Beetlejuice: Lydia's Wedding Dress




Introduction: Beetlejuice: Lydia's Wedding Dress

In this instructable I'll walk you through making the Lydia Deetz's iconic red wedding dress from Beetlejuice! This project is best suited for a moderately experienced or very experienced seamstress. We will be following a pattern but there are some parts that you will need to draft yourself (skirt and armhole facings)

Sewing machine
Hot glue gun
Cutting mat (optional)
Rotary cutter (optional)
Dress form (optional)
Serger (optional)

Simplicity 5217 pattern (this is an out of print pattern, you can find it on Etsy and Ebay, be sure to buy the correct size, there is only one size per envelope)
At least 8 yards of red aspirin dot mesh fabric ( has this fabric), more if you are a larger size or need a longer dress
4 yards of red costume satin or taffeta for lining
2 yards of double wide tulle for veil
6 fake red roses
Claw style hair clip
1/2 yard of 2" ivory or offwhite horsehair braid
1 yard of red trim for neckband
3 small red buttons for back of neckband
16" red zipper
Spool of red satin ribbon
Spool of red sheer organza ribbon
1 yard of 1/8" wide red ribbon

Other items:
Hoop skirt
Red shoes
Black wig
Red opera length gloves (or 1.5 yards of 4-way stretch red nylon or spandex to make your own - instructions are included at the end)

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Step 1: Step 1: Cutting Out the Pieces

Refer to instructions for pattern placement on fabric, always follow grain lines and instructions on cutting pieces on the fold.
We will be using view 1 from this pattern, but we will not be using the sleeves, cuffs or overskirt for this garment.
Cut out the bodice front, bodice back and waist band pieces from both the red lining and red mesh.
Cut the chest front and back pieces out of mesh only.
Cut one neckband piece out of mesh.

The skirt lining  for this pattern hugs closer to the body than the skirt in the movie. You will need to draft a much more flared skirt pattern based on the skirt lining. Use the top of the skirt lining (waist), but flare the skirt as wide as you can at the bottom. The bottom of the skirt I drafted was about 113" around. Divide the flare amongst the 3 skirt pieces evenly. You can also use a different skirt pattern with more flare instead of drafting your own skirt.

You will also need to draft arm hole facings. Because we are not using the sleeves, the arm holes will be left with a raw edge. You may either enclose this wil bias tape or draft a facing based on the bodice front and bodice back pattern pieces. You can choose to us a light fusible interfacing to help keep the interfacings tucked into the bodice.

The ruffles for the skirt and bodice should be cut last, we will cover them later.

Step 2: Step 2: Sewing the Bodice and Chest

Baste the mesh pieces to their corresponding satin pieces (bodice front, back, waist band). We are going to basically follow the sewing directions that came with the pattern for assembly, with a few changes. 

Gather the bottom of the bodice front and back as directed. Sew to waistband. Sew shoulders. 

Bodice ruffle: Measure around the neckline. This measurement should be multiplied by 2.5 to get the total amount of fabric strip to ruffle. The ruffles are tiered, 4", 6" and 8". In order to preserve fabric, it is better to cut the ruffles perpendicular to the selvage. Use a rotary cutter and mat for precise edges. You may need to piece together strips to make a ruffle long enough. Use a french seam when piecing strips together end to end. The mesh is flimsy and may get sucked into the machine, you can avoid this by sewing the seams on tissue paper. Rip off the tissue paper, then trim the seam allowance to 1/8", invert and sew the second part of the french seam with tissue paper. Rip off the tissue paper again.You may also choose to finish the edges with a small rolled hem using a serger. Baste each ruffle separately along one long edge and gather. Sew onto bodice. 

Fit bodice, sew side seams. Sew armhole facing shoulder seams and side seams. Sew armhole facing to armhole on bodice. Turn inside and press. Understitch facing to seam. Tack facing at shoulder and side seams.

Sew chest pieces together at shoulders with a french seam. Sew neckband to chest pieces (no french seam). Fit chest piece on body. Handstitch horsehair trim to neckband, turning under ends. Handsew trims to top and bottom of neckband. Handsew buttons onto neckband. Handsew loops from 1/8" red ribbon onto neckband. Roll edges of back chest pieces and finish with handstitching. 

Step 3: Sewing the Skirt and Ruffles

Sew back seam of skirt, starting at notch and sewing down towards hem. Leave open from notch up to waist for zipper insertion. Sew side seams. Press open back seam, finish side seams with serger if desired. Fit skirt (using hoop skirt) and bodice, mark. 

Here comes the fiddly part, you need to measure how much mesh fabric you have left and determine how many strips and ruffles you can make. Ultimately the goal is to use as much fabric as possible, it will read better to have fuller ruffles. My ruffles were cut perpendicular to seam allowance, 10" wide. I place the ruffles at the top of my skirt, and at every 8 inches down to the bottom, 5 tiers for a total length of 40". This gives about a 2" overlap between ruffles which ensures no gapping between ruffles. The bottom ruffle should come to the edge of the hem, and should not have a 2" overlap with the hem, so you will pin that ruffle slightly higher than 8" below the next higher ruffle. YMMV, you may need a shorter skirt (I am 5'10) so do the calculations!

Once you have your calculations done, cut out strips for ruffles. Each ruffle should be composed of a strip 2.5x the measurement around that part of the skirt. So if your skirt is 30" around the top, 2.5x30" would be a 75" long strip. My fabric was 42" wide, so I would need to piece together about 1.5 strips. Use a french seam when piecing strips together. Once pieced, sew a basting stitch and gather. Because the fabric is so flimsy, my machine gathered the fabric itself when set on a basting stitch with no tissue paper (very helpful). Gather until the ruffled strip is the correct measurement.

Sandwich the ruffle between the skirt and bodice. Be sure your french seam on your ruffle is facing the correct way. Pin and machine sew bodice, ruffle and skirt together carefully.

Do a final fitting of dress, and sew in zipper. I will cover my technique here, but there are many techniques for adding zippers. Ultimately the back of the dress will mostly be covered by veil and hair, so the back closures don't need to look perfect. I chose to hand-pick the zipper to avoid catching the many ruffles while I sewed since there are ruffles all over the bodice. I fit the dress to me, then sewed the back seam with a basing stitch, pressing the seam open. I pinned the closed zipper along the seam. I hand-picked the zipper into the dress (here is a tutorial on hand-picking zippers). Once sewn, I removed the basing stitch from the seam. 

If you have a dressform, put the dress on the dressform with the hoopskirt underneath. If you don't have a dress form, put on the dress and hoopskirt and have a friend pin the hem. You may need to trim the flounce off your hoopskirt if it has one. Hem the dress. Because the skirt hem is slightly curved, I found it easiest to serge the edge of the hem, gather the serged threads slightly, and machine sew the hem (the hem will be covered by a ruffle). Once hemmed, put the dress back on the dressform+hoopskirt or you+hoopskirt and begin pinning ruffles on. Measure down 1/5 of the length of the skirt (in my case 8") and pin the next ruffle on. Because I was using a dress form, I pinned one ruffle, hand sewed the ruffle on, and then pinned the next. If you do not have a dress form, you may want to pin all ruffles on at once using safety pins to keep them on (unless you have a very patient pinner friend). The bottom ruffle's edge should be close to the hem of the skirt (within one inch), so pin this ruffle carefully. You can sew these with your machine, though I recommend sewing at least the last one by hand to make sure your ruffles lay correctly.

Step 4: Final Touches

Put on the dress and hoopskirt. Have a friend help you pin the chest piece/neckband in the correct position. Handsew or machine sew chest piece to bodice. It's important to try it all on at once to ensure the neckband sits comfortably.

Gloves can be purchased or made. I made my gloves because I have long arms and couldn't find gloves long enough. To make gloves, use thin 4-way stretch nylon or spandex. You need to use a narrow zig zag stitch so that the seams stretch slightly. Even though the insides of the gloves might end up looking a little crazy, once you turn them right side out, they will look nice all stretched out on your hand.

On the fold, cut a tube of fabric the width and shape of your arm (ignore your thumb for now). Sew tube together with a narrow seam allowance. Try on your arm to make sure it fits. With tube inside out, hold fingers straight and fairly close together, pinky butting up against seam of tube. Mark tip of fingers and 'crotch' between fingers. Cut from tip of finger to 'crotch' between fingers. Trim pinky finger to size.

Cut out gussets from fabric, about 1" wide and 8" long. You will need three for each glove. Sew gussets between pinky and ring finger, ring and middle, and middle and pointer fingers. Note that ring and middle fingers will have gussets on both sides, and pointer and pinky fingers will have only one gusset. Trim seams, leaving 1/8"-1"4 seam allowance. Fold the gussets inward (like an accordion) and sew finger tips in half-moon curve. Trim. Try glove on for fit. While your hand is in the glove, fold your thumb in slightly. Mark the top of the base of your thumb and the bottom of the base of your thumb. Remove glove. Cut a slit between the marks. From a separate piece of fabric, on the fold, cut out and sew a thumb shape. Pin the thumb into the glove (right sides together and seam towards the 'crotch' of the thumb). Sew carefully around. Trim. Try on glove, decide on length, cut and hem glove (use a double needle). Make the other glove!

Veil: Cut tulle yardage in half or in thirds, depending on how long of a veil you want (I recommend not as long as mine, the veil in the movie is actually shorter than mine and it will save you having people nearly pulling your wig off all night). Open up the double wide tulle. Machine base along top. Gather as tightly as possible. Tie off threads and trim. Glue to a claw clip. Trim bottom of veil in a rounded shape. 

Bouquet: Strip off leaves and thorns from roses. Bunch them together. Cut lengths of sheer organza ribbon and arrange within bunch. Hot glue bunch together, wrap stems with red stain ribbon. Weave ends of ribbon between roses, leaving loose loops between the roses.

Wig: I actually used two wigs for this costume. I recommend using one, get a black shoulder length wig with bangs. Glue the bangs into points and let dry (off of your head). Gather half of the hair into a high ponytail. Mix up what tracks you are drawing from so you don't have a harsh line between ponytail hair and loose hair. Use hairspray and a comb to tease the top.

Makeup: One of the contests we entered was specifically a zombie costume contest, so I made Lydia a little Beetlejuiced with moss and heavy eye makeup. I will do a separate instructable on the Beetlejuice makeup, but here is a list of items I used for the classic Lydia look.:

From Kryolan:
Clown white
Zombie palette
Setting powder
Setting spray

Other makeup:
Black pencil eyeliner
Eyelash curler
Black mascara
Coral eyeshadow
Contouring blush
Sheer pink lip gloss

Mix a little clown white with the center taupe color of the zombie palette. Use a sponge to spread over the face and neck lightly. Use the maroon color from the zombie palette around the eyes, extending up to eyebrow and down and around your eye. Set with powder. Line eyes with black liner. Fill in eyebrows with black liner. Curl lashes and add mascara. Add highlights of coral eye shadow under eyebrows and on eyelid. Contour cheeks and jawline with blush. Apply sheer pink lip gloss. Set with spray to keep from rubbing on neckband.

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    5 Discussions


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you! I tried to be very thorough. If anyone has any questions please feel free to ask!


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you! It was so much fun! Keep an eye out for my upcoming Beetlejuice instructable!