Making of: Hermione’s red dress

Hello my lovely readers, I haven’t written on this blog in over a year! Mainly because I haven’t finished any sewing projects that I’ve wanted to boast about – part from this little red number.

If you’re a Potter fan, you’ll recognise it as the dress Hermione wears to Bill and Fleur’s wedding (when they’re under attack from the death eaters). I’ve wanted this dress since I saw it on screen, but I never had the skill to make it until last year – and being the picky costume enthusiast that I am, buying a “replica” wasn’t an option. I loved the colour, the fabrics, the shape of the dress, the little details such as the rose in the centre and the little ruffles on the shoulder, and obviously the fact that Emma Watson was wearing it….yeah…that’s probably what sold the dress to me.

Materials used:

  • Red crepe – 1m
  • Red silk chiffon – 2m
  • Red chiffon – 2m
  • red zipper – 5″

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I started working on this whole project {shoes, fabrics, accessories} in April 2016, and completed it in August 2016. I didn’t properly start making the dress until early May.

I spent months researching the dress; How it was made, what fabrics were used, how many ruffles went where, and so on…

My dress was made from the same fabric that was used on screen, a silk chiffon. I also used a crepe lining for the dress bodice.

Firstly, the accessories!

In the movie, Hermione has her famous magic bag (?)… I don’t know, but it’s a cool bag. Being the huge Hermione fan that I am, I already had this – bought from the Wizarding world of Harry Potter too! I honestly love this bag, I get so many compliments on it, little do they know 😉 As it’s authentic I think this retailed for about $60 (£50?)

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Then onto shoes, I somehow got extremely lucky and managed to find the ones that Emma wore for just £12!. Usually I don’t include shoes in a costuming project, but as it’s Hermione, and because these were heels, I felt the need to have those shoes. I think they bring the whole outfit together. As these were screen accurate, they were helpful when I was looking for fabric, I wanted the right shade of red and was able to find it.

The necklace is a replica of the one that Hermione wears from TheNobleCollection.com *If you’re ever looking for nerdy replicas go to that site*

Onto the dress

I made a mockup of the bodice about a year before I even started the project, I just used this and redid it in the fabrics that I would be using.

13178581_1023598127721318_3203160491353243833_n At first, I had a tough time figuring out the seams because Hermione’s dress doesn’t seem to have any darts or bust seams, but I looked into it a bit more, asked a few costumer friends and I found that there are theses princess seams at the side but they’re really hard to see when you first look at the dress. I ended up altering the neckline on this because it was too high for my liking.

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Then I remade the bodice in my main fabric, sandwiched this and my lining together, stitched along the sides and tada! The bodice base is done.

I also put a zipper in, which I changed out three times (with much frustration) one was too short, one was too long.

I wish there was more to explain but that’s pretty much it, however I do wish I had finished the seams better, but I didn’t have an overlocker so unfortunately the inside seams do thread a little bit, but not too much that it would unravel the seams – basically, get yourself an overlocker if you want to work with chiffon/silk fabrics, or use a zig zag stitch on the inside of your seams. I forgot to…..yeah…I hate myself.

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I then hand gathered a the  strip of the chiffon fabric and hand stitched it to the bodice neckline. I was using an old machine at the time, and had broken my silk needle when working on all of the ruffles for the bodice sleeves, so I didn’t trust it enough to machine sew these. This took a long time, when you’re used to machine sewing, you forget how hard hand sewing can be. I noticed that none of the ruffles were hemmed, so I just used clear nail polish (which is a cheaper alternative to fray check that works just as fine) and coated these little ruffles with it.

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I made all of the 37 (not including the mini neckline one) ruffles by cutting strips of fabric, coating the edges with clear nail polish and gathering them. They needed to look really full which meant that the fabric strips were half the size after being ruffled. I probably used about 2 metres of fabric on the ruffles alone. I even sewed some together for more length. As I mentioned before, my silk needle (which was lovingly given to me by my textiles teacher when I wanted to make this dress at 15) broke when making these ruffles, so I had to make 10 of them by hand. Yep. It took forever. At this point I’d probably had 3 mental breakdowns with this dress. It was definitely a labour of love.

