View Full Version : Has anyone ever had a great idea, but don't know where to begin?

01-18-2011, 11:03 PM
A friend and I were talking about cosplaying Elisabeth of Bavaria and Ludwig II at some point.
If any of you have ever seen a picture of either of them, then you know what utter craziness this is. (For some idea, this would be me: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/23/Winterhalter_Elisabeth.jpg)

And I have no idea where to even begin! On the dress, the hair, anything! No idea what to use, how to use it, where to get it...

And I was wondering if anyone else has ever had to work with something that crazy.
Did you give up? Where did you end up using it? Was it difficult? If it was like either of these, then do you have any recommendations?

01-18-2011, 11:06 PM
Ah, dear old Sissi. Lol, I research the hell outof patterns and tailoring to find out the cut of the dress (lucky thing with that; it's a historical portrait, so you can find ACCURATE Victorian patterns).
...yeah. When it's nuts, I spend my waking hours breaking it down to all the pieces and how to do it. And then I do it.

01-18-2011, 11:08 PM
Do you have any websites with a lot of patterns to browse through, or do you just keep en eye out and pick and choose things as you see them?

01-18-2011, 11:17 PM
I don't usually do Victorian costuming myself (I prefer medieval), BUT, asking around in the historical forum (ask a mod to move it, you might get lucky) will probably yield results.
And I have seen a cosplayer who did an impressive hairpiece of her hairstyle.... ah, here it is. http://www.cosplay.com/photo/2055259/

01-18-2011, 11:20 PM
That's amazing, thank you for linking it!

01-19-2011, 12:57 AM
When I feel overwhelmed or that something is beyond my skill, I reach out to those who understand it better. I've talked to a lot of people about a lot of different costumes ! I start researching, and sometimes it takes months. O.o

Depending on how historically accurate you want to be, you could even start with one of the "Big Names" Civil-War types patterns. They even have a "crinoline" that shape. :)

Truly Victorian tends to have easier to understand and better patterns : http://trulyvictorian.com/catalog/60cat.html . And they have a better crinoline pattern that I would really recommend over one of the Big Names.

I don't know what your goals or budget is, but if I were making this for myself, I would expect the cost to exceed $1000, and there might be hours and hours of hand-embroidering/beading involved for whatever the little motifs on her dress are. You might be able to screen-print / stencil and glue, depending on what you're willing to go with.

I've already spent over $700 on my Oscar Wilde costume, and it only looks like this : http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/aa/Oscar_Wilde_(1854-1900)_in_New_York,_1882._Picture_by_Napoleon_Saron y_(1821-1896)_3bis.jpg .

Really caring about historical costuming = money sink. I think that can be said for other really detailed and in-depth cosplays, too.

You NEED a good corset for this.

If you can find a way to cut costs depend on what you're willing to settle for. Are you willing to spend months looking for sale fabrics ? Are you willing to go with a cheaper fabric ? Do you care if it's completely inaccurate and photographs poorly ? Do you not care if the motifs are all that similar ?

To really do an accurate reproduction of this, discounting likely more expensive undergarments than I've accounted for, I would expect to spend around $800 on fabrics alone. You could knock it down to $500 and still have something pretty decent (a good quality on the transparent fabric will help cover up a cheaper body fabric). Not to mention, you're going to run up a pattern bill of $50+ if you can't draft it yourself.

I'd expect to pay over $100 for the wig, if not more. You might be able to make it yourself for less.

Not trying to scare you away from this. O.o;; But, just look at it - you're making what compares to a very fancy wedding dress today (in shape and amount of fabric), and have you seen the prices for those ?

01-20-2011, 01:04 AM
Sissi, sigh loved by so many designers and historical costume enthusiasts alike :)

First place I start is patterns of Fashion and Corsets and Crinolines. These have scaled patterns from extant items and as they are scaled so small (1/4 and 1/8) it is possible to carry around copies of the patterns to compare with full scale ones. Though I just use them as a guide and draft my own using pattern books of the time where ever I can.

It is best to start from the inside out and deciding how authentic I want to be. I really only have a few periods I can wear here in NZ as we really only have Medieval and Victorian era events. So for all other periods I let myself a little leeway as I will not get the same wear out of them. I wear my c1600 corset with my Reinette for instance ;)

I also like to make my kit able to be stored the way I want them to. Modern wardrobes are very different to pretty much anything prior to the 20thC and clothing/storage have a very definite relationship. So for hoops and bustles and panniers I decide how much I am going to fake. Netting can be vile but really does work as a substitute if used well (not for the entire Sissi skirt support here but can add extra volume over smaller hoops.)

For the corset you may find a more generic hourglass corset is good than one specifically for that year- yes corsets changed a lot during the 19thC.

Hoops cannot be worn alone they do need a petticoat over and I like to have a multipurpose one or two for different periods.

Then the dress- again with storage I change things up a bit and will make nearly everything separates- bodice and skirt. The good news is skirts of this period are super easy and you can guesstimate patterns and just pleat/gather to size. The bodice needs to be fitted over the right corset, it makes a huge difference :)

The hair... Sissi actually had the hair of fashion and did not resort to hair pieces but most fashionable women did. So you can really happily use modern hairdressing techniques to make hairpieces or wig match the style. I have a guide that works quite closely to this style:
http://articles.glittersweet.com look at the 1870s hair guide :) If you can plait/braid and pin you are all go :)

And finally, relax! This dress in particular has been adapted for the think of Me aria in the movie of Phantom of the Opera and has been used for the stage musical Elisabeth- Vienese and Takarazuka casts are easiest to find. there is nothing to say you can't do what they did and modernise it to be easier to make :)