I've wanted to copy Bellatrix Lestrange's costume ever since the trailer for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix came out. But I never had an excuse to wear it, or I couldn't find a pattern, and with one thing and another it's been nearly five years since that first viewing. But this fall the boys decided they were going to take me trick-or-treating (the first time I've ever been!) and I felt that my sewing skills were finally good enough that I could tackle this project.
A couple still shots of the inspiration costume. I don't know why I'm always drawn to the bad guys when I'm copying costumes! I guess they just get all the cool clothes.
This is the first garment I've ever made entirely without the help of a commercial pattern. I draped the bodice and skirt on Coraline, my dress form, and the sleeves on my own arms. (This is complicated.) A single mock-up of each was enough to work out the kinks, and then I sewed it up. The sleeves are attached to the bodice with lacing cord. There's a section about 4 inches long which is sewn up, but the rest of the sleeve is laced. They come to a point over the back of the hand and are held in place with a loop which goes around the middle finger.
I love the sleeves. Also, my silver spoon ring, which is imitating a snake for the night.
Hand-stitched eyelets and a badly-exposed photograph.
I couldn't find any fabric that reproduced the movie cloth closely enough (black with silver spirals), so I bought plain black broadcloth with the intent to "print" it myself. I bought fabric paint, glitter, and silver metallic embroidery thread also. But in the end I used a metallic silver marker, not originally designed for fabric. It gave me the finest line and the best control. I added the spiral patterning after the dress was put together, since I didn't want to spend time carefully drawing on fabric which would just end up as scraps. The patterning on the skirt ended up a little larger than that of the bodice and sleeves, and I sort of "faded out" about halfway down the skirt. This is not "movie correct" but I think it looks good. Also, I didn't bother hemming the skirt since in the film it looks ragged and worn. I just bunched it up and roughly trimmed the edge.
Two different sizes of silver swirls.
The corset I drafted from my measurements. I made a simple two-layer underbust corset, out of leftover black broadcloth and some reddish-pink cotton I had in my stash. It's boned with plastic cable ties and laces up the back. (That accounts for 16 of the hand-stitched eyelets.) Then, I traced the shape of the base corset and cut out pieces of faux-leather vinyl in random shapes, trying to roughly reproduce the look of Bella's corset from the film. I think the original is probably made of *only* leather, and much heavier, but since the flimsy leather/vinyl was all I had to work with, I felt the base corset was needed.
Bunched-up leather. Sigh.
I stitched the "leather" pieces together using a quadrupled strand of heavy thread and a leather needle. (Pro tip: don't run a leather needle through your fingertip. It hurts much worse than a normal needle!) I overlapped them just slightly and used a modified overcasting stitch, with an "x" thrown in every so often for stability. Then I whip-stitched the leather outer to the fabric corset on the top and sides (but not the bottom, since they didn't quite line up.) The leather ended up bunching and buckling a little as I wore it, but it's a minor enough problem that I don't care to do anything about it ;-)
Of course, to be Bellatrix you don't just need a black dress and a leather corset. I had to try to copy the wild hair! To do this, I plaited my hair into tiny braids - I think about 12 altogether. My hair was slightly damp at the time, and I used a wet-set foaming lotion. Then I coiled them up and pinned them to my head, slept on them, and wore them all the next day. When they came out my hair was tightly crimped. I fluffed it out a little and then backcombed the entire top of my head to give it some volume. I still didn't end up with *quite* the crazy mop Helena Bonham Carter had, but I suspect her hair is naturally a little more textured than mine! I was pretty pleased with how it turned out, anyway. For makeup I used my normal powder foundation, thick eyeliner in a dusky blue, and shades of grey eyeshadow. Then I applied black lipstick and blotted it partially away. I wanted to paint my nails black also, and I toyed with the idea of drawing the "dark mark" on my forearm, but time got away from me. (And anyway I'm not that good an artist!)
(Trying to take a photo of my hair and makeup - Conrad thought I was crazy.)
A snakey earring and some frizzy hair.
All in all, this was a whole lot of fun to make and to wear! But next year? I think I'm going to be Danielle from "Ever After" :-D
I fuzzed out the mundane living-room backdrop. This is much more dramatic ;-P