice had lots of boning and the skirt supports were light. At this point I tried it on.

The bottom of the sleeves are open and waiting for the second part but it still looks like Sarah!

I then collected beads from all over. I even had friends in different states looking for me. Thankfully the craft shops and local stores had plenty of options. I ordered some rhinestones online, including the giant one in the center. I then used a combination of sewing beads at random and shoe goo to glue them on. Shoe goo is strong stuff! I placed all the beads in a bowl and just grabbed a couple at a time. The beads are scattered on the bodice. There is a small yellow rose made of tulle on one side of the neckline and a giant stone center of the bodice. More stones are seen at the point.

Surely the goblin seamstresses would approve

The skirts were very straightforward. I constructed two petticoats as if they were being used for an 18th century robe a la francaise. This meant they had open slits on either side and tied with drawstrings, so that I could reach through all the layers and access the pocket. 

I draped yards and yards of the rainbow organza to get an idea of how much I would need. I believe the total ended up being 14 yards.

I created a pleated simple 18th century petticoat of silk taffeta. I then attached white tulle one to two inches below the waistline all the way around. I made note of the v in the bodice and made sure the tulle started lower there so the bodice would lie flat against my waist and stomach. 

First two layers of tulle. I am not quite sure how much I ended up using, but I will guess around 50 yards.

The second petticoat to go over the tulle layer was one made of the rainbow organza, one layer of lace and then another layer of organza! This would then be hiked up on one side and secured with a net bag full of goblin gems. I did deep pleats for this layer, as seen on the actual dress. I scrunched the organza up and secured with rubberbands, leaving it overnight. In the morning I took everything out and then hoped the wrinkles would hold. I roll hemmed the organza (and the taffeta) with my serger, which was a real time saver!

Organza petticoat ready to go, minus the gems

The try on of the bodice with the skirts was both exhilarating and nerve-wracking. Everyone goes through the process of fear, frustration and finally happiness. Trying on the gown at various stages kept me going and encouraged. I am going to stop here as this post is so long and there is still much to cover (bottom half of sleeves, details, hair and make up, accessories). Look for part two shortly!

Minus the tulle, marking my waist for the skirts

Trying on the top petticoat. You obviously can not tell but I was very upset in this photo. I felt the pleated layer didn't look right. I  scrunched up the organza for the crinkle look but wasn't pleased. I hated the lace because you couldn't see it at all.

Can you tell how huge I am? The skirt took up so much room!