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I can’t clearly remember how many I made for the skirt, waist and shoulder sections, but I’m pretty sure I had 3 or 4 on each sleeve. Hermione’s dress had beading on the sleeve ruffles which were produced by the Warner Brother’s costuming team so I bought identical beads but they weren’t available in red; I hand painted them red. As I said, this dress was a labour of love!

 I glued them onto the ruffles and attached the ruffles by hand. I felt that machine sewing this would flatten them and I was all about that volume and poof-y in my ruffles.

Then onto the waistband/belt. Many of the replicas that have been made of this dress have a detachable belt, which is not accurate to the dress. I believed that the costuming team had made a “waistband” section between the bodice and the skirt, I could be wrong, but having a separate belt on top of where the skirt and bodice meet (and on top of the start of the skirt ruffles) would only add bulk to that section, which isn’t there in Emma’s dress. But like I said, I could be wrong.

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I literally just made a waistband, but without the fold. *just a long rectangle of fabric that is attached at the sides*

I debated over whether to sew this to the bodice first and then attach the ruffles, or to add the ruffles first and then sew it on to the bodice. I went for the latter option. I decided to sew the waist band to the skirt, add the ruffles and then hand sew it on to the bodice. Yay more hand sewing….

in hindsight, I would advise to attach the bodice to the waistband, then to the skirt and add the ruffles; But it’s up to you and what you find easier for yourself.

BUT then I had an idea! I sewed the bottoms of the skirt ruffles onto the skirt, sewed the ruffles onto the waistband and then sew the waistband to the top of the skirt. I should have stuck to my original plan. I only made things harder for myself, but it worked out fine anyway.

The skirt was super basic and easy to make. I used two layers, I wish I had added a third just to give it more movement, but at the same time the dress feels light and airy with just two layers, which was great when wearing it in the warm Florida weather. I pleated and gathered the skirt layers by machine.

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One of my favourite features on this dress was the rose in the centre. I had no idea on how to make fabric flowers, and the rose was quite discreet, it didn’t poke out and instead lay flat against the dress so I decided to just bunch a ruffle together until I got the shape of a flower. This worked out really well surprisingly.  This was the shape that I got, I then wrapped some premade ruffles around it to make it bigger. I didn’t make it as big as the one that is on Hermione’s dress because I felt that it over powered mine. I glued this onto the dress so I didn’t have to sew through the centre.

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The end result.

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I decided to hand sew all of the skirt ruffles by hand, yes – this was very time consuming, but instead of making them flat, I twisted the ruffles down the skirt. This gave the illusion of them being fuller and gave the same sort of shape that Emma’s dress had.

Getting to the last ruffle was such a great feeling; This dress that I had wanted to make for 5 years was finally done!

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I decided to bring it with me to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which was a dream come true! seeing a project that I’d worked my ass off on be recognised and appreciated by people was so great. It got a lot of recognition and kind words from the staff. A few people even thought I was the face character for Hermione – which is literally the highest compliment to me *Emma is my queeeeeen*

Even got to do a mini photo shoot around “London” thanks to my lovely sister.

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So overall, this dress taught me a lot about sewing and I definitely developed my skills when making it. I hadn’t worked a lot with chiffon/silk fabrics after being scared away from it by my textiles coursework (a dress made completely of hand dyed silk which I had to remake 3 times! I chose to make it like that though – young naive me) and now I’d have no problem working with it. This is just one of two Hermione dresses that I have wanted to make for many years, I’ll be moving onto her yule ball dress next so stick around to see that. The only thing that I would go back and fix are the ruffles; they fray. No fray fix will help this so I think I’ll have to burn the fibres and fix it since I can’t hem them. This project is definitely my favourite, it’s the one I’m most proud of, not only because of the work and love that I put into it but also because it brings me just a little bit closer to my favourite character, movie and costuming team.

Here’s to my next project and blog post, see you all soon

Bri x

Check out my pintrest board, I keep all of my reference pictures, techniques and inspirations here

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