October 27, 2014

Rumpelstiltskin Progress Report

The idea for a Rumpelstiltskin inspired  Regency dress took flight and after four days of sewing, the dress is finished!  I am very pleased with how the dress turned out, especially because a majority of it is hand sewn, skills I have been practicing throughout my internship.

The first part I took on was the bodice.  I adapted a previous attempt at draping for the pattern and set straight to work assembling a basic square neckline bodice, flat lined with black cotton.  I then folded over and whip stitched the back opening and applied hook and eye tape (reused from another costume).  On the bottom edge, I added a 1" band to serve as both a decorative band and a way to hide the skirt attachment.

Making the sleeves was a process of trial and error.  The long sleeve was simple and straightforward - just a basic straight sleeve shape with plenty of gathering at the shoulder.  However, the short, decorative sleeve puff was a nightmare because cheap polyester chiffon is a very, very unfriendly material.  Most of it had to be sewn by hand, though I did use the machine to do the gathering (make sure to securely knot the ends!) and hemming (I found that fray check was too messy for this project).

Side view of gathered sleeve.

So if you ever find yourself having to work with chiffon, here are my tips & tricks:
  1. Have plenty of material, extra is even better!  It took nearly a yard and a half for those sleeves and several do-overs...
  2. Cut all pieces single layer, chiffon tends to move as you cut.  You'll end up with two different shaped pieces if you try double layers.  
  3. Best trick: iron and spray starch each piece before sewing.  The result is amazing!  It makes the fabric less slippery and gives it the texture of organza, which is a lot easier to work with.   
  4. Use this method to narrow hem chiffon by machine - it will save you hours of frustration!  Tutorial found here: http://thehabygoddess.blogspot.com/2013/02/tutorial-how-to-hem-chiffon-and-other.html

Inside sleeve detail.

Trimming also was a process full of many trials and attempts.  After trying several different designs, I finally settled on just sewing tabs around the edge, tacking pretty buttons on the centers and binding the edge with black cotton bias tape.

Original design. 

Finished design front.

Finished design back.

The second part I tackled was the skirt.  Easy peasy compared the the first part - I just ripped two panels for a total 90" circumference, seamed and flat felled them and stitched on a 3" black cotton hem facing.  Then, I narrow hemmed an opening, and balanced the skirt with full gathers in the back and tiny pleats in the front.

Hem facing detail.

After binding the skirt with 1" bias tape, I securely whip stitched it onto the inside of the bodice.  And, ta da, a finished Rumpelstiltskin Regency dress!

Overlapping closure detail.

A view of the "gown guts"

Finished in time for and first worn during the annual trick or treat in the village event - which, by the way, was a whole candy bucket of fun!  The three of us painted children's faces and hands non-stop from noon to four...and, last I heard, the count for the event was 1500+ visitors (and I'm pretty sure we painted each one of their faces)!

Couldn't resist, Hello Kitty is just so cute!

Next on the sewing list: accessories to finish my costume...


  1. What a wonderful project, the finished dress is stunning and looks so wearable. Thanks for sharing your construction and tips :)

    1. Thank you for the lovely comments, Kura!! I do hope that the construction & tips were helpful - it was truly a process of trial and error! Anneliese :)