There is nothing quite like dressing your little girl up in a ball gown costume for Halloween! Last year my daughter was Cinderella and I wanted to make the perfect dress for her! This is what I came up with:
I couldn’t resist throwing in a few extra pictures in! And even though this post is mainly about making a ball gown, I’ll let you know how I made the other costumes, too. For my son’s Prince Charming costume, I followed Ashley’s tutorial on Make It and Love It. Brilliant! For my hubby’s grand duke costume, I took an old shirt, dyed it blue, and added epaulettes to the shoulders (using the same method that I used when making my son’s costume). I then made a quick and easy sash by sewing two pieces of red fabric together in a loop. The awesome ‘stache we got at a Halloween store! My littlest man went as Gus Gus and just wore a yellow shirt and a little stocking cap that I totally winged using a lightweight green knit fabric. And for my Fairy Godmother costume? I used various tutorials to piece together the hooded cloak (you can find the tutorials I used in this post here). I lined the hood and the sleeves but didn’t worry about lining anything else—I didn’t need it to be fancy! I then wore a vintage pink nightgown underneath.
Okay, so back to the ball gown dress. This is what my daughter will be wearing this year:
And, in case you can’t tell, she’s going to be Belle!
I have a long love affair with Beauty and the Beast. I still remember when the Disney film was released in 1991. My family and I saw it the day after Thanksgiving and I was absolutely entranced. That film (as far as my memory serves me) was the big debut of computer animation and I remember staring, unblinking, at the ballroom scene and thinking about how incredible and real it looked! That chandelier? Who can forget it? I also remember my parents talking about how amazing that animation was. But it wasn’t just about the cutting-edge look of the movie–I fell in love with the music, the story, everything about it. I played the soundtrack over and over in my room and collected all sorts of movie memorabilia. It remained my favorite movie for a long, long time.
So you can imagine my excitement when, sometime last year, my kids fell in love with it too! My son LOVED pretending to the Beast and was adamant that I make him a Beast cape, which I did. And I was thrilled when, a few months ago, we settled on a Beauty and the Beast theme for Halloween.
Now let’s talk about these ball gown-type dresses. I think many people would be surprised to hear that they are actually quite simple to make! I whipped the Belle dress out in a couple of days and didn’t experience any of my usual sewing angst. The Cinderella dress took me a little longer because I was newer to sewing back then but really, I promise this type of dress is not too difficult. You can definitely still make one before Halloween.
For the bodice I used this tutorial from Homemade Toast. When I made the Cinderella dress a year ago, I was still learning a lot and this tutorial was perfect for me. It pushed me and help me learn some new things, but was also easy enough for me to accomplish. And this year? I figured why re-invent the wheel? I didn’t have to rely on the tutorial so much because I knew what I was doing, but I used the same concept. I LOVE using shirring on the bodice because it means I don’t have to add any zippers or buttons, and it makes the dress go on and off quite easily.
Last year I hand-sewed the trim down the bodice but this year I was like, “No way am I doing that again!” I used my machine and it worked just fine (and was about a million times faster). Along the top I just grabbed a spare piece of tulle and tacked it in the front and in the back. Easy-peasy. I might add a few gold button/beads in the front where the tulle is tacked, because that’s what Belle has on her gown. But I have to finish sewing the rest of the costumes before I start getting into doing stuff like that!
Now for the skirt. I really liked the skirts on Homemade Toast but remember my little addiction? I’m tulle-obsessed here. I HAD to have tulle. And, a year ago, I wasn’t quite sure how to go about making a tulle skirt using the sewing machine. So I purchased this pattern on Etsy and boy, I did not regret it! It cost $7.50 and was worth every penny. It is by far my favorite way to sew a tulle skirt. If you don’t want to buy a pattern, there are lots of tulle skirt tutorials out there, including the one I used in my Pirate Fairy costume tutorial. For this dress you just need to have the basic tulle skirt sewn and then be able to attach it to the dress.
Using the pattern I purchased from Etsy, I sewed the tulle skirt according to the instructions, stopping at the point where the pattern-maker tells you how to make a casing and insert the elastic. Instead of adding elastic to the waistband, I just took the waistband as it was, and sewed it to the bodice, using the instructions on Homemade Toast. For the Cinderella dress, I draped some white tulle on the sides to make the poofs, sewed those on, and then sewed the skirt to the dress.
The back—it doesn’t look quite as nice as the front, I really need to re-tack that tulle!
For the Belle dress this year, I wanted something extra-special. So I decided to drape some fabric over the tulle and add some pick-ups to give it that super-princessy feel. This might seem complicated, but it really isn’t!
Using the pattern from my daughter’s Easter dress as a guide, I made a simple skirt. The waist circumference was bigger than the circumference on the tulle part, which was how I wanted it because I wanted it to be gathered along the top. I hemmed the bottom of the skirt and gathered it along the top until the circumference matched that of the tulle part. I then sewed the two pieces (the tulle and the fabric) together and attached the whole thing to the bodice. Once that was done, I added the pickups, and it was done!
Now, in case you’re worried, let me tell you—pickups are really, really easy. Ready to learn?
Set your machine to the longest stitch it can do (a basting stitch).
Sew two parallel lines up your skirt fabric. Don’t back-stitch! How long your parallel lines are is dependent on how big you want your pickups to be. The larger the pickup, the longer your sewn lines will be. It’s just kind of a matter of preference!
Leave your threads long, to make it easier for gathering.
Now, take your two top threads and begin pulling them, which will cinch the fabric up.
Cinch the fabric up to your liking (again, it is your preference how you want it to look). Tie the ends of your threads together so they don’t come loose. Then you’re going to sew a straight stitch right down the middle of where you cinched.
Sew straight up the middle of that little cinched part, being sure to backstitch this time.
And you’re done! Put in as many pickups as you like, where you like. I did three in the front, three in the back.
For this costume, I totally just eyeballed it. With more family costumes to make, it wasn’t worth it to me to measure everything and make it all totally perfect. BUT if you are wanting something a little more precise, check out this tutorial from girl.Inspired. I’m totally impressed by her patience and precision in making this type of skirt!
And that’s it! My secret to making the ball gown dress! You can use this little formula for just about any dress, you just need to get creative with the colors, accessories, etc!
Really not too bad, right?
And now little girl is ready for Halloween!
Now, you might wonder what happens to these dresses after Halloween?
Last year after having been Cinderella for Halloween, my daughter really wanted a Cinderella-themed birthday party! And, of course, she had to wear her dress! She also wore it to Disney on Ice and likes to play regular ol’ dress up in it. So fun!
Do you love making costumes as much as I do? I’d love to see what you make too! Leave a comment with a link and maybe we can all share on Halloween!
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