susan's archery dress
Completed July 2006
This dress is worn by Susan Pevensie in the movie The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe. I loved the Chronicles of Narnia as a kid, and I absolutely fell in love with the movie. Even before the movie came out I saw pictures of Susan wearing a green dress. And I fell in love with that as well. I loved the simplicity of it and the color. Of course, this dress is anything but simple, but I decided to make it anyway. You can see my research on the dress on my research page, or you can see another research page at The Wardrobe Door.
~Outer dress: Green tropical weight wool, still waiting to see if fabric works.
~Underdress and lining: China silk, which I will have to dye light green
Simplicity 9891 for the sleeves
Hurdle 1: Strange 3 seamed princess seams
I began by making a muslin for the overdress. As you can see in the picture here instead of normal princess seams, there is a third piece in the dress. Using McCalls 4491, I tried to make the extra princess seam by cutting the front-side pieces down the middle. But even with seam allowances the width of both came to about 2 inches. Way to small. So I cut an extra front-side piece for each side, which made the whole dress huge. So I took in all the seams. If you count the first two pieces as one piece, and the second side piece as the other piece, they are about the right size. You can see here, the first picture, in the black box, was the side piece cut in two and sewn together. Way too small as you can see. The second picture shows the new side peice I cut. Count the two thin pieces as one piece, and the new side piece as the other, and I think I have a working mock-up. Hurdle 1: Cleared.
I was going back and forth on the fabric alot. I had started looking around for fabric way back when I first saw this dress and wanted to possibly make it. After debating between a dark green tropical weight wool for $9.00 a yard from Fashionfabricsclub.com and a wool gaberdine blend for $7.00 a yard from fabric.com, I finally decided to go with the wool blend from fabric.com because it was cheaper and they had free shipping on the first order. However, I got the fabric and it was too dark. It was more like a black-green. So I sent it back and ordered Hunter green tropical weight stretch worsted wool from fashionfabricsclub.com for $10 a yard. It was more than I wanted to spend, but I couldn't find a better alternative. I'm waiting to see if that color is better.
I want to get china silk to line the sleeves in and make the underdress out of. I want to get this done by July for the Ren Faire, where I will no doubt pass out from heat exhaustion from wearing a wool dress. Maybe I'll just wear the underdress to the Faire and wear the whole thing to this smaller Ren Faire that I found out is in October. Then I could make the cloak with the actual trim (assuming that I can save up enough money for it). I ordered the light green haboti silk from thaisilks.com, but it was too lime in color. I think I am going to buy white haboti silk and dye it myself. This should be interesting.
Hurdle 2: Sleeves
I figured out the overdress sleeves tonight. This is probably going to be confusing so I'll show pictures as I describe what I did.
1. I used Simplicity 9891 sleeve B just because I don't have any patterns with long sleeves. I lengthened it by about 8 inches.
2. Next I decided that I wanted 5 slits in the dress, so I cut out 5 ovals which were 3 inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide. I laid them down on a strip of fabric and positioned them where I wanted them to be on the sleeve, right sides of the fabric facing each other. They are a finger width apart from each other with about 3/4 of an inch on the ends. (not counting the room for a seam allowance) The strip of fabric is about a hand's width above the elbow, even with the bust. (I've decided that I want the slits to be thinner so I think on the real dress I will make them 1 inch wide)
3. Next I traced the ovals onto the strip of fabric.
4. Next I sewed around the ovals that I had traced. Once all were sewn down, I cut out the center and clipped the curves. I also cut the strip between each oval. I then pulled the fabric through the hole to the back side of the sleeve and pinned into place.
5. I did the same process for the rest of the ovals, although I decided when I make the real sleeve, I'm going to put interfacing in between the ovals to strengthen the fabric.
Pictures corresponding to the numbers are below:
I started working on the quiver for this outfit. I must be crazy. I started out by making a skeleton quiver out of a piece of screen that I found in my basement.
I covered that with paper mache. It didn't want to stick to the screen, that's for sure, but I wrapped some long pieces around it, so it should hopefully hold long enough to dry. Then, I plan to paint casting resin on it, paint it white and gloss it. I haven't figured out how to do the carvings yet.
I'm still working on perfecting the wrist of the dress. I was staring at some pictures of the dress when I noticed something a bit odd about the sleeves. From the look of the dress, the wrist is shorter on the inside and comes to a longer point on the back of the hand. This allows the sleeve to be out of the way when firing an arrow. One would think that the shortest point of the sleeve would be on the seam, and the longest point would be directly across from it on the back of the hand. After looking at pictures, I'm not sure that's the case. The pictures Here, here, here, and here, make me less certain. (These pictures are all crops from photos from photobucket) From the look of those pictures, it appears that the shortest point is actually to the right (or left, depending on the sleeve) of the seam. Meaning, that if you hold your hands at your sides, the shortest poing would be at your wristbone by your thumb, sloping downward, past the seam, to the lowest point, the wristbone by your pinky.
