Angel Dress

This all started with the movie Fellowship of the Ring. I fell in love with the costumes created for the movie,
especially for the Elves. When I decided that I wanted to dress as Arwen for Halloween, I went on the hunt.
What I discovered wasn't very encouraging. All the ready-made costumes available with this style dress were
only being made to fit up to a size 12 (US). There are no plus size ready-made costumes as of yet (as far as
I know: please email me if you know of them). I felt slighted, as usual that what I wanted simply wasn't
available.

Then I reminded myself that I did know how to sew a little bit (or at least how to follow directions), and that
was a possibility for me (if not the ONLY possibility). I waited a few months to see if more options would
become available in ready made and nothing came. I began to panic. The feeling of being left out in the cold
only got worse when I discovered that the pattern being widely used this year (Simplicity 9891) for her
chase dress as well as an example of Gladdy's dress..didn't come in my size. I was devastated. I could not
buy a ready-made costume, and I couldn't even use the pattern without altering it..which is something I
didn't know how to do at that point. I felt lost.
I went to the fabric store even MORE determined to make this work for me. This is how I did it:
Materials used, patterns abused (LOL), and fabrics selected:

The years since I first made this costume for myself have given us way more information regarding fabrics
and the specific components of this costume. When I get a chance to, I am going to re-make the angel
dress for myself, and when I do- I will post all the information here. Basically wiping this page out and
replacing it with the new information..but any of the older information that still holds true or is relevant I will
keep on.  In the mean time, if you would like to see images of recommended fabrics for making this gown,
such as Thai Silks' Crinkle Lurex Organza in color Ivory/Silver for the under dress. To see a photo of this
fabric click
HERE. To see the fabric at the Thai Silks web site click HERE.  To see a photo of the fabric sold
on eBay by the seller EXCLUSIVE-SILKS from India click
HERE. To see them on eBay click HERE. Or to see a
great outer dress fabric sold by my local Hancock Fabrics click
HERE, HERE or HERE. I do not know the
name of this fabric anymore, when I see it this fall I will come back and update this page with the info from
the bolt. It is about 45" wide and is a poly blend with metallic threads. It is very roll-uppish! It wants to roll
up on you, and so I use the SULLIVAN'S SPRAY FABRIC STABILIZER on it first. Click
HERE to see where
you can get some. When the dress is finished I will have a "how to" section on making the beaded loop
trim, and making the neckline trim. If you would like to see my notes on the study of the neckline trim click
HERE, HERE or HERE. Please bear with my obvious inexperience in sewing when this was written.

The first pattern I bought was Simplicity 9517 in size FF (18-24 US). I didn't realize what a big pain this
pattern would be, and if I could do it all over, I wouldn't go with this pattern. I have to mention it because I
did stick it out, and use it because I bought it, started with it. It isn't a pattern for a novice. If you know
allot about sewing or even a little more than me- by all means GO FOR IT, but between the princess seams,
facings, darts, etc. I almost gave up. I said out loud several times in the beginning, "I don't think I can do
this." But I kept on. I recognized in the style to the right hand side of the envelope marked with a red
arrow, that it could be made into the Angel Dress. I even drew a sketch on top of the pattern envelope
(sorry 'bout that =0) to get an idea. I didn't know it would be so complicated. I needed a "simple to sew"
pattern in deed.

I made the bodice and the skirt and attached them together. I originally thought I could use the overlay
within this pattern to make the outer dress. I soon realized that wouldn't work. The fabric I used on the
main dress section is 45 inch wide Crepe Back Satin in off white (Ivory).

I also didn't realize that working with such a slippery material would be tricky. When cutting out slippery
material, it is really helpful to lay down something under the material on your cutting surface to keep it from
moving. =0) I used Coats & Clark all-purpose thread in winter white.

When I became discouraged, I began to read more info that was available on the web sites, watching the
extended edition DVD , and reading my books. I found out about Simplicity pattern 9103. Low and behold,
it was in my size!! I bought it in size WW (18-24 US). What I had planned to do with it was to make an
over dress, and sleeves with it. I figured the pattern would be easier than the one I was working with if I
had to start over too. I didn't realize when I purchased it, that this pattern is only for stretch knits.
Meaning I couldn't use the crepe back satin, or the crinkly voile fabric I had just bought for the sleeves..
=0( You can only use stretchy material with this pattern. By pure luck had I bought 60 inch wide Silver
Metallic Nylon (stretchy knit). This is really light and sheer yet warm. I ended up making an outer dress with
the pattern Simplicity 9103. The sleeves for the under dress came from Simplicity 9517, because the sleeve
pattern piece in 9103 was made for stretchy knit and was too tight with the white voile fabric..Am I making
sense? LOL. Perhaps one day in the future I may add another layer of fabric between the outer dress and
under dress in the white voile fabric, so that it is closer to the original. Now that I have more experience, I
can always re-work the dress. If I had used the white voile fabric alone, you would be able to see right
through it! =0P...

I found another pattern that is also simple to sew (2 hr), and can be made from silk, and other
non-stretchy material. It is Simplicity 9295. You can see in style "A" that you could use it as a base dress,
as well as outer dress. It doesn't have the length you'd want or bell style sleeves, but at least it can be
used with other fabrics if that is what you want to do. You could alter the length and sleeves. I haven't
used it yet, but I bought it in size FF (18-24 US).

When I cut out the front pattern piece for the overdress, I cut it right up the middle to a point below the
bust. I highly recommend doing it while it is on the fold laying flat; it is really hard to cut a straight line up
the center. You can't go wrong when you do it on the fold. This was for the opening in the center of the
dress. The Extended edition DVD set reveals in the costume gallery, that this dress was designed with a
split all the way down the back, as well as all the way down the front. Like many of the other Elf costumes,
a flower petal shape, similar to the openings on the bottom side of "Chase Dress" or "coat" if you will. The
outer dress falls down to the floor and pools around the ankles in big circular waves. Rent, or buy yourself
the extended DVD set and check out the costume gallery photos!

Then I found McCall's P306. This pattern did not come in my size. It is only EE (14-20 US). Even so, it is a
great bargain (50% off $14.95 USD) because it gives you three different styles of dresses, plus a cloak
pattern! Nice. I wanted to use the sleeves in style "C"..for the outer dress sleeves. They have that nice
break all the way up, so I figured I would just stitch them to the elbow and leave it open after that. (If you
want to get the look even closer to the original, have the splits, or breaks in the sleeves on the "outside" of
the arm, rather than on the inside like mine. Have the tops overlap in a petal shape. Instead of having the
break stop at a "V" shaped point, have the top of the sleeve slightly overlap the other side, this creates the
break, and may be very hard to duplicate if you are not an advanced seamstress)

The last items I bought were the trim pieces. I bought 1 yrd. of bridal trim that had a nice rose motif and
some iridescent sequins and pearls. I was thinking about soaking it in some sort of dye to make it more
silvery gray to blend into the dress more, similar to the all over silvery gray as the original shows. But I
have come to like the contrast of the white over the silvery gray. It just stands out better. I used the
machine to attach it, although I did break a needle, so I recommend hand stitching it instead.

I also found this thin trim with loops in the bridal section that looks similar to the trim on the sleeves,
opening in the front of the dress and neckline. I bought about 5 yards of this. (See my image for examples
of my fabric).

I think back on this project now that I have more experience, and see where I made it harder than it had to
be on myself in spots and over-all. But without this time and experience behind me, I wouldn't be able to
know a faster way. So if you have more experience than I do and know an easier way to the end goal, by all
means- go for it!
My "Angel Dress"! It's done!

All in all, it took me 2 weeks and three days (working on average 2 hours per session). That's about 42
hours. I think it's pretty good, and considering I knew so little about what I was getting into when I started.
I spent about $100.00 USD. This includes mistakes- so I might have spent less if I had more experience. I
don't regret it at all. I am glad I am done. I am sure you could make this for less, if you have more
experience and or use different or "on sale" fabrics. The 1 yrd. of bridal trim with sequins was $8.99 USD
per yard alone! This cost total does NOT include all the money I had to spend on basic necessities that I did
not have. I didn't even have dressmaker's shears.

I have found more patterns available lately that could be manipulated into the Angel Dress..check these
patterns out too when shopping for yours:

McCall's 3372 *Only up to size 20*
Simplicity 5767

There is a new pattern out from McCall's this year. Check out McCall's 3797. This only comes up to size 20,
but it has what looks like an attempt at three of her costumes. The one on the left could be made into the
"Arch Dress", the one in the middle could be made into the "Chase Dress" just by using my technique on
the sleeves (see my chase dress page for that)..and the one on the right could be made into the "Angel
Dress". Totally possible, ANYTHING is possible if you can imagine it and work at it. =0)