~Please also have a look at my other Star Wars costume reproductions! ~
Queen Amidala – Red Invasion / Theed Throne Room Robe
Making the reproduction gown
As for actually making the Red Invasion gown, I started with the hoopskirt. The hoopskirt is essentially for the actual look of this gown because it basically has to be gravity-defying, with the trumpet shape the dress is supposed to be having.
So I constructed it from 24 panels of very, very sturdy cotton twill and added 7 rings of hoop steel to it. It actually works like a lampshade – the hoop steel rings stretch the fabric of the skirt, so it seems to float over the floor.
Please ignore the wrinkled look – as I said, that cotton twill is VERY sturdy – so sturdy in fact that it refuses to be ironed. Then again of course this is just the hoopskirt, and when I wear the actual dress, it will never be seen.
Someone asked me recently how I am going to travel with this dress (or rather pitied me for having to be limited to local events), since that person assumed that I wouldn’t be able to pack the hoopskirt flat.
This is why you can see a small spray can in the lower left corner of the picture – it’s there so you have something to compare the size to 😉
Of course the hoopskirt (just like the dress) can be packed flat. It’s stiffened with hoop steel, after all – flexible spring steel which is designed to be put into hoop skirts. I’m actually very glad that this stuff was invented in the 1840s (and made the large crinolines of the 1850s possible), because seriously – I can’t imagine being limited to non-flexible cane (which was used for hoopskirts until the invention of spring steel) or non-flexible wire.
So here’s my board-sized suitcase, packed up with the hoopskirt… and the spray can so you are able to compare the size 🙂
The hoop steels just spring back to their actual size and shape as soon as I remove the hoopskirt from the suitcase.
As already mentioned on the analysis page, the single pattern pieces of the dress and sleeve are separated by piping.
Here’s how that is done; note that I had pre-pigmented the satin for the piping but not the bengaline for the pattern pieces. Since the satin took the dye not as well as the bengaline, this was necessary; but it’s also a rather good way to illustrate how the piping is done.
- Cut bias tape. Lots of it. Approximately 90 yards, to be precise.
And just because 90 yards of bias tape can quickly end up in a mess never seen before, put it on a spoon from the start. Cut a few yards – spool. Cut more – spool. Spool until the spool (or whatever you designated as a spool) is full. Personally, I needed four spools of this size:
- Next, sew the cording into the bias tape. I’m using that using a cording foot on my machine.
The roll of bias tape, when sewing, usually sits in my lap; next to it, the bag with the cording (which just looks messy but is not – the cord is pulling out without being tangled).
Behind the machine, I set up another spool on which I collect the finished piping.
By doing it this way, I can produce a bit more than 20 yards of piping in one piece.
This is what a full spool of piping looks like – again, for a dress like this, you need four of those a-bit-more-than-20-yards of piping spools:
- Pin the piping between the layers of the single pattern pieces. You want to do that thoroughly, every 4 inches a pin; to prevent the layers of pattern pieces with the more slippery satin piping beneath them from drifting apart while you sew.
- Sew the sandwiched layers together. I am still using my cording foot to do this. That allows me to have a bit of control over where the cording in the piping is (which I cannot see between the layers, just feel).
You may notice that there’s quite a bit of lint building up above the needle; which is obviously from the red piping. You need to clean the needle often because that lint may up in parts of your machine where it will make your machine incredibly sad, lol.
- Here’s what a finished, piped seam looks like from the backside:
- Did I mention you will use all those 90 yards of piping on the dress? Here’s a photo of the dress body and sleeves laid out just so you can marvel at the incredible amount of seams, piping, and, in particular, sewing time that is required to assemble the body and sleeves of the dress, lol: