Making of: Rose’s sink dress

Have I not mentioned how much I love Titanic? I f**king love Titanic! So much. Titanic is one of those movies that got me into costuming. I loved the different looks that Rose has; In one part she’s all business in a skirt suit and hat, in another part she’s floaty and elegant in an all silk chiffon dress and heels. Not to mention how much I adore edwardian dresses. I have a vivid memory of watching titanic for the first time as a kid and thinking that Kate Winslet was the most beautiful lady that I had ever seen (yes, later in life I grew to appreciate 90’s Leonardo DiCaprio more, but as a little girl I always fell in love with the pretty ladies on the screen, like how a little girl loves a disney princess.) Those gorgeous red curls, those big green eyes – and that beautiful wardrobe! I remember making Rose’s sinking dress for a barbie doll when I was about 6 or 7, which is funny now that I’m making it for my adult self.

*fun fact: Titanic is the only movie that my parents have ever seen in cinemas together!*

Anyway – I was incredibly torn between making Rose’s flying dress or sinking dress. They are my favourite costumes in the movie but I decided to go for the sink dress because of my childhood connection with it, I know, it’s so cheesy. I can 100% say that I will be making more of her costumes in the future, as it is probably my favourite movie for costumes; Which is a serious statement coming from me as I have so many favourites. I also considered which one would be multi-seasonal, so I can bring it to summer conventions on it’s own and for colder weather I can throw her pink coat on top of it.

When I first looked into making this dress, I thought it was the easy option and that it was just a simple dress. Nothing special. Oh how I was wrong. Not only does it have the most complicated closure that I have ever put into a sewing project, it also features a huge amount of dying, roll hemming and pleating. I take my hat off to the costuming team that worked on this movie.

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I did so much research into this dress and when I figured out that I could put a zipper in this dress, I was really stumped on how I would be able to put it on. I knew I couldn’t use eyelets, buttons or even a hidden zipper – there just seemed to be no closure. I searched and searched, watched the movie a bunch of times, looked at costume exhibit pics and still could not find anything; My last resort was to talk to other costumers, but there were only 2 that I knew of that had made this dress, one did their own thing with the back of the bodice meaning that theirs wasn’t accurate, the other was an instagramer named @sakurakeyblader who’s dress was as accurate as she could make it. She was such a huge help! She informed me that there’s a whole other layer of the dress that I didn’t know about. An under layer. I had suspected this but thought I was wrong as I couldn’t see anything under the silk sleeves. She gave me diagrams and reference pictures that I hadn’t even seen before.

The pattern for my bodice is made up of a deep v neck shaped back, a square neck line and darts under the bust. It’s actually a very easy shape to construct so the pattern wasn’t difficult to make once I’d figured the initial design out.

I’m not sure, but I think the under dress is made of silk and lace. I used leftover satin to make the mock up for my bodice, which actually worked out much better than I thought. How did I close the dress you ask? good old hook and eyes. Let me break it down to you, the sash at the back has a bunched sort of shape going on at the top – this hides the closure (the sash tails also help hide the rest of the hook and eyes going down the dress) This is so hard to describe, I hope the pictures help explain it.

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For the bodice, I originally bought blue chiffon for the sleeves and some pink and lilac for the gradient pleats in the centre, however I fell victim to the “colours may vary” curse (this means that the colours were different in real life) I always take a risk when buying fabric online so I was disappointed by this, the fabrics were far too vibrant but I knew I could fix it by bleaching the fabric white and then using fabric dye to create the pastel colours that I wanted. yes, this may add more money and time to my costume, but in the end it will look how I want it too look so I’m okay with spending a little more.

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I made my bodice out of a thin cotton sateen and lace, then draped my blue chiffon and created seamless sleeves (this means that I didn’t lay the fabric out flat and cut out a pattern but instead draped it onto my dress form and sewed it in place) The pink pleated sashes were made up of some ombre dyed silk chiffon that I hand dyed myself using two different fabric dyes. Before I sewed my sashes in place I attached my bodice to my skirt.

The bodice also has a sort of lace scallop trim along the neckline so I hand attached this. I then added my hooks and eyes onto the back of the dress.

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With the pleated”sash” I just took strips of fabric from the three different shades of pink that I dyed, doubled the fabric over and sewed it in place before attaching it to the dress.

 

 

 

For the skirt I made 3 layers, then an over layer that is shorter and open at the front. I dyed this a light pink and also added some pink omboré to the layer underneath. This involved a lot – a lot of roll hemming (roll hemming involves turning your fabric over twice to hide the raw edges). Which I hate. Every layer is a sheer fabric, and I’m still saving up for an overlocker so I had to machine roll all of them….:( After the 3 skirt layers and the sleeves I resorted to roll hemming by hand which turned out better because I had more control over the edges. I often feel that the machine flattens my roll hems and unravels them which makes it harder and more time consuming to sew.

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The wig…..

Agh I love this wig; I rarely invest in wig for costumes because a lot of the time I don’t really need one, but as Rose has lovely red curls – the hair I’d always dreamed of having, I couldn’t go without. My wig even has a little widow’s peak. This is a synthetic hair, which I’m not a hug fan of because synthetic hair wigs don’t last as long as real hair wigs and can be hard to maintain, but I do have lots of experience of wigs so hopefully I can keep this looking pretty for whenever I want to bring Rose out for a convention or shoot. I got this beauty for just £34 on LightInTheBox.com. I was quite skeptical at first, but it was the closest to Kate’s hair that I could find under £60 so I took a risk and I was pleasantly surprised.

For the shoes, there are no pictures online to reference what shoes Rose has on but you do get a glimpse of some white heels in the movie when she’s lying on the debris in the sea. I happened to have the perfect pair in my closet.

That’s the main part of Rose’s costume, I will be making her pink coat (and possibly a life jacket too to go with the dress if I have time to make it) but that will be in a separate blog.

Until next time 🙂

Bri x

 

 

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