Belle’s Green Dress

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.

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My original sketch

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.

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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.

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Then, I basically just followed the Simplicity pattern…

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…until I wanted to add my own details. Here I immediately veered away from my initial design, beginning with bows for the sleeves:

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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:

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Here’s the dress after I put everything together for the first time:

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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-

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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.

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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 🙂

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Welcome! + Cersei Red Dress Walkthrough

Hello! I’ve set up this space to track my progress on projects I’m currently working on, and also to provide walkthroughs of my cosplays. Hopefully you find something useful here, because I’ve had a few requests to do this, and I am HERE FOR YOU. I’m going to walk you through my red Cersei cosplay first, because it’s my baby, and it swallowed up a good six months of my life. It’s also why she’s the logo for this blog, which is beautifully drawn by Peony Lang (www.callmepeony.com).

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So, the thing with Game of Thrones cosplay- it *can* be simple. But if you start crawling down the rabbit hole of screen accuracy, you will soon be completely consumed. It’s extremely rewarding, but be forewarned. Onward.

What’s great about this specific version of Cersei is that there’s a McCall’s pattern that is virtually identical to her dress on the show. (McCall’s 6940)m6940_a

It’s fairly easy to make; if you’re an absolute beginner, you may have trouble with the curves on the top part of the gold side panels and the sleeve binding.

Here’s a picture of the inside of my assembled dress, minus sleeves. This is the easy part. It looks like so much progress BUT IT’S NOT.

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On to the bulk of the work- the embroidery. This is where the desire for screen accuracy can completely devour you, if you let it. Look at this thing:

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I started first with the gold scrollwork. I sketched the designs to match the real thing as closely as I could and then traced them onto organza. I colored in the designs with gold paint, and then started stitching on my gold wire mesh.

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The V shapes are metallic gold thread. Wire mesh is what Michele Carragher, the embroiderer on Game of Thrones, actually uses in her hand embroidery for amazing texture. I purchased all of mine from Etsy- you’re gonna need a LOT. The mesh stretches and bends to whatever shape you’ll need, and can actually stretch to fill a pretty large area. This takes a long, long, long time. I watched all three of the extended Lord of the Rings movies while I worked on this part and DIDN’T FINISH.

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I also used purple mesh to make the flowers, the bulk of which are on the sleeves. I added a ton of seed beads to these, too.

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Then- birds! Cersei has two really elaborate birds positioned on either side of her chest. The show version looks like they have feathers on them- I tried this and couldn’t get it to look great. Feathers also run the risk of looking shabby, really quickly.

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Finally, done with all of the gold embroidery.

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OH WAIT HAHA THERE’S STILL TWO GIGANTIC LIONS TO HAND-EMBROIDER

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There are frustratingly few good, clear pictures of these things. For a template, I just found a large Lannister sigil PNG online and traced it onto organza. I was able to deduce that these lions are mostly embroidery with some sections of fabric placed within them.

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Both of these are about a foot tall. They took a REALLY long time. I brought them to work with me once to work on them so I could finish them in time for Wondercon. SERIOUS BUSINESS.

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Once I cut those out and attached them to the side panels, I had to finally tackle the belt.I was extremely scared of it, both because it’s chain mail and because I have no idea how to work metal. I cheated on this part and asked my dad to make the metal panels because he has all the tools for this stuff in his garage. All I can really offer here is that they’re copper with a wash on them to make them look aged.

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Meanwhile, I started working on the chain mail. There’s a lot of really great tutorials on YouTube that explain how to make basic chain mail, and I HIGHLY recommend using aluminum rings for this. You can bend them with your fingers instead of pliers and it’ll go a lot faster. If you want to try making your own rings out of actual metal and go about it that way, uh, send me pics. I want to see.

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The BIG downside of the aluminum rings is that they can pop apart kind of easily. I have replacement rings at home and I always expect to have to do repairs on one or two rings after a con where I’ve been moving around a lot and rubbing up against the backs of chairs and stuff.

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You can always offer your friends FREE CHAIN MAIL MAKING LESSONS and have them make half of your belt for you. I found this method highly effective.

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Front and back of the belt. I DO recommend using real METAL rings to connect the front panels because they’re going to be taking the most stress. You don’t want these to pop off. Put them on with pliers and you won’t have to worry about the front of your belt falling apart.

The very last thing I did was add her neckpiece. I beaded the crap out of it and stitched it to the inside.

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And that was IT. DONE. About six months of pretty consistent work, every day.

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My wig is from Pungo Pungo– she is AMAAAZINNNNGGGG and everyone thinks my Cersei wigs are my real hair. My short-haired Cersei also comes from her.

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So there it is- easily the most time-consuming thing I’ve ever worked on. Hope you enjoyed! I’ll probably post a walkthrough of my Finale!Cersei at some point, too. Thanks for reading ❤