Thursday, April 7, 2011

F is for Fabric

"Awash we are in a sea of purple."
- Faith King, Tangled Costuming blog, April 7th 2011

(In case you thought that was an actual famous quote because I put it in italics at the beginning of my entry)

There are two major fabric components to my Rapunzel skirt, and both of them have their own tales to tell.

PART ONE: The Main Skirt

With the exception of the embroidery (see previous post), Rapunzel's skirt is actually pretty straight-forward. It's a calf-length, A-line, multi-paneled example of practical and comfortable design (I wear skirts every day. I know comfortable and practical). All panels except the front and center one are plain, shiny purple satin.

Flashback to 2002 and my sister's wedding: the regular bridesmaids had gowns of soft sea-green satin. But as the maid-of-honor, my gown was singular. It was, in fact, made out of ...*drumroll*... you guessed it. Shiny purple satin. In more or less the right color. It's slightly darker, but the fabric is so completely gorgeous that I honestly don't care.

I pulled it apart. I experimented with a couple of multi-panel skirt patterns. I spent one Friday evening late into the night, finding an acceptable marriage between what I needed and what I had to work with. Happy day! It was just barely enough. It was a brilliant exercise in thrift and resourcefulness. I would NOT have to buy plain purple satin for my Rapunzel skirt.

I think, though, it was my friend Anna who best summed up this happy ending:

"Exactly how much fabric did you rescue from Bridesmaid Gown Purgatory?!"

I haven't measured, but it was enough. And my sister was 'happy to contribute' (though I could hear something a little more snarky ratting around unspoken in her head-- we know each other well).

Below you can see some of the customized adaptations that I did with the prior dress panels to make this crazy notion work. I think they're quite telling, but I could be wrong.

PART TWO: The Bustier (and the rest of the Skirt)

We've already talked about the structure of the Bustier, including a mention that it was made out of Lavender brocade (also sometimes listed as Jacquard if you're looking for satin fabric with an thin embroidered pattern on top-- I am learning!).

The center panel of the skirt is also brocade, and it has the same pattern as the brocade for the bustier, BUT it is a different color.

I trolled the interwebz for something appropriate and found this wonderful place called Prestige Linens that had a beautiful floral satin brocade in a whole slew of gorgeous colors, including three different shades of purple and the price was AWESOME. I was ecstatic.

Lavender (for the bustier):

Plum (Center skirt panel)

Last week I went to order what I thought I would need and discovered a problem:

There was a minimum yardage requirement. And I need TWO COLORS!

If you poke around this company's website, they don't really produce for individual users. They mostly make seat covers for weddings and sell wholesale to smaller establishments. This explains the great price, but I still didn't have any additional use for 17 extra yards of purple brocade.

As with the embroidery, we now come to another example of my stubbornness. I had my heart set on this fabric. It was almost perfect (the design wasn't quite right, but I think Disney probably has a copyright on theirs and I ain't gonna be able to buy it anywhere). My friends very helpfully pointed out some other options (including dyeing my own material, but I am lazy and I don't want to learn something else new when I'm already learning quite a number of new things in this project).

My friends were correct and sensible and all of that.

But I am just stubborn.

I am going to buy the fabric anyway.

However! Because I am not a wastrel at heart I have already made arrangement with a couple of friends to pool our resources for this fabric since they are also doing Rapunzel costumes at some point down the road. And I don't think we've still quite used it up between the three of us, so if anybody finds this blog and would be interested in contributing, don't hesitate to ask.

PART THREE: Minor fabrics

Down the road I will have to decide what to use for (1) the undershirt or modesty panel for the bustier (2) the upper sleeves (3) the 3/4 length lower sleeves and (4) the petticoat. But compared to the two major components described above, these will be very painless choices in comparison.


  1. Beautiful fabric and I applaud your desire to make a dress like Rapunzel's. That is a great movie.
    N. R. Williams, The Treasures of Carmelidrium.

  2. Just another ballot in the "fabric is drop-dead gorgeous" box. Nice!

    And yes, I'm still envious that you can, you know, make things that look like the things you want to make, and I can't.

    Nice post!

    g: Gideon in the Graveyard

  3. NR Williams - Thanks! It is a wonderful movie. It sort of whizzed to the top of my favorite Disney animated list with almost no resistance!

    Joe - Thanks for all your fun comments. I feel the same way about people who can draw. :-)

  4. i just love that fabric!!!!!! its so pretty and just the right color too. if there's enough left i would love to have it!!

  5. I love it too! It really is perfect for the project. If you still have any left let me know! I was just asked to make a rapunzel dress and am hunting for the perfect fabric. What a task it's been so far... :)

  6. I too am interested in the fabric if you have any left.

  7. @Jamie and @Desi

    I have just made an informational post about purchasing fabric:


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