Making Of: Tinkerbell

I’ll admit that this project happened purely on a whim. One of the costume shops I work at was getting rid of a huge stash of fabric. They told us to take whatever we want, and everything else gets donated. So of course I filled the trunk of my car with fabric! I originally grabbed this, thinking I could make a Dapper Day Lady Tremaine (from the live action movie). After “stay at home” happened, I looked through my veritable dragon’s hoard of fabric, and realized this could make an amazing Tinkerbell.


I have a corset pattern, which I at one point planned to use for a Kiss the Girl Ariel costume to sell on Etsy (that never happened, whoops!), and I used that as a base for the dress. I made the corset out of some black twill from my stash, and used synthetic whalebone for the first time. I am a huge fan of using zip ties for corset boning, but I’ve heard about synthetic whalebone in the historical costuming community for years. It’s a plastic that behaves similarly to whale baleen, which was the boning of choice through the Victorian Era. Although I really liked working with this synthetic whalebone, I honestly think it’s only *slightly* better than zip ties and FAR more expensive. I’ll use the remainder for some upcoming historical corset projects, then I’ll switch back to zip ties and spiral steel boning. My spiral steel boning supplier, Michael Levine, went out of business a few months ago, but I recently found another shop that sells it in the fabric district.

I traced the corset pattern onto pattern paper, then extended the lines and created the leaf shape for the skirt. The center back, center front and side seams are the line down the center of the leaf, and the panels on either side of this seam are cut on the bias in opposing directions to create that leaf effect. Of course, fabric cut on the bias will warp, and this warped IMMEDIATELY. I should have cut all the pattern pieces out of interfacing first, then ironed them onto the fabric, then cut it out. Instead, I had to fight the warping to get the interfacing and fabric to *mostly* line up. The raw edges also mercilessly began to come apart as soon as you cut the fabric. It was…a struggle. But ultimately worth it in the end.


So the fashion side of the dress was all cut out, interfaced, and sewn together. I then traced each of the four leaves onto the fabric on the straight grain, and cut it out. With right sides together, these pieces were sewn to each leaf, the edges clipped, turned right side out, and ironed. These lined the leaf part of the dress, while the corset eventually lined the bodice part of the dress. The tops of the leaf linings were all hand stitched to the inside of the dress. With right sides together. The dress and corset were sewn together along the top and center back edges, then flipped right side out and ironed. I hammered grommets into center back.


The leaves of the skirt were QUITE revealing, so I decided to make an underskirt. Specifically, four leaves sewn onto a bias tape waistband. I followed the same method of interfaced bias pieces sewn together and lined with a piece cut on the straight grain. These leaves sit between each of the skirt leaves, to add depth and modesty.


And it was done! Well, almost. Whereas I have a fabric hoard, my roommate has a rhinestone hoard. She keeps it in a cauldron-shaped popcorn bucket from Disneyland, and calls it her rhinestone cauldron. It’s only a matter of time til she rhinestones the rhinestone cauldron (you may think I’m kidding, but she and I have already discussed it at length). When she saw my Tinkerbell dress, of course she said, “what if you rhinestone it? Like fairy dust!” She raided her rhinestone cauldron and found a ton of light green rhinestones that she never ended up using for a Coronation Anna gown, and she kindly gave them all to me. I used a mixture of the light green and some AB rhinestones from my own stash, starting with a greater density at the bottom and spreading them farther apart as I moved my way upwards. I absolutely love the effect, and I’m so glad my roommate had these in her stash.


Many years ago, a group of friends and I made the unidolized fairy costumes from Love Live, and the propmaker in our group made everyone’s wings. I still have mine, and I discovered that I could easily set them into the lacing gap at center back of the dress. And voila! The dress is done! I don’t have a proper Tinkerbell wig yet, but I’ll buy one once conventions can safely happen again….


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