(this post was originally published 12 september, 2007.)
this is one of the most popular costume silhouettes there is--the generic "princess/angel/medieval maiden/rennaissance damsel/magical wizard/monk/every-fairy-tale-princess-in-grimms'-anthology" gown. if it makes any difference, ella calls this a magistrate dress. this makes sense only if you are a fan of sagwa.
and you won't believe how quickly you can fake this dress. you need one piece of fabric, two cuts, and whatever trim you wish. choose a stretchy fabric so you don't have to have a zipper--i used panne velvet but you could use anything you like.
your fabric should be cut as follows:
width: distance from one wrist to the other, measured with arms out to your sides.
length: distance from top of your shoulder (measured just under the ear) to the floor. multiply this number times 2.
fold your fabric in half (right sides together) across the width, then in half across the length. you will have four layers of fabric. at the corner where all the folds meet, cut a SMALL shallow curve. start SMALL--you can always make it bigger later. this will be your neck opening.
then make one cut, from the side where all the cut edges are, toward the neck opening. the exact shape and length of this cut is up to you. the lower you start the cut on the side, the longer your sleeve will hang.
then unfold your fabric and find out what shape you have just made!
the cuts on the sides are the side seams. sew your side seam closed, sew your trim on your sleeves and hem, and then try on the dress. if you need or want to make the neck opening bigger, do so. when the neck is the right size, add your trim and you are done.
this dress can be worn as is, or you can dress it up to match your imagination. pattern catalogs are a great source of ideas on how you can vary the sleeves, neckline, and trim. and the addition of some simple accessories can change the entire look: if you wish to be a fairy, add wings--if you wish to be an angel, add a halo--for a medieval princess, cover a pointy party hat with scraps of fabric and tack a silky scarf to the top--for a wizard add a cape and a beard--for a magistrate, add ella.