Making a Red Velvet Dress: the Skirt and Crown

Now that this costume is finished, I’m actually pretty happy with it! It doesn’t fit as well as I’d hoped. I’m still learning and struggling with fit, so it isn’t as comfortable as I’d wished it to be. I wanted it to be a dress I could wear, comfortably, every day if I wanted to. Though it fits, it is a little tight in the bodice and the sleeves are a little short. Nevertheless, I’m fairly happy with it! It’s everything I wanted it to be. So on to the skirt.


The skirt if very simple. Originally I’d intended for it to just be one long rectangle and then remembered that this is… velvet. Which has nape and looks different. So I cut three panels so that it would match the bodice. I sewed them together. I didn’t bother finishing these seams as not only did they use the selvage edge, but they would also be facing the inside of the lining. The lining is a long rectangle that I cut slightly shorter than the velvet. I turned the top edges inwards of both layers then basted them together with the wrong sides facing each other. Then it was just a matter of sewing two rows of gathering stitches for the three meters and some of the length of the skirt (I like full skirts, they’re so pretty).

Sounds easy, right? Everyone knows the gathering nightmare, and I experienced it once again while sewing this. Just as my gathers were nearly done, one of the threads broke so I had to rip everything out. I was slightly traumatised (it had taken me hours to sew them and very carefully gather it down), so I decided to re-sew the gathering stitches by hand. I used extra strong thread and sewed two rows. I also gathered as I went in an attempt to save time. I wanted to finish this dress before going to New York, as I’m returning on Christmas Eve. This worked perfectly and I think the gathers looked even better this way!

I didn’t take any photos of the skirt process because I was in a rush (bad me). Once the skirt was done, I sewed it onto the bodice with double threaded needle and a backstitch. I’m always terrified that the bodice-skirt sleeve will fall apart, but this seems sturdy enough. By this point, it was time for my biggest fear: the zipper. Dun dun dun.

I bought the longest invisible zipper I could find, in a matching colour. I’ve worked with zippers a little bit (only a little bit), so they’re still rather intimating. This wasn’t the worst bit, though. Because I’d sewed the cotton drill and the velvet in the bodice with the bag method and then it also had the extra panel seam, this side seam was SO BULKY that my machine hated it. It became a case of ms vs. machine.

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The machine won.

Nothing like almost getting blood on your dress to persuade to sew by hand. So back I went to double thread and backstitching and I sewed the zipper on by hand. This worked (somewhat), and by some miracle, it fit. By this point, it was 3 am and I was very tired. The next day, I only had to hem the skirt. I did this with a herringbone or catch stitch (Angela’s awesome tutorial here). I didn’t have to hem the lining because it was luckily the selvage edge and since it was shorter and inside, no one would see it.

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I was in a rush so they’re longer than they should be

That done, the final bit was to attach the bodice lining. It took forever to have it mildly match up and cover all the seams. But I managed, with lots of pins that turned it into a death trap.

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Then I sewed it down with a whipstitch.

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And with that, it was done!

To get further into the holiday spirit, I also decided to make a holiday crown. Again, Angela Clayton makes these and she’s got loads of tutorials on Youtube about how to make them. I spent weeks looking for wreath picks, but it was impossible to find them in London. I ended up finding some suitable ones in a garden centre out by Orpington. I followed her tutorial and made my crown.

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My materials, a bunch of wreath picks and ribbon
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First step was to cut down the wreath picks into manageable bits
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Then I cut a bit of plastic boning to be one inch larger than my head. I used hot glue to overlap that one inch and glue the plastic boning together, into a circle.
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Then I glued the ribbon over it.
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First I glued on the leaves and pine bits, and then the bigger bits such as the birds and pine cones.
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Once I couldn’t see any ribbon or fit any more in, I called it finished.

Many selfies followed.

FINALLY, MY PRINCESS CROWN. And my holiday project is finished! I love love love it. Especially the crown, but all of it together makes me very happy. Here are some photos of the finished project! Thank you for reading and happy holidays!

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