This year I have been very obsessed with puppets, large scale puppeteering, prosthetics/special effects, etc so when I watched Neverending Story I was of course obsessed with the beautiful puppets and creatures of Fantasia. I really love the Jim Henson Company works and even though Neverending Story is not a Henson production (Ul De Rico did the creature design) I just really enjoyed the puppet work and the beautiful world of Fantasia.

Anyway, I have also been working on beading in my FIT class and as I was looking at reference photos for the Childlike Empress outfit I noticed it was entirely beaded.

It’s a heavily beaded bodice done with what looks like a running stitch, a beaded belt which looks like it is part of the dress and a pleated skirt, also has beads. I started looking through my patterns and found Vogue 2303 – Vogue Couturier Design by Valentino. The neckline and sleeves and most importantly the little belt looked similar to the dress that Childlike Empress wears.

Description: “Misses’ One-Piece Dress. Semi-fitted A-line dress with jewel neckline has short sleeves or sleeveless. Bodice and skirt slightly gathered to front midriff inset with buttoned tab extending from back. Left side back zipper and shoulder hook and eye closing.” I sewed a mockup of this and it fit. I wanted to change the skirt from gathering to pleating so had to add width, and change the button tabs on the inset to be a bow in the back which just meant I had to lengthen the tabs. The back and zipper portion of this dress were a little pointless.. it’s cut as 3 pieces and the inset is only on the front so it’s totally differently cut from the front of the dress, and the zipper is along the left back seam. I just felt it was sort of unnecessarily complex, maybe to add shaping in the back seams rather than doing back darts but I didn’t think it was pretty or cohesive enough to add anything to the dress. I left it as-is anyway.

Next up was beading. I drew the pattern pieces onto some light shirting cotton/poly blend I got from Mood and got them in the hoop – you can’t bead on a finished garment as easily because it’s already 3D and has form to it, it should be done on pattern pieces. I started this on October 1.

Then… I just beaded as much as I could. The bodice front pieces were straightforward and simple and didn’t take too long but it was just a lot of beads, probably something like 2000 seed beads. (8/0 Toho beads in Ceylon Light Ivory from Lima Beads). Nevertheless she persisted and I finished the bodice in a week. I just beaded for a couple hours every day.

Next was the belt which I was able to be a little more creative with. Her belt is just made up of little seed beads in a pattern.

First I beaded the border like in the original then I started with a little freeform starburst pattern from a lot of white and iridescent beads:

But once I looked at it with the dress I felt it wasn’t enough so I beaded another 2 little circle patterns around the center. I finished it while I was on vacation in Maui. Relaxing:) In fact I find beading pleasantly meditative but I definitely always get very uncomfortable in my posture when I bead.

Finally I assembled the dress, neglecting the beading on the skirt due to time constraints. Sometimes, enough is enough. It was fun and challenging to sew with this amount of beadwork on fabric – it made it a lot heavier and I had to be careful not to disturb the beads. I had made sure to leave a seam allowance on the pattern pieces when I beaded.

I literally finished this costume with hours to spare, Adam’s little shirt for his Atreyu costume arrived on the 30th so it was really coming down to the wire as to if we would be able to have this costume at all. I made the beaded headpiece the night before with jewelry wire, more beads (….) and a vintage art nouveau style pendant I got off eBay for like $8. The beaded necklace was also from eBay. The finishings on this dress are awful. I didn’t even hem it. I did invisibly tack down all the facings but none of the internal seams are really finished and the zipper insertion is horrific. Spending 80 hours beading only to put on the world’s worst showing for garment construction…….

But it did turn out SO cute, I cut myself a little netting veil and:

Yay, I love it.

Me and Adam together, no commentary on his outfit but I think he looks cute and to me he does look like Atreyu. (Brown hair and has a horse ✔️ ).

Ok, happy Halloween, great job to me for neglecting schoolwork, other sewing commitments, friends, bf, vacation and work in order to bead sew a dress I will wear one night a year – ta da! It’s fun to make something like that though and Halloween feels very “safe to fail” even if obviously, I succeeded. As Falkor says, “Never give up and good luck will find you.”

Posted by:Patricia Torvalds

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