Ariel’s Blue Dress from The Little Mermaid

So confession time: I didn’t see The Little Mermaid until I was fifteen years old. Sad, isn’t it? I grew up in a very strict religious household and Little Mermaid had three strikes- Disney, witches, and bikini tops. So I didn’t see it until a friend let me borrow her VHS tape sophomore year and I watched it like a million times in one week. I fell in love with the movie in general, but I really wanted her blue dress. It was so sweet and dreamy (and that bow was killer!)

My senior year of college, I decided I wanted to bring that dress to life. And for some reason I decided to make it without a pattern. Why, I’ll never know, but oh well.

The hardest part was matching the colors. Sometimes her blouse looks white, sometimes light blue- I decided to go with light blue. I found the most magical sky blue cotton sateen and bought a bunch of it. The skirt, though, was a harder find, since the blue is just a shade or two off from the blouse color. I ended up buying a royal blue organza to layer over the cotton sateen, making it just a little bit darker and also adding a little bit more of a princess feel. For the bodice, I bought a navy blue suede and used some navy blue cotton in my stash for a lining.

The blouse was easy. I used McCall’s 4948, their Alice in Wonderland pattern, but cut the neckline at a deeper scoop and eliminated the collar. I also took some width out of the sleeves and lengthened them, then added an elasticized cuff. The blouse pulls right on, so no closure. Super easy!

The bodice…not so easy. For some unknown reason, I decided to cut the navy suede into multiple rectangular panels and then take it in to fit. Somehow…it worked. It wasn’t necessarily the most perfect construction, but it worked, right down to the notch at the top of the bodice. I didn’t want to invest a lot of time and money into making the bodice perfect (obviously) so instead of using punched metal eyelets, I used eyes from hooks and eyes and threaded the eyes with narrow blue ribbon. It wasn’t fancy, but it worked!

The skirt was constructed as a very full dirndl skirt. I cut the panels as rectangles and sewed them up in three separate layers- white muslin trimmed in narrow eyelet, the sky blue cotton sateen, and the royal blue organza. Then I stitched the layers together at the top and pleated them onto a waistband made of the same blue suede as the bodice, so it blended nicely. I didn’t use a zipper, just a large hook and eye, since the bottom of the bodice covered the waistband.

The bow was the final touch. Ariel’s bow is very large and very poofy, so I used the cotton sateen and literally stuffed it like a little pillow ! I added tails and stitched the whole thing to a comb that slid right into my hair.

I only wore the outfit once- weirdly enough, to a rehearsal. My university was performing the musical Guys and Dolls (I played General Cartwright) and they scheduled a rehearsal for the night of Halloween. They felt sorry for us, so they let us dress up in our Halloween costumes.  So I showed up in full Ariel regalia, complete with Flounder and Sebastian!

Recently, a friend of mine needed a Halloween costume for Not So Scary, so I took in the sides of the bodice and took in the waistband and let her borrow it! It looks super cute on her.

I’d like to go back and remake this costume- at least a new bodice and a new waistband. Maybe I’ll get around to it someday!

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