This costume has been through so many remakes I’ve lost track... It originally happened after Eli and I saw the trailer for Goblet of Fire, decided the Beauxbatons uniforms were pretty, and that we wanted the uniforms in time to see the film. Simple as that, but trying to make two uniforms in the week before the film was released wasn't really a sensible plan. I ended up making both uniforms to ensure we matched, and because that's the sort of insane thing I tend to do. It was difficult having only the references available before the film’s release, so after seeing it, noticing all the inaccuracies in the costumes, and with more time to do things properly, I revamped them for London Expo in 2006. The cuffs and dress collars were altered, and I made entirely new capes, shoes and hats. In the end, the only things left untouched from that initial rushed week were the dresses and capes. When I dug out my costume to check it over before wearing it to London Expo in October 2009, I decided it was time those remaining original pieces were remade too. I tracked down the same cheap satin I originally used all those years ago, so the remake didn’t cost me much. Finally, I redid my hat in 2011 and I think I should just stop messing with this costume, although I’d love to find better buttons and maybe nice silk for another remake one day.
The main challenge was definitely the hats. The first ones were cobbled together with fabric but this just doesn’t work so I went on to research felt hats. There are a few tutorials online so I took ideas from several (mainly this one: http://www.costumes.org/advice/costcraftsmanual/tmpjk10.htm) Naturally, all the tutorials deal with sensible shaped hats, so my dad helped me to design a crazy shaped hat block. We used a styrofoam wig head as a base, and padded it out with bubblewrap (smooth reverse side facing up) until it was the right size. The point was carved from a candle and glued and taped on. Filler smoothed the join and helped form the overall shape. Ghetto, but it worked.
With a block made, it was very easy to mould felt over it going by the instructions in the tutorials I’d found (surprisingly shaping the felt was the easiest part). I covered the block in clingfilm so the felt wouldn’t stick to it, wet the felt, and stretched it over the block, pinning it in place around the base. Luckily the hats in the film have a seam, which made shaping it even easier for me. It was then coated in glue and left to dry. The tutorials suggested two layers of felt, but I couldn’t get the two layers to stick together, so left it at one which was ok on its own. For my second felt hat, I did succeed with the two layers which was an improvement.
The brims took a lot of experimentation with paper shapes to figure out, but once they were patterned, I just cut out the shape and hand stitched it to the hat dome. I had experimented with using glue on the brim to stiffen it like the dome, but found it warped the felt. I’d avoided that problem when making the domes as with the felt stretched over the block it couldn’t warp, but couldn’t deal with the brim the same way. As with the domes, I couldn’t get two layers of felt to stick together either. So the brims are a single layer of plain felt. I did stiffen them a bit using spray starch, but they stayed in shape fine by themselves mostly – I just had to be very careful when transporting them. And iron them occasionally. For my remake, I made a brim from wonderflex plastic and covered it in felt so it’s much tougher!
For the dresses we couldn’t afford any of the lovely satins we’d have liked, so resorted to a cheap acetate. It was horribly shiny stuff, but I used the reverse, more matte side which is surprisingly nice so long as it’s ironed to death. The cape lining, collar and cuffs are polycotton and I found expensive linen in John Lewis for the uppermost collar. Since I only needed a 10cm cut of it, the price didn’t matter though! I had originally made the dresses without a pattern, so they were simple, with only side seams. On my remake I decided to add the princess seams I originally missed out for a closer fit at the waist, and to have the flare of the skirt distributed more evenly. I used my original dress as a pattern, slashed to add more volume and allow for the additional panels. I also used part of a shirt pattern for the sleeve shape and getting the armholes correct, because sleeves are evil, so I need those pieces to be more accurate. All the raw edges are overlocked, which is ideal for dealing with nasty satin.
The buttons are functioning, and act as the closure for the dresses (the pointy cuffs also fasten with functioning buttons). I later added a zip down a back seam for a closer fit at the waist, but kept the front opening too to avoid problems with having to split the collar at the back for an opening there. The zip ends before the collar. I found the collar awkward to make, it was fiddly turning those narrow points with satin threatening to fray all over the place.
The capes were originally patterned out with my usual experimentation, they’re a little under a full circle. For my latest remake, I kept the lining and collars, but cut out a new one entirely in one piece, eliminating the shoulder seams I‘d preciously had.
The shoes have gone through several changes. We both didn’t like the flap thing over the laces, so went with a similar style of shoe in the black and blue colours...and left it at that. They were a lucky find in New Look for £10, which I painted in blue acrylic paint. They're almost my favourite part of the costume now! Because of the heels of doooom, we mostly wear plain black shoes which are muuuch comfier
My dad made us wands from £ shop paintbrush handles joined to the handles off some garden tools, also from a £ shop! Cheap and effective.
I’ve worn various wigs with this and used my own hair but regardless of my hairdo, I would inevitably be called “Fleur” so I finally styled a wig for her with ringlets at the front and a ponytail. The wig is also used for my Velvet costume, but it’s easy to pin the curls back out of the way to use it for other characters.
1st Place Entertainment Category - London Expo May 2006 (Sunday)