Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Queen Susan

Jenna tells me she's planning to work her way through Susan Pevensie's entire on-screen wardrobe over the next few Halloweens. Last year, she asked for Queen Susan's parade gown, all gold and maroon and ivory. Next year, she thinks she wants her green archery outfit. This year, she's decked out in the purple and blue dress Susan wore to war alongside Prince Caspian.

Let's talk about the fabric first. In the movie, this dress was a more understated smoky lilac stripe and slate blue. Which I suppose I could have found if I'd driven enough miles and searched enough fabric stores. 
Image from Lucie Land

However, I decided that my time would be better spent sewing than shopping. So I settled for grape,  which was the shade I found in abundance everywhere. It's brighter but still regal.

I wanted to keep the texture, though. Costumes like these are all about texture. 

For instance, a person could not use cheap shiny satin and plain cotton and pray that bright hues might provide sufficient drama to carry this dress.

And since I couldn't find a decent striped purple fabric that worked, I used an upholstery one with a cross-hatch pile which, if the light hit it just so, showed some delightful gold accents. 

That little bit of gold was fun to play up in the embellishments - the reverse applique lilies on the bodice, which were gold brocade (and whose spacing I messed up),

and the minimalist running stitch on the cuff and peplum.

The garment design itself was very straightforward, as with all my costumes: a fitted bodice, slightly drop-waisted and princess-seamed, long, straight sleeves and a semi-circular skirt.

Here's the thing about a classic cut - it runs the danger of being quite blah. However, if you take the time to get a good fit and simple details that don't overpower those clean lines, it can look anything but boring.

Here are some of those details - first is the lining. It's a blue knit - so that it's soft, stretchy and comfortable under all the thick, fraying outer purple seams. I sewed it as a complete inner dress, attached to the outer purple one only at the neckline and armscyes.  

It is ruffled at the neckline

and sleeve cuffs.

The sleeves themselves are split at the elbow and wrist - they are meant to allow Susan to flex and stretch her arms while drawing her bow. Remember what happened to Merida's dress in Brave when she did her archery thing? 

There is a little shaped peplum at the drop-waist. And by "shaped", I mean that I drafted it along the same curve as the drop waist, not as a semi-circle or the diagonal bias per se, the way many of the more frilly peplums are cut. This one, by contrast, was meant to hug the hip.  

The skirt is a semicircular skirt in blue knit, underneath the same in the outer purple fabric, except that the purple is split down the center front seam. For twirling, you know. I suspect that Queen Susan used this split seam feature more for war moves and horse-riding than pirouettes, though. 

Finally, here is the cape, made with leftover skirt fabric layered over regular fleece. 

We get cold Halloweens here in Minnesota, and this is how we attempt to avoid hypothermia while still dressing like royalty.

I was  quite tempted to also make the leather quiver/shoulder bag ensemble that Susan wore with this dress in the movie. 

And then I slapped myself. This isn't cosplay! It's only Halloween, not to mention winter! When we are once again kissed by the warm sunshine of Spring, we will unearth our neon-vinyl quivers and overly-modern PVC bows and re-enact Narnian battles. 

I mean, while doing pirouettes.


  1. Jenna looks totally pleased with her costume! And so she should be... it's elegant!! I love all your attention to detail!

  2. This dress and the one from last year are just gorgeous! My kids (I've got three boys) are obsessed with Narnia too. My oldest's favorite is Prince Caspian. Maybe by next Halloween I'll be feeling braver and make him a Prince Caspian outfit. But back to you; you did an amazing job!

  3. Again super. i hadnt noticed the appliques where out of place until you said it :D.
    The labcoat was also well done, loved the glow in the dark effect.

  4. Nice costume and pretty girl. You are very handy.

  5. Three very fortunate little girls live at your house! What wonderful memories you are making for them, it seems that nothing is too much trouble for you. It is truly beautiful to see.

  6. Her dress is beautiful ! Jenna looks like a real princess, not a Halloween-only one. I love how you share all the details you put in those costumes.

  7. Golly, I never thought about why the elbows of Merida's dress were constructed the way they were... Duh!

    Beautiful costume, I am enjoying your handiwork so much!

  8. Love the costumes you did this year. Your attention to detail is awe inspiring! Do you keep the costumes to pass down. Your girls will have such great stories to pass on with the costumes.

  9. Very beautiful work, and it appears you have a very appreciative child :)

  10. So this is you reining it in? Awesome costume!


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