Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Once Upon a Dream

I think it was August when Rosie told me that she wanted to be Princess Aurora for Halloween. Over the summer she had fallen in love with an old video cassette we had of Disney's "Sleeping Beauty". Despite iffy audio quality and fuzzy picture, she watched the video over and over. So, she decided, the only thing that would do for her Halloween costume was Aurora's blue dress. More modern interpretations often depict this dress as pink, but the authentic blue was the obvious choice for Rose. 
We couldn't find a gold tiara and necklace so Rose helped
me spray paint a cheap silver-colored plastic set with gold
metallic spray paint and dust with LOTS of gold glitter!
I put off making her dress until this month because I wasn't sure if she would change her mind or not. She did not. Aurora's blue dress it still was, so that is what we made. While we were at it we made a dress for Anne. Anne couldn't quite decide what kind of costume we wanted so I told her that I would make her a dress and she could decide if she liked it or not. Thankfully, she did!

I made these dresses from a modern generic girls dress pattern, using only the bodice pieces to get the size about right. For Anne we used size 8 and for Rose size 4. Using a modern dress bodice pattern gave us a round waist, versus the Disney princess-style pointed waist but that was ok. To save myself stress I decided I was going for the general look and impression rather than making a detailed copy! This was, I think, the right choice. It sure made these dresses much easier and quicker to make!

I used two blue sheets for Rosie's dress, since Aurora's gown was also made in two shades  (sometimes three?) shades of blue. The brightest blue was used for the skirt, with a lighter grey-blue for the sleeves and the peplum/belt. Some illustrations show the bodice as being the same blue as the skirt, but some show it darker, so we used a bit of leftover indigo denim for the bodice, lined with more of the bright blue sheet. For the stand up collar, I used some white cotton scraps stiffened with interfacing. The collar was constructed separately from the dress and simply topstitched into place on the finished bodice. To cover the seamline between the bodice and collar I added a pale pink ribbon and two rows of gold metal soutache, also left over from previous projects. Rose asked for the heart shaped "jewel" from a broken dollar-store necklace to be sewn onto the collar for decoration. She was very happy with her finished gown! I stitched in a gold zipper and immediately she put it on and has worn it almost everywhere since. 
She absolutely had to have a petticoat, so we made this one from
a ruffled pillowcase.
Anne's dress was inspired by the a tablecloth I had sitting on my shelf for the past almost two years. When we moved into this home two years ago one of my favorite rooms was the dining room, which the previous owner had made over from a porch. Our much used dining room table looked tiny and shabby in the middle of that big room but it was all we had at the time. When  my parents came to visit a few months later my dad brought out their old, enormous dining room table - the one my siblings and I had spent many years around! - with two leaves and eight matching chairs and their lovely gift fit perfectly in the dining room. It has meant so much to me to have this beautiful piece of my history in my own home, and to now have my own little ones making memories around it - meals, parties, crafts and nights of homework, decorating Christmas cookies and kneading bread dough - is a truly wonderful gift from my parents!

Along with the table my mother brought a stack of tablecloths and I have never used a single one as a tablecloth. 😂 I have used several for sewing projects and the gold one seemed absolutely perfect to make a version of Belle's dress for Anne! I dug through a basket of scraps for the bit of yellow fabric I had left over from making my yellow peasant blouse earlier this year. I had just enough left to make a draped shoulder piece and some trim for the skirt. The tablecloth didn't have quite enough yardage to make a skirt long enough for Anne's tall legs, but the last bit of yellow scrap was enough to piece out a modest ruffle to extend the skirt length. Since the yellow fabric is so thin I backed it with yellow cotton cut from a sheet. The bodice is lined with the same yellow cotton. My last bit of gold trim was sewn to the seam between the bodice and skirt and the seam between the skirt and the ruffle. Anne looks beautiful in her new dress and I am so happy that she loves it!

We kicked off Halloween season with a trick or treat last weekend. The weather was perfect and we all had so much fun! 

Much love,



  1. Dear Sarah,
    Such happy girls in their special dresses. May they twirl with joy...
    Very best,

  2. Hi Sarah! I have drawn so much inspiration from your blog over the ten years I have followed you.
    I have a random question about braid trim. Where do you buy yours? I used some on an apron recently, but it didn't wash well and it totally frayed everywhere. I want to put some on a dress project, but I'm afraid of it fraying again. I'm thinking I just bought cheap trim (random ebay seller years ago), because you can't tell me braid didn't stand up to wash day 150 years ago. *Sigh*

    1. Oh man, yes, the fraying was problematic at the cut ends. I actually just ended up dabbing some super glue a bit up from the end of the length, and then clipping the braid through the super glue to avoid the fraying ends. It's totally not period correct but well, it works. :D I have bought my braid from James Country sutlery, and, I think, some from Quartermaster. The best metallic braid I found, though, I got from the upholstery section of trim at Jo Anns. It came as a braided strand so I unbraided it and steamed it to straighten. In the 1860's, though, I think mostly braid was used on items that were not frequently washed, or just spot cleaned as needed. I use mine on wool military uniforms and have on silk or wool dresses that are not put under the strain of full immersion washing.

  3. Thank you! This is helpful, and good point about braid being used on items that were not shoved in a hot washtub and my apron. Ha


Thank you for your lovely thoughts!