It's not right yet, I need it to flare out more at the ends, but it's a start.
I'm still not positve that this is correct, but I made a pattern the other way, with the shortest point being at the inside seam, and it didn't look right, so....we'll see
I have a picture of my dried paper mache quiver.
It's kinda lumpy, the paper didn't want to stay on the screen. So I'm either going to duct tape it into shape or apply more paper mache to even it out. I want to test the casting resin first to see if it will stick on the duct tape. Then I'm going to cover it in casting resin. Honestly, I have no idea if this will even work. I guess I'll find out.
Well, I recieved the green wool fabric from fabric.com and the "pine green" color is more of a "pine tree at midnight in the middle of a forest" green. So it would be perfect for the Stone Table scene, but not much else. So in the end I ordered the $10 a yard hunter green stretch worsted wool, tropical weight from fashionfabricsclub.com. I really didn't want to spend that much, but I couldn't find anything else. I really hope this color is better because I don't want to have to return more fabric.
I also recieved the light green 8mm haboti silk, which was too bright of a green. It was more lime than mint. So I think I am going to bite the bullet and just dye some. Eeek. I also think I want a heavier silk than the stuff I ordered. 8mm just seemed a little too thin.
I also started carving my horn out of a styrofoam cone. I've never carved anything before so it's slow going. Here is what I have so far, it needs to be made thinner and I have to figure out the carvings of the lion head.
I finally had time to work on this costume. I cut out the fabric and managed to get the pannels all sewn together. I just have to fix some of the fitting issues. Basically taking it in in places. Here are some pictures of the progress so far:
I put in the back lacing today. I used back cording that I had in my stash and cut it into 2 inch pieces. I lined the pieces of cord up about 2 inches apart, using 10 pieces on each side. The dress is finally starting to look like Susan's!
I finally did some more work on this dress. Nothing to post pictures about, I was just fitting the front panel better. I had not been cooperating and I was getting worried that it wouldn't fit right. But I finally got it to work, so that's settled. Once school is over I'll have about a month to get the dress and accessories finished before the faire...I better get working on it! As soon as school is over, I'll be working on this dress like mad!
I began working on this again. I cut out the slits and faced them on the green material exactly how I did it on the mock up. Directions (and pictures) are written above. The next step is the emboridery. I also bought 10mm white china silk from silk connection, but our washing machine and utility tub are disconnected, so I won't be able to dye it until that gets fixed. But in the meantime, here are some pictures of my progress. (The materials isn't as see through as the second picture makes it seem.)
I am done embroidering one sleeve! And I have the pictures to prove it:
Here is a picture of the finished embroidery. And since my camera hates me, it must show the fabric much bluer and see-through than it really is.
Here's another picture of the embroidery after I've messed with the picture in photoshop trying to make it look more like what's sitting in front of me.
And here's a picture of the entire sleeve that makes my carpet look purple. Well at least it does on my computer screen. I'm not sure if it will appear purple on everyone elses. And you really can't see the interfacing in real life. My camera decided that it must show it in every picture, but really, it's not visible.
I'll post my pattern of the embroidery soon. I want to copy it better so it shows up darker when I scan it. I'll get that up in the next couple of days.
Here's my embroidery pattern for the sleeves
I finished the embroidery on both sleeves! No pictures of that, but I have pictures of my horn. They aren't very good, but here are some of the horn covered in plaster. I still need to sand it down and add another thin layer, the first one didn't cover it evenly. In the next layer I'm going to carve the lion shape. Then I plan to put the casting resin on it and see what happens. Here are the pictures:
I fixed the notch in the front of the dress, it was too short before, so I made it longer. I also put the 4 eyelets on the sides of the notch. I also drew up a pattern for the neckline embroidery:
I used this picture, this picture, and this picture to come up with the following pattern.
