Every costumer I know has a list of dream costumes: ones that we saw once, and went “I can’t make that one yet, but I want to!”
When the Sci-Fi channel created the Dune miniseries in 2000, mine was Princess Irulan’s “butterfly dress.” Sure, she wasn’t in this scene in the book. And the dress is a little ridiculous. But I loved it, and I wanted to make it. Last year, I finally reached the point in my sewing skills and sewing machine mastery that I felt like I could actually give it a try.
Doesn’t everyone travel across the galaxy in a dress with real butterflies?
I put a lot of thought into this costume. The first thing was picking out fabric. I studied the screenshots for hours to decide what the best fabrics were to use. One of the first decisions was the colors. While the pleated shoulders and cape are clearly white, in other shots I decided the main dress was ice blue. The front center panel was harder. While I could figure out what the fabric was, I could not find it anywhere, so I had to find something that was the closest I could to its shimmer and sparkle.
Completed underdress. Made by combining two patterns, one for a full skirt and one for the bodice of an elegant dress.
Added tighter overskirt. The underdress ended up a little too long. I’ll need to update this before I wear it again.
Added stiff collar and shoulder pads for the structure of the over cape. And my very first pleats.
And then here is where I learned to hate pleats. Doing the many many diagonal folds for the cape. I got lazy near the end, so I’m going to have to repress these. Grr.
The cape, attached to the shoulders and collar.
The details are what really made this costume. I went online to find photos of butterflies as close as I could to the butterflies on the original costume. Using photo paper I made fake ones, and added velcro so the could be removed from the dress for transport. Four detailed seed bead jewelry pieces were also made – two pins for the shoulders, one pin for the front of the skirt, and a necklace.
The hat was an adventure to figure out. How could I get the shape, and get something that I could transport all the way to DragonCon? Mark came through with the idea. First, we found a souvenir plastic batting helmet. He cut off the brim and shaped it to the front point. I added four long bolts. Then I bought a set of acordian blinds. I cut them to the size I wanted, and slipped the cells over the bolts. Folds up for travel, huge when unfolded. Perfect!
Complete! Needs a little adjusting for next time: shorter bottom skirt and cape, tighter bodice that needs boning added.
The reaction to this costume was great! Getting through the crowds was an adventure with the width of the hat. But is was worth it. Best one had to be the running reaction I got crossing the street getting to this park for a photo. I will definitely be wearing this costume again. Too much work went into it not to!