So ye want teh change yer faet? Weel theyr lassie, ye’ll need ter start weth a dress to rieval Merida haerself! Ahem. I mean…This post will show you how to make a dress like Merida’s (Brave) green dress she wears for most of the film. It was a long process (about 18 hours..I only stopped to sleep, eat and run to Fabricland for more supplies!), so I’ll try and make this post as short as possible but I’m not making any promises. This post will mainly focus on the sleeves of the dress which are the hardest part. Here we go!
I have a couple points I want to put out there before I begin..
– You do need to know how to work a sewing machine to complete this, but you don’t need much more skill than that. Honestly, I’d only used a sewing machine twice before I took this on. It is fairly easy but, that being said, it does take A LOT of time so make sure you’re prepared to devote at least two days to this before you start.
-When I say ‘finish the edge’ that means fold the top to the inside and sew across. This makes it neater and it won’t fray.
-I would recommend listening the the scores of Braveheart and/or How To Train Your Dragon while you’re making the dress…it makes the process 100 times more epic! 🙂
-~4.5 m of green fabric (I used cotton, something like wool would be more authentic)
-~1.5 m of off white fabric
-~2.25 m of gold cording (for lacing up the back)
-Sewing pattern (I used Butterick 4827)
-Thread that matches your fabric
-Seam ripper (Important!)
-LOTS of pins
-White pencil crayon and pencil for marking up fabric
-Long sleeved shirt
-Interfacing (optional: I didn’t use it because when I woke up on the first day it was a BLIZZARD and I couldn’t drive to Fabricland! The dress looks fine without it.)
-Belt, preferably Celtic looking (I found one at Value Village)
1. Pick a pattern. As mentioned above, I used Butterick 4827. It is super simple looks pretty much exactly like the main body of Merida’s dress. You can find this pattern online as well as at Fabricland. You can really use any pattern you want, just don’t do the sleeves.
2. Pick your fabric. I chose a cotton fabric because it was the cheapest! Merida’s dress would probably have been made out of some kind of wool…If you can afford anything a little thicker than cotton, that would probably be ideal. If you’re on a budget, I recommend looking in the bargain bin at your local fabric store. I found the green fabric for $2.50/m! Look at the back of your pattern for how much of the green fabric you need. The off-white fabric is for the puffy parts of the sleeves and the neckline. You need about 1.5m for this.
3. READ ALL THE DIRECTIONS IN YOUR PATTERN.
-Don’t overlook anything! This will fully prepare you for making the dress.
4. Sew the body of the dress.
-For this, all I did was follow the pattern so I don’t feel the need to explain it all here. Basically, follow all of the instructions EXCEPT for anything that has to do with the sleeves because we will be making our own. (For example, if you’re using the Butterick pattern, you won’t have to cut out piece #7; we’ll use that extra fabric for our modified sleeves.) When you have the base of the dress done, finish the edges (bottom, neckline (*See next step), and shoulders where we’ll attach the sleeves).
5. I modified the neckline a titch to better fit the look of Merida’s dress. All I did was cut a triangle in the middle of the neckline and finished the edges.
Now for the main attraction……..Merida’s trademark SLEEVES!
6. I first made the two green sections of the sleeves that cover the upper and lower arm. To do this, I used one of my sweaters to cheat off of. I laid the sweater on top of the fabric (doubled over with the fold at the top of the sweater sleeve). I then traced the WHOLE sleeve onto the fabric (Leave yourself about 1cm of extra room on the bottom of the sleeve)
7. Cut the sleeve out. Now you need to cut the sleeve into two sections. To do this, cut about two inches from the elbow area. Once you do that, your pieces should end up looking something like this:
*Make sure you do this twice; there are two sleeves!! 😉
*Also make sure you keep track of which piece is the upper part of the sleeve and which is the lower!
8. Sew the bottom line (parallel with the fold) and you’ll get this:
9. Now you’ll need a bunch of strips of fabric (this gets pretty tedious…but IT’S WORTH IT!) Slip the two parts of your sleeve onto your arm. Try to measure how long to make the strips that will connect these pieces to each other as well as to the main part of the dress. Leave yourself about 5cm extra on either side. I used three strips to attach the bottom half of the sleeve to the top half and another three to attach the top half to the main part of the dress. Cut out rectangles that are about 1 1/2 in wide and however long you measured previously. They’ll look a little something like this:
10. Now we’ll focus in on one strip. Fold it in half and sew along the bottom edge to make it into a tube. Now comes the tricky part: to make it look best, you have to turn the tube inside out. I’ll leave you to your own devices for this one, it takes a lot of pushing and pulling, etc. I found it helpful to stick the eraser end of a pencil down the tube to help push. When you finish doing this to all the strips, it’ll look like this:
11. Fold IN the edges and sew the tube closed on both ends. Repeat for all six strips, then make six more for the other sleeve!
12. Now we can attach the strips to the sleeves. For this step, please TAKE YOUR TIME, and do a lot of double checking your measurements. Also, have your stitch ripper at the ready; this’ll take some trial and error, folks. You’ll need to try the dress on a bunch of times to make sure everything is the right length. It’ll start to look like this:
And when all the strips are attached, it’ll look like THIS!:
NOW WE’RE GETTING SOMEWHERE!
13. Now we have to make the puffy off-white parts of the sleeve. To do this, I laid the sleeve of the dress onto the white fabric the same way I did with the sweater above.
14. I then traced the ‘holes’ in the sleeves at the shoulder and elbow onto the fabric below. I left a couple cm’s extra fabric on either side and extended about three or four inches below the bottom edge of the sleeve. The pieces look like this:
14. Sew along the edge parallel to the fold.
15. We’re going to be hand sewing for a few steps, ladies and gentlemen. LOOSELY hand sew all the way around each end of the sleeve. **Don’t sew the two sides together! Not like I did that or anything………………………..
15. Measure the length of the hole you’ll be sewing this piece to. When you have the measurement, pull on the string on the off white fabric so it crumples to the right length (that’s a horrible explanation. I’m sorry.)
16. Now pin it in place on the sleeve, and sew! (Sorry, you have to hand sew this..it takes a while.)
Repeat for all the other ‘holes’.
Now the sleeves are done!!! Let’s start with the neckline made of off white fabric.
16. Place a tight fitting long sleeve shirt with a medium height neckline on top of the white fabric (the fabric should be doubled over with the fold at the top).
17. Now trace the top of the neckline and carry it around to about three or four inches lower. You also have to trace the back-of-the-neck part onto the back of the folded over fabric. You then unfold the fabric and cut the piece out. It’ll look something like this:
18. Finish the top edge
19. Pin this piece to the neckline of the dress and try it on to make sure sits right. Take if off and sew (you can use your machine again, YAY!)!
Are we really done??? I think we are! Finally!
Curl your hair, put on your belt and lace up your new dress…now you’re Merida!
I hope this makes sense to ya’ll..If you have questions about anything at all shoot me a comment and I’ll try my best to help!
Now I need a bow and arrows…..
Happy costuming 😀
(Merida Cosplay Tutorial)