When I saw that one of this year's competition themes was “ballet,” I got so excited, because I had two doll-sized ballet costumes on my to-do list. This project was conceived in 2011, when I decided to make doll-scale reproductions of every main costume from Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera.
This ballet costume is worn during the performance of the mock-opera “Il Muto.” As such, it's supposed to be a Victorian interpretation of a Rococo ballet costume. It's done in the Romantic style, with a long, full, layered skirt and a corset-like bodice, in mint green and pink, plus an olive green sash and shoulder drape. I drafted my own patterns.
It took a long time for all the elements of this costume to come together, and I hit several snags along the way. One challenge was fabric. A few years ago, I found the perfect pink-green iridescent satin, which I bought and put aside. I acquired a pale pink satin for the lining, light green tulle for the supporting underskirt, and an olive silk chiffon for the accent pieces. I thought I had a coordinating sage green satin for the skirt and bodice, but it was from my late-grandmother's stash and had been folded in a cupboard for so long, the creases had become permanent. I couldn't find any other fabric in the right shade of green, but after much despair, I realized I could use the wrong side of the iridescent satin, which was spring green with a pink shimmer.
Another issue I faced was how to hem the skirt layers. I'd drafted them as gathered circle skirts which attach to a yoke, so the bottom edges were quite rounded—impossible to hem in the traditional way. My usual hemming techniques wouldn't work because of the scale, but eventually it occurred to me that I could line the skirts with illusion. This provided a finished hem, without adding stiffness or bulk.
For the bodice, I drafted princess seams. To give the illusion of a stomacher, I used an impossibly tiny pink cord to make crisscross lacing, and then added a narrow picot trim for the outer edges.
I used miniature paper roses for the floral accents on the bodice and sash. After I'd attached them to the silk chiffon, I realized they were too big for the scale of the doll. Not by much, but enough that they looked out of place. So, I carefully removed them and pulled off the outer petals, making the flowers smaller, then put them back on the costume. I used the same mini roses to make the headpiece and floral wreath.
Dress Diary: Part I and Part II