Costuming the Wedding Singer

Before I costumed The Wedding Singer…I actually hadn’t listened to any of the songs from the show. Oops. I had seen the Adam Sandler movie, ages ago, but I had some research to do for the production.

Wedding Singer is a super cute, super lively musical about a (duh) wedding singer and a waitress who fall in love, even though he’s not over his ex who left him at the altar and she’s engaged to a (really awful) CEO. It’s an incredibly high energy show from start to finish, and it’s set in the 1980s, so clearly that makes it a lot of fun.

I just didn’t have any idea how challenging this show would be to costume! Here are just a few of the problems I ran into:

-a huge cast! There were about 25 people that needed costumes. Not only that, but each lead had an understudy, plus all of the ensemble members had multiple costume changes.

-multiple specialty costumes! I needed three blue blazers, plus four wedding gowns, plus four sets of bridesmaids. It was super intense.

-minimal budget and no wardrobe to pull from! This production was done through the Stage cast club, which is for Disney cast members, so we didn’t have a specific theater that belongs strictly to us. The show was actually performed in the Ballroom of the Americas in the Contemporary resort. So you can see how it was an interesting set up from the beginning.

I pulled as much as I could from Goodwill and from the actors’ wardrobes, but I did end up making a lot of specialty pieces.

One of the actors actually found the iconic blue blazers online! They weren’t exactly, uh, the best craftsmanship, but it was easier to alter these guys than sew blazers from scratch. The director also found the piano ties on eBay. George’s top was a ladies’ blouse from Goodwill and I added copious amounts of ruffles.

IMG_1506 (1)Robbie also had some pretty sweet parachute pants “that his grandma bought for [him].” They were actually tracksuit pants with extra zippers attached.

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The ensemble for “All About the Green” needed to be identical, so there were about ten navy dirndl skirts. Yikes. Luckily, one of the cast members, Madison, was an absolute angel and helped me with a lot of projects, including this one.

The impersonators posed a definite challenge- Mr. T, Billy Idol, Cyndi Lauper, Imelda Marcos, and Ronald and Nancy Reagan. Nancy’s dress and cardigan was already in her closet; Ronald and Imelda got their outfits from Goodwill with some alterations. Mr. T and Billy Idol pieced their costumes themselves (with some extra fringe stitched carefully to Billy’s vest). Cyndi was the biggest challenge. I pulled a cute Betsey Johnson dress from my closet, added some multicolored tulle left from Holly’s skirt (you’ll see in a second), and we added a lot of accessories. A lot. Unfortunately the zipper popped during tech week! We had to replace it at the last minute. But it worked!

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Linda, Robbie’s ex-fiancee, also got a great pleated skirt. I made it without a pattern and it worked out really well, especially with the leather jacket.

There were also four wedding dresses used in the show! One was donated to the production- a truly massive 80s satin nightmare. I also donated a wedding dress from my own closet for the bride in the opening number; the crinoline was cut out to make it easier to dance in, and I added a set of massive puff sleeves.

The bodice of Linda’s dress was sewn from an out of print McCall’s pattern, 5580. It’s a simple bustier pattern that I made from muslin with a lace overlay. The skirt was also muslin with a lace overlay, and then a truly bonkers high-low hem tulle skirt. It moved so well during Linda’s act one number, and with combat boots and a silver belt it was perfect. (And that wig…just look at that glorious wig.)

Julia’s wedding gown was a super important project for me. She’s the female lead and the object of Robbie’s affections, so it was important that her wedding gown was as simple, sweet, and lovely as she is. My friend Molly played the role with the perfect balance of sweetness and quirkiness and it was so fun making her a gown. I used an actual 80s formalwear pattern that I found on eBay, Butterick 5965, but I made the skirt long and full. The dress was lined in muslin (no budget to be had!) with a layer of satin over it, and then a layer of very soft tulle over it. It actually wasn’t even tulle- technically it was mosquito netting. But it draped beautifully and it looked so soft and dreamy. The dress itself is very simple, but I made sure it fit her well, and I added a rhinestone trim (also from the 1980s- it was actually vintage!) so that Robbie’s question about “is that bedazzling?” made sense. She wore it with a veil from my closet and a petticoat, but there wasn’t a train to make it easier to dance in.

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(you can also see the super cute bridesmaids’ skirts that Madison whipped up!)

Holly, Julia’s cousin, had one of the most challenging costumes. For most of the show, she wore an IMMENSE poofy skirt. It was made of three layers of pink organza, with multiple layers of tulle circle skirts in a rainbow of colors. It was so time intensive to make, but isn’t the final result great?

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But guess what! That isn’t even the final result! Under that skirt, Holly is wearing a mini dress made of pink swimwear material! See, at the end of act one, Holly pulls a Flashdance and does the whole pull-the-chain-and-the-water-comes-down bit. She needed a dress that could get wet and be completely dry by the next performance. So you see that fancy tulle circle skirt? Yeah, it’s actually a tearaway! It fastened with two extremely sturdy magnetic snaps at the waist so she could pop it off, and underneath was a pink minidress made from McCall’s 5580. If I could do it again, I would make my own bias tape from black spandex rather than using the woven premade tape, but it still worked out and she looked great. (“Like a fairy godmother…only slutty.”)

IMG_1505 Wedding Singer is a complicated show to costume even without the constraints I had, but overall it was a great show- definitely one of the most high energy and dedicated casts I’ve worked with! I’m glad I had the chance to make them look good onstage. And I can’t wait to costume the show again this spring!

Dapper Day Queen Elinor from Brave

Fall Dapper Day is somehow always harder to plan for. Dapper Day in the spring naturally lends itself to soft pastels and fluffy petticoats, but picking something in a fall color scheme is harder. I have no idea why. Maybe it’s just me.

I went through multiple options for my Dapper Day attire until I finally settled on Queen Elinor from Brave. I love the character and I hadn’t sewn anything in that rich green color before. I also decided to make it easier on myself by making a skirt and cape instead of a dress.

The skirt was self drafted- if I’m making a dirndl or circle skirt, you can bet I’ve drafted it myself. (Comment below if you want to see tutorials!) I made a basic circle skirt (with pockets) out of a gorgeous green taffeta I had in my stash that had been sitting around for years, waiting for the right project. The zipper came from my stash too, so I ended up not paying anything out of pocket for the skirt! I also pulled out my trusty Malco Modes skirt.

The cape was a little more complicated. I wanted to do something special with it. I bought a super basic New Look pattern for a cape and used the hood pattern piece from McCall’s 5534 (it’s out of print, but if you can find it it’s a super cute hooded bathrobe pattern). I bought a cream and green plaid and a black textured fabric, and made the cape fully reversible. I also made little ears and sewed them to the black hood. Why? So I could turn into a bear, of course! It was lightweight, easy to wear, and added just the right touch to the outfit.

I paired the skirt with a cream colored lace top from Forever 21 and a brown leather belt from…someplace. Walmart, maybe? I’ve had it since college, so who knows. The boots were bought at TJ Maxx after a long, nearly fruitless search. Really, why is it so hard to find plain brown lace up ankle boots without zippers and cuffs on them? But I found them at last and paired them with lace trimmed socks folded over the tops. My hair was straightened and I added a pearl circlet headband from Claire’s.

Dapper Day was actually scheduled to be at Disney’s Hollywood Studios for the fall, but beforehand I needed to go to Magic Kingdom to meet Merida (obviously). It was by far one of the best meet and greet experiences I’ve ever had. Merida was very sweet when I came up, and in order to make things easier (I get weirdly awkward and nervous when I meet characters and I have no idea why) I blurted out “Hey, Merida, I’m dressed like your mum and I can turn into a bear.”

She stopped and looked at me in confusion, and I took off my cape and started flipping it inside out. You can actually pinpoint the moment that she realized what was going on.

It was so great. She adjusted my ears for me and we posed like bears, and then she told me to make my best mum face and scold her (but she kept sticking her tongue out at me). It was a great interaction, and as I was about to leave, she stopped me and with the most sincere expression said “you’re beautiful.” I’m not going to lie, I got a little teary walking away. It was a great moment.

After a few more shenanigans at Magic Kingdom, my friend and I moved on to Studios, where clearly photoshoots had to happen, especially in front of Great Movie Ride.

All in all, it was a really successful (and comfortable!) outfit, and one of the best dapper days I’ve experienced.

“Are you Blonde Belle?” (no.)

Let’s go back to an earlier, simpler time. Fall of 2014. The Frozen craze is at its height. I’m going to Not So Scary, and do I have the time to make Elsa’s ice gown? Or her coronation gown? Absolutely not, I’m a procrastinator. So I settle for young Elsa.

(Source: Britt Myers Art)

I was already off to a pretty good start. I had a Forever 21 blouse in the correct color with the correct collar already, plus I had white gloves, white tights, a black headband, and a pale blonde Arda wig (from my yet-to-be-completed Alice in Wonderland cosplay). I also swapped out the black ballet flats for my black Seychelles Gallium ankle boots. Pretty much I was just looking at the dress.

I used a navy knit from my stash from the bodice; using a knit meant I could eliminate the zipper, and the fit was a lot more comfortable and forgiving. I pretty much just cut rectangles and pinned and stitched until it was a good fit. Originally the skirt was made out of the same knit, but it was too dark and too heavy, so I pulled a medium blue cotton from my stash and made a simple dirndl skirt (plus pockets- you always need pockets, especially for Not So Scary.

Elsa’s dress has a lot of really beautiful embroidery, but did I mention that I’m a procrastinator?

I ended up bringing my Elsa Disney Animator’s Collection doll to Joann’s with me so I could match her embroidery to embroidered ribbon. That’s right, I was that crazy lady walking around in public with a doll. But in the end, I found a great scalloped black trim for the hem, a pretty burgundy satin ribbon, and two kinds of embroidered ribbon in the right colors. Worth it, I guess? Oh, and I also used a navy satin ribbon as a sash.

The floral shape on the bodice turned out to be a nightmare. Originally I cut the petals from fabric and I planned to satin stitch them on as appliques. My sewing machine, it turns out, did not agree. At the last second, I used black fabric paint and traced around the edges; it simulated a stitched edge while also attaching the petals to the bodice. It’s not great, and I fully plan on changing it at some point in the future, but it could be a lot worse.

(Speaking of a lot worse, I hadn’t learned about wig caps. As such, the wig situation was a mess the whole night. Yikes.)

The only real downside to this cute, comfortable, on-trend costume…was that no one knew who I was. All night people asked me if I was blonde Anna or blonde Belle. What a let down. At least Anna and Elsa knew who I was.

All in all, I call this one a win. I really want to pull it out again at some point, especially since my sister is getting me the Sir Jorgenbjorgen plush for Christmas this year. Or maybe I’ll be crazy and remake the whole thing.

Do you want to build a snowman?

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!

Princess Eilonwy from The Black Cauldron

So few people remember Eilonwy. It’s sad, but true. The Black Cauldron came out in 1985 and it wasn’t well-received then, and it hasn’t become a cult classic. As a sixth grader I read all of the books and loved them, and was honestly kind of disappointed in the movie. But I still loved Eilonwy, so she popped to mind when I was planning for my first Not So Scary party of the year in 2015!

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I started with Simplicity’s saloon girl pattern, 2851 (now out of print) for the bodice. I’d used it once when making my short Snow White dress and thought it would be a good match. I used a sturdy black broadcloth and used red single fold bias tape for the detailing. The sleeves were from a cream cotton and I honestly can’t even tell you what pattern I used. What I can say…is that something went horribly wrong. I still can’t even describe it. One sleeve went on perfectly. The other sleeve turned out to be a demon from hell. No matter what I did, the sleeve was twisted and it made that side of the bodice twisted. I let the sleeve out, I took the sleeve in, I cut down the armscye, I cut down the shoulder…it would. not. work. It was literally an hour before I was supposed to leave, and the damn thing was unwearable. So what did I do? I ran across the street to Walmart, bought a boy’s black tee shirt and new bias tape, cut the shirt into the proper shape, stitched on bias tape, attached the sleeves from the old bodice, and bam! Wearable Eilonwy. It wasn’t fantastic, but it worked!

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The skirt, luckily, was much easier. I cut and sewed pale pink cotton into a dirndl skirt layer (with pockets) and then used a rose colored fabric cut into a circle panel over the top, leaving about a two inch gap between the edges of the panel where it was sewn over the pale pink layer. I used the rose fabric to make a casing for an elastic waistband. It works fine, but the fabric is heavy enough to make the skirt slide when it’s worn. I’m either going to remake the waistband to make it fasten with hooks and eyes, or, when I remake the bodice, add snaps so that the skirt can snap into the bodice. Honestly, I’ll probably do both just to make sure they stay in place!

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I didn’t want to wear a wig for this cosplay- I’ve only worn a wig once for Not So Scary and it was the WORST (thanks for being a swamp, Florida). I bought a set of super cheap extensions on eBay instead. Are they quite the right color? No, but they’re close enough, and I’m rather fond of my cheap eBay weave. I curled the rest of my hair and brushed my hair and the extensions together to blend them a little, and pinned a length of black trim from Joann’s around my head to look like Eilonwy’s black circlet.

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My favorite part was the bauble! I bought a clear plastic Christmas ornament from Amazon Prime (and bought another one when the first one was too small, and then forgot to cancel my subscription so after the free trial I still had Prime, oops) and painted it with sparkly yellow acrylic craft paint. On the inside I wrapped a length of battery-operated Christmas lights with yellow tulle and put the whole thing inside the ornament. It was a little bit of a hassle to pop the ornament open and closed every time I wanted to use the lights, but it was worth it!

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I brought back Eilonwy for Akaicon 2016 and ended up entering her in the cosplay competition. I didn’t win, but honestly I just wanted more experience with judging and walking in the contest before I entered it seriously. I had a lot of fun, and I’m planning my entry for Akaicon 2017 now!

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