I finished hand embroidering the neckline on the overdress, I am almost done with the overdress, then I need to start the underdress
Happy 4th of July! Ok, I have been working on this, just not updating. I sanded and carved the horn, but I have no pictures of it yet because I want to fix the carvings a bit. I also tried to stamp the leather belt I bought for the quiver strap, but it wasn't 100% leather so it didn't take to the stamping. So I guess the strap will not be embossed. That's ok. I also cut the belt so the buckle is in front and in the right position. Pictures of my progress:
Yesterday I was finally able to dye the china silk fabric for the underdress. I used 1 package of RIT Kelly Green dye and a half package of RIT gray dye. The fabric took the dye wonderfully and it actually came out too dark. It's a gorgeous color, it just doesn't work for the underdress. So I'm going to try and lighten it by quickly dipping it into dye remover. I hope this works and that it won't come out all splotchy. Here's a picture:
I have been doing a lot actually, I just haven't had time to update. I tried the dye remover and it worked! I only used half the package because I didn't know how strong the stuff was, but I could have used it all and the fabric was still a bit dark when I took it out. But I didn't care and decided to go for it anyway. I washed and dried the fabric and cut out the underdress and the sleeve lining. The underdress was Simplicity pattern 9103, a simple scoop neck 3 seam dress which I lengthened 7 inches. I sewed the pieces together and added a zipper in the back. Then I cut out the sleeve lining. I laid one of the over sleeves down on the fabric and used that as a pattern. I then cut apart the sleeve right above and right below the slits so the sleeve lining was in 3 pieces. I then cut new pieces that were longer and wider than the middle pieces and gathered the edges together. This makes it bunch up and poke through the slits in the oversleeve. I then sewed the larger piece in between the 2 other sleeve lining pieces. Once the sleeve lining was back in one large piece, I sewed them into tubes, placed the outer sleeves inside of them, sewed around the wrists and flipped them right side out. I then attached them to the rest of the outer dress. Here is a picture of the sleeve lining:
And the sleeves sewn to the body of the dress:
I've been working on bits and pieces for the past few days. I inserted hooks into the horn by carving two slits into the horn and filing them with superglue. Then I stuck the hooks into the glue-filled slots and it hardened. I also bought white spray paint and painted the horn, so the horn is done! I just have to see if the purse arrives from ebay or not. The horn didn't exactly turn out how I wanted it to. It kind of looks like a 5 year old made it. It looks great from about 10 feet away, but any closer and yikes.
I also finally got around to putting the casting resin on the quiver. It's drying right now, so we'll see what happens. The plaster cracked right off, so I hope this stuff stays.
I also got an email back from dancewear.com and they are going to ship me my new ghillies so I can have them by this Saturday. I had ordered black ghillies from them since I don't really like the style of Susan's shoes in the movie. I liked Lucy's shoes better so I went online and looked for ghillies. The website says to order the same as your street shoe size, so I did and they were way too small. Definitely order a size up if you order from them. But I am very impressed by their service and definitely recommend them to anyone who needs dance shoes and wears.
It's done! Seven months later and this dress is finally finished!! I debuted it at the local Renaissance Faire today, but it was so hot out that I only made it half the day in this costume. But I took some fun pictures before I changed. First, pictures of what I've been frantically working on for the past few days.
As of 12:45 am on July 27th the archery dress was finished! Until I tried it all on and decided that I hated the neckline of the under dress and wanted to lower it a bit. So I picked out all the stitches around the neck and shoulders and lowered the neckline an inch or so. But the outer dress is hemmed and finished except for the brown lacing that goes through the front eyelets. I have some, I just need to find where I put it. Here is the under dress. I decided to go with short sleeves instead of long sleeves because I'm wearing it in summer and I think I would die with 3 layers of long sleeves.
The horn is also officially done. You know that purse which I had been complaining hadn't come from ebay? Well, the purse came and I detached the strap and hooked it onto the horn.
The resin on the quiver finally hardened. It's been so humid out that even though I put the stuff on on Sunday, it finally dried Thursday. And that was after I had moved it from the garage to the basement where it was cooler. So I spray painted a few coats of white onto it. And...well... you could see cracks. I didn't think it's the resin because that was sticking on the paper mache, but I think it was where the paper mache was uneven. So then I tried to carve it. Only that didn't work at all. It pulled the paint off and really didn't work. So as I was running out of time I decided to paint the designs on using silver paint. So it basically looked like a 3 year old made the quiver. But I finished it around 11 last night and I really didn't care anymore. I also painted the SP onto the back and attached the leather strap by drilling a hole into the quiver (which I had done before I put the resin and paint onto the quiver) and inserting 2 screws, one at the top and one at the bottom. Here is the finished quiver:
The bow was just a stick that I found in my yard. I whittled off the bark and cut it to the correct length. I put plaster on the end to imitate the white part on Susan's bow. I then painted the bow dark brown and painted accents of silver vines and leaves down it. I used red ribbon wrapped around the bow to imitate the bow string.
I also took pictures of my ghillie shoes that I bought from dancewear.com. I really didn't like Susan's shoes; I liked Lucy's much better. So I decided to go with ghillies, the style that she was wearing. They are very fun, but the have very thin soles. They have a split sole and are made out of very thin leather. I can say from experience that walking on gravel in them is not a very pleasant experience. But they look really good!
Because I took quite a few pictures of the dress and this page already has many images on it, I made a separate gallery where you can view the pictures of my completed costume. Click on the picture to be taken there.
Also, you can check out Ping over at Shiny Costumes who is also making this dress.