Thursday, May 17, 2012

Liesl's Dancing Dress

This month I made a dress that was a dream come true - Liesl's Sixteen Going on Seventeen dancing dress!  The Sound of Music is one of my all-time favorite movies, and when I was a kid our only copy was taped off of TV, and it had been edited for time.  They took out a few lines of song here and there, or lines leading up to songs, or large portions of entire scenes.  Obviously, I could tell that things were missing, but I never saw the full movie until I got the DVD last year.  It was like watching The Sound of Music for the first time!  Not only did watching my new DVD bring back wonderful memories, it also reminded me how much I always loved Liesl and the pink dress she wears in the gazebo.  The way that the dress floats around her while she leaps and spins is so breathtaking!  When I was a girl, I always wanted a dress just like it!

So, when my husband forwarded me an event notification from the local classic theater advertising a Sound of Music Sing-A-Long that also had a costume showcase, I just had to make an outfit.  Of course, Liesl's dancing dress was the first costume that came to mind, but come on - I'm 31, twice Liesl's age.  I considered making one of Maria's outfits (the woolen dress that she wears on the mountain during Do-Re-Mi), but kept guiltily coming back to Liesl.  However, when Matt found a pattern for her dress online, my mind was made up.

The costume consists of the following:

- chiffon bodice and skirt with lining
- pink dancing shoes with bows on top (It's hard to see her shoes, but I believe the shoes she wears in the ball sequence are the same as the ones in the gazebo scene, and it's a much better view.)
- nude panty hose
- brown barrette to hold back hair
- If you want to be super authentic and go as Charmian Carr, you can bandage your leg - she slipped and fell through a window on the gazebo during rehearsals; the bandage was digitally removed in the DVD version.  If I can find my old VHS version, I'll try to capture a still.

I purchased the pattern from Edelweiss Patterns for $14.99, which is the most I've ever spent on a pattern, but it's worth it, as it's a hand drawn pattern and pretty accurate.  (I am going to make a few modifications to it, but more on that later.)  For the underskirt and bodice, I used coral pink satin (I believe that's what it's called) from Hancock Fabrics.  (I have to add a quick side note here.  I haven't shopped at Hancock Fabrics in years, but had to go there to order material for 22 dance skirts I was making for a dance company.  The customer service I received at FOUR Hancock Fabrics - three in Chicago and one in Texas - was some of the worst customer service I've ever experienced.  I will NEVER shop there again.  EVER.  For ANY reason.)

For the chiffon, I purchased 10 yards of Chiffon Knit Dusty Pink from  Here's a tip if you're ordering fabric from - once they run out of fabric, there's no guarantee that they'll have it in stock ever again.  Also, I had one order cancelled a few months ago because even though the website showed yards of the fabric I needed was in stock, even though they ran my payment through, they had already run out of it and didn't update the website.  And after several emails back and forth because I was quite annoyed about it, they didn't even offer to give me any kind of coupon or discount on my next order.  So if you find something on there that you want, BUY IT NOW.  As a matter of fact, on Tuesday I ordered another 10 yards of the 16 available, and as of today, my order hasn't shipped yet.  When I clicked on the fabric to grab the link for the blog, it took me to their home page.  So now I'm getting worry and ticked off.)

After starting the dress, I realized I was going to need more layers in the skirt, so instead of waiting for more chiffon to be shipped, I went to Joann Fabrics and found a light pink lining that matched the coral pink satin.

The pattern from Edeweiss is pretty dead on.  I'm not going to go into specifics here about how I made the dress, only because I think if you're going to make it, you should order it from them and not try to figure it out on your own.  Let's just say that Katrina did a beautiful job - I could have never modified an existing pattern to make this dress without going out of my mind.

Here are a few pictures of the construction.  I found that getting the ribbon on was easier than I thought, but still really difficult to keep straight.  I finally decided to just machine-stitch it, as doing it by hand was proving to be just as difficult, and I didn't want to spend 5 hours trying to make it perfect.  I don't think it turned out very well, but in the end, I don't think anyone can really tell.

The bottom is the same color - apparently the flash didn't hit it properly ...

The shoes I wore were from Shoe Carnival, only because I forgot about getting shoes, and it was a last-minute decision.  They KILLED my feet.  I cracked my foot a few months ago, and after wearing the shoes (not walking around in them, mind you, just wearing them while sitting in the movie theater) put such strain on my foot that I was in excruciating pain the next day.  I went online Tuesday, and after a LOT of searching, purchased the Bandolino Relishing Pump from  They didn't have my size in the normal width, so I had to get wide (and no, they didn't have the size up or down in regular width, either), so we'll see how this goes.

Bandolino Relishing Pump

Okay, so here is what I am going to do differently when I remake the dress (because yes, I am remaking the dress!)

1)  The skirt needs to be fuller.  I am going to add 2 more panels (adding only 1 panel puts the seam right down the front of the dress).

2)  More layers!  When Liesl spins, there are clearly multiple layers of chiffon and lining.  I am aiming for at least 4 layers, with 2 layers of the dusty pink chiffon, 1 layer of white chiffon, and 1 layer of the pink lining.

3)  The satin was too heavy.  I used it because at the time I didn't think the lining was thick enough, but I know better now.  I would use the lining for both the bodice and the skirt.  It's $4/yard cheaper, too.

4)  The bottom two ribbons need to be closer together.  This isn't the fault of the pattern - when I was trying on the bodice, the bottom fell right where the directions said it should.  However, after attaching the skirt, it must have pulled the bodice down a bit more, because it unfortunately hung below my waist instead of AT my waist.  Therefore, the space between the ribbon right below the bust and the bottom of the bodice was too wide; because the lower ribbons need to be spaced evenly apart, this made them TOO far apart.

5)  I could only find a 14" zipper in the color I needed (which I believe was "Almond Pink" from JoAnn Fabrics).  That was WAY too short, and I had a hard time getting the dress over my shoulders.  Next time I'll use at least a 20" zipper, even if it's a slightly different color.

6)  The tops of the sleeves need to be larger, to create a more gathered effect.  I don't know if it's the pattern or the fabric I used (the pattern does say to gather), but I just didn't have enough fabric to gather, and Liesl's dress is very clearly gathered at the tops of the shoulders.

The sing-a-long was hokey, but fun.  At the beginning, though, they had this "comedian" come out and say things like, "hey, I'm short!" and find someone with blonde hair and say, "hey, it's Marilyn Monroe!  I'm Italian!"  I don't understand what the point of all THAT was.

Oh, and if you were wondering about the costume showcase, it was a complete joke.  They had us line up along the stage and started going down the line asking people what their costumes were, then just gave up.  Their "stand-up comedian" got to decide on the "winner", and he chose a family holding cardboard mountains up.  Even though most costumes were just kind of "inspired" costumes and not screen-accurate, there were at least a half dozen really good costumes that should have won.  I was kind of ticked because the "comedian" didn't seem like he'd ever seen the film.  Matt was dressed as Captain Von Trapp, and the comedian walked up to him and said, "hey, it's Michael Buble!"  In fact, the woman running the show didn't even look twice at any of the real costumes, so I have my doubts about her qualifications, too.  However, I totally got schooled when the 8-year-old next to me called out to the mountain family - "great costumes!"  I'm a bit ashamed of myself for not being more gracious, but to be fair, the whole thing was a clusterf*$k, and I don't think any of us even realized what we were clapping for at that point.  As a matter of fact, NO ONE seemed to have any idea what was going on at all.

Look, I'm sometimes a sore loser, but I think I do a really good job of supporting people who have the guts to dress up.  But I have zero tolerance for disorganization.  It wasn't a real contest, but for god's sake, have some idea what you're doing.  Most people clearly put thought into their costumes, even if they're not as zealous as I am, and they deserved to all be properly recognized.  I'd send them an email, but seeing as they read an email from last year out loud (so that they could make fun of that person for not understanding that a sing-a-long includes people shouting things at the screen), I think I'll refrain.  I definitely have a bad opinion of the organizers of the event now.

That's all on that - I'll be remaking the dress later this year (if I ever get that dusty pink chiffon ...)

Auf weidersehen!

Update: WAS out of the dusty pink chiffon.  I ordered samples from another online company to see if I can find a color I like.  I gave a piece of my mind; their response was that this is not typical.  Well, considering that two out of my last three orders were out of stock and I was the one who had to contact THEM to see what was going on, I think I'm just about done using  They didn't even offer to give me a coupon or anything, so I told them that I expect a discount on my next order.  They gave me a $10 credit.  Very, very poor customer service skills, and I cannot understand why they have such a problem keeping their inventory up to date.  Today while searching for more fabric, I found that they still have 14 yards of the dusty pink chiffon listed on  I emailed them and told them they'd better take it down.  I'm sure they hate me now, but I couldn't care less.

Update #2:  I received the shoes in the mail today - they are PERFECT!  They are almost the exact color as my dress!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Some Blogs You'll Love!

My husband discovered this girl's blogs a few months ago, and whenever I need inspiration, I visit her sites.  She's amazing, and I believe she has a very bright future in costuming ahead of her.

Here's a blog she writes about period clothing:

Here's her blog about making her own costumes: