I recently made my own take on Belle’s library dress, and I’m really happy with how it turned out. This is the first cosplay that I’ve used my own design for, which was a really great experience, since I didn’t have to feel beholden to accuracy.
I really wanted to have this gown evoke 18th century fashion. I love this era in style- I wanted to balance the extravagance of women like Madam de Pompadour with the modesty of Belle. Here’s some pictures I used as inspiration:
Madam de Pompadour’s gowns were quite a bit more elaborate than what I wanted, but I still love that I can imagine someone like Belle lounging around in these with a book.
I started with Simplicity 4092. They have a few historical-ish costumes that work just fine for something like this. If you want to go all out and make it *completely* historically accurate, you’re going to have your work cut out for you.
Patterns like this are okay for a base, but once you start getting into the details, it’s not even close. For this project, I really didn’t care too much about accuracy. Belle’s fictional, and I just wanted the general silhouette of the 18th century without having to worry about the nuts and bolts.
Next: fabric! I used a dupioni for the bulk of the dress. I think the texture helps add some visual interest, which was especially helpful since I didn’t plan on adding a ton of floofs and frills. The other two greens are taffetas.
Then, I basically just followed the Simplicity pattern…
…until I wanted to add my own details. Here I immediately veered away from my initial design, beginning with bows for the sleeves:
And more rosettes than I intended on having. HEY, ROSETTES SUCK. BY THE WAY. These took *days* of work. This isn’t all of them, but you get the idea:
Here’s the dress after I put everything together for the first time:
Something seemed off to me, and I realized that it was definitely the bodice that was bugging me. I went back in and hand-stitched more frills on in a criss-cross pattern-
I also made a collar (made of *more* frills!). I made it out of the same light green material that the underskirt is made of so that the light green shade felt more unified with the rest of the dress.
And that was it! This dress went a lot more smoothly than I was expecting, barring the many, many, MANY hours spent hand-stitching. Hoping to wear this dress to both D23 and Comic Con. I’d really like to make more historically-inspired gowns for Disney princesses- I’m particularly inspired by the idea of a Gibson Girl dress for Ariel. We’ll see! My next walkthrough will probably be Wildfire Cersei, so stay tuned 🙂