I wanted to create a costume that my puppy could be included in, this is what I came up with.
Step 1: Decide on a Character.
This is probably an obvious thing to do, but I sometimes have so many ideas floating around in my head that it is tough to decide on just one. Do yourself a favor and decide at least one month before you will be attending any costume parties - it is no fun looking for a black wig the day before an event only to realize there is nothing suitable in stock at any local store.
I love the idea of going as a themed duo or group, so I ended up with Snow White because my little guy, Valentino, makes a perfect Happy the dwarf.
Step 2: Research.
My research started with the 1937 animated film by Disney which I haven't watched in years. From there I did a few internet searches to find still images. There are quite a few variations out there, but I wanted to get as close to the original film as possible.
And who needs an excuse to watch a classic Disney cartoon!
Step 3: Gather Your Pattern and Materials.
Thankfully, there are quite a few costume patterns out there – so much easier than having to draft your own! Simplicity has a Disney princess costume pattern that includes Snow White and Cinderella and comes in adult and children’s sizes, which is what I started with.
Pattern: Simplicity 2813
Bodice: Blue velvet
Skirt, Collar, & Lt. Blue Sleeves: Flannel backed satin (great for a little extra warmth!)
Cape: Iridescent Taffeta
Cape & Sleeve Lining: Crinkle satin with random sequins and embroidery.
Petticoat: White Muslin
Most of the fabric was purchased from the clearance section at JoAnn Fabrics.
Step 4: Make Alterations and Adjustments to Pattern.
First off, the Simplicity color choices in this pattern are off. For instance, Snow White's cape varies in tone throughout the film, sometimes dark red, sometimes black, but I don't remember ever seeing the bodice and cape the same color. I got lucky and found a deep red/black iridescent taffeta which was perfect because it can look red or black under different light. My research found that the arm band was usually gold or yellow in color, so that was an easy change.
The one thing I really did not like was the cheap looking sleeve treatment. The pattern advises you to fuse sections of one fabric to another with raw edges - ick! It took a bit more time, but I cut an inner and outer sleeve. I created a template for my cutouts a bit more tear-drop shaped than the pattern, cut those templates with seam allowances, sewed right side to right side on my outer-sleeve, clipped the seams, and turned to the inside before invisibly stitching the facings down. The inside sleeve was then basted to the outer sleeve, right side to wrong side and treated as a single piece for gathering and setting in.
I made covered cording in my yellow skirt satin for the center bodice seam as suggested, and added cording to the bodice/skirt seam as well for a more finished look.
Because I did not have enough yellow satin, I left one skirt section out completely, gently pleated the front section, and pleated and gathered the back. I think I prefer the flat front to the gathered Simplicity look (this is also more like the original cartoon drawings as well).
Instead of using velcro to attach the collar, I used snaps (I have never had a good relationship with velcro, and I hate how everything always catches in it - especially hair, and this piece is attached at the neckline). You could also slip-stich the collar in place, but if you plan on driving anywhere, it would be helpful to have an easy way to remove the piece. My collar was interfaced with heavy sew-in interfacing on both pieces, and I also added three lengths of plastic boning to help keep it from flopping over.
My cape was attached with a hook and eye to two thread loops I sewed on the bodice shoulders so the cape did not pull back toward the neck. The pattern suggests sewing snaps to both shoulder seams, but I would recommend thread loops if you plan on wearing the dress without the cape at some point.
Step 5: Hint!
If your puffy sleeves are looking a bit soggy, stuff them with a couple of cotton socks. This works especially great for last minute fixes since everyone has them on hand. The socks are much softer than a net facing sewed into the sleeve head, and because they are removable, the costume will take up less closet space!
Step 6: Finishing Touches.
Always remember that the little finishing touches can take a lot more time than expected. I prefer to get the headbands, belts, wigs taken care of early on.
The wig was originally a Bettie Page wig purchased at Party City. It is not a fabulous wig, and not exactly what I was looking for, but I was able to style it a la Snow White. The extra length of the wig and the funky “curls” were tucked under and secured with pins and the bangs were “opened.” A cheap headband from Claire’s was covered in the red fabric.
I added a white petticoat for a bit more warmth and to add a bit of poof to the skirt.
Step 7: Puppy Costume
Valentino’s costume took less time, and I limited myself to what I already had in the house.
Felt is a great inexpensive choice. This is craft felt, and not nearly as nice as the wool stuff, but for a costume that is going to be worn a few times it works great.
And because a drafted pattern is always helpful instead of starting from scratch, I used Simplicity 3939. The pattern helped with placement of front leg openings and sleeves. I eliminated the back leg business because I don’t think ‘Tino would have been very happy with the restrictive quality.
The biggest challenge with creating Happy’s costume was the cap/beard. I knew that any type of headdress was going to require an elastic to keep it on my furry little guy. So to help disguise the elastic band, I grabbed a small bunch of fiberfill I had on hand and folded it over the elastic and stitched.
What a cutie!