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How I Made My Own Version Of The "Angel Dress":
"When I decided that I wanted to dress as "Arwen" for Halloween, I went on the hunt. What I discovered wasn't very encouraging. All the ready-made costumes available with this style dress were only being made to fit up to a size 12 (US). There are no plus size ready-made costumes for LOTR as of yet (as far as I know). I felt slighted, as usual that what I wanted simply wasn't available.
Then I reminded myself that I did know how to sew a little bit (or at least how to follow directions), and that was a possibility for me (if not the ONLY possibility). I waited a few months to see if more options would become available in ready made and nothing came. I began to panic. I started saving image files to my computer and making drawings of ideas. The feeling of being left out in the cold only got worse when I discovered that the pattern being widely used this year (Simplicity 9891) for Arwen's chase dress as well as an example of Galadriel's dress..didn't come in my size. I was devastated. I could not buy a ready-made costume, and I couldn't even use the pattern. I felt lost. I hit upon a web site by a nice woman who encouraged me to try. I went to the fabric store even MORE determined to make this work for me. This is how I did it.
Materials used, patterns abused (LOL), and fabrics selected:
The first pattern I bought was Simplicity 9517 in size FF (18-24 US). I didn't realize what a big pain this pattern would be, and if I could do it all over, I wouldn't go with this pattern. I have to mention it because I did stick it out, and use it because I bought it, started with it. It isn't a pattern for a novice. If you know allot about sewing or even a little more than me- by all means GO FOR IT, but between the princess seams, facings, darts, etc. I almost gave up. I said out loud several times in the beginning, "I don't think I can do this." But I kept on. I recognized in the style to the right hand side of the envelope marked with a red arrow, that it could be made into the Angel Dress. I even drew a sketch on top of the pattern envelope (sorry 'bout that =0) to get an idea. I didn't know it would be so complicated. I needed a "simple to sew" pattern in deed.
I made the bodice, and the skirt and attached them together. I originally thought I could use the overlay within this pattern to make the outer dress. I soon realized that wouldn't work. The fabric I used on the main dress section is 45 inch wide Crepe Back Satin in off white (Ivory).
I also didn't realize that working with such a slippery material would be tricky. When cutting out slippery material, it is really helpful to lay down something under the material on your cutting surface to keep it from moving. =0) I used Coats & Clark all-purpose thread in winter white.
I found out about Simplicity pattern 9103. Low and behold, it was in my size!! I bought it in size WW (18-24 US). What I had planned to do with it was to make an over dress, and sleeves with it. I figured the pattern would be easier than the one I was working with if I had to start over too. I didn't realize when I purchased it, that this pattern is only for stretch knits..Meaning I couldn't use the crepe back satin, or the crinkly white material (similar to the dress in the film, marked with a red arrow in the picture -had no name of fabric on bolt, sorry) I had just bought for the sleeves.. =0( You can only use stretchy material with this pattern. By pure luck had I bought 60 inch wide Silver Metallic Nylon (stretchy knit). This is really light and sheer yet warm. I ended up making an outer dress with the pattern Simplicity 9103. The sleeves for the under dress came from Simplicity 9517, because the sleeve pattern piece in 9103 was made for stretchy knit and was too tight with the white crinkly fabric..Am I making sense? LOL. Perhaps one day in the future I may add another layer of fabric between the outer dress and under dress in the white crinkly fabric, so that it is closer to the original. If I had used the white crinkly fabric alone, you would be able to see right through it! =0P...
I found another pattern that is also simple to sew (2 hr), and can be made from silk, and other non-stretchy material. It is Simplicity 9295. You can see in style "A" that you could use it as a base dress, as well as outer dress. It doesn't have the length you'd want or bell style sleeves, but at least it can be used with other fabrics if that is what you want to do. You could alter the length and sleeves. I haven't used it yet, but I bought it in size FF (18-24 US).
When I cut out the front pattern piece for the overdress, I cut it right up the middle to a point below the bust. I highly recommend doing it while it is on the fold laying flat; it is really hard to cut a straight line up the center. You can't go wrong when you do it on the fold. This was for the opening in the center of the dress. (The Extended edition DVD set reveals in the costume gallery, that this dress was designed with a split all the way down the back, as well as all the way down the front. Like many of the other Elf costumes, a flower petal shape, similar to the openings on the bottom side of Arwen's "Chase Dress" or "coat" if you will. The outer dress falls down to the floor and pools around the ankles in big circular waves. I wish I could post screen captures here, but I can't. Rent, or buy yourself the extended DVD set and check out the costume gallery photos!)
Then I found McCall's P306. This pattern did not come in my size. It is only EE (14-20 US). Even so, it is a great bargain (50% off $14.95 USD) because it gives you three different styles of dresses, plus a cloak pattern! Nice. I wanted to use the sleeves in style "C"..for the outer dress sleeves. They have that nice break all the way up, so I figured I would just stitch them to the elbow and leave it open after that. (If you want to get the look even closer to the original, have the splits, or breaks in the sleeves on the "outside" of the arm, rather than on the inside like mine. Have the tops overlap in a petal shape. Instead of having the break stop at a "V" shaped point, have the top of the sleeve slightly overlap the other side, this creates the break, and may be very hard to duplicate if you are not an advanced seamstress)
The last items I bought were the trim pieces. I bought 1 yrd. of bridal trim that had a nice rose motif and some iridescent sequins and pearls. I was thinking about soaking it in some sort of dye to make it more silvery gray to blend into the dress more, similar to the all over silvery gray as the original shows. But I have come to like the contrast of the white over the silvery gray. It just stands out better. I used the machine to attach it, although I did break a needle, so I recommend hand stitching it instead.
I also found this thin trim with loops in the bridal section that looks similar to the trim on the sleeves, opening in the front of the dress and neckline. I bought about 5 yards of this. (See my image for examples of my fabric).
My "Angel Dress" It's done!
All in all, it took me 2 weeks and three days (working on average 2 hours per session). That's about 42 hours. I think it's pretty good, and considering I knew so little about what I was getting into when I started. I spent about $100.00 USD. This includes mistakes- so I might have spent less if I had more experience. I don't regret it at all. I am glad I am done. I am sure you could make this for less, if you have more experience and or use different or "on sale" fabrics. The 1 yrd. of bridal trim with sequins was $8.99 USD per yard alone! This cost total does NOT include all the money I had to spend on basic necessities that I did not have. I didn't even have dressmaker's shears."